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  • How to Choose Ski Pole Length – Ski Pole Size Chart

    February 01, 2024 16 min read

    How to Choose Ski Pole Length + Ski Pole Size Chart

    Whether you're a beginner or an expert on the slopes, it's essential to have your skiing equipment perfectly adjusted, which is why we have put together this guide to make sure you have the perfect size ski poles.

    If you want to enhance your skiing experience and make informed choices when it comes to renting or buying ski gear, this guide will assist you in selecting the appropriate length ski poles. Although the traditional sizing methods remain relevant, there are a few factors that might influence your preferred length. If you're curious and eager to expand your knowledge about ski poles, you've come to the right place. When it comes to downhill ski poles, strength is crucial for confidently planting turns, while lightness ensures that your arms won't tyre easily. Additionally, flexibility is key to withstanding those inevitable hard falls.

    When it comes to ski poles, their main purpose is to assist with maintaining balance and improving your overall mobility on the slopes. For skiing enthusiasts, there are moments when relying solely on gravity won't be enough to reach your desired destination. When it comes to manoeuvring through crowded ski slopes or easy trails, you sometimes need that extra push. Using ski poles is crucial for maintaining balance and it’s incredible how pole planting has become a crucial aspect of skiing technique, allowing skiers to establish turns and maintain a seamless rhythm. Knowing the perfect length for your ski poles is crucial for a smooth skiing adventure.

    If you're new to skiing, finding the right ski pole is simply a matter of finding one that fits you well. As you gain more expertise, experimenting with various materials can enhance the strength-to-weight ratio. This guide will help you select the perfect ski pole length, allowing you to ski with the expertise of a seasoned professional. Take a look at our ski pole size chart and continue reading below!

    Ski Setup – From Ski Poles to Ski Clothing

    Exploring the snowy peaks with skiing poles is an essential aspect of the thrilling adventure, but there are other factors to take into account. The ski outerwear you choose adds the perfect finishing touch to your adventure, effortlessly blending practicality and fashion. With our wide selection of ski jackets, ski pants, thermal layers, and ski gloves, you'll be ready to conquer any downhill thrill that comes your way. Discover our curated selection of women's and men's ski clothing, crafted to provide the ultimate combination of comfort, durability, and style. Whether you're conquering untouched powder or gracefully navigating groomed slopes, our collections have got you covered. Embracing the slopes goes beyond the exhilarating experience; it's about exuding style and confidence as you glide through the snow.

    Ski Setup – From Ski Poles to Ski Clothing | Ski Poles on a snowy mountain

    What Are Ski Poles For?

    Just imagine the thrill of gliding down the slopes, effortlessly navigating the snowy terrain with the help of ski poles. These essential tools provide the perfect balance and propulsion, whether you're conquering the slopes of a downhill ski resort, exploring the scenic trails of cross-country skiing, or venturing into the untouched wilderness of back-country skiing.

    A ski pole is composed of several key components designed to enhance a skier's performance and comfort. The strap, typically made of a durable material, secures the pole to the skier's hand, reducing the risk of losing it during a fall. The grip, crafted for ergonomic comfort, allows for a firm and comfortable hold. The shaft, which is the main body of the pole, is usually made from lightweight materials such as aluminium or carbon fibre, offering a balance between strength and flexibility. Near the bottom, the basket prevents the pole from sinking too deeply into soft snow. Finally, the tip, often made of hard materials like carbide, provides precise traction on snow and ice, aiding in stability and propulsion. Together, these components make the ski pole an essential tool for skiers navigating the slopes.

    These advantages include:

    ·      Ski poles provide support, stability and assistance, making them invaluable when navigating challenging ski conditions.

    ·      They serve as a counterbalance to your upper body weight, ensuring that your centre of gravity remains stable over your skis.

    ·      With the right technique, ski poles can provide an additional boost to your speed on the slopes.

    ·      They can help you find a smooth and effortless rhythm, enhancing the overall experience of skiing, especially for those new to the sport.

    What Are Ski Poles For? | Skier with Ski Poles on a mountain

    How to choose the right length for your ski pole?

