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Published Nov. 20, 2018

Ladders are often the most overlooked carpentry tools. Many simply improvise, turning wood scraps into makeshift ladders or movable stairs. In the long run, not investing in a solid, ergonomically-built ladder is a risky decision. Slipping and falling can be best avoided with telescopic ladders, which are designed to be collapsible, flexible, and more secure. Problems about logistics, storage, and durability are resolved with the modern compact design of telescopic ladders. The rungs can be adjusted to varying heights, so there’s no need to purchase several different ladders that only eat up space.

Invest in a quality telescopic ladder, be it for domestic, industrial, indoor or outdoor use. Read about the different brands and product features, including the depth and width of rungs, maximum extended height, and lock systems, to know which kind suits your needs the best.

The Best Telescopic Ladder

Rightfully claiming its place in the best telescoping ladders in the market is this contraption from Xtend & Climb. It may only go as high as 12.5 feet, but this is more than enough for handling a number of DIY home improvement and repair projects. It has a very stable construction and the way it is designed allows it to be conveniently retracted to a mere 32.25 inches so you can easily stow it right inside your car’s trunk or the back of your truck. It doesn’t weigh much, but it sure is sturdy that it can hold a person weighing up to 300 lbs.

Red and green tab indicators give you visual feedback if the rungs are already locked in place. The no-pinch closure system works seamlessly, too. This Xtend Climb telescopic ladder definitely makes for a great contraption for your home maintenance and repair needs.

Key Features
  • Lightweight, heavy-duty aluminum construction
  • Non-skid end caps and angled thumb release
  • Heavy-duty closure straps and no-pinch closure system
  • Integrated carrying handle
  • Height: 12.5 feet
  • Weight limit: 300 lbs
Specification
  • Brand Xtend & Climb
  • Model 930P
  • Weight 30.8 pounds

They call it the Little Giant, but for those who have been using this multi ladder know that it is big in functionality. It’s not your ordinary extension ladder. It can be a folding ladder, staircase ladder, an A-frame ladder, a telescoping step ladder, an extension ladder, and a long ladder. It can double as a scaffolding system, too.

The Model 22 of the Alta One can be configured into a variety of positions to give you optimum versatility in its use. Prop it on stairs or anywhere else. The legs are also designed to be wider than most systems in the market, giving you stability as you do your job. Hard-to-reach areas are a thing of the past as the Little Giant can certainly give you a stable and secure platform with which to execute your tasks.

Key Features
  • Multi-position ladder design
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum construction
  • Stable, extra-wide flared legs
  • Height: 22 feet
  • Weight limit: 300 lbs
Specification
  • Brand Little Giant
  • Model 14016-001
  • Weight 44 pounds

This aluminum extension ladder from WolfWise is perfect for those who want a stable and high-enough platform without creating a great hole in their pockets. Priced just right and complete with safety features that will help secure your footing as you go up and down the aluminum ladder, the WolfWise is a telescopic ladder that you can trust to support you even though you may weigh 330 lbs. It only comes with a maximum height of 12.5 feet, however.

Regardless, this should still be enough for those tasks that you have lined up at home. The end caps come with anti-slip mechanism for optimum safety and the rungs of the lightweight ladder can also be adjusted in 1-foot increments for greater versatility.

Key Features
  • Made of thick yet lightweight aluminum
  • Easy-to-operate and secure self-locking mechanism
  • Anti-slip feet and top cap
  • Durable grip handle
  • Height: 12.5 feet
  • Weight limit: 330 lbs
Specification
  • Brand WolfWise
  • Weight 24.8 pounds

The Werner extension ladder is a 22-foot multi-position adjustable ladder that comes with a very unique design to its legs. Unlike other systems, the Werner extension ladder comes with extra-wide legs that start from the third rung of the ladder. The feet come with anti-skid plates while the steps are double-riveted to give you superb durability and strength. There are knobs that are very easy to push, allowing you to reconfigure this long ladder into a variety of positions.

Even when used as an exceptionally long ladder, the Werner feels solidly built as you step onto the rungs. Werner says that there are 28 possible positions or working heights on the MT-22, making it one of the most versatile telescopic ladder systems you can ever get.

