Skiing off-piste or through the backcountry is a wonderful experience. However, it can be tough if you aren’t ready. To prepare, you need the right gear. A good set of adjustable poles not only helps you traverse unpredictable terrain, it also provides you with a way to properly combat any obstacles nature might throw your way.
The following models are fully adjustable in a way all off-piste skiers need. However, they do well in groomed runs as well. That versatility is what makes them so special, and why they rise above similar poles.
- The Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro is a ski pole geared towards versatility. Beyond its adjustability, this model allows for great responsiveness in both the resort and backcountry. The soft grips are very comfortable and the sturdy shaft can withstand a lot of heavy use in deep snow. It is also light, which makes it a good option for skiers who want a pole that won’t tire them out on long excursions.
- The K2 Lockjaw Carbon is a versatile ski pole best suited for backcountry skiers who want extra features. This model has a unique carbon/aluminum mixture with carbon on top and aluminum on the bottom. That solid build makes the pole quite useful for skiers who need to push over rough terrain. The powder basket also helps in that area, as does the included bubble inclinometer that measures the angle of your slope.
- Another solid model from a well-trusted brand, the Black Diamond Traverse is the perfect adjustable pole for skiers looking to adventure into the great unknown. This comes with a special FlickLock Pro adjusting system, as well as a redesigned touring ring complete with a soft-touch upper shaft coating. That last feature makes this pole perfect for skiers who enjoy alpine touring or cruising through off-piste locations. The basket and tips are even fully removable for when you want to hike.
Who Should Get This?
Adjustable ski poles are best suited for the backcountry. Though most groomed runs do not require flexibility, it is essential to shorten or lengthen your poles while off the grid. That enables you to use a long pole when you need to generate power and a shorter one when you need to go uphill.
Cross country skiers will appreciate the following models as well. Any skier who finds themselves traversing through uneven or unpredictable terrain needs a good set of adjustable poles so they’ll be ready for whatever comes their way.
Best Adjustable Ski Poles: What to Consider?
There are many ski poles on the current market, and they all come with their own materials. Aluminum options tend to be durable and sturdy, while composite poles are a lot more flexible. If you want extra give, composite poles are the way to go. In addition, carbon poles, typically used by more advanced skiers, are light, come with extra flexibility, and are incredibly durable. The construction you choose depends on your skiing experience and personal style.
All ski poles come with small plastic disks at the bottom. That feature, known as a basket, keeps you moving by preventing your stick from slipping too far into the snow. The way you choose a basket depends on the type of skiing you like to do. Small baskets are best for groomed runs, while wide options help you brave tough off-piste conditions. Certain poles allow you to switch out your basket, providing you with extra versatility on your runs.
When picking up a new set of adjustable ski poles, pay attention to the grip. Pole grip may not seem important at first, but it will once you’re nursing hurt or swollen hands. To avoid such issues, do your best to get soft or flexible poles with a comfortable handle. That will not just make the pole easy to grab, it will also cut down on shocks. That absorption goes a long way towards keeping you pain-free.
Best Adjustable Ski Poles: Our Picks
Skiers looking for a light-but-sturdy pole will love the Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro. This model excels through its versatility. The adjustable length makes it perfect for the backcountry, while the strong, lightweight construction gives it great power on groomed runs. As an added bonus, the straps have a release mechanism when put under extreme stress to help protect your arms and hands during a fall.
What We Like:
- Sturdy enough for backcountry
- Soft rubber grips
- Release straps protect your hands
- Aluminum/carbon fiber construction
- Height adjustable
- Powder basket great for deep snow
What We Don’t Like:
- Nothing. A solid, all-around adjustable option
The K2 Lockjaw Carbon is a feature-filled pole fully equipped with an inclinometer, lightweight construction, and aluminum/carbon hybrid design. This model is not just tough, making it perfect for off-piste environments, it also uses the solid LockJaw system to adjust in length. The pole comes with powder baskets and an ultra-light EVA grip as well.
What We Like:
- Long-lasting construction
- Powder baskets
- Ultra-light EVA grip
What We Don’t Like:
- Not as durable as similar options
- A tad on the heavy side
If you’re a backcountry skier, few poles are better than the Black Diamond Traverse. This model excels in deep powder, thanks to the great FlickLock Pro adjustment system. The aluminum construction is light enough to not weigh you down, but it is also sturdy enough to handle snowy conditions. In addition, the baskets and tips can be removed to allow you to hike.
What We Like:
- Works well in deep powder
- SwitchRelease breakaway
- FlickLock Pro adjustability
- Touring ring complete with soft-touch upper
- Soft, comfortable grip
- Light-but-strong construction
- Can be used for hiking
What We Don’t Like:
- Only for more advanced backcountry skiers
- Heavier than similar models
Useful Tips and Information
A good adjustable ski pole is a great investment. However, no matter how well constructed a model is, it is not always easy to operate. Rather than trying to wing it while out on the mountain, consult the tips here on the best way to use your poles.
Understanding ski poles can also be daunting, especially if you’ve never used them before. If you want to learn more about the different parts, or if you seek to understand how they work, research the sections in this article.
When gearing up to ski, it can be easy to overlook your poles. Many skiers simply get the first option they find, but that can often lead to lackluster results.
Rather than trying to navigate through the seemingly endless options out there, this guide provides a list of the best adjustable options around. Though not everyone needs their poles to be adjustable, if you do, you can’t go wrong with the above items.
Do you have your own set of adjustable poles? If so, what brand are they? Let us know in the comment section below!
Joseph Scalise is an avid writer, editor, and snow sports enthusiast who loves to spend his time outdoors. He began his love of writing early on in life and continued to pursue it as he grew older. While his time behind the computer doesn’t get him into the wild unknown as much as he would like, he never misses a chance to head up (or down) a mountain, across a river, or through a lush forest. When he’s not planning new trips, you can always find him typing away on his next project.