- Selecting Properly Sized Ski Poles
- Ski Poles
- Ski Pole Length
- Ski Pole Length Guide
- Parts of a Ski Pole
- Freestyle Poles
- The Absolute Guide to Buying Ski Poles
- How to Size Ski Poles: What Size is Best For You
- 7 Best Ski Poles 2019-2020 Season
- Best Ski Poles to Hit the Slopes with this Winter
- Things to Consider When Buying
- Pole Fit
- The Basket
- Telescoping Ski Poles
- Ski Pole Sizing Chart
- POLE SIZING CHART
- Find out more about ski gear
- Ski Pole Buyers Guide
Selecting Properly Sized Ski Poles
Turn the pole upside down, rest the handgrip on the floor near your feet. Grip the pole below the basket. If your elbow is at a 90 degree angle, you’ve got the correct size. If that all works for you, you may click off this page. If you want to know more, schuss on down…
|This is a General Chart only — nothing beats actually measuring and checking the pole!|
|Skier’s Height||Suggested Pole length Inches/cm|
|under 3’4″||32″/80 cm|
|3’5″- 3’8″||34″/85 cm|
|3’9″ – 4′||36″/90 cm|
|4’1″ – 4’4″||38″/95 cm|
|4’5″ – 4’8″||40″/100 cm|
|4’9″ – 5′||42″/105 cm|
|5’1″ – 5’3″||44″/110 cm|
|5’4″ – 5’6″||46″/115 cm|
|5’7″ – 5’9″||48″/120 cm|
|5’10” – 6′||50″/125 cm|
|6’1″ – 6’3″||52″/130 cm|
|6’4″ – 6’6″||54″/135 cm|
|6’6″ +||56″/140 cm|
|NOTE: If you have arms that are shorter than average for your height, you’ll ly need to move up in size. If you have arms an orangutan, you may require a shorter pole. The key is to find a pole that you can plant and turn comfortably with.|
Here’s the old way this was done: Stand up straight, hold both arms straight out in front of you, forearms parallel to the ground, thumbs up. Without moving your elbows, raise your hands up about three to four inches. Roll your wrists so that your pinkies are parallel to the floor…that’s where your poles should be. Have someone measure from the floor to your thumb…
Again, this is the old school method. Because skiing styles and arm lengths vary, your best bet is to rent poles sometime, and try a couple different pole lengths through the day. Or just pick up a couple different pairs when you see them at flea markets, swaps,
If you have the luxury of being in a ski shop and are selecting from a rack of different poles, turn the pole upside down. Grab it right below the basket (what is really the top of the basket) and if your arm is at a 90 degree angle, you’re good to go.
Why is pole length so critical? Well, if you’re skiing with short poles, you’re hunkering down to hit the snow — and balance forward when you pole at a turn.
If you ski with long poles, you’re leaning back to compensate, and your balance is off accordingly.
If you need to “scrounge” or borrow a pair of poles and can’t find any the right length, remember to opt for poles that are too long over poles that are too short and just try to grip as low as you can.
* * * * * * *
What about “Baskets”? In case you just fell off the turnip truck, “baskets” are those round thingies near the ends of your poles. They are placed to allow a couple inches of pole to stick in the snow — and prevent you from stuffing the entire pole into the snow. There are a lot of varieties of baskets, so we’ll try to decipher them for you.
- Small Baskets work best on East Coast & Midwest hardpack, Cascade concrete, and Western groomers. They do not work effectively in deep western powder or in the backcountry; skiers sometimes plant a pole with small baskets in powder and find they’ve left it behind. On the hardpack, the nice small basket is less ly to snag, and less ly to be torn up when used as a brake.
- Big Baskets work best in powder and in the backcountry. The larger basket simply “floats” better in deep snow, so it makes your pole plants what they should be. Small baskets tend to go in too far in powder, throwing off your turn motion.
