Ski Poles: FAQs for Beginners

How to Size Ski Poles

Ski poles are an important piece of skiing equipment. While some beginners may not use them, and while some styles might not always call for them, the items encourage you to ski with good form. Poles help you maintain balance while skiing, but are also crucial when it comes to making good turns in various conditions.

Even though almost every skier uses ski poles, not everyone knows how to size them correctly. It’s important to have your poles sized to your body height, as that ensures they will improve your skiing rather than hinder it. This article will address a few common questions you might have about ski poles.

Can I Ski without Poles?

It’s possible to ski without poles. However, I wouldn’t recommend it. In fact, if you’re just learning how to ski, one of the first things you should do is learn how to properly use poles.

While many skiing aspects, including general gear technology, have changed over time, poles have essentially stayed the same. That is because they serve many critical roles on the slopes, including the ability to balance when trying to turn on steep terrain.

Without poles, it becomes quite hard to make an accurate jump turn on sheer runs. However, with them, you get extra stability and the ability to handle tough environments.

Poles also let you focus on keeping the proper form. If you’ve ever taken a ski lesson, you know that instructors always tell you to keep your hands out in front of you. That helps with balance, coordination, and allows your body to move in the correct way. Using poles ensures that you almost always keep your hands out in front of you.

What Size Ski Poles do I Need?

It’s not that hard to size your ski poles. However, as the process commonly occurs at a rental shop or the place where you purchased your skis, you might not know how to do it. Once you learn the basic steps to size your poles, you can quickly and easily do it the next time you or anyone you know gets a new pair.

Begin by standing on a flat surface with either your shoes or ski boots on. Pick out the poles you want to size and make sure there are a few different sizes to choose from so you can get the perfect pair. Then, grab a pair of poles and flip them upside down so that the basket and point side faces up. Place your hands directly underneath the basket (the round plastic piece that sits a few inches up from the end).

With your hands under the basket, touch the end of the poles (the handled part since they are now upside-down) on the ground. Now, look at your elbows to determine if your poles are the correct size. You want to make sure that your arms are bent at a nearly 90-degree angle when the poles are on the ground, as that is the marker for good height.

If your arms are bent closer to your torso and sit at less than a 90-degree angle, that means the poles are too long. If your arms extend further out than a 90-degree angle, that means the poles are too short. The 90-degree mark is the sweet spot. It doesn’t have to be exactly 90-degrees, but you want to get as close as possible.

Should I Buy or Rent Ski Poles?

Now that you know what ski poles are used for and how to choose the right size, you next need to decide which pair you want to purchase or rent.

If you’re renting poles, you’ll more than likely get a generic set constructed out of aluminum or another light metal.

If you’re purchasing your own set, I recommend getting a carbon fiber or carbon fiber blend. That adds to the general durability and ensures your poles last a long time.

Which Type or Style Should I Choose?

The type, color, or style of pole you get should come down to personal preference.

I recommended carbon fiber, but I personally have a pair of old-school bamboo ski poles that I like to use because they just look cool and come with a little extra weight. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money on your poles. Save that for your skis, bindings, or boots.

If you’re an experienced skier, try to ski without poles just see what it’s like. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference poles make and how much they add to your overall skiing experience.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the importance of ski poles and how to measure them, be sure to remember what size is best for you. This is usually kept track of in inches, but it can be in millimeters as well.

It’s always easy to find your size again if you happen to forget what length is best for your height. Just remember that your arms need to be at 90-degrees with the poles upside down, and your hands should sit directly underneath the baskets.

What is your ski pole size? Do you have a favorite pole material or construction? Let us know below!

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