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The Skier’s Guide:How to Find the Best Ski Poles

Ski poles are essential skiing equipment that provides practicality and style. More importantly, though, they help you maintain balance, allows you to time downhill turns to perfection, and skate and glide across mountains while leaving piles of snow on observers. What makes them even more desirable is the level of customization that you can get with your ski poles. After all, looking cool while you ski your way down a mountain is part of the whole action-packed experience, isn’t it? This is where having the best ski poles comes in.

If you are looking for the best ski poles, you will be surprised to know that the functionality is not just limited to what we have outlined above.

In Nordic skiing, ski poles are a crucial tool for descent and ascent. Snowboarders may use ski poles too. Ski poles allow snowboarders to quickly climb mountains on their split boards. With the wide versatility that ski poles offer, it is clear to see why so many winter sports encourage and even require the use of ski poles.

However, the wide range of choices currently available to skiers will only leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused about the right ski poles for you. From powder baskets to alpine ski poles to carbon ski poles, how do you know what to shop for and what features to look for?  Whether you are a seasoned skier or a novice one, it can be difficult narrowing down all the options and finding the best ski pole for your winter adventures. That’s where we come in. You have come to the right place as we start exploring what it means to find the right ski poles for your needs. In today’s article, we are going to go over some of the basic features you should consider when you are looking for the best ski poles. In addition to our quick overview, we have listed our options of the best ski poles on the market you should consider this winter. Let’s get started!

Find the Best Ski Poles for Your Needs

In order to find the best ski poles for your needs, there are a couple of features you should consider. In this section, we will dive into the most important aspects to think about when you start shopping around. From understanding the type of ski pole you need, like alpine ski poles and carbon ski poles, to the size of the ski pole, we have got what you need. Let’s take a look.

Know your size

Generally speaking, ski poles are available in pairs and measured in increments of two inches/five centimeters.

The correct size of the ski poles is important because if the poles are too long, then you will naturally ski on your heels. This will result in poor balance and control and will also affect the responsiveness. On the other hand, ski poles that are too short will lead to you move forward. This is good when you’re going downhill but it is not very practical when making sharp turns.

In order to figure out the proper size of the pole for your needs, you will need to start with your height. This chart will help you determine the ideal ski pole length based on your height. However, do note that the length of ski poles you choose will eventually depend on the type of ski poles you want. For instance, if you are into freestyle skiing, then ideally you should choose the pole length that is one increment below the preferred height. In order to consider what is the best length is best for your skiing needs, you will need to understand the different types of ski poles you can buy.

The Size Guide Chart

This chart will help you determine the ideal ski pole length based on your height. However, do note that the length of ski poles you choose will eventually depend on the type of ski poles you want. For instance, if you are into freestyle skiing, then ideally you should choose the pole length that is one increment below the preferred height.

Skier HeightPole Length (Centimeters)Pole Length (Inches)
4’1″ – 4’4″9538
4’5″ – 4’8″10040
4’9″ – 5’0″10542
5’1″ – 5’3″11044
5’4″ – 5’6″11546
5’7″ – 5’9″12048
5’10” – 6’0″125850
6’1″ – 6’3″13052
6’4″ – 6’6″13554
6’7″+14056

Best Ski Poles for Different Uses

It is a given that high-end ski poles promote balance and lower the swing weight. As a result, you get better control over your body and improved responsive while skiing. When it comes to high-end ski poles, there are a couple of companies you can narrow your focus on. We will go over some high-end poles that are great for those who are looking to promote balance and control. Branded ski poles come with ergonomic grips that are designed to improve your control over skiing. While it’s not a hard and fast rule, but the more upscale your ski pole is, the better the skiing experience is bound to be.

You do not have to just shop high end to get great quality either. Many brands offer some of the best ski poles —but it all depends on the type of skiing you are looking at doing.

While most ski poles can be used for mountain skiing, there are different variations available that you should consider. These variations include the following:

  • Alpine – These types of ski poles are the most popular type of ski poles you are likely to come across on the mountain. This is mainly because alpine ski poles have features that the majority of winter sports enthusiasts can take advantage of. Alpine poles feature a straight shaft, comfortable grip, and standard hard snow basket. (Although many brands offer snow baskets that can be swapped out for softer snow). If you enjoy cruising down mountains at a comfortable pace, then alpine ski poles are a great option to go with.  
  • Freestyle –These poles are generally shorter in length which improves maneuverability. They also feature smaller grips for improved control. Freestyle ski poles offer users the ability to switch up their ski style without compromising balance or comfort. When it gets to finding the right freestyle poles, you have a lot more flexibility in terms of sizing. Because you are not committed to a specific type of skiing, you have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to finding the right pair for you.
  • Race – Often featuring the most durable materials, race poles are built for aerodynamic efficiency at high speeds. They are characterized with small, cone-shaped baskets to reduce chances of hooking on gates across race tracks. You are likely to spot them on the mountain rather quickly too. They rarely feature a straight shaft. Instead, there will be a curved at either the top or the bottom. Because they are typically constructed of high quality lightweight material, these ski poles tend to be the most expensive kind as well.
  • Side Country/Backcountry – These poles are highly convenient and flexible as their length can easily be adjusted. Backcountry ski poles feature an inclinometer or ice ax for efficient backcountry traveling. These poles will also typically feature a large snow basket. This is because in the event you run into deep snow, your poles will not get stuck in the snow.
  • Nordic Poles  – Another type of ski poles you will find on the market are Nordic poles. These type of poles also go by the name of cross country poles. If you will be doing a lot of hiking, trekking, skating, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing, then these are the types of ski poles you want to shop for. The shaft of these skis is typically narrow and lightweight so that they do not become cumbersome when you are on the trail. You will also find that they offer different ski baskets. This if for the purpose of helping you push and move around a lot easier. The exception in sizing will typically be found with these poles too. Nordic poles are designed to be longer. You will typically find that the best pair will be the one that reaches your collar bone or even right under your chin.

