Backcountry skiing provides one of the most adrenaline-rushing types of skiing. It, however, also comes with increased risks. It is critical that every skier who indulges in backcountry skiing is aware of the dangers and is well prepared in case any challenge arises.
This is where the need for a quality pair of backcountry ski poles arises. Backcountry skiing utilizes quite a several ski gear. This means that it is quite a costly sport. Therefore, it is important that whichever gear you purchase is the right fit for you to avoid making repurchases, as it will call for additional costs.
If you are an avid skier, you have to appreciate the power and functionality of the ski pole. However, we cannot deny that they are one of the most underrated ski gear.
Related: Best Sunglasses For Skiing
The backcountry terrain is quite challenging compared to on-piste skiing. Therefore, you need to be well-prepared before starting your ski run. Unlike resort skiing, backcountry skiing involves high speeds and ungroomed terrain. Ski poles are important in ensuring that you always stay ready in case of trouble in the terrain.
Poles help differentiate skiers from snowboarders. Skiers rely on ski poles for varying needs. They are fitted with different features that can meet and satisfy different functions.
Ski poles are multipurpose and offer various benefits that we will discuss in depth in this review. Have you been wondering how to purchase a pair of backcountry skis? Worry not. I have your back.
The list below highlights the top 7 best backcountry ski poles in 2023. I have also provided a detailed guide to help you purchase the correct backcountry ski poles to suit your needs.
- What Are Backcountry Ski Poles?
- Are Backcountry Ski Poles Worth It?
- 1 . LEKI Helicon Ski Touring Pole Pair – Best Overall
- 2 . MSR DynaLock Trail 2-Section Aluminum Backcountry Ski Poles
- 3 . Black Crows Duos Freebird Adjustable Ski Poles
- 4 . LEKI Detect S Ski Pole Pair
- 5 . Goode G-Max Pole
- 6 . Black Diamond Compactor Pole
- 7 . Black Diamond Vapor Carbon Ski Poles
- Buying Guide For The Best Ski Poles For Backcountry Skiing
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Do You Need To Have A Specific Set Of Ski Poles For Backcountry Skiing?
- Which Is The Best Ski Pole Brand In The Market Today?
- Can You Use Trekking Poles In Place Of Backcountry Ski Poles?
- What Should You Avoid Doing When Using Ski Poles?
- Why Do You Need Ski Poles?
- Are Baskets Important For My Ski Poles?
- Are Carbon Fiber Ski Poles Tougher Than Aluminum Poles?
- Final Thoughts
What Are Backcountry Ski Poles?
Ski poles are a pair of lightweight poles designed to provide skiers with balance while skiing or propel them forward on challenging terrain. Some skiers refer to them as ‘sticks’.
They are commonly made of aluminum material, but premium brands use carbon or carbon composite material to make them. Backcountry ski poles are ideally made for touring and are able to handle the deep powder snow and ungroomed terrain. They are normally much stronger compared to other ski poles.
Are Backcountry Ski Poles Worth It?
Yes, ski poles are very important gear in backcountry skiing. They offer a wide range of benefits, including
- Ski poles help provide you with balance and make turning on the terrain seamless. The horizontal stretches can be quite scary when skiing.
- They also help you to get rid of your bindings quickly after suffering from a fall. This is because they can open the bindings when used correctly.
- Ski poles also help propel you forward as you ski through uneven terrain. This is especially helpful when you are stuck.
- You can use backcountry ski poles as makeshift hiking poles when going up the mountain. These ski poles provide stability and achieve the speed needed for a challenging ski run. It is important to remember that backcountry skiing is more challenging than on-piste skiing.
So here are the best picks for you:
1 . LEKI Helicon Ski Touring Pole Pair – Best Overall
Leki is a trusted brand whose reputation has been maintained and grown over the year. They offer unmatched performance and value that you can rely on. These ski poles are relatively malleable and, once bent, can be returned to normal by slowly adding pressure on the pole.
These ski poles are a great choice for all backcountry skiers. They feature excellent construction and are quickly adjustable to help you easily change ski patterns and movement as you move up and down the mountain.
