Top 6 Best Ski Poles of 2022 • The Adventure Junkies (2022)

Updated on June 10, 2022

So, what are ski poles for, anyways? Generally speaking, poles are used to help skiers with their balance, rhythm, and timing during turns, and support as they move around the mountain. Choosing a good ski pole comes down to the balance between weight and material strength. Materials most often range from aluminum, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and some combination of the three to bamboo and other novelty materials, and you’re sure to see all manner of designs and constructions out on the hill. From traditional racing poles that are bent at angles optimized for hard-carving, tight turns to more traditional straight designs, the most important thing to know about choosing the best ski poles is that a well-fitting pole can make your day that much better and can help you progress towards more challenging terrain. We’ve put together this guide to the best ski poles to help you find poles for this upcoming season. Take a look, and see you out on the mountain!

For more of our top ski gear recommendations, check out the Best Backcountry Ski Poles.

Quick Answer - The Best Ski Poles

  1. Volkl Phantastick

  2. Black Diamond Carbon Compactor

  3. Grass Sticks Original

  4. Rossignol Tactic

  5. K2 Power Composite

    View at Backcountry

    (Video) Top 5 Ski Poles Of 2021

  6. K2 Freeride 16

Comparison Table - Best Ski Poles

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NameBest UseAdjustableBasket TypePriceRatingReview
Volkl PhantastickDownhill SkiingNoRace$4.8Read Review
Black Diamond Carbon CompactorBackcountry / SplitboardingPackablePowder$$$4.5Read Review
Grass Sticks OriginalDownhill SkiingNoStandard$$$4.8Read Review
Rossignol TacticDownhill SkiingNoStandard$4.6Read Review
K2 Power CompositeDownhill SkiingNoPowder and Standard$$4.6Read Review
K2 Freeride 16Downhill SkiingNoStandard$$4.5Read Review
NameBest UseAdjustableBasket TypePriceRatingReview

Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Poles for Skiing

Volkl Phantastick

Specs
  • Adjustable: No
  • Best Use: Downhill Skiing
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Shaft Material: Aluminum
  • Basket Type: Race
  • Safety Release: No
Features
  • Steel tip
  • 2K Grip (rubber+PA), laser textured

Top 6 Best Ski Poles of 2022 • The Adventure Junkies (1)

BEST DOWNHILL SKIERS ON A BUDGET

If you’re primarily a weekend skier looking for a solid downhill ski pole on a budget, take a look at the $60 Phantasticks.

Volkl designed this quality budget pole with an 18mm diameter shaft. These poles are cut to order, available in sizes as short as 90 centimeters. One of this pole’s standout features is its availability in a wide variety of flashy colors, including bright red, aqua, and blue — and matching grips to go with each color.

What I like most about the Phantasticks is how tough and durable they are thanks to a solid alloy construction.

Black Diamond Carbon Compactor

Specs
  • Adjustable: Packable
  • Best Use: Backcountry / Splitboarding
  • Weight: 1lb 2oz
  • Shaft Material: Carbon fiber
  • Basket Type: Powder
  • Safety Release: No
Features
  • Carbon fiber provides high strength without the weight
  • Speed cone deploys quickly to full length by releasing pole capture
  • Integrated rubber grip extension comes in handy for sidehilling

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BEST FOR: SPLIT BOARDERS

The nature of splitboarding demands a sport-specific pole — and the Carbon Compactor is one of the leading products on the market.

The Carbon Compactor features a collapsible z-pole design, which makes these easy to stash away when not in use. When you do pack them away, they break down smaller and slimmer than any other pole on this list. It comes with a solid powder basket and is designed to break down fast during transitions, which saves precious time. Because this pole is designed specifically for skinning uphill, it doesn’t offer the same performance on the downhill, which is something to keep in mind.

What I like most about the Black Diamond Carbon Compactors is how lightweight they are, weighing in at just eighteen ounces.

Grass Sticks Original

Specs
  • Adjustable: No
  • Best Use: Downhill Skiing
  • Weight: 1 lb. 2 oz. (Pair)
  • Shaft Material: Bamboo
  • Basket Type: Standard
  • Safety Release: No
Features
  • Built By Hand In The United States In Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  • Bamboo Shafts Have The Strength Of Steel And Compressive Strength That Is Greater Than Concrete
  • Grips Are Made With A Soft Rubber That Stays Put In Your Hands While You’re Skiing

Top 6 Best Ski Poles of 2022 • The Adventure Junkies (3)

BEST FOR: ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS SKIERS

Though they may seem like a novelty, these bamboo Grass Sticks poles are here to stay. Instead of using materials like aluminum and carbon that are mined from the Earth to construct their poles, Grass Sticks has chosen bamboo, a regenerative material that absorbs more CO2 and produces more oxygen than any other plant. The straps are also made of 100% recycled polyester, making these poles one of the most environmentally conscious products on the market. In addition to the environmental benefits of purchasing these poles, they also feature an incredible weight to strength ratio, making them the perfect accompaniment to any terrain that you decide to ski.

