Choosing the right downhill ski pole

Choosing the Pole

When choosing a ski pole there are three main things you must look at,

  1. the material of the pole
  2. the baskets available
  3. the grips

Ski poles can be made of aluminum, carbon/graphite, or a composite material. Aluminum poles are the cheapest and normally the lightest; however, they are the least durable of all the ski poles. Carbon/graphite poles are lightweight but are stronger than aluminum and that can make them a little pricier. Composite poles are made of various materials such as graphite, carbon, glass fiber, and even some have kevlar. These poles weigh less and are stronger than aluminum; however, some people don’t like the flexibility the shaft gives.

Next you must look at the baskets that are offered. Some poles have bigger baskets which are better to use in softer snow. Others have smaller baskets which are best used in hard packed snow. Some ski poles give you the option to interchange different baskets if need be.

Now it’s time to take a look at the grips. Most poles offer a soft rubber grip with a nylon strap for you to put your hand in. Some poles give you the convenient option of taking the straps off without having to take your hand out.  

TIP:One of the most common errors when using your ski poles is how to use the strap. You want to go up through the strap and then go down with your hand so that when you push off you have more range of motion and more control over the pole itself.

Proper ski pole grip

 Sizing Ski Poles

After you have picked out the ski poles you want then it’s time to find the correct size. To do this there a couple steps to follow.

  1. Stand up straight with your arms to the side
  2. Bend your elbows 90 degrees to make your forearm parallel to the ground
  3. Turn your poles upside down so that the grip is on the ground.
  4. Place your hand right under the basket.
  • If you forearm is still parallel to the ground then you’re in the right size.
  • Pole length can vary for people the same height because they might have different arm lengths.
  • If you are in between sizes and you are a novice to intermediate skier 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.
  • If you are in between sizes and you are an Advanced skier, expert skier or a racer you might want to go shorter. This is due to the aggressive stance which is normally lower than in intermediate skiers.
  • If you are in doubt always go longer since many poles can be cut down in length by removing the grip and cutting the shaft. Poles can not be made longer!

You can also refer to our Ski Pole Sizing Chart to order the correct size.

Find the the right Swix, K2 or Leki alpine ski pole for yourself at Alpine Accessories .

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