    To check if your ski poles are the right size, use this traditional method: Hold the ski pole upside down, gripping it directly under the basket. Your forearm should be horizontal to the ground, creating a 90-degree angle at your elbow. If your arm is lower, the pole might be too short and may need extending. Conversely, if your forearm angles upwards, the pole is likely too long. This "right angle" test ensures your poles are properly sized for effective balance and control when pole planting is part of your skiing technique.

    For skiers who do not use the pole plant technique, especially those focusing on freestyle or certain types of downhill skiing where poles are more for balance than for technical turns, newer sizing recommendations may apply. In these cases, slightly shorter poles might be preferred to avoid interference with manoeuvres and to provide a greater range of motion. The key is to choose a length that enhances your skiing style while maintaining comfort and control, possibly opting for poles that allow your arms to be a bit more relaxed and lower than the traditional 90-degree angle.

    If you don't have ski poles readily available, you can easily use a tape measure instead. Measure the distance between your hand and the ground with your elbow bent at about 90 degrees. Additionally, remember to include an extra two inches to accommodate the part of the pole that extends into the snow. Remember you can always visit us in-store at Auski and one of our Ski Specialists can find the right ski pole size for you.

    If you're heading to the terrain park, the function of your poles will be slightly different. When it comes to jumps and rails, your poles serve a different purpose. They are primarily used for maintaining balance and can be kept shorter to avoid any interference while skiing switch or performing tricks. Some park riders choose to forgo using poles to prevent any potential entanglements.

    Check out our ski poles size chart below which can serve as a fantastic method to determine the appropriate length for you.

    Ski Pole Size Chart

    Ski Pole Size Chart

    When it comes to choosing the right size for your ski poles, one of the easiest methods is to base it on your height. When it comes to ski pole length, there's some flexibility to find a comfortable fit. Given that most individuals have similar body proportions, it is highly probable that two people of the same height will have similar upper arm lengths.
    With this in mind, the following measurements are likely to be useful for you. Take a look at the table below for a concise summary of the appropriate pole length, or continue reading for additional details on pole sizing intricacies and common FAQs.

    User height in cm

    Pole length in cm

    User height in inches

    Pole length in inches







    6'4" - 6'6"




    6'1" - 6'3"




    5'10" - 6'0"




    5'7" - 5'9"




    5'4" - 5'6"




    5'1" - 5'3"




    4'9" - 5'0"




    4'5" - 4'8"




    4'1" - 4'4"




    3'9" - 4'0"




    3'5" - 3'8"




    < 3'4"



    Longer or Shorter Ski Poles – When to Size Up or Size Down

    Choosing a shorter ski pole is generally recommended when you find yourself between two sizes. Nevertheless, there are certain risks that come with using ski poles that are either too tall or too short. These risks include potential balance problems and difficulties when trying to push off with the poles. Adjustable ski poles are a great option for anyone who wants flexibility in finding the perfect size. Opting for shorter ski poles allows for better control and a wider range of motion, avoiding the inconvenience of longer poles getting stuck in the snow. Many skiers prioritise balance over propulsion, which is why they opt for shorter poles.

    When to change Ski Pole Size

    If you're still unsure, consider purchasing a set of adjustable ski poles to tailor them to your ideal height. If you're into backcountry skiing or ski touring, you might want to consider using larger poles for deeper snow and improved leverage. However, keep in mind that they can be a bit more cumbersome to handle. Freestyle skiers often opt for smaller poles to enhance their agility and maintain a relaxed position. However, it's important to note that poles primarily serve the purpose of making quick corrections while approaching features, rather than providing maximum leverage. Therefore, longer poles may not be necessary. Even slight variations in length can have a noticeable impact on performance and flexibility.

    Cross Country Ski Pole Sizing

    Sizing Nordic poles correctly is vital for maximizing performance and efficiency in cross-country skiing, with distinct length recommendations for classic and skate skiing techniques. For classic poles, the ideal length typically reaches up to the skier's armpit or shoulder, ensuring a comfortable and effective diagonal stride. In contrast, skate poles should be longer, usually extending to somewhere between the chin and the nose of the skier. This added length provides greater leverage and propulsion on the skate skiing technique's lateral push-offs. Properly sized poles for each style facilitate optimal technique, help in maintaining rhythm and speed, and reduce the risk of injury by aligning the poles' usage with the skier's biomechanics.

