The 7 Best Ski Poles – [2021/2022 Reviews]

Improve your form and confidence on the slopes, we run through the best ski poles below

Our Editors independently research, test, and rate what we feel are the best products. We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

So many skiers overlook the ski pole and, even more so, many skiers fail to understand the true use and value of a ski pole.

Ski poles, and your use of them, can really make or break a well-polished skier’s form on the mountain.

Keeping your hands up and in front while you actively use the ski poles can be difficult to remember amongst all the other continuous challenges of skiing – and even more difficult yet if the ski poles are heavy or the wrong size.

We’re going to talk about what ski poles are used for, why you need them, how to size them, and what to consider when picking up your next set of ski poles.

Spending more than 100 days a season teaching alpine skiing has allowed me to fully understand the ski pole and its uses and I will share with you how to go about choosing your next set of ski poles.

Best Ski Poles

 LEKI Bold Lite S Ski Pole PairBlack Diamond Carbon Compactor Ski Pole Zipline "Lollipop" Carbon Ski Poles
editors choice
Shaft:Aluminum shaftAluminum Upper
Carbon Fiber Lower
Carbon fiber shaft
Width:16 mm14 mm / 12 mm 16 mm / 14 mm
Features:Tension release systemGrip extension for secure choke-upsErgonomic trigger finger grips
Best For:Recreational SkierBackcountry SkierRecreational Skier

For more of my ski gear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Ski Jackets, Ski Pants, Ski Gloves.

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Ski Poles

  1. LEKI Bold Lite S Ski Poles
  2. Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Ski Poles
  3. Zipline “Lollipop” Carbon Composite Ski Poles
  4. Rossignol Tactic Pro Carbon Ski Poles
  5. Winget Carbon Fiber Alpine Ski Poles
  6. SCOTT Zeo Carbon Fiber Ski Poles
  7. Black Diamond Traverse Adjustable Ski Poles

Our reviews of the top rated ski poles with our buying guide and comparison table will help you choose the right poles for you.

Ski Pole Reviews

LEKI Spark Lite S Ski Pole

Looking for an upgraded pole with a few safety features and all-terrain skiing ability? This is your choice.

Leki made this pole with an economy-grade aluminum shaft to keep expenses down while plugging in the trigger grip frame.

What’s so special about that?

It means that you can keep your poles on your wrist all the time without worrying about getting injured thanks to the binding-like tension release system.

Here I demonstrate the tension release system while I was checking out the latest ski poles.

Leki Ski Poles Tension Release System

If the poles get stuck in the chairlift, in the powder, or on a tree as you ski by they’ll simply release from the strap at a certain pressure and prevent your arms and wrists from getting injured!

To use the tension release system, you Velcro the strap around your gloves and clip them in as I demonstrate in the video. Then you push down the trigger to remove the poles or they will release if you pull hard on them.

I’ve seen tons of people swear by these poles and the extra safety is always nice in a sport where it’s all too easy to get hurt. The feature is pretty handy and these are my everyday ski poles. Overall I would rate the Leki’s as the best ski poles.

Best for: Skiers with existing arm and wrist ailments.

BLACK DIAMOND Razor Carbon Pro Ski Poles Black Diamond does bring us some lightweight touring features in these poles. Adjustable length flick-lock mechanism is meant for touring and skiing backcountry gnar that will leave your GoPro smiling.

Included 4” powder baskets are dedicated to backcountry skiing when the white stuff gets deep and you can choke up on the poles with the included rubber grip if the climbing gets really steep!

Luckily BD made the bottom half of the pole carbon fiber which means valuable weight savings as you huff and puff your way up the steepest slopes around for a “day off”. In my opinion these are the best backcountry ski poles.

Best for: Backcountry touring with varying terrain.

Zipline Lollipop Carbon Composite Ski PoleThese Zipline “Lollipop” (what a name!) graphite composite ski poles are an amazing bargain for the price. These poles are half the price of some other poles of similar construction. The poles are 14 mm which is a standard size but they seem to have more flex than some other ones I have used.

Being a composite they are lighter and have more shock absorption than aluminum ski poles. Maybe that’s why these poles are supplied to the USA Freestyle Olympic Team.

The poles have a grip that is comfortable but also easy to hold, nice when hitting the bumps! The super hard Tungsten tip will last the life of the pole and gives a better ability to stick the pole in icy or hard packed snow.

You will have difficulty finding a better ski pole at any price, especially with the pedigree this pole has of being used by the Olympic Ski Team.