The adjustable straps fitted on the Lexi helicon help ensure you do not lose the ski poles. The poles are built using aluminum, making them lightweight, sturdy, and durable after years of use.
These poles feature binding baskets designed with short edges to help you adjust the climbing aid, while the longer edges help remove ice built up around the skins.
The backcountry ski poles are well-priced and are a great hybrid option for interested skiers. They feature Evocon soft grip technology that helps you to comfortably hold the ski poles in your hands at varying intensities depending on what you need at any given moment.
The straps fitted on the ski poles are adjustable, and the poles can easily be carried on a backpack. They come with binding baskets that are very functional and practical.
Why Is The Lexi Helicon The Best Backcountry Ski Pole In 2023?
The ski pole shaft of the Lexi helicon is made of high-quality aluminum, which helps you keep up with the high speeds associated with backcountry skiing. Its durability and high performance easily make it one of my personal favorite backcountry ski poles in 2023.
The Lexi helicon is one of the most budget-friendly ski poles on this list. It is quite impressive that even with this low price, the brand does not compromise on performance. Its quality construction can easily give premium ski pole brands a run for their money.
The ski poles come fitted with a large ski basket that prevents the poles from being deeply buried in the deep snow powder. It enables you to easily adjust the ski bindings without bending. It offers a fantastic way to clean your skis without much hassle.
2 . MSR DynaLock Trail 2-Section Aluminum Backcountry Ski Poles
These ski poles operate similarly to tent poles. The poles feature a simple design that is lightweight but still robust in its functioning. These ski poles utilize carbon fiber construction, making them very tough and able to bear the backcountry terrain’s pressure, weight, and speed.
The grip fitted on the pole is moisture resistant and is made of a cushion-like material that ensures that your hands are comfortable handling the ski poles for hours—the ski poles re-adjust easily to any measurements you might require.
The Dynalock mechanism allows for tool-free tension adjustments, which most skiers appreciate. The ski poles retail at a current price of $150.The whole construction is made of aluminum hence the bulky nature of the backcountry ski poles. We recommend this purchase because it is quite flexible.
3 . Black Crows Duos Freebird Adjustable Ski Poles
These ski poles are designed using a blend of Alloy, carbon, and aluminum. It is the best option when you are looking to get a lightweight pair of backcountry ski poles. The model is also fitted with a telescopic design.
Easy adjustment of the ski pole’s height also impacts their flexibility and performance. The straps fitted on the ski poles provide a firm and secure feel even when you move along the challenging terrain alone.
The Black crow duo is quite pricey. The secure grip is well extended to assist in areas with steep slopes. Its sharp pointy tip and powder basket can perform excellently well in snowy conditions.
The well-secured twin powder baskets also perform quite well on the snow. If you are looking for a versatile ski pole well suited for backcountry skiing, then you cannot go wrong with the Black Crows Freebird ski pole. I highly recommend it.
4 . LEKI Detect S Ski Pole Pair
This ski pole provides you with a strong, tough, high-grade aluminum construction without digging too deep into your pockets. The customization feature on this ski pole is what I love most about this model.
The Leki detect allows you to with two baskets that you can move around depending on the terrain you are going to ski on. You can choose between the Cobra basket and the big mountain basket.
The Cobra basket is more suited for on-piste skiing, while the big mountain basket is perfect for those deep powder snow days skiing on the more challenging backcountry terrain. The Leki detect is a very flexible ski pole choice that you can always rely on for all mountain skiing conditions.
The high-grade aluminum used to construct the poles allows you to enjoy a lightweight yet tough ski pole with high performance and reliability. They can handle high impact and come with just the right flex to enjoy the ultimate exciting and fun ride on the lush backcountry terrain.
The Trigger S Frame strap fitted on the poles can be quite challenging to use but works to minimize the chances of injury. These straps automatically disconnect whenever you suffer a fall. This may not be the best feature for skiers who love to stay in control of their ski poles. It is especially not ideal for beginners.
5 . Goode G-Max Pole
These ski poles are made from advanced materials and are one of the most lightweight ski poles on the market. These carbon poles are ideal for all skiing levels. They can handle high-impact activities which are synonymous with backcountry skiing.
