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How to Size Ski Poles: What Size is Best For You

Posted March 29, 2014 @ 2:38pm | by

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.

Properly sized ski pole, how to size ski poles

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 like when checking for size.

Sizing Ski Poles for Racing or Touring


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 like when checking for size.

How to size ski poles for moguls, freestyle or terrain parks

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**

Downhill ski pole sizing chart

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