Rossignol Tactic

Specs
  • Adjustable: No
  • Best Use: Downhill Skiing
  • Weight: N/A
  • Shaft Material: Composite/carbon fiber
  • Basket Type: Standard
  • Safety Release: No
Features
  • Durable Aluminum Shafts Allow For Lightweight Comfort And Ease Of Use
  • Ergonomic Grips Provide A Secure Feeling Even In Gloves And Mittens
  • Shaft Construction Is Designed To Absorb And Dampen Vibrations Transmitted Up Through The Poles

Top 6 Best Ski Poles of 2022 • The Adventure Junkies (4)

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BEST FOR: NO FUSS PERFORMANCE

The Rossignol Tactic All Mountain ski poles are all about no fuss performance. Without the bells and whistles of some of the poles in the same category, these poles may seem overly simplistic, but that judgment would miss the benefits of this kind of simplicity. A carbon fiber construction allows for lightweight performance without compromising on durability, and a specially designed ergonomic grip promises all day comfort on any terrain at the resort. Finally, it’s hard to beat the value that comes with these poles for the price. A low price tag gets you all the performance that you need to enjoy and maximize a ski day at your favorite resort.

K2 Power Composite

Specs
  • Adjustable: No
  • Best Use: Downhill Skiing
  • Weight: N/A
  • Shaft Material: Composite
  • Basket Type: Powder and Standard
  • Safety Release: No
Features
  • Composite Shaft Construction Provides Lightweight Strength
  • Straps Are Adjustable For Added Comfort
  • Baskets Are Designed For All Types Of Snow Conditions And Terrain

Top 6 Best Ski Poles of 2022 • The Adventure Junkies (5)

BEST FOR: EXPLORING THE MOUNTAIN

K2’s Power Composite ski poles offer the best in ski pole construction design and materials without over-complicating the features of the pole. The 100% composite shaft offers the perfect balance of weight, durability, and strength, so these poles are designed to last and live up to whatever you send their way. From trees to groomed trails and beyond, these poles will get you there. The 60 millimeter baskets will keep your poles floating through powder and will also power through the icy crud in the springtime. Finally, the performance rubber grips and adjustable straps help you to customize your fit for long-lasting, all-day comfort at your favorite ski resort.

K2 Freeride 16

Specs
  • Adjustable: No
  • Best Use: Downhill Skiing
  • Weight: N/A
  • Shaft Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Basket Type: Standard
  • Safety Release: No
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Features
  • Reduced Diameter Around The Grip Of The Poles Makes Them Comfortable For Those With Smaller Hands
  • Standard Sized Baskets Are Perfect For Groomed Terrain Or Enjoying the Terrain Park
  • Lightweight Aluminum Shaft Is Both Strong And Durable

Top 6 Best Ski Poles of 2022 • The Adventure Junkies (6)

BEST FOR: BOLD AND BRIGHT STYLE

The most standout feature of the K2 Freeride 16 poles is their bright color choices. Your friends are sure to not lose you on the slopes with your choice of either hot pink or highlighter orange ski poles. In addition to their flashy style, these poles also feature lightweight, strong aluminum shaft construction that will hold up to any terrain on the resort, including the terrain park. Finally, these poles also include reduced grip circumference, making them perfect for young teenagers or those with smaller hands so that they can better hold on to the poles without worrying about dropping them or their hands getting too tired.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING SKI POLES

COST

Ski poles are typically reasonably priced; they are definitely not the priciest piece of equipment in your ski gear arsenal. The difference in cost typically comes in when you start looking at telescoping designs and specialized grips. You should always choose the best option for you when it comes to that balance between economy and functionality, but it’s also best to choose something that will last. Go for a pole that you will be using for years to come.

FIT

Choosing a pole that is commensurate with your height and size is critical to having an effective piece of equipment. As a general rule, poles should sit slightly below your armpit height. To measure, turn your poles upside down so that the grip is sitting on the ground and the point and basket (plastic disc on the bottom of your pole) are facing skyward. Grip the pole right under the basket, and look to see if your arm is bent at a 90 degree angle. If your arm and elbow are extended beyond 90 degrees, then the pole is likely too short. If your elbow is more bent and your fist rests above your elbow, the pole is likely too long.

MATERIALS

Poles can be made of many different materials including bamboo, which you’ll find in some boutique designers. Typically, poles are made of aluminum, a higher grade aluminum, carbon, or a composite of aluminum and carbon. Aluminum shafts have the most basic type of construction; this is the type of pole that you’ll typically find in rental shops. Higher grade aluminum, composite, and carbon-based poles are higher end and usually come with a slightly higher price tag. But with the higher price tag comes better durability, so you’ll have to decide what the best balance is for you when it comes to economy and durability.

