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
Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles – ($99)
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 FLICKLOCK.
The Expedition 3 as the name implies is a 3 piece pole made of 100% Aluminum that weighs in at .57 lbs (260 grams) per pole. The 62-140cm pole breaks down to 24.2 inches (62 cm). Be careful when putting the baskets on these poles as the plastic threads can easily strip.
Black Diamond uses rubber grips that extended about a foot down the pole for more contact points. The only downside is the straps are not removable. [Purchase: $99]
LEKI Tourstick Vario Vertical Poles – ($199)
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 poles. [Purchase: $199]
Atomic BCT Mountaineering SQS Poles – ($169)
Atomic, yes the ski brand makes a great simple collapsible pole that works wonders for splitboarding. Starting with the baskets, these powder baskets are designed for chomping on snow.
The 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. [Purchase: $169]
BCA Scepter 4S Poles – ($119)
One when of the most trusted names in backcountry safety (BCA) makes a set of backcountry specific splitboard poles you really should take note. One of the best features of these poles is simply how small the pack down (17″ or 45.7cm) in length. This means to you can stuff these poles inside your backpack if you have room for them. Otherwise, they can easily be latched down to the outside of your pack.
If you’re familiar with tossing an avalanche probe out you will dig the feel of the Backcountry Access Scepter 4S pole. To engage the pole once it’s broken down simply pull the top section of pole out while tossing the rest of the pole away from you, and wah-la the splitboard pole is ready to go. This is one of the simpler designs we have used.
The only thing that can be improved with these poles would be to switch out the material at the top of the handle. At times I tend to put the flat of my palm on the top of my splitboard poles. It seems to really help to drive power into each stroke. However that being said, BCA does make up for this with the added padding down the shaft of the pole. Having more places to grip is never a bad thing. Aside from a hard rubber top these poles are foolproof and have become my daily drivers. The Scepter poles, are amazing and can also be used for 4 seasons hence the 4S name. [Purchase: $119]
Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Poles – ($129)
Black Diamond took the success of the Z-pole compactibility and updated it into the sleek and lightweight Carbon Compactors. The Carbon Compactor splitboard poles are activated via a tension-lock system, in mere seconds the assembly is complete helping to speed up you’re transitioning.
Couple unique things about these poles, first off the grip on the top of the handle works great for lifting your binding risers while touring as it has an extra lip that sticks out. Also, the baskets are semicircle which makes them grip nicely while ascending steep firm hills. And finally, a pleasant benefit of carbon poles is that much less warmth is pulled away from your hands than a metal equivalent.
We did have an issue with these poles freezing up and not allowing the push button to engage. So the poles would work fine, they just wouldn’t pack down so nicely when it was well below (0 degrees C or 32 degrees Fahrenheit). The Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Poles is a heck of a deal without breaking the bank. [Purchase: $129]
MSR DynaLock Explore Poles – ($99)
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. [Purchase: $99]
Rossignol Touring Pro Foldable Poles – ($125)
Rossignol is now in the splitboard game thanks to the Xavier de la Rue. Although Rossignol’s poles are more focused on skiing they work great for splitboarding too. I tested out Rossignol’s Touring Pro Foldable Pole in a fixed length 125cm. This 3 piece pole is made of Aluminum and weights in at just over a .5 lb (255 grams) per pole.
The Handle offers nice rubber grips with a harder material at the top and removable straps.
The most unique feature on these poles are the baskets which can swivel back and forth on the snow. What this does is offer a solid contact point with the snow regardless of what angle the pole is placed.
The only downside to this 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 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. Currently the 135 is available for sale. [Purchase: $125]
LEKI Tour Stick Vario Carbon Poles ($199) 2016 Model.
My second favorite pair of splitboard poles is the LEKI Tour Stick Vario Carbon. If the baskets on these poles were a little bit larger and more rigid they would have easily been our top pick.
Vonn, Steigler, and Shiffrin all rock LEKI – wait aren’t those all skiers. Yep, and they rip too. When the worlds best skiers pick LEKI maybe you should too?
These splitboard poles pack down to (16″ or 40.64cm) which makes them the smallest on this list for when tossing inside your backpack or for rigging as mentioned above.
Similar to the Scepter from BCA the LEKI Tour Stick Vario Carbon splitboard poles are put together by tossing the poles away from you while holding the shaft. This action again mimics that of an avalanche probe. It will be hard to find a better high performing pole on the market than the Tour Stick Vario Carbon from LEKI ($199.95).
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.
Splitboard Pole Price Comparison
- Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles $99.95
- LEKI Tourstick Vario Vertical Carbon $199.99
- Atomic BCT Mountaineering Pole $139.95
- BCA Scepter poles $119
- Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Poles $129.95
- MSR Dynalock Explore $99.95
- Rossignol Tour Pro Foldable Poles $125
- LEKI Tour Stick Vario Carbon $199.95
Now that we have your splitboard poles dialed, what about your splitboard skins?