Best For: Intermediate skier looking for good performance.

Rossignol Tactic Pro Carbon Ski PolesRossi has been making ski gear for years beyond count and their equipment is as prevalent as it is useful. These poles are the best value carbon fiber poles on the market in my opinion and despite the low price, you can expect great quality.

Rossignol has been making ski gear and rental lines of equipment to meet the needs of general skiers. These poles are popular with skiers of all abilities and rental shops alike for good reasons: they’re inexpensive and reliable.

While they’re not the lightest poles on the market, you’ll be hard pressed to beat them for the price – especially if you only ski a few days a year. I think these are the best ski poles for the money.

Best for: The recreational skier.

Winget Carbon Fiber Alpine Ski PolesWhile you won’t see this brand on any major ski shop shelf, it’s worth noting that they’re insanely affordable for a lightweight carbon fiber alpine pole.

Steel tip and removable baskets mean you can use these poles in any condition. With a shaft made of 80% carbon fiber, they’re guaranteed to be lighter than just about any other budget priced pole.

Available in lengths from 105 – 130cm these should fit most skiers but be sure to double check your length before ordering.

Integrated straps and ultra-sticky grips make for the finishing touches on these affordable lightweight ski poles. In my opinion these are the best carbon ski poles.

Best for: Performance on a budget.


Why are these ski poles my go-to choice? Because I don’t need any extra bells and whistles on my ski poles. I spend about 7 hours a day with ski poles in my hands and I can say that I’ve got nothing to complain about with the Scott’s.

These are general use ski poles but I ski with them everywhere, despite their lack of powder basket. They’re relatively light, cheap, and they do the job. I’ve also had my ski poles stolen a few times, so I try to save money on my poles.

Best for: Budget skiers who don’t need any “extras”.

Black Diamond Traverse Pro Ski Poles

Black Diamond, one of my favorite makers of outdoor equipment also makes an adjustable ski pole. I have never had the need for them personally, but I can see how they would come in handy in certain situations.

Friends tell me who do a lot of backcountry skiing they do like to be able to adjust their poles when skiing DEEP powder and find the poles are sinking in too far before hitting something solid.

They can also come in handy when zig-zagging steep inclines and want one pole shorter.

These poles have a very wide range of adjustability, 95-145cm for the shorter model and 105-155cm for the long model. The locking mechanism is solid and reliable while being easy to adjust.

Being made of aluminum they are light and strong, not as light as the BD Razors reviewed above (just over a pound). Like the Razors, they have the choke-up grips and the flick-lock mechanism.

One nice benefit is they can be used for hiking as well by removing the basket and changing the tips. Being adjustable they can pack up into a smaller package then typical ski poles.

If you are looking for the best adjustable ski poles, the Black Diamond Traverse poles are it.

Best for: Backcountry skiing with varying terrain.

Ski Pole Comparison Table

Ski Poles Shaft MaterialWeight (pair)WidthBest ForRating
Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Ski PolesAluminum upper / carbon fiber lower1 lb 5 oz14mm / 12mm Backcountry4.3 / 5.0
Rossignol Tactic Pro Carbon Ski PolesAluminum upper / carbon fiber lower1 lb 1 oz14mmRecreational5.0 / 5.0
Zipline "Lollipop"Graphite Composite1lb 1 oz16mm / 14mmFreestyle/
4.8 / 5.0
Winget AlpineCarbon Fiber 1 lb 3 oz10.4mmPerformance4.5 / 5.0
LEKI Bold Lite S Ski PoleAluminum 1 lb 7 oz16mmIntermediate/
4.8 / 5.0
SCOTT Zeo Carbon Fiber Ski PolesAluminum 1 lb 8 oz18mmBeginner/
4.3 / 5.0
Black Diamond TraverseAluminum 1lb 5 oz16mm / 14mmBackcountry4.0 / 5.0

Author’s Expertise / Why You Should Trust Our Reviews

Casey Fiedler - Author - Skiing in Park City
Casey Fiedler

I started writing online for my own outdoor sports blog in 2010. Right out of the gate I landed opportunities to test gear for Road ID, Hydrapak, Wolverine, Helle Knives, Pearl Izumi, and GU Energy. Those were the days when growing a no-name blog was easy. Today niche blogging is a different story.

In 2012 I left Central Wyoming College with a degree in Outdoor Education and Leadership. Soon after, I was on a month-long expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Outdoor Educator Course which helps would-be outdoor guides ascend from “aspiring” to “inspiring”.

