All you need to know about choosing the right ski poles based on fit, type, and features.
Ski poles are used for balance, support and getting around when you need an extra push. They need to be sturdy enough to support you but light enough to not tire out your arms.
There are a few important factors to consider when purchasing ski poles. This guide will help you find the best ski poles for you.
How Should Ski Poles Fit?
Ski pole fit is a matter of personal preference and the type of skiing you do.
When holding a properly fit ski pole, your elbows should be at slightly less than a 90 degree angle. Be sure to account for the entire length of the pole, from tip to basket (the part of the ski pole that goes into the snow when you use your poles to push).
Alpine skiers and moguls looking to ski steeps may prefer longer poles while park or freestyle skiers typically prefer slightly shorter poles.
Ski Pole Sizing Chart
Ski Pole Anatomy, Features and Build Materials
Ski grips can be made of hard plastic, rubber, or cork. Some ski poles have ergonomic shapes, but in some cases, it’s better to go with a straight grip to keep the weight of your poles low.
Ski pole straps are almost always made of nylon and are adjustable in some cases. Straps help keep your poles attached to you when you fall, but they come with an added safety risk because they increase your chances of wrist injuries or snagging on trees and lifts.
To mitigate this risk, consider ski poles with breakaway straps. These straps have safety buckles that release under high pressure to prevent injury.
The shaft is the most important part of the ski pole. It needs to be strong, lightweight, and flexible. Most ski poles are made of aluminum, but they may also be made from composite materials, carbon fiber, or even bamboo.
The basket is the round plastic part of the pole that prevents the pole from slipping through the snow. Baskets come in a few different sizes. Standard baskets can be found on most ski poles while larger Powder baskets come with select poles, or you can purchase them separately.
Ski pole tips can be made from either rubber or, more commonly, carbide. The tip is most important when skiing on icy or hard packed surfaces.