If you want to start taking cross country skiing seriously, then you should pick up one of the best set of cross country ski poles. The top options on the market will provide you with a great weight to power ratio, which unlike the older and clumsier style of cross country ski poles, you'll be able to lift and push off with quite easily. You can find some top poles for less than $100, but most of the best options will approach the $150 to $200 range.
While you may have trouble finding some of the best poles at retail stores like REI and EMS, online stores like ORS Cross Country Skis Direct have all of the top models, and many at a discount. This new ski pole has an 80% HS carbon fiber shaft that has both a huge level of stiffness and a lightweight body, with a PCU pole grip and cork interior handles with an ergonomically satisfying hand position. This one ranges between 135 cm and 175 cm long, and goes for just $136, much less than its $170 retail price.
This is an upgrade from the above Swix pole, and is seen by many as the best cross country pole on the market. It originally sold at ORS for $290, but now goes for about $232. Designed for use at all levels, the CT2 has a 100% HS/HM carbon fiber shaft with even more stiffness than the CT3, and uses the neoprene and nylon Swix ProFit straps that are made for amazing energy transfer and premium comfort. This one also has a redesigned Swix Force pole basket that gives better thrust.
REI has a great deal on this budget cross country pole, which they sell for $90. The pole has a 60% carbon shaft -- hence its name -- with a 16mm top diameter and a lower diameter of 9 mm. It also uses cork grips and supple thumb rests, meaning you won't get hand fatigue after a even a few hours of use. The Equipe 60 also offers fully adjustable straps, lightweight racing baskets and quick-removal straps. The black poles come in sizes ranging from 130 cm to 165 cm.
This is another great deal on a pair of premium poles. The Ultralites originally sold in stores for $110, but they can now be yours for $88 through Skinny Skis. These high tech skis have an Aergon foam handle for a super adjustable grip horizontally down the shaft and use Leki's SpeedLock system to quickly adjust the pole height to your desired size. Like all Leki poles, these come with a lifetime warranty and use high end carbide tips.
These racing level poles sell for$150 at Skinny Skis, which is $30 off their original price. The poles have a 100% high strength carbon fiber shaft with a superior cork race handle featuring a contoured strap. These use cabinde tungsten tips and are stiffer than most race poles, giving you more power than most poles at this weight. They also use a thinner handle, which some skiers prefer as it gives a bit more precision in control.