The pole pencil shaft design features a consistent diameter which feels very comfortable on your hand. The ergonomic grips and inter-loc straps make the ski poles reliable, strong, and able to provide great stability.
6 . Black Diamond Compactor Pole
The black diamond brand has existed since the 1980s and has made significant contributions to the skiing world. They strive to use the latest innovations and technology to create a beautiful experience for you while skiing.
This ski pole features a foldable design that allows you to fold it into smaller lengths, making them easy to carry or adjust according to preference. The poles are robust, long-lasting, and lightweight due to the aluminum material used to make them.
You do not have to dig too deep into your pockets when purchasing this ski pole, as the aluminum material makes it quite affordable compared to premium carbon poles.
A touring series grip helps give you a firm hold on the ski pole when speeding up or down the backcountry terrain. It also features well-built straps, which help improve its performance.
There is 20cm of room for adjustability on this ski pole. This has been limited by its collapsible design. It is, however, still enough height to work with whenever you need to change the length of your ski pole.
7 . Black Diamond Vapor Carbon Ski Poles
This is one of the strongest models in this review. They are made to withstand high impact and still remain sturdy. You do not have to worry about bending or breaking this ski pole. It is made with a 100% carbon shaft strengthened with glass fibers, making it almost indestructible.
An ultra-light foam grip adorns the poles providing a firm yet comfortable grip. It is also very durable. The ski poles are fitted with a carbide tip, which offers increased strength and performance. The grip is extended in order to create comfortable side hill control.
The baskets fitted to this ski feature a free-ride design. They can float on deep powder while allowing for easy pole planting. This model comes with a tab-style grip top. This feature allows for climbing risers and boot buckle adjustments.
This ski pole is ideal for weight-conscious backcountry skiers. The vapor is quite expensive but also a worthwhile investment. If you are on the hunt for a ski pole that speaks reliability, then the Black diamond vapor is your best choice.
Buying Guide For The Best Ski Poles For Backcountry Skiing
Ski poles always come in pairs and are measured in two inches or an increment of 5cm going up. While finding the right size of ski pole is relatively easy, getting the right type for your skiing needs and preferences can be quite challenging.
The guide below will provide you with the factors you should consider when hunting for a good pair of ski poles that will guarantee you value, reliability, and performance while skiing the backcountry terrain.
Most backcountry ski poles are made of aluminum. The ski poles using this material are generally more affordable than those made from carbon or carbon composite material.
Carbon ski poles are lightweight and more durable but come with a steep price which may be difficult to obtain if you are working with a budget.
Carbon fiber poles are ideal for backcountry skiing and very dependable on the terrain. I advise you to carefully check a ski pole’s build before making a purchase.
Baskets prevent your ski pole from sinking into the deep powder and indirectly work to improve your rhythm while taking turns.
Baskets are fitted at the bottom of your ski pole and prevent your ski pole from getting into the snow by creating a larger surface area against the snow. Extra wide baskets are ideal for backcountry ski conditions as they are prone to deep powder conditions.
A good wristband system ensures that your ski poles stay close to you and ensure that you do not overexert yourself. If your pole happens to get stuck, the wrist straps ensure that they stay in the same place even as you continue to ski.
While it may be tiresome and annoying to climb back to get your ski pole, it is better than losing it.
Length Of The Pole
An excessively long ski pole will be challenging to control and is sure to disrupt your ski rhythm. It is, therefore, important that you purchase the correct length of the pole in order to have a fun experience.
A ski pole that is too short, on the other hand, will require you to adjust your body position on the ski in order to make a pole touch. The length of a ski pole is the most critical variable in deciding on the best ski pole to purchase.
To be able to determine the right length pole for you, you should turn the ski pole upside down with your arm at a 90-degree angle. If you are able to reach your ski pole just below the basket without altering your posture, then that pole is the right length for you.
If you cannot do this, you should try looking at other ski pole options that will be better suited for you.
Fixed Vs. Adjustable Poles
A fixed pole is ideal for adults since their height is constant. They are usually more affordable compared to adjustable poles.
