Salomon MTN Carbon S3 ($150)
Salomon’s ingenious wrist-release system—a hard tug pulls the strap free from the grip—means no worrying that your poles will turn into shoulder-separating leashes in the trees. Tough foam extends six inches below the grip for extra purchase when choking up, and the lower portion of the carbon shaft is reinforced with Kevlar for durability.
Grass Sticks Original Custom ($89)
After burning through aluminum poles season after season, we invested in a pair of Grass Sticks. And we’ve used them pretty much exclusively in the four years since. Why? Bamboo bends instead of breaking, so no matter how many times we flip into a yard sale, the poles come away unscathed. Plus, those customizable grip and basket colors are a guaranteed conversation starter on the lift.
Black Crows Meta ($50)
If there were gnar points for ski poles, the inexpensive Meta would score high. Unabashedly flashy, it has everything you want in a frontside stick: a solid aluminum shaft, short ergonomic grips, and comfy adjustable straps. These poles make a statement—just be sure you can back it up.
G3 Via Carbon ($124)
Instead of a force-based strap-release system, the Via Carbon, from backcountry stalwart G3, opts for a more basic solution: a sturdy buckle. When you head into avalanche terrain, simply unbuckle the wrist strap, then clip it on again when the situation calls for it. As for the pole’s performance, a dual-density grip sports an ergonomic shape and a large hook that’s helpful for flipping heel risers.
Leki Spitfire S ($119)
The Spitfire incorporates Leki’s Trigger S technology, a rapid-release wrist-harness system. Your hands stay looped in until, as with the Salomon MTN Carbon, a quick upward yank disconnects the strap from the pole—say, if you need to make on-the-fly binding adjustments. Fix the accessory hook lower on the pole and tether the strap to it when you’re climbing steeps.
Atomic Backland FR ($110)
We love the entire Backland line of skis and bindings, so it’s no surprise that we dig the poles, too. Designed by Chris Benchetler, the Backland features an adjustable aluminum shaft, bike grips, and oversize 97-millimeter powder baskets. Plus, the shafts hide Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, so you’ll be that much more prepared when backcountry missions go sideways.