- Snowflakes & Steel Rings These are old school. They work — not as well as the new technology — but they sure make a statement. Steel rings attached with rubber tend to break very easily, so if you find a pair of these, you’ve really got something. Another forgotten beauty is the large, solid egg-shaped basket. Skiing with any of these is an old school statement, and not nearly as hideous as a one-piece dayglo ski suit.
- Giant Leather/Bamboo Baskets These are also old school, but they’re cross-country old school. Don’t use these unless you are demonstrating 1940s era antique wood skis or something of that ilk.
* * * * * * *
Composite vs. Aluminum More than anything, this is a matter of preference. Aluminum and old stainless poles are heavy; composite poles are not.
The advantage to a composite pole is that it won’t bend when you rap it against your boots to knock snow off.
Aluminum poles will bend, and eventually break from doing that, but they do have a more solid feel when you plant them. Which do you ?
Personally, I heavy metal poles that make the snow bleed. If you spend a lot of time at crowded metropolitan areas, you’ve seen wise-guys zoom past people resting on the side of the trail, inches away.
I used to have a giant pair of aluminum Barrecrafters with enormous solid plastic handgrips. I’d wait until Mr. Wiseass was swooping in, then plant one of those babies a couple feet away. The sudden wide-eyed look of terror was priceless.
Believe me, they’d rather hit a lift tower than one of those poles.
Along the same lines as aluminum vs. composite are “curved” poles such as a racer might use. Unless you’re a serious, competitive racer, these are not necessary. Same goes for the “aero” poles vs. the regular old round poles. The fancy shaped poles are a bit silly, but again, if you ’em, use ’em.
* * * * * * *
Avoid ski pole theft: Believe it or not, the most frequently stolen items at most ski areas are not bags with nice clothing inside, not the pricey phat powder skis, but the $45 pair of poles you place next to your skis on the rack.
People drop a pole, bend a pole, lose a pole — it is so convenient to simply replace their broken poles with your nice new poles! The best way to avoid this is to lock them up with a Ski Tote…but we don’t want to be seen with one of those, now do we?
Another trick people use to avoid stolen poles is to put one on the rack over here, and the other pole in the corner over there.
After all, a thief wants matched poles too! But that’s really only going to minimize the lihood that both of your poles will be stolen. Unfortunately a lot of people break a pole, drop a pole from the lift, etc.
When they find what looks a single orphaned pole on the rack, they assume it won’t be missed.
Point is you really can’t win. Best bet? Figure it’s bound to happen sooner or later, and travel with an extra pair of poles in your car.
Lift Tickets at Discount: This is a “clearinghouse” of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia. If you haven’t used this service, it is important to knowfor certain that you are going on a specific date.
The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out.
The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long…so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets.
I’ve used this service many times, but again, ONLY when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I’ve knocked a third off the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it’s well worth checking if you’ve got a date nailed down.
Ski poles are used to help push you along on flat areas, and for pole planting in intermediate and advanced skiing. There are all sorts of ski poles that you can buy, they can be intended for different types of skiing or made from different materials. Whichever type of ski pole you have however, the most important thing is that it's the right length.
Ski Pole Length
A ski pole's length is normally measured in cm from the top of the grip to the end of the tip. The length poles are available in, vary in 5cm increments. The length of a ski pole needs to be matched to the height of the person using them, and to the type and standard of skiing they will use them for.
When in a shop trying to work out what length of pole you want, you must remember that ski boots will raise your feet off of the ground a bit more than normal shoes, and that when you put your skis on they will raise you up about another 4cm further.
Another thing to take into account is that generally the tip of the ski pole will sink into the snow as far as the basket at the bottom.
One common way of estimating if a ski pole is the right size, is to hold the pole upside down with the grip on the floor and the top of your hand touching the basket, this gives you a better idea of how long the pole will seem when you use it.
