The Best Telescopic Ladder
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My name is Daniel Woodley, and I’m the owner of DIY Gardening.
Before I fell in love with gardening, I worked as a roofing contractor; in fact, I’ve spent 17 years of my life in home improvement and construction.
I believe I have more experience with ladders and access equipment than most people, and on this page, I’ll show you what I think is the best telescopic ladder and why.
I also show you what to look out for when buying one of these ladders, what they are good for and crucially, what tasks they’re not suitable for.
In a Hurry? Here’s The Best Telescopic Ladder
In my opinion, the WolfWise 3.8m is the best telescopic ladder on sale in the UK at the moment.
- It has a stabilizer at the base of the ladder; this reduces the chances of the user having a fall.
- The one-button “soft close” retraction feature means you can collapse the ladder from fully extended to closed without pinching or trapping fingers.
- At 0.89m, this telescopic ladder is really compact when fully retracted.
- With thousands of online reviews, this is one of the most reviewed telescopic ladders.
- Over 95% of all the online reviewers I could find gave this ladder 4 or 5 stars, making it one of the highest-rated telescopic ladders I could find.
Comparing a Telescopic Ladder to a Regular Ladder
I’ve used both telescopic and regular ladders and there are advantages to both:
- They fit into the boot of a car, can be stored in a small shed or even a small porch.
- Lightweight; at 12kg, they’re much lighter than regular ladders.
- They can be used indoors for decorating.
- Ideal for loft access.
- Perfect for occasional use or by those that need a portable ladder (i.e salesperson/surveyor).
- Regular ladders are sturdier and don’t flex as much when you climb them.
- Are more comfortable, especially on the knees if used for a long time.
- A regular ladder can be extended higher than any telescopic ladder. A 4m triple extension ladder can be extended to 10 metres.
- Best suited to trades and regular use.
There are Some Disadvantages Worth Noting
The flex you’ll experience while working from telescopic ladders isn’t an issue when used at a low height, but if you fully extend the ladder, you may feel uncomfortable, for example, at roof gutter height.
I have 17 years of experience working on ladders, and while I would happily climb a regular ladder up to the guttering on my house, I’ve never felt as secure at that height on a telescopic ladder.
Each rung on a telescopic ladder has a plastic clip, and each clip is a moving part; my experience tells me that the more moving parts there are on a ladder, the more likely it is to break at some point. While this is unlikely to be an issue for the occasional user, I don’t think telescopic ladders are the best option for regular use (i.e all day, every day).
A triple extension ladder is around twice as heavy as a telescopic ladder, so if you’re not very strong or you find heavy ladders awkward to work with, a telescopic ladder could be a deal-maker.
The length of regular extension ladders makes them awkward to work with, difficult to transport, and you can’t use most of them indoors.
The price; a good quality extension ladder costs more than a telescopic ladder.
Examples of Usage
Here’s a list of tasks that can be completed safely on a telescopic ladder:
- Painting windows or walls below 5m.
- Work on satellite dishes, external light fittings or pipework below 5m.
- Working on porches, garages and other low-level extensions.
- Indoor work, loft access etc.
- Measuring/surveying and other short-term work where portability of the ladder is crucial.
Based on my 17 years experience of working with access equipment, I don’t think telescopic ladders are suitable for:
- Any project above 5 metres.
- Where the user needs to step off the ladder, for example, onto a roof or a scaffold platform. This is because telescopic ladders are lighter than regular ladders, so they are more likely to move when the user steps off the ladder at height.
- On windy days. At less than half the weight of a regular ladder, it’s far more likely to blow over in the wind.
- Where the user intends to lean over the top of the ladder. For example, it’s fine to lean a ladder against a wall, but if the user extends the ladder over the guttering and leans over the top of the ladder to work on the roof, this can create a pivot, and the base of the ladder could slide out. This is far more likely to happen on lighter ladders.
Why I Chose The WolfWise Telescopic Ladder
There are dozens of telescopic ladders on sale, and many look very similar, but unfortunately, some are unsafe.
In 2017, Derbyshire Council’s Trading Standards team tested 13 telescopic ladders, and all failed to meet the current standards, with one ladder snapping in half under the test load.
This led to the conviction of an importer who was fined over £10,000, and over 35,000 ladders have since been withdrawn from sale.
New standards for ladder safety have now come into force, but many sub-standard ladders are still sold online and in shops around the UK.
I contacted the seller, and they informed me that once the ladder stabilizer is attached, the entire ladder meets the current safety standards as set out in BS EN131. I am trusting this seller somewhat as I can’t confirm this beyond their statement. The standard mostly covers stability and weight capacity; based on this and several other factors listed below, I feel this is the best telescopic ladder:
- The stabilizer makes this telescopic ladder safer than many others on sale.
