Buyer’s Guide: The Best Telescoping Ladders

The new kids on the block—telescoping ladders—can help you reach higher and farther, giving you a leg up on overhead chores.

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The Best Telescoping Ladder Options

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Large ladders are heavy, cumbersome, and bang into doorways at every turn. If you find yourself tired of lugging them around, you may want to look into the best telescoping ladders. Made from durable aluminum, they extend up to 10 feet or more, and then retract to a size small enough to carry under one arm. Telescoping ladders usually weigh less than their full-size counterparts—typically under 30 pounds. Retracted, they’re around 2- to 3-feet tall, making them easy to stow in a utility closest or a garage.

If you want a more convenient ladder, keep reading. The best telescoping ladders are durable, easy to extend, safe to use, and light enough to carry under one arm. The following five meet our strict requirements. One of them is sure to make a great addition to your home or workshop.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Xtend & Climb 12.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: LUISLADDERS 10.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder
  3. BEST FOR DAILY USE: Toolitin 12.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder
  4. BEST FOR DIYERS: Sotech 12.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder
  5. BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS: ARCHOM 16-Foot Telescoping Ladder
The Best Telescoping Ladder Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Look for When Buying the Best Telescoping Ladder

Telescoping ladders are compact for storage while offering a sturdy base for climbing. Depending on your plans for the ladder, you may want to consider other factors, too. Size, weight, and safety features vary from ladder to ladder. Some telescoping ladders are better suited to specific tasks than others.

Length

Most telescoping ladders range in height from around 8 feet to 12.5 feet fully extended. A few are as tall as 16.5 feet. For most around-the-house purposes, a 12-foot ladder is sufficient. That’s tall enough, for example, to reach the gutters on a single-story home. You can extend a telescoping ladder in 1-foot increments. That is, you could extend it just 6 feet, 7 or all the way to 12.

Material

Telescoping ladders are manufactured from fiberglass or airplane-grade aluminum. Both materials are lightweight yet strong and durable. While aluminum is the most common material, fiberglass has its share of fans.

  • Aluminum: A telescoping ladder made from aluminum can weigh as little as 15 pounds, or as much as 35 pounds, depending on length. The most common length—12.5 feet—weighs an average of 24 pounds. An aluminum telescoping ladder costs from $100 to $250.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass is stronger than aluminum, but it’s also a little heavier. Expect a fiberglass telescoping ladder to weigh 3-5 pounds more than an aluminum ladder of the same size. Expect them to cost more, too. They start around $250 and can go as high as $600. Because fiberglass does not conduct electricity, this ladder is well-suited for electricians and others who work around electricity.

Weight Limit

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) verifies that a ladder will safely support the weight that the manufacturer claims it will. When shopping for a telescoping ladder, look for one that’s ANSI certified. Typical ANSI weight limits on this type of ladder range from around 250 to 350 pounds.

Safety Features

A telescoping ladder that locks at 1-foot increments is less likely to pinch fingers when it’s retracted. This safety mechanism requires depressing thumb levers on both sides of the ladder for each foot of retraction. It may take a bit longer, but it’s worth the extra effort to keep hands safe. The other safety feature to look for is large rubber feet that will keep the ladder from slipping out from under you. Some come with fold-out foot anchors that further secure the legs from slipping.

Portability

A fully retracted ladder stands about 24 to 36 inches high and spans 18 to 20 inches wide and 3 to 5 inches deep. The light weight and small size make it easy to stow in the trunk of a car, carry through a doorway, or even store in a utility closet.

Tips for Using a Telescoping Ladder

Safety should be a top priority when using a ladder. The ladder must be sturdy and able to bear the weight of the user safely.

  • Use the 1-to-4 rule when positioning the ladder against a wall: For every 4 feet of height, the ladder’s base should be 1 foot away from the wall. For example, if you extend the ladder to 12 feet, its base should be 3 feet away from the wall.
  • Leaning over or stretching to reach something that’s just out of reach is dangerous. Climb down, move the ladder over, and then climb back up rather than stretching to the side.
  • For added security, recruit a helper to steady the ladder.

Our Top Picks

To make the list of Top Picks, a telescoping ladder has to be lightweight, durable, and ANSI-certified to hold the user’s weight. It should also feature non-slip feet. The following telescoping ladders are good choices for various climbing tasks, and one is sure to be right for your garage or utility room.