Ski Pole Length Guide
Below is a standard guide to the rough length of pole you will want for your height.
|Height (cm)||135 – 142||145 – 152||155 – 160||163 – 168||170 – 175||178 – 183||185 – 190||193 – 198|
|Height (feet, inches)||4'5 – 4'8||4'9 – 5'0||5'1 – 5'3||5'4 – 5'6||5'7 – 5'9||5'10 – 6'0||6'1 – 6'3||6'4 – 6'6|
|Pole Length (cm)||100||105||110||115||120||125||130||135|
To work out exactly how long you want your ski poles to be can only be done by testing poles on the slopes.
As you get better at skiing you will generally find that you want slightly shorter poles, as you will start to use a more aggresive stance with your knees more bent.
If in doubt about how long you want your poles to be, it's generally better to go longer, as poles can be cut down and made shorter if needed, but cannot be lengthened.
Parts of a Ski Pole
Below is a guide to the different parts of a ski pole, with details on how each part can vary.
The grip is the part of the ski pole that you hold on to, and is normally made from a slightly rubbery plastic. Different manufacturers and models of pole will have different shapes of grip, so it is always nice to find a pole with a shape of grip that you find comfortable to hold.
On many poles the grip will be wider at the top and bottom, to keep your hand in position on the pole better, although this is not always the case. Poles that are intended for touring skiing might have an extra length of grip, underneath the normal part. This is so that the pole can be held lower down when traversing across steep slopes.
Poles for slalom racing have a guard in front of the grip to protect the riders fingers, as slalom racers punch the gates as they ski round them.
The strap goes around your hand and wrist as you hold the pole. The strap enables you to push harder on the pole without needing to hold the pole as tight, and also stops the pole falling to the ground if you let go of it.
The the length of the straps can be adjusted to fit your hand size and glove thickness. On some straps the adjustment is done by a buckle on the strap, and on others the adjustment mechanism is inside the grip of the pole.
Some straps will also have padding on them, to make them a bit more comfortable.
One manufacturer does away with the traditional strap, by putting a hook and clip on the back of the grip at the top.
Then by using either special gloves or a special strap over your gloves, you can clip a small loop over the hook, and be connected to the pole by the loop.
This system makes it a lot quicker to put on and take off the straps on your poles, although it doesn't let the poles hang from your wrists if you want to use your hands for something else.
The shaft is the main length of the pole, and is normally made from either aluminium or carbon fibre.
Aluminium poles are generally a bit more robust than carbon fibre poles as in a hard impact they will normally bend or dent instead of snap or shatter, and can often be bent back into shape.
If an aluminium pole has had too many impacts though it can end up not being very straight any more. Carbon fibre poles however will bend and come back to their original shape, although if they are bent too much they will snap and cannot be repaired.
Some poles can have their length adjusted, through an adjustment mechanism on the shaft, the Mechanics of Sport poles.
This type of pole is often intended for touring skiing, so that the pole's length can be changed for hiking up and skiing down, although poles for normal skiing can also have this feature.
This can be good if the poles will be used by different people, if you to change the pole length for different types of skiing, or if different pairs of skis lift you off the snow by different amounts, and you want to compensate for this in your ski pole length.
The poles with all the weird shapes are generally meant for racing. These shapes help the poles go around the body while the skier holds their hands out in front in an aerodynamic stance. Generally the more extreme the shape changes in the poles are, the more they are intended for super-g or downhill, where the aerodynamic positions are held more often and for longer.
The tip of a ski pole is the part that sticks into the snow. The tips are sharp / small enough that they will dig into the snow easily, without being so sharp that they are dangerous.
Ski pole tips on cheaper poles are normally part of the shaft with a metal cap on the bottom. On more expensive poles the tips are often replaceable, and will snap off if they are hit by a ski.
These tips are a separate extension on the bottom of the shaft and are generally made of plastic with a metal tip.
The basket is the disc object towards the bottom of a pole just above the tip, and is there to stop the ski pole from sinking too far into the snow. Baskets on ski poles can come in many different shapes and sizes, and some poles come with more than one set of baskets.
On many poles the baskets can be removed and changed by screwing them on and off, although often on cheaper poles the baskets can only be replaced if they are broken. A standard basket is in the region of 5cm across (2″) and is intended for general piste or allround skiing.