    5 Types of Ski Poles

    1. Ski Racing Poles

    Ski racing poles are specifically designed to meet the high-performance needs of competitive skiers. Featuring aerodynamic shapes and made from high-strength, lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or high-grade aluminum, these poles minimize air resistance and maximize speed. The grips are ergonomically designed for a secure, comfortable hold, while the curved shafts are tailored to complement the racer's stance and movements, enhancing agility and control during high-speed descents. Unlike standard ski poles, racing poles often have smaller baskets to reduce drag, and the tips are engineered for precise planting on hard-packed snow. Ideal for slalom, giant slalom, and downhill racing, these poles are a crucial component for any ski racer looking to gain a competitive edge.

    Types of Ski Poles

    2. Nordic Ski Poles (Cross Country Ski Poles)

    Nordic poles, or cross-country ski poles, are designed for the specific demands of cross-country skiing, where balance, rhythm, and endurance play crucial roles. These poles are typically longer (shoulder or chin height) than alpine ski poles to facilitate greater push-off power and efficiency in the various cross-country skiing techniques. Made from lightweight materials like carbon fibre, they offer the stiffness and strength needed for effective propulsion without adding unnecessary weight. The grips and straps are designed to provide a comfortable and secure connection, allowing for precise control and technique execution over long distances. The baskets are smaller than those on backcountry poles but are designed to prevent sinking in different snow conditions, ensuring smooth and consistent movement. The tips are sharp and durable, designed to provide excellent grip in icy conditions. Nordic poles are essential for both classic and skate skiing styles, supporting skiers in achieving optimal performance across flat, uphill, and downhill terrains.

    3. Powder Ski Poles (Back Country Ski Poles)

    Backcountry or powder ski poles are tailored for off-piste adventures where deep snow and varied terrain demand versatility and durability. These poles often feature larger baskets compared to their alpine or Nordic counterparts, designed specifically to prevent sinking in deep, soft powder snow. The shafts are constructed from robust materials like aluminium or carbon fibre, offering a balance between the weight and the strength needed to withstand the unpredictable conditions of backcountry skiing. Adjustable length is a common feature, allowing skiers to lengthen for soft snow and long climbs for greater efficiency. Ergonomic grips with extended foam or rubber allow for different gripping positions, which can be particularly useful during steep ascents or traverses. The tips are sharp and sturdy, ensuring solid planting in a variety of snow conditions. Backcountry poles are essential tools for skiers navigating through untracked snow, providing support, balance, and versatility in remote skiing environments.

    How to choose the right length for your ski pole? Types of ski poles to use.

    4. Freestyle Ski Poles (Park Ski Poles)

    Freestyle ski poles, designed for park and pipe skiing, prioritize agility and durability. These poles are shorter to facilitate easier execution of tricks and spins, made from robust materials like aluminum to withstand the rigors of freestyle skiing. Ergonomic grips ensure a secure hold during aerial maneuvers, while smaller baskets and sturdy tips cater to the hardpacked surfaces of terrain parks and halfpipes. Essential for any freestyle skier, these poles support dynamic movements and enhance safety and performance in the pursuit of advanced tricks and stunts.

    5. Alpine Ski Poles (Downhill Ski Poles)

    Alpine ski poles are essential for traditional downhill skiing, designed to offer support, balance, and precise turning capabilities on groomed slopes. These poles feature a straight shaft typically made from aluminum or carbon fiber, providing a mix of durability and lightweight handling. The grips are ergonomically designed for a comfortable and secure grasp, aiding in maneuverability and control at varying speeds. Standard-sized baskets are equipped to prevent the poles from sinking into the snow, suitable for the compacted conditions of groomed trails. The tips are sharp and made from hardened materials like steel, ensuring reliable penetration into icy or packed snow for effective push-off and turning assistance. Altogether, alpine ski poles are a fundamental component for recreational and competitive skiers alike, enhancing performance and safety on the slopes.

    Adjustable or Telescopic Ski Poles

    Adjustable ski poles, also known as telescopic poles, combine versatility and practicality, catering to skiers across all skill levels and preferences. These poles, constructed from durable and lightweight materials, are designed to suit the dynamic needs of both recreational skiers and competitive athletes. The key feature of adjustable poles is their telescopic design, which allows for easy length modification. This adaptability is particularly beneficial in backcountry skiing, touring, and splitboarding, where skiers may need to adjust the length of their poles for efficient uphill climbs and then shorten them for controlled descents. The ability to extend the poles fully can also be invaluable in rescue situations, aiding skiers who have fallen or become stuck in deep snow.