Between here and there I’ve participated in and spoken at length about outdoor pro-deal programs for companies like Patagonia, Smith Optics, Giro, Therm-a-Rest, Platypus, MSR, Columbia, and many more. I still work closely with tons of outdoor gear companies to review and analyze products. If you have a product opportunity you’d like to discuss, please review my guidelines and contact me here.

After several seasons of guiding backpacking trips and working as a certified Alpine Ski Instructor at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, UT for several seasons, I had to move on. As any educator will tell you – teaching doesn’t pay the bills very well.

In 2016 I began building my freelance writing career as readers and other bloggers reached out to me for help with technical outdoor sports content strategy for online businesses. Within weeks I was overloaded with requests for freelance writing and my new career blossomed.

2018 saw the launch of Hike With Less, my ultralight backpacking partnership program with Dustin Walker.

How To Choose the Best Ski Poles

best backcountry ski poles

Why Should I Use Ski Poles?

This is a fair question and probably one of the most misunderstood tools in a skier’s arsenal. Despite common perception, ski poles are not meant as a source of propulsion across the flats or into the lift lines.

Good ski pole use generates rhythm and timing when alpine skiing, particularly in moguls and tight areas. Ski pole us is particularly important in small radius turns and when skiing steeps.

Ski poles, in the hands of an efficient skier, are occasional supplements to polished skiing technique.

What are the Types of Ski Poles?

To keep it grossly simple we’ll break ski poles into three categories:

  • General use
  • Race poles
  • Powder poles

General Use Poles

These poles feature small, standard, baskets and are meant for use in all conditions but are most suited to use on the groomers and in the moguls. If you’re a recreational skier, chances are that these poles are just fine for you. These poles are well rounded and appropriate for most skiers.

Race Poles

Race poles usually have an asymmetrical design and shields to protect the hands from race gates. These poles, while cool-looking, are generally expensive and totally unnecessary for the average skier. If you’re not a racer, it will be quite apparent that you’re skiing with someone else’s ski poles.

Powder Poles

Often made from lighter weight materials such as carbon fiber, these poles are good for backcountry touring and feature large baskets for flotation in the powder.

If you take a race pole or general use pole into the powder, you’ll quickly find the pole sinks when you try to use it. This can be dangerous as it may cause the pole to be torn from your hands or throw you off balance.

What materials are ski poles made of?

Ski poles can be made of all sorts of fancy materials these days so let’s talk about just a few:


  • Most common
  • Inexpensive
  • Can be bent back into shape
  • Durable


  • Very durable
  • Can “snap” back into shape after bending
  • Inexpensive

Carbon Fiber / Composite

  • Pricey
  • Super lightweight
  • Can be fragile comparatively
  • Easy to ski with for long durations

How Do I Size My Ski Poles?

Traditional wisdom dictates that ski poles be sized by the following process:

  1. Stand on level ground
  2. Hold the ski pole in your hand upside down with the basket resting atop your fist
  3. Bend your arm at a 90-degree flex
  4. The ski pole handle should rest on the ground in this position

As a full-time ski industry professional, however, I have taken a different approach. I like to start by sizing my ski poles with the above method but I make the following modification:

  1. Stand on level ground
  2. Hold the ski pole in your hand upside down with the basket resting atop your fist
  3. Bend your arm at a 90-degree flex
  4. The ski pole handle should rest on the ground in this position
  5. Size ski poles one size down

Why size down one step?

Because shorter ski poles help me commit to crossing over my skis with my body and changing edges – it also helps me keep my weight and balance forward on my skis when skiing moguls.

This is, of course, relatively advanced skiing technique and merely a suggestion for those advanced skiers.

Video: How to size ski poles.

How to Choose the Right Size Ski Poles

FAQs About Ski Poles

Q: What kind of poles do professional instructors use?

A: You’d think (or the marketing would have you think) that skiing pros only use the top of the line gear. In reality, I can tell you, that us instructors rarely use top of the line stuff.

When you’re out skiing 100 days per season, there’s a real chance your poles will get broken, get stolen, or get lost. Losing or breaking expensive poles just sucks!

Assuming that you have poles that are the correct length for you and of the right style for your skiing preferences, cheap poles are totally fine. In fact, you might even be able to find super cheap poles by going to the lost and found garage sale at your local ski mountain in the spring.

