Extends out to 15.5' (shorter sizes also available). Made from an aerospace aluminum alloy. 250 lb. weight capacity. Retracts down to 36.5". Heavy-duty closure strap. Easy to use. No-pinch closure system. Integrated carrying handle.
A little on the heavy side for general use. Some found that the plastic thumb slides don't work well, making it hard to retract this option.
Rated to 300 lb. Extends to a height of 10.5'. Affordable. Lightweight, and comes with a free bag for portability. Easy to extend and retract. Well made.
Some buyers felt the rungs were too small, particularly in the higher segments; this made the ladder seem less sturdy the farther up it you went. The retraction process can also be a little tricky.
Extends to 12.5'. Constructed from a premium aluminum alloy. Built-in plastic pillars between the steps protect your fingers. Easy to expand. Lightweight. Supports 330 lb. Decent price.
Ladder can be a little wobbly when fully extended. Some found that the steps or buttons broke easily or arrive broken.
Made from aircraft-grade aluminum. 12.5' when extended. Ladder is a lightweight 23 lb., and can hold 250 lb. OSHA compliant. Has a patented One-Touch release mechanism, and safety indicators so you'll know when it's locked. Feet have good grip. Easy to use.
Some problems reported with it becoming difficult to retract after a few uses. A few buyers report problems with it arriving in used condition or broken.
Fully extended, this aluminum ladder measures 17'. You can also use it in a variety of other positions, such as a stepladder or scaffolding support. 300 lb. weight capacity. Sturdy and stable. Easy to use. Water resistant. Weighs 38 lb.
Comes with minimal instructions. Ladder is on the heavy side.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
There are lots of times when you need a tall ladder, but one can be awkward to handle and difficult to transport. The solution is a good telescoping ladder. It offers all the height of a standard extension ladder but is just a couple feet long when closed, making it a breeze to carry and store.
Telescoping ladders may be fairly new on the market, but their obvious benefits have made these tools very popular. However, there has also been some criticism of the ladders’ safety aspects
We at BestReviews have been looking into that, as well as checking the quality of what's available. We've made some recommendations that answer a wide variety of needs and provide suitable solutions for different budgets. For those who would like more detailed information, we've put together the following buyer's guide.
Telescoping ladder types
All telescoping ladders are made of extruded aluminum. It offers good structural strength, is highly resistant to corrosion, and is also relatively light.
You'll find two different types of ladders that use the word “telescoping,” though only one is truly “telescopic,” where each rung/tread slides down on top the other into a compact and easy-to-carry unit.
The other would better be described as a sliding or extending A-frame. This ladder is like a step ladder that has adjustable height, but it can also be opened out and used flat. We've included one in our recommendations as an example of its functionality.
There are further variations on this: double-sided (also called equilateral), which is like a telescoping A-frame, and multi-purpose, which can be used as both an A-frame or a straight ladder. This gives tremendous versatility.
Check the ladder's feet. Some manufacturers pay particular attention to the grip they provide – an important safety aspect.
One of the major advantages of a telescoping ladder is that each rung extends individually, so you can open it one rung at a time. usually in around 12-inch steps (the standard gap for most types of ladder). Although you might have a ladder with a maximum height of 12 feet, you can open it to 5 feet, 6 feet, 7 feet, and so on.
The rungs are held in place by spring clips or pins. The lever mechanisms to operate these are either mounted underneath the rungs or at the side (frequently called “no-pinch”). With the latter, there's much less chance of catching your fingers. Some telescopic ladders also have plastic or rubber stops between each rung to prevent this. It makes the ladder a little taller when fully closed but is safer.
All telescoping ladders should have a duty rating, which is the maximum safe load a ladder can carry.
These are widely recognized, but not every manufacturer uses them. It's not uncommon to see ratings in between these standards, too. It's vital to choose the correct rating because exceeding the load could cause the ladder to collapse – with dangerous consequences.
