How to Choose Ski Poles

Choosing ski poles is pretty simple, and you want to always make sure they are the correct size. You should also choose a material that works best for your skiing style or budget.

I’ve been on the slopes for decades, and I’ve used every piece of ski gear you can imagine over the years. I know through first-hand experience how to choose ski poles because I’ve used a lot of poles during my skiing career.

This post will show you how to choose ski poles. I’ll tell you how to pick out the right size and explain some other factors to keep in mind, like what they are made out of and a few other considerations.

Let’s jump in.

How to Choose Ski Poles Based on Size

The most important part of choosing ski poles is getting the correct size. If they are too long, it can be challenging to make pole plants, and they can get in your way. If they are too short, they won’t be as effective for giving your turning ability and support.

Ski pole sizes are based on their total length. This is listed in either inches or centimeters, depending on the manufacturer and where you buy the poles.

Once you know your proper ski pole length, you’ll want to memorize that number so you’ll know what poles to choose when you need to get new ones. You’ll want to measure for new poles every year if you are still growing. 

To choose ski poles based on size, follow these steps. 

  1. To find your size, you’ll need to be at the ski shop or rental shop so that you can access different size options. 
  1. Take a set of poles you are interested in and flip them upside down, so the top of the pole is resting on the floor. 
  1. Grab the poles just underneath the baskets. The baskets are the circular part of the pole that hits the snow just above the tip. 
  1. With your hands under the baskets, look at the angle your arm makes at the elbow while holding them. You want this to be a 90-degree angle for the ideal size. 
  1. If your arm angle is not 90-degrees, try out different sizes of poles until you find the right one to make this angle.

That’s all there is to it. This is a method for pole sizing that has been used for as long as I’ve been a skier, and it’s really effective.

Some experienced skiers might want a slightly longer or shorter pole, which is fine. It’s a personal preference thing. If you are new to the sport or still a beginner, get a size that meets the 90-degree arm angle.

How to Choose Ski Poles Based on Construction

Another aspect of choosing ski poles is based on their construction. Most ski poles are made of either aluminum or carbon fiber. These are very effective materials, and either option can work well for all types of skiers. 

I’ll break down some pros and cons of each pole option to help you understand what type of pole construction might be best for your skiing style or preferences. 

Aluminum Ski Poles

Aluminum ski poles are the most common type of ski pole that you’ll see on the slopes. These are the basic silver-looking poles that have been around for decades. 

The most significant benefit of aluminum poles is that they are easy to get and very affordable. This makes them a good option for beginners or any skier on a budget. They are the cheapest options out there, and you can buy them at most ski shops or online. 

The downside of aluminum poles is that they aren’t as durable and are heavier than carbon fiber. This makes them less ideal for experienced skiers because they can break or bend pretty easily. And the extra weight isn’t ideal in the backcountry. 

Carbon Fiber Ski Pole

Carbon fiber is the other most common type of ski pole material. This pole style is also pretty popular, and most people who own their gear will buy carbon fiber poles. 

Carbon fiber poles are a lot more durable and lightweight than aluminum poles. This material can bend slightly under pressure but return to a straight shape. That means they are pretty hard to break. They are also very lightweight, which a lot of experienced skiers prefer.  

The downside is that carbon fiber poles are more expensive than aluminum options. They are still relatively affordable compared to other ski equipment items, but they can easily cost twice as much as a set of aluminum poles. 

Final Thoughts

Getting the right size is the most critical factor for choosing poles, but construction is also something to think about. After that, you might want to consider what type of baskets they come with. 

I like to get poles with interchangeable baskets because this lets me adapt to different conditions. I would recommend this for any serious skier who spends a lot of time on the slopes. 

Wider baskets are better for deep snow and powder. These can be ideal in backcountry settings and will give you a little extra push and support in softer snow. 

If you stick to the resort, you can go with smaller baskets that are better in hardpack and groomed conditions. These are common and most beginner poles and will have you covered in resort skiing situations.

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