Key Features
  • Professional-grade construction and design
  • Multi-position ladder design
  • Soft-touch push control knobs
  • Skid-resistant, non-marring feet
  • Height: 22 feet
  • Weight limit: 300 lbs
Specification
  • Brand Werner
  • Weight 45.1 pounds

With a reach height of 16 feet, this Type 1A collapsible ladder from Telesteps makes its way as one of the best telescoping ladders out there. What it provides that other systems don’t have is a fully-automated operation allowing you to easily extend it to the height that you desire. The same one-touch release mechanism also makes it super-easy to retract the ladder without so much as breaking a sweat.

The feet come with silicone padding for optimum skid resistance and the system has been duly certified by the OHSA. The design of the Telesteps retractable ladder is such that it is slightly narrower at the top, allowing the feet to have a wider, more stable stance.

Key Features
  • Compact, durable, and lightweight design
  • Fully automatic, one-touch release mechanism
  • ANSI 14.2-tested and OSHA-certified
  • Pivoting skid-free feet made of 100% silicone
  • Height: 12.5 feet
  • Weight limit: 300 lbs
Specification
  • Brand Telesteps
  • Model 1600EP
  • Weight 19.5 pounds

Constructed of heavy-duty 48-cm aluminum alloy pipes, the Yesker telescoping ladder is a worthy alternative to pricey systems that feature an almost identical styling and design. The ladder itself can be easily adjusted in 1-foot increments, maxing out at 12.5 feet for those jobs or tasks that require completion at different heights. The ladder also features a locking mechanism that comes with heavy-duty springs.

And don’t let its low price tag fool you. This collapsible ladder can hold a grown man who may weigh up to 300 lbs. It also closes down to merely 34 inches allowing for ease of storage. It doesn’t weigh that much, too, tipping the scales only at 26 lbs so you can literally bring it anywhere.

Key Features
  • Heavy-duty aluminum alloy construction
  • Spring-loaded safety locking mechanism
  • Non-skid, non-slip feet
  • Height: 12.5 feet
  • Weight limit: 300 lbs
Specification
  • Brand Yesker
  • Weight 26 pounds

Each step on the Luisladders telescoping extension ladder measures 13.25 inches long, 1.5 inches wide, and 1-inch thick to give you exceptional stability and security while going up and down this nifty 12.5-foot long retractable ladder.

The Oshion is constructed of aluminum to give it a good blend of lightweight characteristic and heavy-duty performance. The locking mechanism on each step also helps secure the system while the non-slip mat on the feet helps firmly plant the ladder onto the ground. What is commendable about the Oshion is that, despite of the many enhancements in its overall construction and design, it still manages to have an affordable price tag. Now that’s great value for those looking for the best telescoping ladders for their homes.

Key Features
  • EN131-certified fully extendable ladder
  • With non-slip rubber feet and strengthening board
  • Secure straps, safety catch, and grip handle
  • 4-way combination ladder system
  • Height: 12.5 feet
  • Weight limit: 330 lbs
Specification
  • Brand Luisladders
  • Weight 25 pounds

This extension ladder from Idealchoiceproduct doesn’t really come with features that other systems don’t already have. Perhaps what is different is that it already comes with a carrying case that doubles as a neat storage bag for the system. It is priced lower than other collapsible ladders, too, giving great value for those who aren’t really prepared to shell out a few hundred dollars for a ladder.

It comes with the same extendable and retractable ladder design that is made of lightweight yet durable aluminum. The height is only 10 feet, however; although you can pick up their 12.5 or 19.5 variant. Stepping onto the Idealchoiceproduct feels solid, although you may wish the steps were a bit wider.

Key Features
  • Made of aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Fully-lockable extendable ladder
  • Compact, lightweight, skid-free design
  • Height: 10.5 feet
  • Weight limit: 300 lbs
Specification
  • Brand Idealchoiceproduct
  • Weight 19.2 pounds

Finether’s telescopic ladder is a multi-position system that boasts of EN-131 certification to give you the peace of mind that you require every time you have a task that requires some form of climbing up a certain height. It comes with heavy-duty securing strap and a slip-resistant rung that comes with non-slip angled feet. The base of the Finether is quite unique since the stabilizer bar provides greater support for the entire 12.5-foot structure.