You want good stability from the ladder's feet. Low-cost telescoping ladders often have simple plastic covers on the feet. Others have textured surfaces for better grip.
Although all telescoping ladders are compact when closed, dimensions do vary. You might want to check, particularly if you have a small vehicle or particular storage location in mind.
Strap and case
A strap holds the ladder closed and acts as a handle for transportation. Some ladders come with a carrying case, which also helps keep your ladder clean.
Some telescoping ladders include a carry/storage bag, making the ladder even easier to transport while keeping it free of dust and dirt when not in use.
We usually caution against buying the lowest-priced products because they lack quality or durability. Here, the reason is a little different. We simply wouldn't trust our safety to the cheapest telescoping ladders. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune.
Inexpensive: Although the mechanisms make them more expensive than standard two-part extension ladders, you can get reasonable telescoping ladder with a reach of 10 feet or more for around $80. Another $10 or so will get you a 12.5-foot model.
Mid-range: For a telescoping ladder of 15 feet or more, expect to pay around $130. A-frame versions cost an extra $20 to $40, depending on size. You'll find telescoping ladders at the upper end of this price bracket that are certified to European standards.
Expensive: Telescoping ladders that are American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certified cost considerably more, anywhere from $180 to $450, depending on size and duty rating. Many people consider the ANSI rating a significantly higher standard, which should provide greater durability for that additional investment.
We couldn't find a double-sided (equilateral) telescoping ladder for less than $600. There might be a specific task that justifies that kind of expense, but after considerable searching, we still can't imagine what that might be!
Telescoping multi-ladders can be used in A-frame, stair, or scaffold formats, though most aren’t as compact when closed.
The WolfWise EN131 Telescoping Ladder is ideal for those who don't need a lot of reach (10.5 feet) and are looking for high quality (EN131 is the European standard) at a reasonable price. Another built to the same European standard is the OxGord Telescopic Extension Ladder. This 12.5-foot ladder has a maximum load rating of 330 pounds, and anyone who's worried about trapping their fingers will be delighted to see the rubber spacers that keep that from happening. Some might argue that the Werner MT-22 Telescoping Ladder would be better described as “extending,” but it offers great reach (22 feet), terrific versatility, and a 300-pound duty rating. The ladder folds down to about the size of an ordinary step ladder, so it’s still comparatively compact, and it’s constructed to a very high standard.
Q. What is reach height?
A. Ladder manufacturers often quote this as the average maximum height that can be reached when you’re standing on the highest safe rung. Sound confusing? It is confusing because the reach height depends on how tall you are! If you're taller or shorter than “average,” the reach height will be different. So, ignore it. If you need a maximum for some purpose, check the height of the ladder itself when extended. You probably shouldn't be standing on the top rung anyway!
Q. Is there a safety standard for telescoping ladders?
A. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set out safety standards for all ladders, and there are particular rules for portable models, including telescoping ladders. These are quite extensive and available online.
OSHA is an advisory body. It doesn't actually test or approve products. ANSI does offer accreditation, but manufacturer descriptions can be misleading. One might claim that its telescopic ladder is “made to ANSI standards,” but that doesn't mean it's actually been tested by ANSI, so check carefully.
Testing is not a legal requirement, and because there are costs involved, some manufacturers choose not to do any testing. It doesn't mean a ladder is necessarily an inferior product. The flip side of this is that some companies are confident enough in their ladders to ensure they meet European requirements in addition to US standards.
Q. Do telescoping ladders need regular maintenance?
A. Like all working equipment, your ladder will last longer if it’s looked after, but there's not a lot to it. Wiping away dust and dirt – particularly around the all-important locking mechanisms for the rungs – is good practice. Check the manufacturer's instructions for what cleaning products to use. Oil- or mineral-based cleaners, for example, are usually not recommended. Try to keep your telescoping ladder dry. If it does get wet, let it dry naturally in the fully open position so moisture isn't trapped inside.
BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.