Best Overall

The Best Telescoping Ladder Option: Xtend & Climb 12.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder
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The Xtend & Climb 12.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder can help you safely reach as high as the roof of a single-story house. The airplane-grade aluminum alloy construction meets rigid industrial standards for strength and durability. Its “no-pinch” closure system keeps the rungs from dropping too quickly when you close the ladder so your fingers won’t get pinched. The Xtend & Climb locks at any 1-foot increment below its 12.5-foot maximum and then retracts to just 32 inches. The bottom of the legs feature molded non-slip pads that hold the ladder in place while you climb. Weighing in at 27 pounds, the Xtend ladder is easy to carry, even through doorways, and it supports up to 225 pounds.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Telescoping Ladder Option: LUISLADDERS 10.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

With the LUISLADDERS 10.5 foot telescoping ladder, you can enjoy the convenience of a telescoping ladder without paying a fortune. The ample height extension will have you hanging those pictures or cleaning the top of the RV with ease. Fully retracted, the ladder measures just 29 inches high. It extends and locks at 1-foot increments. Made from aerospace aluminum, the ladder is tough but lightweight at just over 17 pounds. The rungs are spring-loaded for a soft closure that won’t pinch fingers. The ladder safely supports up to 330 pounds.

Best for Daily Use

The Best Telescoping Ladder Option: Toolitin 12.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

When looking for a basic telescoping ladder for all those out-of-reach chores, such as cleaning out your home’s gutters, the Toolitin 12.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder is a good choice. With premium aluminum alloy crafting and oxidizing for durability, the Tootlitin ladder weighs just 27 pounds and retracts to less than 31 inches long. The ladder extends and locks in 1-foot increments. Non-slip feet hold the ladder in place when in use. One of the best features of the Tootlitin ladder is its one-button retraction. You just depress the two thumb buttons at the same time and the ladder lowers smoothly from extended to retracted in just a few seconds. It’s easy to put away after your chores, so you won’t hesitate to use it in the first place. The Tootlitin ladder safely supports up to 330 pounds.

Best for DIYers

The Best Telescoping Ladder Option: Sotech 12.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

Replacing the shingles on the roof is simple with the Sotech 12.5-Foot Telescoping Ladder. The high-quality, lightweight aluminum ladder weighs just 24.5 pounds, but safely supports up to 330 pounds. It opens in 1-foot increments and can lock in place at any height. Retracted it’s 40.2-inches tall, so you can store it easily in a garage, basement, or storage shed. The ladder comes with non-slip foot caps and a soft-close design to prevent injury to fingers. The Sotech ladder also comes with a convenient storage bag.

Best for Professionals

The Best Telescoping Ladder Option: ARCHOM 16-Foot Telescoping Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

For those extra-high tasks, such as painting eaves on a second-story roof, you’ll need an extra tall ladder. The ARCHOM 16-Foot Telescoping Ladder is just the ticket. It’s a great option for contractors, painters, window cleaners or anyone whose daily work requires climbing to second-story heights. Retracted, the aerospace aluminum ladder measures just 33-inches long. It opens in 1-foot increments and can lock at any height up to 16 feet. Weighing just under 31 pounds, the ARCHOM ladder is convenient for carrying on the job site and for transporting in the bed of a pickup or panel truck. It does not, however, feature a “soft-close” mechanism, so DIYers need to keep fingers out of the way when retracting the rungs. The ladder safely supports up to 330 pounds and features non-slip feet.

FAQs About Telescoping Ladders

Compared to their heavier-duty cousins—cumbersome extension ladders—telescoping ladders are the new kids on the block. If this is the first time you’ve shopped for one, you likely have some questions.

Q. How do you know what size telescoping ladder you will need?

For around-the-house DIY repairs and projects, a 12-foot telescoping ladder is the best size. Taller ladders are designed with pros in mind.

Q. What is the difference between a fiberglass and an aluminum telescoping ladder?

Fiberglass is stronger and more expensive. It offers added safety for those who work around electricity because fiberglass will not conduct an electrical current.

Q. What is the tallest telescoping ladder available?

Currently, the tallest telescoping ladder is about 16.5-feet high. But that height is typically only necessary for construction professionals.