The slide latches are pretty easy to operate while helping secure the different steps in the extension ladder. There are two wheel casters on the stabilizing bar, too allowing for easier transport; although we don’t think it’s absolutely necessary. Still, it’s perfect for those who don’t like carrying a ladder from one area to another.

Key Features
  • Compact, lightweight, multi-function design
  • Made of aluminum alloy and EN131-certified
  • Integrated wheel casters and anti-slip pads
  • Secure straps, grip handle, and slip-resistant rungs
  • Height: 12.5 feet
  • Weight limit: 330 lbs
Specification
  • Brand Finether

The main difference between this Telesteps telescopic ladder and the 1600EP model is that the 1600ET is designed more as a tactical collapsible ladder. It has almost the same price, OHSA compliance, and other neat features. What you may notice, however, is that the 1600ET adjustable ladder is that it is marketed as a heavier-duty system being used by the US military.

Despite the fact that it comes with almost identical features and dimensions as the 1600EP, the Telesteps 1600ET is heavier by about 5.5 lbs at 25 lbs compared to the professional-grade Telesteps adjustable ladder. Either of the two should be a good choice for all your climbing chores at home or at the work site; although the 1600ET will come out as heftier for better stability and durability.

Key Features
  • OSHA-compliant with built-in safety indicators
  • Patented one-touch release mechanism
  • Fully-adjustable silicone feet
  • Made of aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Height: 12.5 feet
  • Weight limit: 300 lbs
Specification
  • Brand Telesteps
  • Model 1600ET
  • Weight 25 pounds

Best Telescopic Ladder Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Look for in a Good Telescoping Ladder

When shopping for a really good telescoping ladder, it is best to keep the following in mind as your points for consideration.

  • Materials

When it comes to strength and lightweight characteristics, most ladder manufacturers will use aluminum. This gives these types of ladders exceptional versatility and portability. The only downside is that aluminum doesn’t protect you from electrical shocks. As such, they are not ideal for use on projects that require getting in contact with electricity. For such purposes, a more ideal solution is a ladder that is made up of fiberglass which can provide added strength. They’re more expensive, though. There are also ladders that are made of steel, plastic, and wood, although they are often used in shorter ladders.

  • Size

You will also need to think about the length or height of the ladder. Always choose a ladder that is at least 3 feet higher than the surface upon which the top of the ladder will be resting on. If it’s an extension ladder that you’re looking for, the length should be at least 7 feet longer than the supporting structure for the upper section of the ladder.

  • Weight rating

Always look at the weight rating of the ladder you want to buy. This includes your weight plus the weight of anything else you are going to bring up the ladder. These ratings are according to ANSI standards. Type IAA ladders are the strongest, fully capable of holding weights up to 375 lbs. Type III ladders have the lowest weight ratings at 200 lbs. Type II comes in at 225 lbs while Type I has a capacity of 250 lbs. A ladder with a capacity of 300 lbs is classified as Type IA.

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Why You Should Buy a Telescoping Ladder

There are plenty of reasons why a telescoping ladder is better for you than other types of ladders. Let’s take a glimpse at some of the reasons why you should get a telescoping ladder.

  • Can Be Used on Any Height

Provided the structure that will help support the top of the telescoping ladder is not higher than the ladder itself, this type of climbing tool can give you optimum versatility in your work. Each section or rung can be extended to increase the length of the ladder. You may have a telescoping ladder that is only less than 3 feet tall when closed, yet can be extended in increments of 1 foot until it reaches its full length. So, that means you get 4 feet, 5 feet, 6 feet, and so on and so forth. This allows you to use it in different jobs. Because the sections have smaller increments, they allow for more precise height adjustments compared to extension ladders.

  • Can Be Transported and Stored Virtually Anywhere

Because telescoping ladders can be collapsed into a single rung-high contraption, this makes it exceptionally easy to transport and store. As already mentioned, a 15-foot retractable ladder can be collapsed into a 2- to 3-foot tall device you can easily secure in the trunk or the back of your vehicle. They are very lightweight, too, typically not weighing any more than 30 lbs.

