How do you find the right ski poles? It seems so simple, yet there’s a lot to it. Anyone who has ever skied will tell you that downhill ski poles are vital for control, balance and navigation on the mountain. The best ski poles are lightweight and will enhance your experience on the mountain. An uncomfortable set of poles can be a detriment to your adventure if they are heavy and difficult to hold. So, how do you find the perfect set of downhill ski poles? Below, we have everything you need to know about downhill ski poles. We have info on types of ski poles, ski pole sizing and other factors you should consider when updating your sticks.
The purpose of ski poles is primarily to help you keep your balance while you ski. Having comfortable ski poles can have a strong effect on your skiing experience. Factors to consider when tracking down an ideal pair of poles include sizing preference, type of ski pole, construction material and personal preference.
If your poles are too long, you might have difficulty holding them or controlling them because they are too heavy or demand a lot of effort to use. If your poles are too short, you may have issues staying on your skis a high speed because poles help keep you balanced with little touches on the snow as you speed down the hill.
There are various types of poles for all the unpredictable terrain on the mountain. The type of poles you purchase will largely depend on where you like to ski. Let’s look at the different kinds of ski poles on the market.
Ski poles can be constructed from a variety of materials, depending on how and where you ski. Here are a few of the most common types of poles based on their construction elements.
When it comes to sizing poles, the traditional method is to hold it upside down right under the basket with your thumb pointed up along the basket. When holding them this way, the handles of the ski poles should touch the ground when you hold your arms at a 90-degree angle. While this is an informal way to measure, it’s fairly accurate. To find the ideal fit, compare the traditional method of sizing against how you measure up to the chart below.
Here’s a more official chart that’s commonly used to size ski pole. It determines your ski pole size based on your height. It’s easy to rent ski poles to dial in the perfect length for you too!
While this is a good guide, you don’t have to follow it completely. When choosing the perfect ski pole for you, personal preference pays a big factor. Some skiers like longer poles and other prefer shorter poles. Skiers who like to ski groomers or like riding fast on hard pack should consider longer poles. Longer poles have a wider range of maneuverability and allow you to cruise across flat surfaces easier. Skiers who like to stick their poles in the snow and use them as a turning guide will also like the added length. Shorter poles can create balance issues if you try to turn that way.
If you plan to hit the backcountry or crushing some powder, using a shorter pole is preferred. Shorter poles give you better balance when you descend the mountain at a high speed. Poles that are shorter are better for small touches to keep your balance when you’re going fast. (But don’t go too short or you’ll start to lose your balance.)
When it comes down to it, you’ll want to find a pair of poles that fit perfectly for you. Here are a few more tips for finding the perfect pair.
As you can see, there are a lot of options out there when it comes to poles. Sure, it’s easy to grab a shoddy old pair of poles if you need to – but selecting a proper set can really step up your game on the mountain. Ski boots, bindings and skis get all the recognition, but ski poles are important, too! Talking to pros at shops like Christy Sports will give you further insights too!
What’s your personal preference? Have you seen success on the hill by using better poles? What brands do you recommend? We’d love to hear from you and keep the conversation going in the comments section.