Ski Pole Sizing

If you’re flying around on skis cross country or down the slopes, you need ski poles. Of course you know that. However, not everyone knows the importance of using ski poles that are the correct length and how to decide on the correct length.

Choosing the best ski poles doesn’t just come down to how it fits in your hands. There are multiple factors to consider when choosing the correct ski poles including the materials a ski pole is made of, the ski pole basket, ski pole strap and the different types of skis and their relation to ski pole sizing. This guide will provide you with the tips you need to pick the perfect ski pole size and type of ski pole you need every time you ski.

Ski Pole Sizing Chart

Let’s start with ski pole sizing so you understand the different options available to all skiers:

Skier Height Pole Size (in)
3'4" (101cm) or shorter 32" or shorter
3'5"-3'8" (104-112cm) 34"
3'9"-4' (114-122cm) 36"
4'1"-4'4" (124-132cm) 38"
4'5"-4'8" (134-142cm) 40"
4'9"-5' (145-152cm) 42"
5'1"-5'3" (155-160cm) 44"
5'4"-5'6" (162-168cm) 46"
5'7"-5'9" (170-175cm) 48"
5'10"-6' (177-183cm) 50"
6'1"-6'3" (185-190.5cm) 52"
6'4" (193cm) + 54" +

How a ski pole is measured

Part of understanding how to choose the best ski pole length is to understand how a ski pole is measured. Ski poles are measure from the top of the ski pole grip to the bottom of the ski pole tip. As you can see from the ski pole length guide above, ski poles are available in increments of roughly 5 cm. It’s best if you wear your ski boots when trying to find the ski poles that are the correct length since wearing your boots and skis will increase your total height by a few inches.

The different type of skis/ski poles and their relation to ski pole sizing

As you may already know, proper ski pole sizing also depends on the type of skiing you will be doing such as cross country skiing. There are six basic categories of ski poles with their main characteristics:

  • > Powder ski poles: The larger snow baskets and thicker shafts of powder ski poles allow users to reduce impact when on the move.
  • > Race ski poles: Not as high-tech as powder and alpine ski poles but extremely light and efficient.
  • > Freestyle ski poles: Best for skiing on parks and typically shorter than most ski poles.
  • > Alpine ski poles: Popular among most skiers with a standard baskets.
  • > Nordic ski poles: The best option for cross country skiing, lightweight with spiked tips.
  • > Race ski poles: Thin poles designed to reduce drag and tend to be pricey.

Like the different types of ski poles, there are also different types of materials used to build ski poles. The construction material used combined with your ski level can be the difference maker in how smoothly you move through snow. Here are the four most commonly used materials in ski pole manufacturing:

  • > Carbon ski poles: A resilient material, carbon ski poles can take a beating on the slopes but can also be costly for skiers.
  • > Fiberglass ski poles: Designed for fast, skilled skiers, fiberglass ski poles are thin but strong without reducing performance. Fiberglass ski poles are more expensive than aluminum ski poles.
  • > Composite poles: The result of a combination different materials including but not limited to carbon, resin, aluminum and graphite. Composite poles can be good shock absorbers but can also break when in extreme cold.
  • > Aluminum ski poles: A lightweight, reliable construction material with lower costs typically used by skiers of average skill.

How the pole fits in your hand

When grasping a ski pole, whether it’s your left hand or right hand, it should feel equally comfortable in both hands. Plastic, cork or rubber tend to be the most available options for ski pole grips. Test out different ski poles buy bringing the gloves you wear when you ski and grabbing the ski poles as if you were skiing. You’ll have a better idea of what grip works best in your hands. Don’t forget to hold the ski poles with your forearm at a 90 degree angle to your biceps when testing. The difference in the angle may be the difference of how a grip feels in your hands.

Give the ski pole grips a good squeeze to figure out if you prefer the level strength required to have best control over the ski poles. Keep in mind that your level of control will greatly influence how your time on the slopes goes.

Another factor for you to consider when trying out different ski poles is how the strap feels when you are holding the ski poles. Straps are on ski poles so you don’t lose your ski poles when moving cross country or flying down a black diamond. Some straps attach to wrists while other straps attach to your waist. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference and your likelihood of losing your ski poles.

The ski pole basket

Ski pole baskets can be the difference maker in how effective you can move across snow depending the type of skiing you are doing. Mountainous areas typically call for alpine ski poles which have more snow baskets. If you are headed for the backcountry and powdery terrain, use powder ski poles which have larger snow baskets to keep you above the snow.

There are two types of snow baskets:

  • > Hard snow: Smaller surface area.
  • > Soft snow: Powdery terrain.

Final thoughts

You won’t have to be lost when picking out your next pair of ski poles. Remember that not all ski poles will have the same effect on your wallet and not all ski poles are made of the same materials. If you shrink overnight or your ski-loving child hits a growth spurt, always refer to this guide to provide you with the tips you need to pick the perfect ski pole size you need on your next ski session. If you want to start cross country skiing and stop hitting the slopes, remember to revisit this guide.

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