Best Backcountry Ski Poles 2023

Ski poles play a vital role in providing stability and support while navigating through the backcountry terrain. As an avid backcountry skier myself, I have researched and tested various ski poles to find the best ones for the job. In this article, I will share my top picks for the best backcountry ski poles of 2023.

After extensive testing and research, I have found that the Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro is the best backcountry ski pole on the market. Its lightweight carbon fiber construction provides excellent strength and durability while reducing weight. The ergonomic grip and adjustable strap ensure a comfortable and secure hold, even in wet or cold conditions. Additionally, the Razor Carbon Pro features a removable powder basket, making it versatile for various snow conditions.

Additionally, the Leki Detect S is an excellent option. This aluminum pole is sturdy and reliable, with an ergonomic grip and slick strap system for added comfort. Its standard and powder baskets allow for versatility in different snow conditions. While not as lightweight as the Razor Carbon Pro, the Leki Detect S is a great value for its price and will get the job done in the backcountry.

Understanding Ski Poles

Ski poles are an essential piece of equipment for any skier, especially for those who venture into the backcountry. They provide balance, stability, and support while skiing, and can also be used for propulsion when touring. In this section, I will discuss the features of ski poles and the materials used in their construction. (See here for the Evolution of the Ski Pole).

Ski Pole Features

Ski poles come in different lengths, materials, and constructions, and can have various features. Some of the features to consider when choosing ski poles include:

  • Length: You may be wondering: How Long Should Ski Poles Be? Ski poles should be the right length for your height and skiing style. A good rule of thumb is to hold the pole upside down, with the grip touching the ground, and your elbow should be at a 90-degree angle.
  • Adjustability: Some ski poles are adjustable, which allows you to change their length to suit your needs. This feature is especially useful for backcountry skiing and splitboarding.
  • Grip: Ski pole grips come in different shapes and materials, including foam, rubber, and cork. The grip should be comfortable and provide a good grip.
  • Strap: Ski pole straps keep the poles attached to your wrists, and come in different materials and designs. The strap should be adjustable and comfortable.
  • Basket: Ski pole baskets prevent the poles from sinking too deep into the snow, and come in different sizes and shapes. Backcountry ski poles often have larger baskets for better flotation.

Materials and Construction

Ski poles can be made from various materials, including aluminum, carbon fiber, and composite materials. The choice of material affects the weight, durability, and stiffness of the pole.

  • Aluminum: Aluminum ski poles are durable, affordable, and provide good stiffness. They are heavier than carbon fiber poles, but can withstand more abuse.
  • Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber ski poles are lightweight, stiff, and provide excellent balance and swing weight. They are more expensive than aluminum poles, but offer better performance.
  • Composite Materials: Some ski poles are made from a combination of materials, such as carbon fiber and Kevlar. These poles offer a good balance of weight, stiffness, and durability.

The construction of ski poles can also affect their performance and durability. Some poles are made from one piece, while others have multiple sections that can be collapsed for storage or transport. One-piece poles are stiffer and more durable, but can be harder to pack. Multi-section poles are more versatile, but can be less stiff and more prone to failure.

In conclusion, ski poles are an essential piece of equipment for any skier, and choosing the right poles can improve your performance and enjoyment on the slopes. Consider the features and materials when selecting ski poles, and choose the ones that best suit your needs and budget.

Choosing the Right Ski Pole

When it comes to choosing the right ski pole, there are a few things to consider. As someone who has spent a lot of time skiing in the backcountry, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. Here are some factors to keep in mind when selecting your ski poles.

Standard vs. Nordic Length

The first decision you’ll need to make is whether to go for standard or Nordic length ski poles. Standard poles are shorter and better suited for downhill turns, while Nordic poles are longer and provide more leverage for uphill travel. If you plan on doing a lot of ski touring, Nordic poles are the way to go. Otherwise, standard poles will do just fine.

Pole Length

The length of your ski poles is also important. The general rule of thumb is to choose a pole that reaches your armpit when standing upright. However, this can vary depending on your personal preference and skiing style. If you’re a more aggressive skier, you may want slightly shorter poles to help with quick turns. If you’re a more relaxed skier, longer poles may be more comfortable.

Fixed vs. Adjustable Poles

Another decision to make is whether to go for fixed or adjustable poles. Fixed poles are lighter and more durable, but they don’t offer the flexibility of adjustable poles. Adjustable poles are great for backcountry skiing and splitboarding, as they can be lengthened for uphill travel and shortened for the descent. However, they are heavier and can be more prone to breaking.


If you do decide to go for adjustable poles, make sure they have a reliable adjustment mechanism. Some poles have a simple twist lock mechanism, while others have a more complex lever system. Whatever mechanism you choose, make sure it’s easy to use and won’t slip or break.

Overall, choosing the right ski pole comes down to personal preference and skiing style. Consider the type of skiing you’ll be doing and choose a pole that suits your needs. Whether you go for standard or Nordic length, fixed or adjustable, make sure your poles are comfortable, durable, and reliable.

Top Ski Pole Brands and Models

When it comes to backcountry skiing, having the right ski poles can make all the difference. After researching and testing various ski pole brands and models, I have come up with the top picks for backcountry skiing.

One of the top brands for backcountry ski poles is Leki. The Leki Helicon and Leki Helicon Lite are both great options for those looking for lightweight and durable ski poles. The Helicon Lite is especially lightweight, making it a great option for those who prioritize weight reduction in their gear.

Black Diamond is another top brand for backcountry ski poles. The Black Diamond Vapor and Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro are two popular models that are both lightweight and durable. The Vapor Carbon model is especially lightweight, making it a great option for those who prioritize weight reduction in their gear.

