Best Backcountry Ski Poles

Best Backcountry Ski Poles: Top 5 of 2024

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by James

Heading into the backcountry can pose a significant challenge. Extreme weather, intense terrain and an ever-changing landscape are enough to push the limits of any skier.

It can be difficult to prepare for every eventuality. However, using solid ski gear is a step in the right direction. Every piece of equipment can vastly improve your time on the mountain, including ski poles.

Most skiers focus on skis, boots and bindings when they’re heading off-piste. However, poles are an item that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The best backcountry ski poles provide support and versatility that will improve your experience. With that in mind, we have analysed and reviewed the best options in this article.

Best Backcountry Ski Poles At A Glance

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Summary

Price

    • Lightweight and resilient carbon construction

    • Highly compactable 'z-pole' folding design

    • Strong and lightweight ski touring grip

        

        

    • Speed lock mechanism adjusts length quickly

    • Light and durable carbon and aluminium shaft

    • Half basket retrieves from snow quickly during ascent

        

        

    • Durable aluminium shaft

    • Adjustable 4-season strap is ergonomic

    • Budget friendly price

        

         

    • Length adjustable with 'speed lock' technology

    • Light and durable carbon and aluminium construction

    • Trigger 'click in' strap system

           

           

    • UD Carbon upper shaft is lightweight

    • Kevlar carbon lower shaft for impact protection

    • Extended ergonomic EVA grip

           

           

    Why Do I Need The Best Backcountry Ski Poles?

    If you’re heading into the backcountry, you need to be prepared. When the going gets tough, having the right ski gear can be the difference in ‘make or break’ situations.

    Ski poles are often overlooked, but they are a vital part of backcountry equipment. They provide a hiking pole that assists your mountain ascent before acting as a regular ski pole on the way down.

    Some of the best backcountry ski poles have the functionality to convert between hiking and skiing, making them a great year-round investment. Being able to adjust the length is another great feature that can prepare you for any eventuality.

    Weight is another ski pole feature to assess, with the lightest options being well suited to long treks up the mountain. If you can find ski poles that are light, durable and adaptable; you will greatly improve your mountain experience.

    Best Backcountry Ski Poles
    Quality ski poles can improve your mountain experience

    How To Choose The Best Backcountry Ski Poles

    Length

    Length is arguably the most important factor when selecting ski poles. Using poles that are the wrong length is detrimental to your performance, so making the right choice is paramount.

    Ski poles that are too short will negatively affect your posture and balance when skiing downhill. Ski poles that are too long might catch in the snow when swinging them forward.

    Determine the correct ski pole length by turning them upside down and holding them underneath the basket. In this position, your arms should be at a 90-degree angle with your elbows by your sides. In order to get an accurate measurement, make sure you are wearing shoes or ski boots.

    If you are purchasing online, you might not have the option to ‘try before you buy’. If this is the case, you can refer to the below table for guidance on pole lengths.

    Skier Height

    Ski Pole Length (cm)

    6'7" +

    140

    6'4" - 6'6"

    135

    6'1" - 6'3"

    130

    5'10" - 6'0"

    125

    5'7" - 5'9"

    120

    5'4" - 5'6"

    115

    5'1" - 5'3"

    110

    4'9" - 5'0"

    105

    4'5" - 4'8"

    100

    Best Backcountry Ski Poles
    Making sure your poles are the right length will let you enjoy the mountain view

    Material

    The material used to construct a ski pole has a big impact on its performance. The most common options are carbon and aluminium, with both choices having pros and cons.

    Carbon has become an increasingly popular choice in recent years because it’s lightweight. However, carbon poles can lack durability and are usually expensive.

    Aluminium poles are usually the most durable and cost effective option. However, they are usually heavier than carbon, which is enough to dissuade many backcountry skiers.

    Additionally, some ski poles use a blend of carbon and aluminium. These provide a great combination of lightweight durability, making them a popular choice for backcountry skiers.

    Weight

    If you are serious about backcountry skiing, it’s likely that you’re looking to reduce weight. Using lightweight ski poles is a great way to shave off a few pounds and conserve some energy when heading uphill.

    The ‘swing weight’ of your poles can also have a significant effect on your downhill skiing. Lighter ski poles can provide better balance and aid in ski posture.

    If your poles are too heavy, it may cause your shoulders to become tense. This can negatively impact your shoulder alignment, leading to inaccurate pole planting.

    Look to prioritise lighter poles when possible. Although weight might seam like a small detail, it can have a significant impact on your backcountry performance.

    Additional Features

    The right set of features can turn a good set of ski poles into a game changing purchase. Every option comes with its own specifications that can make a difference on the mountain.

    • Length adjustability is one of the most common and sought after features. It allows you to adjust your poles based on circumstance, while also giving you a more accurate choice of length.
    • Grips vary in appearance and style. Some will look to provide minimal weight, while others will focus on maximising hold strength.
    • Pole straps can also come in a range of styles. Some backcountry ski poles will come with straps that improve stability during ascent. Most straps will offer size adjustability, making them a good fit for all hand or glove sizes.
    • Baskets come in a range of shapes and sizes. Backcountry ski poles usually come with extra large baskets that are designed for use in deep powder. These are often interchangeable, giving you the option to use smaller baskets when on-piste.
    Best Backcountry Ski Poles
    Some of the best backcountry ski poles are versatile

    Best Backcountry Ski Poles Reviewed

    Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Ski Poles

    Key Features

    • Length Adjustable: No
    • Weight: 580g (pair)
    • Shaft Material: Carbon Fibre
    • Best For: Compact Storage

    If you’re looking for backcountry ski poles that are efficient to transport, the Black Diamond Carbon Compactor is your best option. They use ‘Z-Pole’ technology that allows the shaft to collapse into three sections, making them backpack compatible.