- The maximum weight capacity is 150kg which is more than enough for a heavy male and tools.
- The reviews are excellent, with 95% of over 2100 reviewers rating this ladder 4 or 5 stars.
- Many of the reviewers noted how sturdy this telescopic ladder is.
- It’s been on sale a long time with many thousands of units sold; I’m confident that it would have been raised by now if there were a safety or quality issue.
My Hands-On Test of WolfWise’s 3.8m Telescopic Ladder
In December 2023, I had the chance to test WolfWise’s 3.8m telescopic ladder as I arranged to meet a surveyor and old colleague at a project we were both working on. I brought my regular extension ladder while he had the WolfWise 3.8m ladder with the stabilising bar.
I tested it by:
- Extending it and collapsing it several times.
- Climbing up it when it was fully extended.
- Carrying it when it was collapsed.
I also asked my former colleague what he thought of the ladder.
Here’s what he told me:
I’ve owned the ladder for just over a year and I use it everyday for surveying purposes. It’s proven reliable and robust.
Here’s my opinion on the Wolwise 3.8m ladder, based on my limited test:
- It felt sturdy at lower levels, up to around ceiling height.
- I didn’t feel particularly safe when I fully extended it (I’m a heavy guy), as it flexed much more than my regular ladder.
- I found it easy and quick to collapse the telescopic ladder.
- The stabiliser bar was solid and provided plenty of grip and stopped the ladder from shifting sideways.
- I felt that this ladder would be great for surveying purposes and low-level work, such as painting walls up to ceiling height or getting into a loft.
- I couldn’t find any EN131 stickers on the ladder, so users might not be allowed to take it onto building sites, although my former colleague stated that he’s never had any issues.
The primary reason buyers choose a telescopic ladder is for its portability and ultra-compact size when collapsed.
The closest alternative would be a small triple extension ladder.
I looked at hundreds of extension ladders online, and the smallest I could find was a 2metre triple extension; the next size up was a 2.5m triple.
Here are the sizes of the most popular extension ladders:
2m triple extension ladder – 2 metres when closed, 4 metres when extended, 230mm depth, 1-metre stabiliser bar. This ladder can fit into a large car or a shed, perhaps even a porch cupboard.
2.5m triple extension ladder – 2.5 metres when closed, 5.5 metres when extended, 230mm depth, 1-metre stabiliser bar.
3m triple extension ladder – 3 metres when closed, 7 metres when extended, 230mm depth, 1.2 metres stabiliser bar.
4m triple extension ladder – 4 metres when closed, 10 metres when extended, 240mm depth, 1.2 metres stabiliser bar.
Surveyors ladders are sectional ladders that the user joins together; most contain 4-6 sections, each 1-metre in length. When fixed together, the ladder can be used to reach up to gutter height. I have experience with this type of ladder as I used them in the late 1990s before telescopic ladders became popular. I don’t recommend these as, from my experience, they aren’t as sturdy and take time to assemble and take apart.
Tips From a Professional
Here are some tips, which I picked up along the way over the last 17 years:
- The fully extended height of a ladder isn’t the same as the working height, as ladders aren’t put in place vertically. For example, a 3-metre ladder can’t be used to access a roof 3 metres high.
- I always placed a 25kg sandbag on the bottom of the ladder to stop it from sliding out. I suggest you do the same or get someone to hold the ladder and place a foot on the bottom rung to secure it in place.
- Telescopic ladders shouldn’t be used to access roof gutters as they flex too much at this height; when I worked as a roofer, I always used an extension ladder instead.
- I used ladder mats, stabilisers and stand-offs for safety reasons.
The bottom line: Telescopic ladders have their uses, but for projects over 4 metres high (that’s gutter height on most houses), I think you should buy or hire a regular extension ladder or get a tradesperson in to do the work for you.
- Lightweight, I’ve never had issues carrying them.
- Compact, I keep mine in a cupboard.
- Fits in the boot of my car.
- I know surveyors who use them daily.
- Suitable for occasional use.
- Use indoor or outdoors.
- When I tested WolfWise, I found it wasn’t as stable as an extending ladder
- Based on my experience, telescopic ladders are more likely to be affected by the wind
- I found that the WolfWise and every other telescopic ladder I’ve tried flexes much more than regular ladders.
- I’ve seen these ladders misused – I feel they are great for low-level work but dangerous if leaned on gutters or any other unstable surface.
DIY Gardening’s Product Testing and Editorial Process
Daniel spent 17 years working in the construction industry, initially as a roofing contractor. He has years of experience with different types of ladders from telescopic, to extending to roof ladders.
This guide is based on 17 years of experience and on the specifications of the telescopic ladder and the responses received from the seller.
Daniel also had the chance to test the WolfWise ladder at a property in December 2022.
Author: Daniel Woodley
Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.
He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.
Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.
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