  • Very Sturdy Construction

You might think that because of its collapsible nature, a telescoping ladder is not strong enough to take your weight. These ladders are tested and rated according to ANSI specifications so you can be sure that they are sturdy. Plus, the materials used are typically premium-grade aluminum alloy to give it remarkable strength without losing its lightweight characteristics.

Types of Ladders – Telescoping Ladders vs. Other Types

Different types of jobs require different types of ladders, although there are those that can strike many birds with one stone. Here are some of the more common types of ladders to choose from.

  • Straight Ladders

These are your quintessential ladders that are composed of a single section of dual rails, connected by steps. They are considered to be the backbone of any ladder system and are often the simplest to use. However, they do have one particular issue: storage and portability. They’re exceptionally long so it’s not really ideal to get a very lengthy straight ladder.

  • Telescoping Ladders

Unlike straight ladders, telescoping ladders come with sections that can collapse into themselves. A 15-foot telescoping ladder can easily collapse into a 30- to 35-inch high platform. This allows for maximum portability and storage convenience. Ideally, telescoping ladders are made of aluminum since it is sturdy while giving it lightweight properties.

  • Extension Ladders

These ladders are a cross between a straight ladder and telescoping ladder in that they are essentially made of 2 or more sections. The base section is usually thicker providing support to the upper two or more sections that slide up and down the frame. Most of these come with a pulley and rope system for raising the upper sections to the desired height of the ladder. It also comes with a locking mechanism so the sections don’t inadvertently slide back down.

  • Step Ladders

There are two types of step ladders. A single step ladder comes with only one side of the A-frame with ladder. A twin-step ladder combines two ladders, one on each side of the frame. These are perfect for reaching heights where you don’t have a sturdy surface with which to rest the top section of a conventional ladder. These are mostly used in indoor projects such as the painting of crown molding as well as the installation of fixtures on the ceiling.

  • Platform Ladders

Also referred to as podium ladders, platform ladders are a kind of step ladder but with a stable standing platform on top. It’s like putting an extra-large panel on the top step of the ladder so that you can easily and safely work and move at a given height.

  • Multi-Position Ladders

These are truly versatile ladders that come with multiple points allowing for variations in their configuration. They can be turned into an A-frame ladder, a scaffolding, a step ladder, a straight ladder, and other potential combinations. These are perfect for folks in the home renovation and improvement business.

Ladder Safety Tips

Whenever using a ladder, be it a telescoping or some other type of ladder, it is best to adhere to the following safety tips.

  • Always check your ladder before using it. If it is a telescoping ladder, it is imperative that the locking mechanisms are operating optimally. Make sure there are no cracks or visible damage to any component of the ladder. Bolts and rivets should also be inspected for their overall integrity.
  • Make sure that the feet come with intact slip-resistant padding. If these are already worn out, don’t use the ladder.
  • If you are going to work on something that will have you come in contact with electricity, it is best to use a ladder made of fiberglass as this offers better electrical insulation.
  • It is imperative that the ladder be set on firm, solid, and level ground. Additionally, the structure upon which the upper section of the ladder will be resting on should also structurally sound and rigid.
  • Always adhere to the three-point rule whenever using a ladder. This means you should always have 3 parts of your body on the ladder at all times. This can be a combination of both feet and 1 hand or both hands and 1 foot.
  • If you have to climb onto a floor using a ladder, make sure that the top of the ladder extends at least 3 feet above the landing platform.
  • In setting up the ladder, it is crucial that it is at a 75-degree angle. Measure the horizontal distance between the top support and the feet of the ladder. This distance should be a quarter of the ladder’s working length. For example, if the ladder is 10 feet long, then the horizontal distance between the top and feet should be 2.5 feet.
  • If you will be working at least 10 feet above the ground, it is best to wear a safety harness.
  • Make sure that the base of the ladder is tied off or braced to a sturdy structure. If there is none, then it should be staked to the ground.
  • Observe the minimum overlapping distance of ladder sections according to the ladder manufacturer.
  • Don’t carry load on your way up or down a ladder. This may cause you to lose balance.
  • Make sure to set up the ladder in a safe place, away from exit doors and pedestrian walkways. As much as possible, put appropriate markings.
  • Never ever stand on the ladder’s top step.

