The ski and snowboard industry is finally starting to design gear specifically for splitboarding. We wanted to find out how these splitboard poles held up in various temperatures, snowpacks and other variabilities including the length of the tour.
All the splitboard poles were thoroughly tested on tours here in the Tetons, in BC and Tahoe. A few of the best splitboard poles listed below can actually pack down small enough to toss inside your backpack, while the rest can easily be attached to the outside of your pack for the descent.
Best Splitboard Poles
European style foldable splitboard poles. The Rossignol Touring Pro Foldable XV Poles are the most unique looking poles on this list. Some of you will love the lack of handle while others will think this is nuts. I am a huge fan. Basically this style of splitboard poles is meant to be used by gripping down on the pole vs using a handle at the top of the pole.
The only downside to this aluminum pole comes in it’s fixed length sizes ( 115, 125, 135 ) which may or not be the right splitboard pole sizing for your needs. I opted for the 125 version of the Men’s Freeride Poles which was about the right size in most conditions. However, there is no way to adjust the height of this pole when the snow gets deep or terrain changes underfoot hiking or splitboarding.
The Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Poles plays off the success of the Z-pole compactibility, Black Diamond brings you the sleek and lightweight Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Poles. Utilizing a tension-lock system, the assembly is completed in mere seconds helping to speed up your transitions.
The weight and speed of transition make these poles ideal companions for any days splitboarding, though they are likely not best for the demands of a day skiing. While these poles feel very solid even on the most demanding of slippery ascents, a potential weak point is the top of the shaft where the metal pin holding the pole’s tension rests on the pole handle.
K2 is making some darn fine gear for splitboarding as of late. The K2 Swift Stick Splitboard Poles are adjustable in length from 110cm to 130 cm covering just about everyone’s heights. K2 uses its SpeedLink Locking Mechanism which is simple and easy to use. You can even open and close this system with your gloves on.
These adjustable ski poles collapse down small enough they can be tossed on the outside of your backpack, or even stuffed inside if you have the room with its small 13″ footprint. If you notice this pole like the Rossignol one has additional padding going down the shaft of the pole to allow you to grip even lower down on the pole for additional torque.
Gabel FR 5 F.L. LITE XTL – ($105.00)
You most likely have never heard of Gabel until now. This brand based in Italy and the poles will be hard to find in North America. Sorry about that… The Gabel FR 5 F.L. LITE XTL Pole is another foldable ski pole that works great for splitboarding and year-round trecking.
This model of Gabel foldable poles are a little bit longer when folded up at 18″ in length so they are best attached to the outside of your backpack on the decent. Gabel uses a anti-sweat and anti-slip foam on the top of the pole grip. This material feels nice in hand, even after long tours.
Your skier friends may try and steal these poles from you as they are actually designed for skiing but again work amazing for a day of splitboarding. The Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles are simple in design with very few moving pieces. This is a pole you can trust in the backcountry thanks to Black Diamond’s tried and true Flicklocks.
The Black Diamond Expedition 3 as the name implies is a 3 piece pole made of 100% Aluminum that comes in 2 sizes, 125cm and 140cm. Black Diamond uses rubber grips that extended about a foot down the pole for more contact points. This is one of the most popular foldable ski poles on the market.
The poles I most often find myself grabbing before heading out the door are the LEKI Tourstick Vario Carbon Poles. I had mentioned them last year in our splitboard pole roundup and they just keep getting better year after year.
Out of the box, these poles come with some burly looking straps from LEKI. The Trigger S straps which are easily removable and specifically made to release upon impact which was taken from LEKI’s ski racing background. Personally, I cut or remove all the straps from all my backcountry poles as it’s a safer way to travel through the mountains.
Weighing in at .55 lbs (253 grams) the LEKI Tour Stick Vario Carbon Pole is easy to swing around and offers up a ton of places to grip the pole on the way up. With these poles I often find myself holding the grip toward the lowest part on the pole. These poles offer up a ton of power on the up.
Thee LEKI Tour Stick Poles break down to 15 inches (39 cm) for the descent.
The only downside to the Tourstick Vario Carbon and the others in the LEKI line is the Speedlock 2 locking mechanism can be wonky with a lot of moving parts. Be sure to figure out how to tighten and loosen these poles indoors before you head into the field. Once everything is in place this is a fine set of folding ski poles.
The Atomic BCT Pole is made of Aluminum Alloy which makes it one of the lightest poles on the market. This pole may look simple, because it is, and that’s exactly why we like it. Atomic’s BTC pole also happens to packs down the smallest of any of the collapsible poles we tested.
Atomic’s BCT Mountaineering SQS Pole offers extra grip thanks to foam wrapped around the handle. The top of the pole is made of hard plastic which starts to be noticeable against your palm on longer tours.
The standout part of this pole is Atomic’s locking mechanism. It’s simple, clean and so far fail-proof. One of the best poles for splitboarding on the market.
The fanciest pole on this list comes from MSR. The MSR Dynalock Explore Pole weights .65 lbs (294 grams) per pole. What’s nice about this pole is the DynaLock closures, which can be easily adjusted on the fly thanks to a little spin wheel. As with the LEKI poles mentioned above be sure to figure out how to open and close this system in the comfort of your home. Once it’s dialed in you can rely on Mountain Safety Research to keep everything in place. Collapsed splitboard pole length of 24 inches (62cm)
The Dynalock Explore handle grip is made of rubber and there is foam that runs down about a foot from the top of the pole that allows for various positions to hold. The adjustable straps are not removable.
The only thing I would change if you plan to use these poles is the baskets. They do not really like to be in powder snow with there big circular design and can easily tip over. So either place these grip side down into the snow or just replace the baskets with something more BC friendly.
Splitboard Pole Price Comparison
- Rossignol Tour Pro Foldable Poles $125
- Black Diamond Carbon Compactor – $169.95
- K2 Swift Stick Poles – $124.95
- Gabel FR 5 F.L. LITE XTL – $105.00
- Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles $109.95
- LEKI Tourstick Vario Vertical Carbon $199.95
- Atomic BCT Mountaineering Pole $139.95
- MSR Dynalock Explore $99.95
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Are there any poles missing from the list? Possibly, however, we are very selective of the gear we test, especially gear we take into the backcountry and then stand behind with our reviews.