Adjustable poles offer a range of benefits for young skiers. You are able to adjust the size of your ski pole easily with no hassle. It also assures you of comfort.
This is because you are able to keep adjusting the ski pole till you get the right feel and comfort. You may not be able to decipher this right away hence the need for flexibility.
Adjustable ski poles are, however, quite expensive, and most models are prone to lock failures. This means that they require constant maintenance to ensure that the locks do not fail.
Once the adjustable feature fails to work, you will need to replace your ski poles. This may be quite inconvenient and irritating considering the cost of purchase. This is not ideal for you if you are working with a constrained budget.
There are two types of handles that can be fitted on a ski pole. The dual density and mono-material handle. Handles made through the dual-density method provide a more comfortable and better grip.
Mono-material handles are made of cheaper material and do not provide the best grip. They are also less durable due to the cheap materials made in constructing them.
Ski pole trips are designed to strike the hard snow during pole planting. Most tips are made of steel to strengthen and enhance durability. Tips made of steel are generally more affordable compared to carbon-based tips.
Steel tips can perform better and cut through the snow quite easily compared to ski poles fitted with carbon tips.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Need To Have A Specific Set Of Ski Poles For Backcountry Skiing?
A dedicated set of ski gear is a good idea if you only specialize in backcountry skiing or want your ski poles to last longer. This is because you will be able to enjoy the experience better fully.
However, if your budget is constrained or you love the freedom of enjoying different ski terrains, you will need to invest in a versatile set of ski poles that you can depend on when skiing in different locations. Adjustable skis are an ideal option in this case.
Which Is The Best Ski Pole Brand In The Market Today?
This is a matter that is highly subjective and may vary from one skier to another. There are several ski pole brands in the market.
The Leki brand I have highlighted in this review is widely known and trusted for its excellent craftsmanship and durable models. They make a variety of ski poles that are ideal for different ski terrains and conditions.
Can You Use Trekking Poles In Place Of Backcountry Ski Poles?
Yes, you can. I, however, do not recommend it. This is because they cannot offer much-needed support if not fitted with large baskets. They should also be well-adjusted. You must use the correct gear for all your skiing activities to avoid injury.
What Should You Avoid Doing When Using Ski Poles?
There are improper ways of using ski poles that can result in accidents and even injuries. You should avoid using your ski poles to hold weight while taking a turn or propelling yourself forward.
Your ski poles should also always stay in front of you. Avoid dragging your ski poles behind you as they lose their essence.
Why Do You Need Ski Poles?
You can easily ski downhill without ski poles. However, the common reason why poles are essential is their ability to provide and improve balance while skiing. This is especially important for beginners, as they have not fully learned how to balance themselves while on a ski.
Expert skiers, they come in handy in helping them refine their techniques and parallel turns. It does not matter your ski level; ski poles remain essential in the backcountry terrain.
Are Baskets Important For My Ski Poles?
Yes, ski pole baskets ensure that your poles do not sink deep into the snow. I recommend that you always try to get ski poles with wider baskets. This is because the larger the diameter of your ski basket, the better the ability to keep your poles afloat.
Are Carbon Fiber Ski Poles Tougher Than Aluminum Poles?
No, ski poles made of carbon fiber tend to shatter more easily than aluminum poles. Most aluminum poles are malleable and only bend under too much pressure. It can easily be straightened and restored to its initial position.
Carbon poles through tough break easily under high impact. Skiing in the backcountry using carbon poles requires that you be more intuitive and careful. Always remember that it is more intense than resort skiing and involves even higher speeds.
Ski poles are a critical asset to have for all skiers. Your choice of terrain should help you determine the correct size of your poles. While ski poles can be made of aluminum, carbon, and carbon composite material, you should make a reasonable choice based on your budget.
You do not have to splurge huge cash to get a decent, quality pair of backcountry ski poles. The Leki helicon is my top choice for purchasing the best backcountry ski poles.
I hope this review will give you an in-depth understanding of the best ski poles for backcountry terrain and how to select the perfect size. Do not underrate the need for ski poles. They will help you execute several primary ski techniques that will help take your backcountry skiing experience a notch higher.