Very small baskets are normally intended for racing as they have less air resistance, and larger baskets about 10cm across (4″) or more are intended to be used in powder.
In powder a larger basket's area makes it push down on more snow so that the pole won't sink as deep into the soft snow, which increases the support the pole can give.
Although most people will use poles that roughly match the chart above, freestyle skiers often use very short poles as they carry them as much for show as for function. They need the poles to be short so that they won't get in the way of the skis when doing spins or tricks.
Move on to the Ski Goggles section.
The Absolute Guide to Buying Ski Poles
For some people a pair of ski poles is just a pair of poles, nothing fancy, nothing over the top. For others a ski pole is a precision piece of equipment that can help change the way they ski.
However you see your ski poles it is still important to choose the right ones.
Poles that are too long or too heavy can be cumbersome and awkward whereas poles which are too short might not provide you with the right balance.
Follow the guide below and you'll get all the information you need to choose the right ski poles for you, when you are ready follow this link to our range of Ski Poles and apply the filters on the left hand side of the page see the Ski Poles that are perfect for you.
The truth is that there is not right or wrong answer here. An incorrectly sized pole can cause you problems and could even hinder your skiing however a certain degree of personal preference also comes into play.
Some people to have a longer ski pole which they can plant and turn around whereas other prefer their poles shorter where they are nothing more than an additional balance aid.
If you're unsure then keep to the size chart below, it's spot on for 99% of skiers! If you have used longer or shorter poles in the past then stick with what you know.
Why ski with longer poles?
- You to plant your pole and turn round it
- You will be skating or traversing flat tracks
- You will be doing Nordic or Cross Country skiing
Why ski with shorter poles?
- You will be skiing a lot of deep snow
- You will be skiing a lot of park
- You want a pole with a low swing weight
Check out the size chart below for a good idea of what size poles will suit you. Remember personal preference means you can ski with poles longer or shorter. Almost all ski poles come in 5cm/2″ increments.
|Skier Height||Pole Length|
|< 101||< 3'4"||80||32|
|104 – 112||3'5″ – 3'8″||85||34|
|114 – 122||3'9″ – 4'0″||90||36|
|125 – 132||4'1″ – 4'4″||95||38|
|135 – 142||4'5″ – 4'8″||100||40|
|145 – 152||4'9″ – 5'0″||105||42|
|155 – 160||5'1″ – 5'3″||110||44|
|163 – 168||5'4″ – 5'6″||115||46|
|170 – 175||5'7″ – 5'9″||120||48|
|178 – 183||5'10″ – 6'0″||125||50|
|186 – 190||6'1″ – 6'3″||130||52|
|> 193||> 6'4″||135+||54+|
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How to Size Ski Poles: What Size is Best For You
Ski Poles…Initially employed as one part propulsion device, one part hunting spear, ski poles have evolved quite a bit since their inception. In the beginning they were wood or bamboo, cut and fashioned by their user.
Today, nearly unbreakable yet impossibly light carbon fiber poles are available in every ski shop. Modern poles vary widely in price depending on the manufacturer, material (durability), safety features and style.
Classic ski pole sizing calls for the user to turn the pole upside down and grip the pole just underneath the basket (accounting for the portion of the pole which will sink in to the snow during use).
While doing this with the correct length pole, the elbow should form roughly a 90 degree angle, resulting in an angle which is closer to 100 degrees once you are clicked into your skis.
The intended function (What you're doing out there on the hill) of the pole is the primary factor in determining the proper ski pole size for you. Generally speaking, if you are making quick/short turns you are going to want a shorter ski pole.
Benefits of using longer Ski Poles
Though somewhat more of a burden, longer poles do have their application, and can be an advantage in certain situations. Cross country skiers use poles of greater length in order to cover more ground per stroke. The common measurement for cross country poles is arm-pit-height.
Experts will go even longer, but a novice XC skier should not hesitate to go as many as 5cm’s shorter in the interest of comfort. Longer poles are beneficial in some alpine related poling situations as well.