STYLE

Ski poles come in all sorts of colors and designs. Though the designs have little to no bearing on the performance of the ski pole, the choice of poles presents an opportunity to express yourself and your personal style. Take this opportunity to go bold or to match your pants, jacket, and skis for an awesome look out on the ski hill.

BEST USE/POLE TYPES

Though any pole can really be used for downhill skiing, there are certain categories of poles made specifically for different downhill skiing disciplines. All-mountain poles are made from anything from aluminum to high tech carbon fiber. They typically have a straight shaft and are made for skiers of all ages and abilities. Freestyle poles are made for those that enjoy the terrain park and are typically much shorter for increased maneuverability.

You can recognize racing or racing style poles for their distinctive shaped structures. The different angles are optimized for power at the start of a run and aerodynamics. Backcountry poles are telescoping so that the lengths can be adjusted based on the type of terrain that the skier is on. For more information about choosing the best ski poles for you, check out REI’s Expert Advice column on how to choose the right ski pole.

FEATURES EXPLAINED

STRAP

This term refers to the flexible nylon loop attached to the pole at the top of the grip. When you loop your wrists through the straps, it prevents poles from sliding down the hill if you fall or drop the pole. Note that you’ll want to remove the straps and hold your poles in one hand when you’re getting on and off the chair lift.

BASKET

The basket is the plastic disk at the bottom of your pole that sits just above the point. The purpose of the basket is to keep your pole from sinking too far into the snow. Typically, powder conditions call for a wider basket, while groomed terrain calls for a smaller one.

TELESCOPING POLES

Telescoping poles are typically used by ski mountaineers or those that ski in the backcountry. They can be extended for uphill climbs and retracted for steep descents. While these might be nice to have if you’re contemplating heading into the backcountry, this type of design is typically unnecessary for those who spend the most time in the resort.

GRIP

This term refers to the grooved handle that sits at the top of the pole and to which you hold on. You want to make sure that the grip fits your hand comfortably enough to hold onto it all day.

COMPOSITE

Ski poles come in all sorts of materials and designs, but a pole made with a composite of materials is typically the best and most versatile for resort skiing. The mixture of materials provides the best balance between weight and strength.

READ MORE

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FAQs

Are composite ski poles good? ›

Ski poles built with composite materials are the strongest, most durable, and best for skiing in a resort. Poles made with a blend of aluminum and carbon are considered the best because they offer a good balance between strength and weight.

What is the best material for ski poles? ›

The sturdier the better. Materials: Aluminum, fiberglass and carbon fiber are the most common materials for downhill ski poles. Aluminum is a great material as it is inexpensive and effective. Carbon Fiber is expensive but very light and is often blended with other materials in high-end poles.

Do good ski poles make a difference? ›

A good pole can be the difference between a fine day on the slopes and a great one. If a ski pole is too short, it will be harder to plant correctly, which can affect your turning. If a pole is too long, it can interfere with your skiing technique and can make your day more difficult.

What length ski pole should I use? ›

POLE SIZING CHART
SKIERS HEIGHTDOWNHILL ski pole in INCHESDOWNHILL ski pole in centimeters
5' 6”46” - 48”115 - 120 cm
5' 7”48”120 cm
5' 8”48”120 cm
5' 9”48” - 50”120 - 125 cm
25 more rows

Are carbon ski poles stronger than aluminum? ›

Durability: Carbon fiber is extremely resilient in the right application, but one hit against a sharp rock can ruin a carbon ski pole. Aluminum is more durable and can be subjected to impact while still maintaining its strength and flexibility.

Do carbon fiber ski poles break? ›

The strength of carbon fiber is offset by its stiffness, which leaves it prone to breaking. On a hard pole plant, a carbon pole won't have the give of an aluminum pole and will potentially fracture under the stress.

How do I choose ski poles? ›

The traditional method of choosing the correct length ski poles is to turn the ski poles upside down and hold them underneath the basket. In this position, your arms should be at a 90 degree angle when your upper arms are at your sides. Some skiers may prefer to use longer or shorter poles.

When should I replace my ski poles? ›

Check the edges and base materials for cracks or deep gouges. Ski edges are particularly prone to wear and tear. The edges can become so thin that they're susceptible to breaking. You want to replace them before reaching that “point of no return.” Similarly, cracked sidewalls will drastically reduce the ski's “grip.”

Is Leki a good ski brand? ›

The PRC 700 ($200) from Leki is a high-quality, durable option for nordic skiers looking to train hard. With its 100% carbon shaft, hardened steel tips, super race baskets, and quick-release hand straps, this pole is all about speed and the long haul. The cork grip is comfortable for long days or doubles, too.

