Ski poles don’t get the same love as other hard good essentials like skis and boots. There’s typically no extravagant or groundbreaking technology that goes into them, and a fairly basic design offers little room for creativity. But this season, a handful of innovative ski poles are leaving much more than just an impression in the snow. Check out the latest creations in ski pole technology from these pole manufacturers.
When you’re a company rooted in backcountry skiing, there’s always an excuse to make gear smaller and stronger for the greater good of pow turns and dawn patrol. Which is what Black Diamond has done for the backcountry, sidecountry and four-season recreation addict. The Compactor Poles come with standard Black Diamond features like a textured grip for choking up when you’re side-hilling, or beefy powder baskets for blower days—but it’s the Z-Pole technology that makes these bad boys perfect for lightweight backcountry tours. The three-piece aluminum poles connect by means of an internal cable that pulls tight, much like an avalanche probe, and collapse just as small as the avy tool itself for better storage. And a single FlickLock adjustor lets you dial in the right height for on-the-go convenience.
Just because these unassuming poles are made from sustainable bamboo doesn’t make them any less innovative. Born in the Wasatch Mountains of Park City, Soul Poles is taking a step back from the frenzy of high-tech ski trends and stripping down to simple, sexy style. Each Original Sole pole is handmade with lightweight bamboo, recycled aluminum tips, recycled grips and baskets, and straps made from hemp and recycled polyester. Without the use of harsh resins or paint, the Original Sole is buffed to let the bamboo’s natural beauty and sultry design speak for itself. And with thoughtful craftsmanship and design, each Sole Pole is perfectly balanced for better timing and excellent support.
Multi-purpose tools, like the K2 LockJaw Carbon/Carbon poles, combine the best of many gadgets. The lightweight carbon fiber construction and one-handed FlickLock adjustments are nice, but the two-piece telescoping poles are a gearhead’s dream. Lay the pole along a fall line and gauge the slope’s angle with the attached inclinometer for an accurate reading on avalanche terrain between 30 and 45 degrees. As you dig a snow pit, the LockJaw’s ruler can be used to measure the layers within the snowpack. And if the unfortunate need to locate a buried victim should arise, unscrew the upper half of the LockJaw and reconfigure it to create a backup probe in a matter of seconds. But maybe you’ve ridden your line safely and are waiting for your buddy to drop in. Thread the telescoping segments together, and you’ve got an instant monopod to stabilize a camera before your buddy hucks it.
Convenience is a good thing, especially with a few kids and too much ski gear in tow. Maybe you don’t like metal ski edges digging into your shoulders, or perhaps you just need a free hand to carry around an aprés beverage in the village. Whatever the case, Quickpoles consolidates your gear by attaching to your ski bindings and transforming your setup into a package deal. Made from lightweight aluminum or carbon fiber, Quickpoles lock onto most alpine bindings by means of a clip system, letting you tote around your skis and poles, much like a glorified briefcase. Just remember to leave the work at home.