When traversing a ridgeline, or skinning up to your most coveted back country stash a longer pole could be the difference between being at the cornice for sunrise, and skiing in someone else’s track.
In the picture of me below is what a 'long' ski pole would look when checking for size.
Benefits of using shorter Ski Poles
When the turns get technical, the poles need to get short. As we mentioned previously, the shorter the radius, the shorter the pole. This is exemplified by mogul skiers, who are turning their skis so sharply and quickly, that it appears that they are making just about no turns at all.
Chutes, couloirs, and trees often necessitate shorter radius turns as well. This type of terrain is often steep and uneven. As a result the up-hill pole is often planting on terrain which can be 2-3 feet above the ground you stand on.
In this instance, using a pole that is too long can be a costly mistake which can knock you off balance, and cause you to lose control.
In the picture of me below is what a 'super short' ski pole would look when checking for size.
The best thing since sliced bread… Adjustable Ski Poles
Adjustable poles are truly ideal. As skiers we inevitably encounter a variety of terrain. In pushing ourselves to greater extents, every advantage we can get increases our confidence and there by our performance. A longer pole will get you to your drop in quicker, and a shorter pole will keep you balanced and in rhythm when you get there.
**Pole Length** Park/Freestyle sizing – Proper Size**
7 Best Ski Poles 2019-2020 Season
A good pair of ski poles can make the difference between a memorable day on the slopes or a day you’d rather forget. Most skiers tend to put a lot of focus on buying the best pair of skis, yet might not place the same value on the quality of their poles. However, the best ski poles will total improve the quality of your shredding abilities.
When you take a lift up on a great powder day, you want to attack those runs outfitted with the top equipment. Here are reviews we’ve put together for some of the best poles on the market today.
Best Ski Poles to Hit the Slopes with this Winter
Next time you hit the slopes, you want to make sure that you have the right equipment. These ski pole reviews will help you learn everything you’ll need to know for finding ski poles that will last you for winters to come.
1. K2 Power Carbon Ski Poles
Best Alpine Ski PolesOverall
This is truly one of the best ski poles around, utilizing a hybrid aluminum and carbon construction that makes for a good combination of weight and durability, as well as a cool shape that optimizes aerodynamics. This is a high-performance pole, designed for skiers who value performance above all and intend to really go bombing down the hill.
2. SALOMON Arctic Ski Poles
Best Ski Poles for the Money
This ski pole by Salomon is sleek and functional, designed for skiers who love to move between all types of terrain including powder and compacted snow. The construction features lightweight quality aluminum and the price is fair. Salomon offers these ski poles in five colors, so you can be sure to find a match for the rest of your gear.
3. Leki Speed S
Best Ski Pole for Speed
This is a durable, aluminum, lightweight all-mountain pole. The Leki Speed S features tough construction, truly innovative strap design, and a comfy, ergonomic grip, and is great value for the price. One of the things we about this pole is a safety feature with a built-in spring that releases the strap during a major spill.
4. Volkl Phantastick 2
Best Looking Ski Poles
Most ski poles tend to be pretty boring, so it’s nice to see a manufacturer attempting to spice things up. The Volkl Phantastick 2 offers some cool touches to an otherwise simple design.
This pole comes in a range of awesome colors, and see-through grips, that certainly help it stand out from the crowd. Beyond its looks, the Phantastick 2 is a pretty standard downhill pole. Its alloy construction is pretty heavy, but the price makes it significantly cheaper than ski poles designed purely for performance.
5. Scott 720 Ski Poles
Best Touring Ski Poles
This pole really stands out for its durability. It’s a good, affordable choice for aggressive skiers. The price places it right in the middle of the pack for downhill poles, and given its strong aluminum construction and Scott’s reputation for quality, you could certainly do a lot worse.
6. Leki Carbon 14S
The Leki Carbon 14 S is beautiful to look at, and the carbon fiber construction creates a nice flex during transitions between turns that feels fabulous in your hand. The truth is that an all-carbon pole isn’t really necessary, but this pole will spoil you.