For those looking for a more unique option, the Black Crows Duos Freebird and Black Crows Furtis are both great choices. The Duos Freebird features a two-piece design, which makes it easy to pack and transport. The Furtis is a telescoping ski pole that can be adjusted to different lengths, making it a versatile option for backcountry skiing.

The MSR DynaLock Trail and MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon are two other great options for backcountry ski poles. The DynaLock Trail features a simple and easy-to-use locking mechanism, while the DynaLock Ascent Carbon is a lightweight and durable option for those who prioritize weight reduction in their gear.

Finally, the Dynafit Speed Vario 2.0, Black Diamond Compactor, Black Diamond Expedition 3, Black Diamond Carbon Whippet, and Black Crows Big Mountain Oxus are all other great options for backcountry ski poles. Each of these models has its own unique features and benefits, so it’s important to choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences.

Ski Pole Accessories and Add-Ons

When it comes to backcountry skiing, having the right gear is essential. And ski pole accessories can make a big difference in your overall experience. Here are some of the most popular accessories and add-ons for backcountry ski poles.


Baskets are the circular attachments at the bottom of ski poles that help prevent the poles from sinking too deeply into the snow. There are different types of baskets available, including powder baskets that are designed for deep snow, and smaller baskets for hard-packed or groomed trails.


The grip of a ski pole is where you hold onto the pole. There are different types of grips available, including foam, rubber, and ergonomic grips. Foam grips are lightweight and comfortable to hold, while rubber grips offer a more secure grip. Ergonomic grips are designed to fit the shape of your hand and can help reduce hand fatigue. Some ski poles also come with secondary grips, which can be helpful when you need to adjust your hand position.

Pole Straps

Pole straps are designed to keep your hands attached to the poles, even if you accidentally drop them. They are usually made from a durable material like nylon and are adjustable for a comfortable fit. Some ski poles come with a wristband system, which is a padded wrist strap that can help reduce hand fatigue.

Adjustable Straps

Adjustable straps are designed to allow you to adjust the length of the strap to fit your hand size. They are usually made from a durable material like nylon and are adjustable for a comfortable fit. Some ski poles come with a padded wrist strap, which can help reduce hand fatigue.

Overall, the right ski pole accessories can make a big difference in your backcountry skiing experience. Whether you’re looking for better grip, more comfortable straps, or improved stability in deep snow, there are plenty of options available to help you customize your ski poles to your needs.

Special Considerations for Backcountry Skiing

When it comes to backcountry skiing, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind when choosing your ski poles. As someone who has spent countless hours in the backcountry, I’ve learned that having the right equipment can make all the difference in your experience. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Length: The length of your ski poles is important, especially in deep snow or powder. You want to make sure they are long enough to provide the necessary leverage for turns and balance, but not so long that they get in the way. I recommend adjustable poles so you can customize the length to the conditions.
  • Durability: Backcountry skiing can be tough on equipment, so you want poles that are durable enough to withstand the terrain. Look for materials like aluminum or carbon fiber that can handle the wear and tear.
  • Grip: A good grip is essential for backcountry skiing, especially if you’re using your poles for mountaineering or trekking. Look for grips that are comfortable and provide a secure hold, even in wet or snowy conditions.
  • Weight: Backcountry skiers and splitboarders often carry their poles for long distances, so weight is a consideration. Lighter poles can be more comfortable to carry, but make sure they are still sturdy enough for the conditions.
  • Terrain: The type of terrain you’ll be skiing or snowboarding in can also affect your choice of poles. If you’ll be in a terrain park, for example, you may want shorter poles that are easier to maneuver. If you’ll be in steep or technical terrain, you may want poles with a more aggressive tip for better grip.

Overall, choosing the right ski poles for backcountry skiing requires some thought and consideration. By keeping these factors in mind, you can find poles that will help you enjoy your time in the backcountry to the fullest.

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors should I consider when choosing backcountry ski poles?

When choosing backcountry ski poles, consider the weight, length, and material of the pole. Lightweight poles are ideal for long tours, while longer poles are better for steep descents. Carbon poles are lighter but more expensive, while aluminum poles are heavier but more durable.

Are adjustable poles necessary for backcountry skiing?

Adjustable poles can be helpful for backcountry skiing because they allow you to adjust the length of the pole based on the terrain. However, they are not necessary, and many backcountry skiers prefer fixed-length poles for their simplicity and durability.

What are the benefits of collapsible ski poles for snowboarders?

Collapsible ski poles are beneficial for snowboarders because they can be easily stowed away when not in use. This is especially useful when hiking or traversing on flat terrain. However, collapsible poles may not be as durable as fixed-length poles.

Which brands make the best backcountry ski poles?

There are many brands that make high-quality backcountry ski poles, including Black Diamond, Dynafit, and Leki. It is important to choose a brand that fits your specific needs and preferences.

What are the differences between downhill and touring ski poles?

Downhill ski poles are typically shorter and heavier than touring ski poles. They also have larger baskets to provide more stability on groomed runs. Touring ski poles are longer and lighter to accommodate for uphill travel, and they often have smaller baskets to reduce weight.

How do Black Crows ski poles compare to other brands for backcountry skiing?

Black Crows is a popular brand for backcountry ski poles, and they offer a variety of lightweight and durable options. However, there are many other brands that make high-quality backcountry ski poles, and it is important to choose the brand that best fits your needs.

Where can I find more information on other Ski Pole topics?

Check out our Ski Poles Buyer’s Guide 2023 for all your ski pole related questions!