Pro Tip: You’d be amazed how many helmets, goggles, skis, and poles get lost or left at the resort each year. These resorts are happy to sell off this used or lost gear for pennies on the dollar.

Q: Are powder baskets better than regular baskets?

A: Those baskets at the end of each pole really define the function of your pole. Too small and they’ll sink in the powder. Too large and they’ll get hung up, dragging around on groomers like an ape.

I personally recommend a nice short pair of poles with regular baskets, myself. Unless, of course, you’re heading out into several feet of fresh pow or doing some touring.

Most of the time inbounds skiers are much further ahead using a regular basket. Skiing out of bounds, though, means powder baskets – hooray! (Note: this is a very general guideline, not a rule.)

Beware of plunging your poles too deeply into soft snow. This can cause them to catch, potentially sending you off balance and/or breaking or losing the pole.

Q: What are self-releasing or safety straps?

A: If you want to get out skiing in the stuff off trail, you should be thinking about getting some of these. Safety straps are made so that, like ski bindings, they can release under a certain pressure.

Ski pole straps are meant to be used on the groomers where they aid with placement and retention. One of the biggest dangers of using ski pole straps, however, is that if your poles get stuck – you get stuck! For this reason pole straps should be removed when riding lifts and skiing off-trail through bush.

Using a safety strap isn’t a guarantee of safety, but it can help avoid worst case scenarios. I still recommend following normal pole strap safety, though. It’s not a get out of jail free card.

Pro Tip: If you often need to take your pole straps off, I’ve seen people use the quick release pole clips to keep the straps on their gloves while clipping and unclipping their poles. It’s an interesting solution!

Q: I’m a new skier – should I get poles or no?

A: You may have already heard the heated debate about ski poles. Many schools of thought argue that new skiers are better off without poles. They say that using poles as a new skier teaches bad habits before learning to properly control the skis themselves.

As an instructor myself, I have worked with thousands of brand new skiers. Some were happy to give up their poles while other insisted on using them. Of all those skiers, the ones who did the best gave up their poles and committed themselves to learning the isolated techniques involved in controlling the skis themselves.

Trust me on this, ski poles are not crutches. Just dump them until you’re confident, comfortable, and in control.

Q: Which is best – aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon?

A: Aluminum is cheap, relatively lightweight, and can be bent back into shape if you mess them up (which will happen). In fact, I’ve seen some skiers bend and straighten out aluminum poles several times before they finally snap.

On the other hand, fiberglass is even cheaper but it’s heavier. Fiberglass will bend quite a bit before it breaks but once it does break, there’s little chance of repairing it. I personally dislike the heavy weight of a fiberglass pole – it gets in the way of my timing.

Carbon fiber is sometimes so lightweight that you won’t even know it’s there. Unfortunately, it’s also quite pricey. Carbon is great for skiing on-piste where you can rip those carved turns like Bode. Of course, carbon is relatively stiff and prone to easily breaking under lateral pressure. Once you snap carbon poles there’s no fixing them.


Don’t forget to measure twice and order once when it comes to ski poles. Not sure what length is right for you? Borrow a friend’s or order an adjustable pole if you just can’t decide.

For most skiers, an inexpensive aluminum ski pole will serve all your needs without a problem. Those of us with more specific needs may want to consider carbon fiber and powder baskets for those deep days when we just have to call in sick to work.

Remember that good skiing happens with the feet and ski poles are just a supplement to efficient skiing on the mountain! If you are a beginner skier, see my guide to getting started skiing.

I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best ski poles to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a pair of poles I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.

Have fun and be safe out there!

How We Researched

To come up with the best ski poles, we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as REI, Backcountry, Moosejaw, EVO along with our own personal experience.

We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.

With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options were for the price. The author, Casey Fiedler was a full-time ski instructor for Park City and The Canyons in Utah. 

To help narrow down the selection he used his personal experience along with recommendations from fellow ski instructors.

After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.


Notice: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links.

Casey Fiedler

Casey is a qualified ski instructor, naturalist educator, hunter, and avid outdoorsman based in Mason, Michigan. He spends much of his time in the wilderness where he tests outdoor gear supplied to him by companies such as Patagonia, Smith Optics, and Wolverine. Casey has guided backpackers, kayakers, and skiers on backcountry trips all around the US. He taught Alpine skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah for several seasons before transitioning into freelance writing. When he is not working, Casey enjoys fishing and participating in adventure and orienteering races.
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