When it comes to skiing gear, there are many obvious and not-so-obvious items. Everyone knows they need skis, boots, and poles. Jackets and other warm clothing items are obvious as well.
However, ski pole guards, while useful, are much more obscure. The items are useful in many different situations and can help in more ways than one.
In this quick guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the best ski pole guards money can buy. They all come highly recommended, regardless of whether you need them for racing or if you just prefer them over a more traditional style.
They may not be an essential piece of skiing equipment, but they will serve you well if you want the best available option.
Read on to learn more!
Who Should Get This?
Ski pole hand guards are traditionally used by ski racers. They protect your hands from being hit by the gates that are set up during a race.
If you fall into that discipline, you’re going to want poles with guards on them so you don’t injure yourself while making a tight turn around a gate. I’ve had friends who have broken a knuckle on a ski gate without guards, but it’s an easily preventable injury.
You don’t have to be a ski racer to use pole guards. If you like to ski in trees, the below choices will give you extra protection. They are also for anyone who wants a little extra peace of mind while zipping through a tight space. If you don’t race or go in the trees, you’ll be fine with a normal set of poles with no guard.
Top Ski Pole Hand Guards
Here, you’ll see a list of my top recommendations along with a quick review of each ski pole guard. The goal is to help you get to know the pros and cons of each product so you can make a more informed purchase decision.
1. Best Overall: Zipline Ski Pole Hand Guard
One of the best pole guard options is the Zipline Ski Pole Hand Guard. These are a great option for any skier because they are the official guard of the U.S. Ski Team.
In that way, you know they are built for demanding or tough situations. They are also made out of a strong, durable thermoplastic to withstand impacts and have a universal fit that works with any pole between 14mm and 18mm.
- Strong and durable thermoplastic construction
- Official pole guard of the U.S. Ski Team
- Universal fit
- Easy to install
- Wide design offers excellent protection
- None. An excellent option
2. Best for Protection: Swix Adult Slalom Hand Guards
The Swix Adult Slalom Hand Guards are another one of the best ski pole guards on the market. Made by one of the most trusted brands in the ski industry, Swix delivers a high-quality product that provides reliable protection for your hands when you’re racing or deep in the trees.
These guards fit Swix poles the best, but they have a universal design that works with plenty of other models. They are also built of a strong plastic that can hold up under hard impacts.
- Strong and durable
- Trusted brand
- Universal design
- Might not fit smaller or larger sizes
- Some may not like narrower guard
3. Best Looking: Leki Gate Guards
If color and style matter to you, take a look at the Leki Gate Guards. The bright yellow color means they will make your poles stand out, while a quality construction provides excellent performance for protection against the gates when you’re setting a personal best. They only work with Leki poles, but it’s hard to do better if you own that brand.
- Great look
- Solid construction provides plenty of protection
- Easy to install
- Only work with Leki poles
How to Choose Ski Pole Guards
Not sure how to narrow down the choices from the crowd? Take the factors below into account during your ski pole guard research journey.
First things first, ski pole guards need to be strong enough to take an impact. If they are cheap and weak, your hands won’t be fully protected when you hit a ski gate or any other obstacle on the mountain.
A good ski pole guard needs to be built out of high-quality materials that provide the strength and durability you need for tough conditions. Every option in this list is strong and built to withstand bumps and scrapes with ease.
You need to pay attention to two parts of your guard’s fit: how it attaches onto your ski pole and how your hand fits on the grip with the guard in place. Some ski pole guards come with a universal fit that work on almost all pole types.
Others are intended to work only with a particular brand. Make sure you check to see if the guard will fit on the poles you own before making your final purchase.
You also want the guard to fit over your gloved hand while placed on the grip of the pole. In order to check this fit, bring your ski gloves to your local ski shop and make sure they work in person.
Most guards are built to leave enough room to fit an array of hand and glove sizes, but some run a little small and only fit with thinner gloves. This is an important distinction to note.
Another thing you want to consider is the color or style of the ski pole guard. If you’re an avid racer, it can be fun to match your skis, boots, and poles. If you’re a regular skier, you might want to take that into account as well.
Guards are also available in different sizes and widths too. Think about what color and shape you prefer when shopping for guards.
Useful Tips & Resources
Installing ski guards onto ski poles is a pretty straightforward process. Typically, you only need to tighten a few screws to securely attach the guard to the pole.
When you purchase a set of guards you’ll find instructions included in the packaging, so be sure to save that and follow the steps. Here’s a video showing how to install the Leki guards if you use that brand.
If you’re a ski racer, you should ski with pole guards. All of the options in this article will provide the protection and performance you need to keep your hands safe as you clip gates and compete. They are also great for any skier who wants a little added protection to take on whatever obstacle that may come your way.
Do you ski with pole guards? What is your favorite type of ski racing? Let us know in the comments below!