    These poles are made with ski touring in mind, using extended grips that are designed to be lightweight. They also come with straps that have lightweight webbing to improve your grip on tough terrain.

    The Black Diamond Carbon Compactor ski poles are a versatile option for anyone looking to save pack space. They also have a lightweight carbon fibre design that is comfortable and practical.

    Pros

    • Collapsible z-pole design
    • Single pull pole deployment
    • Single button collapses entire pole
    • Lightweight carbon fibre shaft
    • Extended lightweight grips
    • Compact powder baskets

    Cons

    • Not length adjustable
    • Carbon fibre shaft could be more durable

    LEKI Aergonlite 2 Carbon Ski Touring Poles

    Key Features

    • Length Adjustable: Yes
    • Weight: 532g (pair)
    • Shaft Material: Carbon & Aluminium
    • Best For: Overall

    LEKI are a known producer of quality ski poles, with the Aergonlite 2 being one of their best backcountry products. They are length adjustable between 105 and 150cm, using a ‘speed lock’ design that allows for fast and reliable pole adjustment.

    These poles have a durable aluminium upper segment and a lightweight carbon lower segment, combining durability with weight reduction. They also have a large grip that is strong and ergonomically designed for a comfortable hold.

    If you are looking for a lightweight and adaptable ski pole, then the LEKI Aergonlite 2 is a great option. They are designed to make your life easier when skinning uphill and have the durability to withstand intense downhill terrain.

    Pros

    • Length adjustable
    • Reliable ‘speed lock’ pole adjustment
    • Aluminium upper shaft is durable
    • Carbon lower shaft is lightweight
    • Comfortable and ergonomic grip
    • Contour pole tip improves grip on ice

    Cons

    • One of the most expensive options
    • Most skiers don’t need this much technology

    Black Diamond Expedition 1 Ski Poles

    Key Features

    • Length Adjustable: No
    • Weight: 445g (pair)
    • Shaft Material: Aluminium
    • Best For: Budget

    The Black Diamond Expedition 1 ski poles are adaptable, durable and a great value for money option. They are built using a sturdy and lightweight aluminium shaft that is one of the lightest on the market.

    These poles offer a great level of adaptability, using a ‘4-season’ extended grip for year-round usage. In addition, the ergonomic pole strap is designed to provide a comfortable fit with or without gloves.

    If you are looking for solid backcountry ski poles that won’t break the bank, the Black Diamond Expedition 1 might be your best bet. They are made using a sturdy and lightweight construction, while also having the versatility to be used year-round.

    Pros

    • Sturdy aluminium shaft
    • Lightweight construction
    • Extended foam grip
    • Pole strap works with or without gloves
    • Interchangeable powder and trekking baskets
    • Budget friendly price

    Cons

    • Pole straps can be too short for larger hands
    • Not extendable

    LEKI Peak Vario 3D Ski Poles

    Key Features

    • Length Adjustable: Yes
    • Weight: 570g (pair)
    • Shaft Material: Aluminium & Carbon
    • Best For: Overall

    LEKI have designed the Peak Vario 3D ski poles to be strong and adaptable to any mountain situation. They have an aluminium upper shaft and a carbon fibre lower shaft, combining durability with a low swing weight.

    These poles are length adjustable between 110 – 140cm. They also come with a trigger 3D grip system that allows you to attach to the grip without the use of pole straps.

    These LEKI Peak Vario 3D ski poles have a durable and lightweight design that’s also fully length adjustable. They are some of the best all-round ski poles on the market and can adapt to almost any situation.

    Pros

    • Durable aluminium upper shaft
    • Lightweight carbon lower shaft
    • Length adjustable between 110 – 140cm
    • Trigger 3D grip system
    • Piste and powder baskets included
    • Carbide flex pole tip adds durability

    Cons

    • Some skiers may prefer traditional pole straps
    • No extended grip

    Dynafit Blacklight Pro Ski Poles

    Key Features

    • Length Adjustable: No
    • Weight: 304g (pair)
    • Shaft Material: Carbon
    • Best For: Lightweight

    If you are looking to keep weight to a minimum, the Dynafit Blacklight Pro ski poles are an excellent choice. They have a carbon construction that results in them weighing just 304g.

    The upper shaft uses UD carbon for the lowest possible swing weight, while the lower shaft is made from impact resistant Kevlar carbon. They also come with an extended EVA grip that is comfortable to hold on any terrain type.

    The Dynafit Blacklight Pro ski poles are ideal for anyone looking to reduce the weight of their ski touring gear. They have the perfect blend of strength and durability, making them some of the best backcountry ski poles on the market.

    Pros

    • Super lightweight construction
    • Lightweight UD carbon upper shaft
    • Impact resistant Kevlar carbon lower shaft
    • Extended ergonomic EVA grip
    • Stiff shaft is ready for any terrain
    • Comfortable swing weight

    Cons

    • Not extendable
    • Lacking year-round adaptability features

    Summing Up

    Ski poles are often overlooked when selecting equipment. However, they play a vital role in backcountry performance.

    Choosing ski poles that are lightweight, durable and adaptable is sure to improve your experience. They give you the support required for a successful ascent and the comfort required for a natural pole plant.

    This list of the best backcountry ski poles is designed to help you make an informed decision. Assess the pros and cons of each product to find the option that suits your style.

    Every ski pole on this list is made with the key features required for a successful ski tour. If you stick to the options on this list, you are sure to improve your off-piste prowess.