Power without control is meaningless.
And if you want to enjoy that huge slope truly, you will need the best ski poles in your hands that you can find. Good quality poles will not only help you make better turns and avoid any death cookies on the way but will also help you get up to the summit.
Thankfully, there is a wide range of ski poles, regardless of your skiing experience and the tracks you prefer.
From basic models that will be perfect for some calm traversing to professional items that will make you the king of the backcountry, poles are available in all shapes and sizes.
And, unlike before, you are now well in your right to ask for the best quality for a reasonable price.
What to Look for in Best Ski Poles?
What you will be looking for in ski poles will depend heavily on what type of skier you are. This doesn’t only mean your experience and the kind of tracks you ski on, but also your age, size, and weight. The goal should always be to maximize your skiing experience and to give you as much control possible.
Finally, your ski poles should look nice. Visual appearance should never be the number one reason for buying anything, but if you have the option between pretty ones and boring ones, you should take the former. And, because of the variety of choice that we have today, you know that you will be able to pick out a perfect pair of poles regardless of your budget.
Ski Poles Selection for 2019
For 2019 we see a lot of redesigns that have taken the market by storm. The poles used by the US skiing team are not only the best in the world but are also quite affordable, making them a dream purchase for sports skiers.
Additionally, there is a good selection for those who prefer the ruggedness of the backcountry, with exceptionally durable ski poles. And finally, those on the shorter side don’t need to suffer with telescoping any more, as there are professional poles that are shorter, but just as high-quality as the larger models.
It is quite obvious why the Lite S is such a popular model. On the quality side, it is not lacking anything and is the pinnacle of modern ski pole design and technology. It has the Trigger S pole gloves that provide maximum comfort when skiing.
The pole is made from high-quality HTS 5.5 aluminum with a solid steel tip, meaning that it is light, precise, and durable at the same time.
And finally, it comes in several colors and two sizes, meaning that most people will be able to find their fit.
- Good materials
- High-quality aluminum
- Steel tip
- Excellent grips
- Very durable straps and gloves
- Excellent value
Zipline had made a splash when they started making poles that are being used by the US Winter Olympics team. Not only are these poles the very top of what skiing technology has to offer, but they are also quite affordable.
Unlike other models, the Zipline ski poles are made from a graphite carbon composite fiber, making them extra light. Additionally, graphite doesn’t vibrate as much as aluminum and reduces the amount of shock taken by your hands.
One of the best features of this pole is that the shaft is tapered from 16 millimeters at the grip to 14 at the tip (from 2/3 inch to ½ an inch).
- Very light carbon fiber composite pole
- Tapered design
- Large powder basket
- Excellent grip
- Carbide tip
It is a fierce battle between this product and the previous Zipline pole set. The main body is quite similar, with the only difference being the tapering. This difference in design makes the Lollipop slightly heavier than the Blurr, but also somewhat sturdier.
If you prefer your skiing in the backcountry, then this might be the better choice, but it will finally come down to personal preference.
- Very light carbon fiber composite pole
- Large powder basket
- Excellent grip
- Carbide tip
- Good Value
For those that enjoy a good bombing session in rough terrain, this is a perfect choice. Officially, these are excellent junior ski poles as they are shorter than the norm. But, as we know, the length of the pole has to do with height and not age, meaning that if you are on the shorter side, this is the perfect option. The poles are very light, coming up at around 4.5 ounces (130 grams).
The build itself is exquisite, just scaled down, and this is visible in the price that is significantly lower than other professional models.
- Ergonomic grip
- Standards sized tip
- Durable straps
In case you are someone for whom money is not an issue, then you can’t do better than the Black Diamond. This is the top of the line luxury set of ski poles. These are telescopic aluminum poles, meaning that you can adjust the length depending on your needs. The aluminum used is of very high quality, and everything works seamlessly.
Additionally, everything from the grip to the tip oozes luxury and would be the envy of all eastern businessmen skiing in Chamonix.
- Top quality aluminum pole
- Adjustable length
- Very durable
Ski Poles Buyers Guide
Unless your skiing method is just bombing down the slope and hoping not to be stopped by a café in the base of the mountain, you will need some ski poles. Thankfully, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to the best ski poles as they have become much more affordable, even if you are buying top of the range.
To select a set of ski poles that is the best fitting for you, you will need to assess your needs and the needs of the track where you are skiing. The overall goal is to give yourself the best skiing experience possible and to enjoy yourself while on the snow.
Different Poles for Different Reasons
If you are a beginner, you will need just some sturdy ski poles that can take a lot of stress, because you will be relying on them to stay balanced. Once you start skiing on more demanding tracks, or even some wild areas, you will need to get something more specific. But, until then, you will be best to take a sturdy aluminum pole that is exactly long from your elbow to the ground.
Once you become a more proficient skier, you might want to make some adjustments, depending on the terrain.
- Casual Tracks – Sturdy aluminum ski poles with standard baskets
- Advanced Tracks – Tempered aluminum or graphite poles with good grip and standard baskets
- Backcountry – Lightweight graphite poles with powder baskets and a steel tip
- Old Snow/Mixed Snow – Aluminum or carbon fiber poles with replaceable baskets
- Trick Park – Shorter poles made from sturdy aluminum, with good grip and possibly a carbide tip
Proper Ski Pole Length
Finding out your ideal ski pole length is actually quite easy. Once you put your hands by your body, the length of the pole should be the length from your elbows to the ground. When you measure this, just make sure that you are using the tip of your elbow as the starting point, and that you are wearing the shoes of ski boots that you will be wearing on the slope.
You will never want to have longer poles than you need, as they are likely to hit the ground and knock you out of balance. But, if you are skiing in rough terrain where you will often be lowering your center of mass, you will need shorter poles.
If you don’t know on which type of terrain you will be tracking, you can always go with a telescopic pole that can do both. They are usually more expensive than the fixed ones but are very versatile and very easy to carry around when not in use.
Parts and Materials
There are four basic parts of a ski pole: the grip, the shaft, the basket, and the strap. Additionally, some ski poles have straps that improve grip, as well as locks on telescoping poles, but these parts are not necessary. For the best ski pole, all four basic part need to be good.
The grip needs to be ergonomic and to grab back on your hand, at least slightly. The strap can improve this, but that should be your last resort. The pole itself can be made from aluminum or carbon fiber, with carbon composite materials coming in as the advanced version of the latter. Additionally, some poles are made from fiberglass, but in that case, you will need to see if there is some aluminum support, as fiberglass poles are not durable on their own.
Baskets are quite standard and have not changed since they stopped being wooden. They come in two variants: hardpack and powder. Most ski poles will have hardpack baskets, with the powder baskets used on softer snow because they are larger and grab the ground below them. Thankfully, baskets can be changes, and you can always carry a pair with you for emergencies.
Finally, the tip is what sticks in the snow. In most cases, it will be made from the same aluminum as the pole, but when you need a bit more piercing power, you will want to use tungsten-carbide tips.
For any skiing enthusiast, having more control and better gear means being able to conquer bigger, and steeper, tracks. Always going forward and challenging yourself is what we all strive for. And, the best way to get that additional control is to have a good pair of ski poles in your hands.
Thankfully, there are so many choices on the market today that it is certain that you will be able to find a perfect pair of poles just for you. Not only would you be able to pick a couple of poles that have a great design and material quality, but also ones that look nice and compliment your style.