The major drawbacks with this pole are price and durability, with thin construction that limits its usefulness to less aggressive runs.
7. Black Diamond Razor
Best Backcountry Ski Poles
This pole produces decreased vibration with greater strength thanks to its carbon lower shaft. It’s stiff yet lightweight, making it perfect for anything from downhill to long days of backcountry skiing. The SwitchRelease is a really nice feature, allowing you to ski through trees without having to worry about catching a branch and getting your arm yanked off.
Things to Consider When Buying
There are several factors to consider when shopping for new ski poles. For starters, they need to be strong, allowing you to plant for turns, flexible enough to not snap during hard spills, yet still be light enough so that your arms don’t get tired too earlier in the day. Here are some additional factors to keep in mind:
Just with your ski boots, the best ski poles will be the right size for your body. To measure, hold the pole upside down, with your hand just beneath the basket, so that your elbow is at a ninety-degree angle.
- If the angle of your elbow is less than ninety-degrees, this means the pole is too long.
- Longer than ninety, the pole is too short.
Simple enough to remember, right?
We recommend shorter poles for halfpipe and park skiers, for the simple reason that it’s easier to maneuver with the shorter length. Thus you’re less ly to find yourself getting hung up on the wall of the halfpipe.
Most straps are made from flexible nylon, designed to simply keep you from losing your pole. Some poles are now designed with detachable straps to help prevent injury during a gnarly wipeout.
When shopping for poles, we suggest bringing your ski gloves along so that you are able to see exactly how comfortable the grip and strap feel with the gloves you’ll be using on the slopes.
The basket is simply a plastic disk near the bottom of the pole intended to prevent the pole from sinking too deep into the snow. Some are a plain round disk, and others shaped a snowflake. The shape is purely aesthetic and shouldn’t affect performance at all.
Really the only thing to remember about baskets is this: use a bigger basket in deep powder, and a smaller basket in hardpack conditions.
Telescoping Ski Poles
This is a type of pole primarily used in ski mountaineering. They are great for use as touring ski poles because they can be lengthened during uphill cross-country treks. Then shortened for downhill descents. There are even certain models of telescoping poles available on the market that are able to be vertically joined together. This allows you to use them as an avalanche probe.
Ski Pole Sizing Chart
The chart below only works for people of average height and arm length. To make sure you ski pole length is correct, turn your alpine ski pole UPSIDE DOWN and grab your pole under the basket or on the grip side of the basket. Your lower arm should be parallel to the floor.
Pole length can vary for people the same height because of different arm lengths.
Novice to intermediate skiers – If you are between sizes, go longer. A longer pole will help keep your body in better balance and allow you to put your weight on the proper ski easier.
Advanced skiers, expert skiers and racers – If between sizes, you may go shorter. This is due to the aggressive stance which is normally lower than intermediates.
When in doubt, always go longer. Many poles can be cut down in length by removing the grip and cutting the shaft. Poles can not be made longer.