    Adjustable poles are not only advantageous for tackling varying terrain but also offer a practical solution for families with growing children, eliminating the need to frequently replace poles as kids grow. Some models are equipped with specialized features, such as removable steel ice picks, enhancing safety and utility in icy conditions. Despite their common association with backcountry use, adjustable ski poles are gaining popularity among a broader audience for their functionality and adaptability, ensuring they remain a top choice for skiers seeking to maximize their performance and convenience on the slopes.

    Why Type of Ski Pole Should I Get?

    When it comes to getting new equipment, ski poles are often overlooked. Typically, once you've put in the effort to find a well-fitting pair of ski boots and made the important decision of which skis to purchase, the next consideration is often ‘which ski poles are affordable and look good?’. However, there are now numerous additional factors to take into account when purchasing ski poles. Manufacturers have come up with a wide range of additional features and options beyond just price and appearance. Strong ski poles are essential for planting turns, manoeuvring in lift lines, and providing occasional assistance when climbing uphill. Ski poles should be lightweight to prevent arm fatigue and have a certain level of flexibility to withstand falls without getting damaged. If you're just starting out, a simple aluminium pole that fits well is all you need. As you gain more experience, it might be worth experimenting with various materials to enhance your performance.

    Why Type of Ski Pole Should I Get?

    Parts of a Ski Pole

    Ski poles are composed of various components, including the grip, strap, shaft, and basket. Every aspect should be carefully selected. First, there's the handle, providing a comfortable grip. Then, there's the shaft, the elongated part that offers stability and support. The basket, a small round protrusion above the tip, plays a crucial role in preventing the pole from sinking into the snow. Finally, we have the tip, designed to dig into the snow for enhanced traction. The design of ski poles has remained largely unchanged since their inception.

    Straps & Grip – Parts of Ski Poles

    Skiers frequently utilise straps to safeguard their poles from getting lost during a fall, a handy practice to have while skiing in resorts. However, certain skiers who tackle steep backcountry terrain may choose not to use straps to avoid the risk of injuries during long falls. Straps are a must-have for skiers in resorts, while they may not be necessary for backcountry skiers. With the rising cost of poles, manufacturers are now incorporating high-quality materials into the grips to ensure better anti-slip performance. However, they continue to stick with the tried-and-true strap system. Some higher end poles feature an adjustable strap to securely wrap around gloves and easily attach and detach from the pole with a convenient button.

    Shaft – Parts of Ski Poles

    The shaft is the main body of a ski pole and plays a critical role in its overall performance and durability. Typically made from materials like aluminum, carbon fiber, or a composite blend, the shaft's construction balances strength with lightweight properties. Aluminum shafts are known for their durability and cost-effectiveness, while carbon fiber and composites offer a lighter weight option with increased responsiveness and vibration dampening. The diameter and shape of the shaft can also affect the pole's stiffness and aerodynamics, influencing skier control and fatigue levels over time.

    Basket – Parts of Ski Poles

    The basket is a circular or star-shaped component located near the bottom of a ski pole, designed to prevent the pole from sinking too deeply into the snow. Baskets come in various sizes and shapes, tailored to different skiing conditions. Larger baskets are preferred for powder or off-piste skiing to provide ample support in soft snow, whereas smaller, more streamlined baskets are favored for groomed runs or racing conditions, minimizing drag and enhancing speed. Some baskets are interchangeable, allowing skiers to adjust their poles according to the snow conditions they encounter.

    Tips – Parts of Ski Poles

    The tip of a ski pole is the pointed end that makes contact with the snow or ice, providing traction and stability as the skier plants the pole into the ground. Made from hardened materials such as steel or carbide, tips are designed to penetrate hard snow and ice with ease. The durability and sharpness of the tip are crucial for effective push-off and control, especially in icy conditions. Some tips come with a small disk or ferrule at the base to prevent the pole from going too deep into softer snow, ensuring consistent performance across various terrains.

