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HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE SKI POLES


While there is no perfect formula or perfect height, the right ski poles can improve your performance, giving you a more responsive and enjoyable ski. Bear in mind that sizing will be personal to you, too long or heavy for your skiing style and they’ll likely get in the way, too short and you’re more likely to position yourself too far forward, throwing you off balance. 


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How do you find the right poles?

We’ll take you through the following steps to help you choose: 

  • What do ski poles do?
  • Finding the right size 
  • Types of ski poles
  • Ski pole materials
  • Ski pole features 

Our stores have a wide range of ski poles so if in doubt, visit us in store and get expert advice from our knowledgeable staff. 

What exactly do ski poles do?

For many skiers, ski poles are an essential piece of ski kit. Used properly, they're designed to help you balance, time your turns, and give you extra propulsion on the slopes.  

 

For backcountry and alpine touring, poles can help you hike, and on flat they can help you skate and even pull your snowboarder friends along.  

 

Many beginners, especially kids won’t be given ski poles until they are more competent on a range of terrain. New skiers tend to rely too heavily on poles for turning learning bad form such as throwing their body, leaning their weight too far back, standing upright, or letting them drag along the slope. Instead, you’ll often see beginner classes, pole-less, with their hands on their knees to instil good weight positioning and technique. Once they’ve mastered that, they are allowed ski poles. 

 


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Finding the right size poles

Using the chart below, find your height for an approximate size. Once you know this size you can start to think about whether you need to size up or down or stay at that length. 

Types of ski poles

A good measure is flipping the pole upside down, and grabbing underneath the basket. The angle from your shoulder, to your elbow and to your hand should be 90 degrees or more (or your forearm should be about parallel to the ground). 

 

SIZING UP

 

Many skiers prefer to ski with longer poles; ideal if: 

  • You like to plant your pole and turn 
  • You skate or traverse a lot of flat 
  • You also cross country ski  

SIZING DOWN

 

Many skiers prefer to ski with shorter poles; ideal if: 

  • You ski in deep snow
  • You ski all terrain parks

FREESTYLE AND PARK SKI POLES

 

Park skiers tend to ski either without poles or with shorter poles that have a thinner shaft and grip for increased balance and manoeuvrability while reducing the risk of them getting in the way on rails and boxes.  

 

Most ski poles can be used for all mountain skiing however there are a few differences typical to specific types of skiing.  

ALPINE SKI POLES

 

These are the most popular type of ski poles suited to most skiers. They will be straight with a comfortable handle and a standard basket. Some may have different snow baskets better for off piste or soft snow.   

 


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POWDER AND BACKCOUNTRY SKI POLES

 

These ski poles are better in soft snow and powder. They usually have a larger snow basket which improves float and stops the poles from sinking and getting stuck. Powder and backcountry ski poles may also have a thicker shaft to protect against rocks and trees and may be adjustable to allow for easy packing on hikes and fine-tuning on varied terrain.  

 

Skiers who prefer powder and backcountry often go for a shorter ski pole to reduce swing weight and improve performance.  

 

RACE SKI POLES

 

These are more specialist than other ski poles; aerodynamic and ergonomic, these poles are designed to hug around the body, reducing drag, and allowing you to ski faster. Racing ski poles are often lighter weight made from high tech materials such as carbon fibre or fibreglass. They usually have smaller baskets to reduce the chances of getting hooked on slalom gates. 

 

NORDIC OR CROSS COUNTRY SKI POLES

 

These are designed for hiking, trekking, cross country, and skating and are typically narrow and lightweight with different shaped baskets to allow you maximum power when pushing. 

 

Ski pole materials

Aluminium - Most ski poles are aluminium; they’re lightweight and strong but still cost effective.  

 

Fibreglass - Fibreglass has the highest strength to weight ratio of any ski pole material allowing them to be slimmer and lighter but still with exceptional performance. Fibreglass is popular amongst racers.  

 

Carbon - Carbon fibre ski poles offer the highest strength to weight ratio but are more likely to snap, rather than bend like aluminium poles, in the unlikely event that they break. Carbon is often blended with other materials to make them more pliable.  

 

Mixed materials- Some ski poles are made of a mix of materials including aluminium, fibreglass, carbon, resin etc. Composite ski poles, such as fibreglass and carbon mix, offer better shock absorption than aluminium but do cost more than traditional poles.  

 


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Ski pole features

Grips - Grips are usually made from plastic or rubber but you may see some made from cork. They are ergonomically shaped to your hand for an easy hold, especially in gloves.  

 

The more expensive the pole the better the grips usually are, including moulded notches for individual finger grip.  

 

Straps - Straps are designed to keep the pole attached to you wrist in case you drop it. They are usually adjustable and made from a strong, woven fabric, such as nylon, to prevent tearing.  

 

Snow baskets - Surprisingly, snow baskets are an important feature of ski poles. Not only do they prevent your pole from sinking too far into the snow, they help to improve balance, and counter the heavier handled end.  

 

Typically, baskets are either for hard snow or soft snow. Hard snow baskets are better for groomed pistes, park, and general all mountain riding. Soft snow baskets are bigger preventing them from sinking into powder so ideal for backcountry and off-piste.  

 

Pole tips - Pole tips are small metal pieces pushed into the end to seal it and increase grip. They don’t differ much but cheaper ski poles will have a steel tip whereas more expensive ones might be a more durable material like carbide.


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