POLE SIZING CHART
|3’ 2”||not recommended||not recommended||80 cm|
|3’ 3” – 3’ 4”||32”||80 cm||80 cm|
|3’ 5” – 3’ 7”||34”||85 cm||85 cm|
|3’ 8” – 3’ 9”||34” – 36”||85 – 90 cm||85 – 90 cm|
|3’ 10” – 3’ 11”||36”||90 cm||90 cm|
|4’ – 4’ 1”||36” – 38”||90 – 95 cm||95 cm|
|4’ 2” – 4’ 3”||38”||95 cm||100 cm|
|4’ 4” – 4’ 5”||38” – 40”||90 – 95 cm||100 – 105 cm|
|4’ 6” – 4’ 8”||40”||100 cm||105 – 110 cm|
|4’ 8” – 4’ 9”||40”||100 cm||100 – 115 cm|
|4’ 10” – 4’ 11”||40” – 42”||100 – 105 cm||120 cm|
|5’||42” – 44”||105 – 110 cm||125 cm|
|5’ 1”||44”||110 cm||125 cm|
|5’ 2”||44”||110 cm||130 cm|
|5’ 3”||44” – 46”||110 – 115 cm||130 cm|
|5’ 4”||46”||115 cm||135 cm|
|5’ 5”||46”||115 cm||135 cm|
|5’ 6”||46” – 48”||115 – 120 cm||140 cm|
|5’ 7”||48”||120 cm||140 cm|
|5’ 8”||48”||120 cm||145 cm|
|5’ 9”||48” – 50”||120 – 125 cm||145 cm|
|5’ 10”||48” – 50”||120 – 125 cm||150 cm|
|5’ 11”||50”||125 cm||150 cm|
|6’||50”||125 cm||155 cm|
|6’ 1”||52”||125 – 130 cm||155 cm|
|6’ 2”||52”||130 cm||160 cm|
|6’ 3”||52”||130 – 135 cm||160 cm|
|6’ 4”||54”||135 cm||165 cm|
|6’ 5”||54”||135 cm||165 cm|
Extend one arm out to your side making it parallel to the floor. Check your ski pole length by putting your pole UNDER your arm pit. Your pole should fit under your arm comfortably.
Less aggressive skiers – If you are between sizes, go shorter.
More aggressive skiers – If you are between sizes, go up a size.
More aggressive skiers usually raise their arms higher. A longer pole can help. Less aggressive skiers sometimes don't raise their arms as high.
When in doubt, go longer. Poles can be cut down in length by removing the grip and cutting the shaft. Poles can not be made longer.
Ski poles are usually the last thing you think about when getting new equipment.
In most cases, after the work in finding a pair of boots that fit well and the big decision of which skis to get, the choice of ski poles falls to: What's cheap and looks good with my skis?
And it used to be that was all you needed to ask. But now there are many more options to consider when buying ski poles. Manufacturers have developed more bells and whistles than cost and color.
Ski poles need to be strong for planting turns, pushing yourself around in lift lines and occasionally to help you climb uphill.
They have to be light to lessen arm fatigue and somewhat flexible so that a fall doesn't bend them into a pretzel. If you're a beginner, a basic aluminum pole that fits properly is all you need.
As you become more experienced, you may want to try different materials for a better performance.
Alpine Accessories offers a wide range of price choices, starting at the basic $29.00 and ending with the Leki Trigger Grip Ski Poles at $100. Why such a wide range of price you ask?
- Early ski poles were simply sticks, then bamboo (1930s), then steel (1940s and early 1950s). In 1958, Ed Scott invented the aluminum ski pole. Even though ski poles are now made in other materials, aluminum is still one of the main types of ski pole on the market.
- On the starter poles you will get what is simply called an ice tip. But on the pricier poles you will get a carbide ice tip made of a stronger material.
- On the low cost poles you will find an extruded plastic grip, a woven nylon strap and a plastic buckle for adjustment. As the price of poles increase, the grips are made with better materials for their anti-slip quality, but still use the basic strap system. On the higher price poles, improvements can be found in performance and safety as seen on the (above) Leki Vantage S. Their unique Leki Trigger System gives you an adjustable strap that securely wraps around your gloves but attaches and detaches from the pole by the press of a button. The strap also detaches from the pole if the basket was to get caught in a tree to avoid shoulder and arm injuries.
Aluminum Shaft: Cheap ski poles will use a lower cost aluminum alloy which will cause them to be a little heavier and break easier. Aluminum poles are a good inexpensive pole for beginners, the aluminum pole is preferred by trick skiers and many racers because it will not bend with the pressure they require. Pay a little more and you will get stronger, lighter alloys.
Composite Shaft: Manufactures are now producing ski poles made of fiberglass, and other specialized materials. Lightweight composite materials are used to reduce weight and increase the strength of the pole.
The best ski poles made of carbon fiber, or graphite for instance, are very light and durable. These poles also bend a little with pressure, example being when planted hard in the bumps. The advantage to this is the shock absorbency.
Your joints will thank you for this at the end of the day.