    Ski Pole Materials – Parts of Ski Poles

    The material used in ski poles has undergone significant changes in their design over time. Back in the day, ski poles were crafted from wood. However, nowadays, you have the option to select between aluminium and carbon fibre. Both options have their own advantages, which we'll go over briefly. Aluminium poles are a cost-effective option that offer both durability and lightweight convenience. They have a tendency to buckle or bend, often kinking upon impact. They're also more budget-friendly. Carbon fibre poles offer a lightweight and rigid option, surpassing the performance of aluminium. They are particularly ideal for racing or touring, where every gramme counts during extended periods. Generally speaking, aluminium poles are excellent and incredibly lightweight for enjoying resort and side-country adventures.

    Ski Pole FAQs

    Ski Pole FAQs

    Do I even need ski poles?

    Some skiers choose not to use poles. They're not mandatory and are primarily used for making small adjustments in direction while skiing. If you don't find them necessary or prefer not to carry them all day, there's no reason why you can't ski without them, it's all about personal preference. Yet if you plan to increase your ski experience, tackle different terrain, you will find ski poles are necessary part of your ski gear setup.What if I choose the wrong length ski poles?

    Using an incorrect ski pole length can result in discomfort and reduced efficiency. Using poles that are not the right length can lead to muscle strain and affect your balance, potentially increasing the risk of falling. It can also create an unpleasant skiing experience, so it’s best to try to size your ski poles correctly.

    Are ski pole straps important?

    Whether or not to use straps is a matter of personal preference and the type of terrain you're traversing. When you're at a resort, it's important to use straps to prevent your poles from getting lost in case of a fall. Nevertheless, there are skiers who opt out of using poles in challenging backcountry terrain due to concerns about potential injuries. In a lengthy fall, poles could potentially inflict damage to your arms and wrists.

    What strap should I get for my ski pole?

    Ensuring that a strap is securely fastened around the wrist is crucial in preventing the unfortunate mishap of losing or dropping your ski poles, particularly in the event of a fall. There are three primary strap categories: the classic single strap, the security strap, and the hand-guard. Classic Straps encircle the wrist, providing a timeless touch, while security straps offer enhanced comfort and support and the ability to be detachable. Hand-guards have a plastic frame that provides a distinctive grip and is easy to use. However, it's important to note that they need to be distinguished between left and right poles. Security straps are top-of-the-line models that are specifically engineered to automatically release in the event of an impact, effectively safeguarding against wrist or thumb sprains. The hand-guards offer a unique and non-adjustable feature, adding a touch of exclusivity. In general, straps are essential for maintaining the safety and comfort of your pole while planting and pushing forward.

    What basket should I choose for my ski pole?

    Right at the end of the pole, you'll discover the basket. Its main function is to ensure that the pole remains stable and doesn't sink too far into the snow when you plant it. There is a wide variety of baskets to choose from. Piste baskets have been redesigned to be narrower, more durable, and with reduced wind resistance, ideal for skiing on hard and groomed snow conditions. If you want to avoid losing your pole in the snow as soon as you go off-piste, it's essential to have larger powder baskets. They are a must-have for any adventurous skier or snowboarder. However, they can be quite fragile.
    It's important to be aware that different brands offer their own baskets, which may not be compatible with models from other brands. For optimal performance in powder conditions, it's recommended to use a larger basket. For groomed slopes or hardpack conditions, it's best to opt for a smaller basket. Certain poles offer the option of interchangeable baskets, or you can buy extra baskets separately.

    What's the best grip ski poles?

    Experience a delightful touch of comfort with the grip on your ski pole. Remember to wear gloves and be aware that you might not be able to feel the texture as well. On the other hand, the soft-foam grips offer a lighter and more comfortable experience in comparison to the hard-foam ones. Ultimately, individuals with smaller hands may find that they gravitate towards using a "one plus three fingers" grip, as opposed to a four-finger grip.

    Ski Poles in Conclusion

    It's important to find the right size for your ski poles. Ideally, they should be between your navel and sternum when you're at the store. When you plant them in the snow, your arms should still be at a comfortable 90-degree angle. This provides a great combination of power and manoeuvrability for everyday use. Adjust the size to your liking or completely forgo them if you enjoy greeting people as you pass by. We hope you found this advice to be helpful in purchasing your next set of poles, and remember you can always visit us in-store and one of our ski specialists can find the right ski pole for your size, ability and planned terrain, all in the budget and style you’re after.

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