Comparison Between Hiking Pole Vs. Ski Pole: Which One Should You Choose? 

What is the difference between a hiking pole vs. ski pole? This post will explain the features of both poles. Let’s check and choose the one you need!

Top 3 Good Budget Hiking Pole

Top 3 Good Budget Ski Pole

#1. Hiking Pole Vs. Ski Pole: Comparison Table  

Although both ski poles and hiking poles are suitable for outdoor activities, their functions differ. This comparison will help you distinguish the poles and choose the right one for your activities.

Criteria  Hiking Pole Ski Pole
Features – Adjustable length

– Shock absorption

– Three-piece shafts

– Flexible

– Comfortable grip

– Shock absorption

– One-piece or two-piece shafts

– Firm

Designed for Hiking and trekking Skiing
Structure  Three parts: pole, shaft, and basket Three parts: pole, shaft, and basket
Adjustability (in length)  Mostly Sometimes
Length  26 – 33 inches 36 – 75 inches
Comfort For uphill For downhill
Durability Good Good
Materials Aluminum and carbon fiber Aluminum, carbon fiber, and a mixture of different materials
Affordability  $125 – $225 $70 – $150
Weight 12 to 18 ounces (per pair) Around 1 pound (per pair)

#2. What Is The Difference Between Hiking Pole Vs. Ski Pole?  

Hiking poles and ski poles look similar. However, because they are built for particular jobs, you will notice the differences in some aspects. We will discuss each right here.


The hiking and ski poles have three parts: the pole, shaft, and basket. The basket provides extra surface area so the pole won’t sink too deeply into soft surfaces like mud and snow.

A hiking pole has three types of baskets:

  • Disc grip: This traditional basket offers more grip for your hands. We often use it for sports, like snowboarding and skiing.
  • Anatomic: You can hold this basket more comfortably than the other two, making it a good idea for long trips.
  • Bottle-tote: If you want to carry water bottles for short trips, this type of basket will be the best option.

On the other hand, a ski pole basket is often either disc grip or anatomic. When used in the ski pole, those baskets have the same function.

The basket of a hiking pole is about two inches or less. Meanwhile, a ski pole comes with a thicker basket, which is about four inches. The pole needs a strong stopper when sinking through the snow.

You can also distinguish the two poles by looking at their shafts. While a ski pole may feature one or two pieces, a hiking pole has three.

Yet, it doesn’t mean a hiking pole is longer than a ski pole. Instead, due to the longer grip, your ski stick has a greater overall length, helping you climb steep slopes easily.

A hiking pole has three sections, but you can adjust its length to suit your needs. For example, you don’t need a long stick when hiking across even surfaces.


You may feel comfortable or not, depending on the terrain and your maneuver. Both poles aim to work for different purposes, and comfort determines which case you use each for.

For example, a hiking pole can help you maneuver along rugged trails. It also absorbs the pressure on your knee joints and gives you confidence when going uphill.

Meanwhile, a ski pole is better for climbing downhill. Using this pole, you can control your balance. Besides, it can maintain your posture and ease your muscles when walking down.


The most common materials used to make hiking poles are aluminum and carbon fiber. While aluminum is cheap, flexible, and durable, carbon fiber offers more support, especially when climbing steep slopes.

However, please note that carbon fiber is more expensive. Moreover, this material will be more prone to cracks and scratches. So consider carefully before choosing one of the two options.

Carbon fiber and aluminum are also popular in making ski poles. These days, manufacturers use fiberglass and graphite, too.

To improve the performance of the pole, we have modern ski poles made of a combination of two or sometimes more materials. The products will get the characteristics of all.

Steel offers greater durability than aluminum and carbon fiber. However, steel doesn’t make it to the top choices because it’s heavier.

Instead, you can use steel poles when you need a strong and sturdy tool for your long trips. They may act as camping equipment too.

This video compares aluminum, carbon fiber, and steel in terms of strength. Please check to choose the best material for your walking pole:


Durability depends on the material and structure of the pole. Aluminum appears to be one of the best choices if you prioritize durability.

Aluminum is lightweight, flexible, and easy to mold into different shapes. These features make it an excellent material for making ski poles and hiking poles.

Besides, it’s necessary to check the construction of the pole before buying it. Remember that you will rely on them to handle tough conditions.


The price of these poles varies significantly depending on the material, construction, design, and brand. In general, the hiking pole is more expensive than its competitor.


Hiking poles are typically more lightweight. However, the gap doesn’t matter much because they come from similar materials, while the ski poles are longer and thicker.

#3. Hiking Pole Vs. Ski Pole: Which One Should I Go For?

Because of the similarities, many people use ski poles and hiking poles interchangeably. It’s OK if the conditions are not too harsh.

However, we still recommend using the poles for what they aim to serve. Here are some cases you prefer one to the other.

When to use a hiking pole?

As the name implies, we use hiking poles for walking, hiking, and trekking on both hard and soft terrains. They work well for wildlife observation, fishing, and hunting too.

Outdoor activities are tough and intense. So, hiking poles will be a reliable companion if you need a tool to lean on while rock climbing or mountaineering.

When to use a ski pole?

We mostly use ski poles to improve grip and mobility while skiing and snowboarding. The weight distribution balance of these poles is perfect for downhill control and stability.

Moreover, you can carry ski poles for longer trips or during occasions when the weather is not optimal for your preferred activity.

#4. Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are faqs related to hiking pole vs ski pole:

Why do hikers use ski poles?

Ski poles have structures, constructions, and materials similar to hiking poles. Hence, many hikers use these poles interchangeably.

Are hiking poles worth the money?

Yes. Hiking poles keep you stable because you have something to lean on when walking through slippery and rugged terrains. And improved stability means you can reduce injury risks.

Are hiking poles bad for trails?

On well-traveled trails, frequent use of hiking poles may damage nearby plants, soft soil, and rocks. The good news is that you may minimize those negative effects by sticking to a few best practices.

Is it better to hike with one pole or two?

By utilizing two poles, you may receive more balanced work, improve your endurance, and perhaps increase your speed.

How much should I spend on hiking poles?

Costs for hiking poles range from $20 to $200. But your hiking pole should be at least $60, or it will break easily.

Can you use a ski pole for hiking?

Yes, theoretically. But you should use a hiking pole because it makes you adjust the pole’s length and helps you overcome obstacles on the trails better.

Why do hikers use walking sticks?

Using walking sticks, hikers will get a lot more stability and balance since they have more contact points with the ground.

Is pole walking better than walking?

Yes. Walking with poles is better because you have more confidence and stability. They are necessary when working under harsh conditions.

Moreover, pole walking burns more calories. As a bonus, your lungs and heart will work harder even if you walk at the same speed as walking without the poles.

Why do Nordic walkers use sticks?

The sticks enhance balance by keeping the body straight and upright. Furthermore, Nordic walking with sticks increases oxygen consumption and calorie burning by roughly 20% without putting too much pressure on your muscles.

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