Alpine Accessories offers a wide price range to fit everyone's budget, starting at $29.00 and ending at $139.95 . the above section on aluminum poles, the material of the pole, the ice tip and the grip determine the cost.
Here again, the Leki ski pole is our top choice with the ease of use when riding chair lifts as well as the safety factor of the detachable strap.
I personally would much rather climb up the hill to retrieve a dropped pole than have a dislocated shoulder.
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Ski Pole Buyers Guide
Poles are great for hitting snow your bindings or helping you up when you fall, but many new skiers are unsure of how to choose the right pair or if they even need to be using poles at all. Skill level and conditions are import factors to consider.
Poles are often purchased as an afterthought, but the right pair can really improve your skiing if you know what to look for.
Beginners – new skiers often prefer poles to keep hands occupied & steady themselves, but should really leave them behind to focus on mastering turns.
Intermediate – at this level, its important to have a pole that won't hinder your progression. Poles should be used to assist in turn timing and navigating flat/uphill areas.
Advanced – poles really become important to athletes who are frequenting black diamond trails, exploring backcountry or venturing into uncertain conditions. Planting poles in the snow maintains balance & keeps turns controlled in rough terrain.
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Ski poles can affect your stance as you ski, so it's important to choose a pair that suits your height. Poles that are too tall can make you lean back on your heels, while short poles will force you to hunch over. To determine what size ski pole you need, stand with your arms at your sides, bent at a 90-degree angle and measure the distance from your hands to the floor. (If you can't have a friend measure, stand near a wall & use one hand to mark the other's height) Add 2 inches to the measurement to compensate for height added by your skis, boots & bindings. (Poles are measured in intervals of 2 inches or 5 centimeters so be sure to note both measurements.) If you're physically shopping for a pair, stand near a mirror and turn one of the poles in question upside down. Grasp it so that the bottom of your fist rests on the underside of the basket, and position the pole completely vertical with its handgrip resting on the floor.Relax your shoulders, but keep your back straight– if your forearm is bent 90-degrees/parallel to the floor, you're good to go.
Grip – the very top of the pole, usually made of molded rubber or plastic. If possible, wear your gloves/mitts to make sure you can comfortably hold your poles.
Hand Guards – Models designed for slalom racers may incorporate a cover to shield hands from hitting gates.
Adjustable Grip – Certain styles can be positioned to fine-tune the pole's overall height. Usually they extend/retract about 2-3 inches, makingthem great for complete customization or growing athletes.
Strap – attached to the grip to secure poles in case they get stuck in snow or you loosen your grip. Often a nylon strap that's lopped around your wrist, but can also be a curved extension off the grip.
These plastic or rubber loops are fixed on one end, leaving the other open to easily wrap around your glove. Injuries to the wrist & thumb can easily result from grasping poles during a fall, so many manufacturers incorporate these flexible arcs to get hands the way easily.
There are also straps that offer a Velcro closure or quick-release function to prevent hand injuries from impact.
Shaft – the main part of the ski pole, cylindrical and made of composite, titanium, aluminum, carbon fiber or fiberglass. Should be strong, lightweight, flexible & resilient (when it bends, it shouldn't stay bent!)
Curved Shaft – aerodynamic design & low swing weight in curved poles perform better for downhill racers.
Basket – the disc near the bottom of the pole that stays on top of the snow. The average disc should work fine for groomed resort trails, but for deep powder a larger disc is necessary to keep from falling through the snow. Most baskets are easily interchangeable.
Ski poles are typically made of aluminum, graphite, fiberglass, or composite materials, all varying in weight, price & performance.Most models today are made of a combination of these materials, drawing the benefits of each. A pole that feels too heavy can through off your balance, whereas a super-light racing pole won't be able to withstand average resort wear & tear.
Aluminum – moderately lightweight &most affordable, but can bend/snap easily.
Carbon Fiber – 100% carbon fiber creates the lightest poles available, but is also easily dented.
Composite/graphite – durable & have resilient flex, but are also slightly heavier.