Should I buy my own ski poles? ›

At a recreational level there is no need for anything flashy, so as long as the height is correct most poles will do the job. Usually they come as a package with the skis and boots at no extra cost, so you may as well get them even if it is your first time.

Why do skiers use poles on half pipe? ›

While it's easier to grab without them, poles can help with balance, especially as skiers slide down rails. “The poles aren't that much weight, but I feel for me it's something to hold on to and squeeze for pressure and nerves and everything that you don't see,” Logan said.

How long should your downhill skis be? ›

The general rule is for your skis to measure somewhere between your chin and the top of your head. With expert level skiers often choosing skis slightly above their head. SIZE SHORTER, CLOSER TO CHEST IF: Child's weight is less than average for their height.

How do you hold your ski poles? ›

How To Ski Tips - How To Hold Your Ski Poles - YouTube

Are 20 year old skis still good? ›

Imagine you have 20-plus year-old skis, you use them 7-10 days a year, so the total work days would be 200-300 days. Can you still use them? If they have no major delamination, cracked edges, broken sidewalls, then yes.

How do you tell when skis are worn out? ›

YOUR SKIS FEEL DIFFERENT THAN THEY USED TO

Every ski softens over time, due to material fatigue. A tired-out ski feels softer and lacks its original pop and energy. Repeated flexing with every turn, exposure to the elements and general abuse cause the materials to wear.

How many times can you mount a ski? ›

How Many Times Can I Remount My Skis? Most professionals would recommend not remounting a ski more than 3 times. You can remount your skis several times, but each new mounting point should sit far enough away so that the drilled holes are at least 8mm away from the previous holes.

Should you use pole straps? ›

Good reasons not to wear ski pole straps include snowboarding, tree branches (avoid dislocating shoulder), getting poles caught in holes and the like, avalanches (allows you to ditch your poles, swim, pull airbag handle), photos (allows you to get the shot quicker).

Why do Olympic skiers grab their skis? ›

You may have noticed them grab their skis or snowboard while looking at the landing. To slow their twisting, they can spread our their arms. Similarly, to slow down a somersault they'll spread out their arms and legs to slow the rotation. This is called increasing the moment of inertia.

Should older skiers use shorter skis? ›

The older you are the shorter your skis should be. Not because you are older but because there is a correlation between age and a general decline in strength, fitness level, durability and reflex speed. If you are more interested in balance and speed control than you are in speed you want to consider a shorter ski.

What happens if skis are too short? ›

Certified Ski Diva

My experience with demo skis that are too short is limited but what happens now as a much better skier is that the short skis feel unstable at higher speeds. Also not as stable in chopped up snow. Meaning how a groomer can get in the afternoons on a busy day, or ungroomed terrain.

Should skis be taller than you? ›

The length of your ski depends on your height, weight, skiing style & ability. There isn't an exact formula for determining the right size but in general the proper ski length should be between your chin and the top of your head. For example, a skier that is 6' tall will want to look for a skis between 170 - 190 cm.

Do you need straps on ski poles? ›

One should never use pole straps while skiing in the trees because of tree roots and debris under the snow it's easy to get a pole basket caught and with the momentum and force of skiing you can easily rip your arm out or some other injury to your shoulder, arm and or wrist.”

What identifies the easiest slope in skiing? ›

Green Circle: What They Mean

These ski slope rating symbol's are the easiest runs, usually very wide, with a slope gradient of less than 25 percent.

What is a composite ski pole? ›

Composite ski poles: Composite ski poles can be made up of fiberglass, resins, and other ingredients that make a pole more flexible than aluminum. If you fall on a composite pole, it is extremely rare that it will break or be bent out of shape.

What are ski pole made of? ›

Ski poles are typically made of aluminum, graphite, fiberglass, or composite materials, all varying in weight, price & performance. Most models today are made of a combination of these materials, drawing the benefits of each.

When should I replace my ski poles? ›

Check the edges and base materials for cracks or deep gouges. Ski edges are particularly prone to wear and tear. The edges can become so thin that they're susceptible to breaking. You want to replace them before reaching that “point of no return.” Similarly, cracked sidewalls will drastically reduce the ski's “grip.”

How do I choose ski poles? ›

The traditional method of choosing the correct length ski poles is to turn the ski poles upside down and hold them underneath the basket. In this position, your arms should be at a 90 degree angle when your upper arms are at your sides. Some skiers may prefer to use longer or shorter poles.

Why do skiers have bent sticks? ›

When it comes to bent ski poles, it's really all about aerodynamics. Skiers want to go as fast as they possibly can in downhill events, and having folded poles allows skiers to match the shape of their poles to the shape of their bodies.

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