How to Size Ski Poles

Cori Gramms
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When choosing ski poles, you need to pay attention to three key factors: the length of the ski pole, the angle at which the pole contacts the snow, and the angle at which the pole contacts your upper leg. This article will provide guidance to help you find the perfect fit for you.

Why is it Important to Find the Correct Sized Pole?

Ski poles greatly influence how you balance, your turning ability, and your skiing accuracy. What you do not realize is that proper balance and technique not only contribute to the efficiency of your ski stride, but they also make for a safer, more enjoyable, and more satisfying ski experience. Aligning your body along the long axis of your skis will also help you learn to ski faster and more confidently.

Traditional Method of Sizing

Finding the correct height needed for new ski poles is quite an easy process. The traditional method of sizing can be broken down into three steps:

  1. With your upper arms at your sides, bend one arm to form a 90-degree angle. In other words, your forearm should be parallel to the ground.

  2. With your opposite hand, use a pencil to mark the height of your thumb on the wall. Then use a tape measure to calculate the distance from the floor to your pencil marking. (If you have a friend, this step will be much easier.)

  3. The measurement from step 2 is the height that your ski poles should be if you were wearing your ski boots for the measurement. If not, add 1.5 to 2 inches to this height.

For an alternative take on this method, we suggest watching Ski Pole Sizing for a brief demonstration.

Using a Chart

The best ski poles are sized correctly based on your height. An even easier method of finding the correct height of your ski poles is to use a simple sizing chart.

Ski pole sizing chart
Ski pole sizing chart

Take note: ski poles are made in 2-inch increments. If you calculate the correct height of your poles and the measurement lies in the middle of two increments, it is recommended that you take the shorter of the two.

A further point to note is that pole length is measured from the tip of the pole to the spot where the strap or handle makes contact with your hand.

Adjustable Ski Poles

As you can imagine, depending on the type of ski, you may need a pair of poles of a different length. Fortunately, ski poles nowadays are usually adjustable to make things easier for you.

Most poles come with a combination of a telescoping shaft and an adjustment screw to adjust the length. While some poles have these two features, you can also find poles that come with just the adjustment screw. A set of these will be much more affordable compared to the others.

Adjustable poles usually have either a telescoping shaft or a BOA-style adjustment mechanism for the strap. Some poles have both features. Whichever adjustment system you use, take care to fasten any straps and screws as tightly as possible to avoid loosening during vigorous use. Additionally, check the durability of each pole prior to use to prevent any breakage due to a weak component.

Final Words

As a general rule, the ski poles that you choose are as important as the skis.

Safe and efficient skiing all starts with the right set of poles. Pole length should be tailored to the individual's skiing style, terrain, skiing ability, and snow conditions. Ski poles should be long enough to increase stride length and control balance and speed during both the pushing and gliding phases of the ski turn.

Proper ski pole length will ensure correct torso position, a powerful skating ski turn, and the ability to balance while carving and steering. Skis and boots can always be modified to fit the skiing style of an individual, while the ski poles are fixed to each individual – and the skier’s hands. For this reason, it is important to match a skier’s preferred style, skiing ability, and terrain with a ski pole that best fits.