Ladder Sizes – How to Choose a Ladder

Ladders come in various sizes from a small 4-foot step ladder to a lengthy 22- to 25-foot ladder. The size of ladder you are going to get is dependent on the work that you need to accomplish. However, a more critical aspect of ladder sizing is the maximum reachable height.

The highest step that you can safely go on a straight ladder is the second step from the top of the ladder. For example, if you have a 12-step ladder, then you can only go as far as the 10th step. You’re not supposed to step on the 11th and definitely not on the 12th step of the ladder. That being said, you will now have to factor your height and your optimum reach without sacrificing comfort.

Let us say for instance that you stand 6 feet tall with a safe vertical reach of 1 foot. Suppose you get a 12-foot ladder and you can only use the 10th step. Technically, you have a maximum reachable height of 17 feet, provided each ladder step is 1-foot high or roughly 5 feet from the top of the ladder.

If you are going to get an extension ladder, then the highest possible safe standing level is way lower than a straight ladder. This is typically 4 steps from the top of the extension ladder. Additionally, the overlapping sections should be at least 3 feet if the ladder is less than 36 feet long. If the extension ladder is longer than 36 feet, then the sections must overlap by at least 5 feet. In other words, the length of the extension ladder should be 7 to 10 feet longer compared to the height of the structure where it will be resting on.

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Best Telescopic Ladder FAQ:

Q: What is a telescoping ladder?

This is a type of ladder that comes with overlapping rungs that can be collapsed into each other. Each rung can be extended and locked into position, typically using a built-in locking mechanism. This gives the user the versatility to use the ladder as a straight ladder on any given height, limited only by the maximum height of the ladder itself.

Q: How do telescopic ladders work?

Imagine several tubes with gradually decreasing diameter such that if you insert one tube into a larger tube, it will be able to move as effortlessly as possible (think Matryoshka doll). Each section of two tubes makes up a rung in the ladder. One can easily slide the rungs so that they slide out from the larger-diameter tubes in the lower rungs. A locking mechanism is provided to keep these extended rungs from ever sliding back into the larger-diameter tube. As such, with each extended rung, you are also able to increase the overall length of the ladder. When you’re done with your work, you can easily unlock the securing mechanism so that the rest of the rungs will spring back into their original position.

Q: Can the telescoping ladder extend and be used at less than their maximum height?

The beauty of telescoping ladders is that they can be extended to different heights. However, this is limited by the distance upon which its individual rung can be adjusted. For example, if each rung can only be adjusted in increments of 1 foot, then you cannot expect to extend the telescoping ladder to 6.5 feet. You can, however, extend it to 7 feet or maybe even 6 feet. As long as the height you’re aiming for is less than the intended maximum height of the ladder, then you should be able to use this system.

Q: How should I store my ladder?

Telescoping ladders, unlike other systems, are very easy to store. This is because they are fully collapsible. A typical 12.5-foot long telescoping ladder can be closed to a mere 32 to 34 inches. And since the sections or rungs do not lie on top of one another, but rather slide into each other, they retain the thickness of the lowest rung. These ladders come with straps so you can secure the rungs from ever sliding out. Some products come with their own storage bags. Use this. Others can safely store the telescoping ladder at the back of their car or even in a safe place in the garage. tactical ladder

Our Top Pick

The Xtend & Climb 780P is a sturdy and professionally-built telescoping ladder that uses aircraft-grade aluminum to give it structural strength and lightweight characteristics for both home and professional use. It comes with secure non-slip features and a no-pinch closure system for effortless operation. It can be easily extended into 1-foot increments to help provide for a more versatile climbing platform. It may not come with multiple positions, but it does a great job of stabilizing your ascent to and descent from higher structures.

Telescoping ladders can make it exceptionally easy for us to perform simple property improvement, renovation, and repair projects wherever that may be. It is, therefore, crucial that we know how to pick the best one.

Sources:

  1. 10 Tips for Ladder Safety – Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
  2. How to Use an Extension Ladder – wikiHow
  3. How to Climb a Ladder Safely – wikiHow

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