Other Features to Consider

While the basic features of ski poles include the sizing and type of ski poles you are looking at, there are other features you will want to think about. Here is a general guide of what to look for when you are comparing one pair of ski poles to another.

Downhills Ski Poles

Downhill skiing poles are commonly deployed for pushing near the base area to speed downhill and to initiate and complete turns. While they are not really necessary for downhill boarding, they do improve stability and maneuverability. It is not uncommon to see skiers using ski poles as standard gear for their outings.

Ideally, the right length for downhill ski poles is measured by the angle it makes when rested on the floor. Hold the pole upside down and if your elbow makes a 90-degree angle while grasping the basket of the pole, then it is of the right size for you.  Make sure you have your ski boots or shoes with thick soles on for more accuracy.

In terms of weight, generally, lightweight downhill ski poles are considerably stronger. This is because of the construction material used and the range of flexibility the pole features. If should be noted that because of the lightweight construction, these type of poles may generally cost a bit more.

Consider the Construction of Your Poles

If you are new to skiing, we recommend aluminum ski poles. They are quite affordably priced and a great option to start off with. Lightweight poles that are constructed of materials such as carbon fiber will generally cost more, but they also have a range of benefits like allowing you to ski faster and being lightweight, which means easier to carry around. However, if you are a new skier, you will not be able to differentiate between the best type of ski poles and the standard type so sticking with aluminum poles to start with is usually a great place to begin.  

Know Your Baskets

The baskets of the poles basically aid in sinking your ski poles deep in the snow when you are moving around. Downhill ski poles are categorized with generally useful baskets, where the bigger the baskets, the greater the sinking power. As such, small basket poles are ideal for packed conditions whereas large baskets are suitable for all terrains.

Wrist Straps

Straps are also important in all ski poles and most feature adjustable nylon straps to keep the poles attached to the wrists. Cheaper ski poles will feature plastic wraps whereas upscale ski poles may feature padded straps with unique design features for ergonomics. For some shoppers, this is an aspect of the ski poles that you will want to consider carefully.

Grips

Grips in downhill ski poles are generally made from cork, rubber, or plastic. However, as the price range goes up, the grip material quality becomes better. Ideally, you should look for a cork or rubber grip as a beginner, as they will offer better control.

Flex

Flex, which is the tendency of flexibility in a pole, is generally stiff in downhill poles and more relaxed in freestyle poles. However, where flexibility is compromised, you get more strength in downhill poles as compensation. While one hard fall may snap your pole into two pieces, they are generally very durable.

Best Ski Poles for This Ski Season

 

Salomon Arctic Ski Pole

 

Salomon Arctic Skiing Pole (Black/Green, 110)

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One of the best brands of outdoor gear —particularly winter gear is Solomon. The Salomon Arctic Ski Poles offer some of the highest performance aluminum poles for both beginner and intermediate skiers. What makes them exceptional is the fact that they come with a variety of high quality features. For example, you will find that they have a luxurious leather effect cover. There is also a fur lined strap for amplified warmth.

The poles feature a straight aluminum shaft constructed of aluminum. The construction of these poles also offers Flexcell protection that will keep you comfortable as you twist and turn down the slope. Overall, this is a great option to go with if you are looking for a beginning or intermediate set of ski poles to go with. What’s even better is that for a well-constructed set of ski poles, you will find that they are rather reasonably priced when compared to some of the competition.

 

Komperdell Nordic Carbon Team Nordic Ski Poles

Komperdell Nordic Carbon Team Nordic Ski Poles

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If you are looking for a great pair of Nordic ski poles, then this is a great product to look at. When it comes to the best of the best, the Komperdell Nordic Carbon Team Nordic Ski pile is one of the top high quality ski poles to consider.  

This high quality ski pole was manufactured in Austria, the home of some of the best slopes in the world. The poles have a new grip cork construction that discourages any slippage. The soft material that the grip is made out of comfortably fits every skier snugly. The unique construction and new technology used make this pole extremely lightweight and perfect for using both downhill and uphill.

The shaft of this pole is rather skinnier than many other poles (in true Nordic fashion). You will find that this pair of ski poles is easy and lightweight to carry around thanks to its 100% carbon construction. At the tip of the pole, you will find a XC steep tip snow basket that is perfect for navigating a range of snow conditions.

 

HealthPro MBC M160Q Turbo 5 Professional Trekking Pole

HealthPro MBC-M160Q Turbo 5 99% Carbon Fiber Professional Trekking...

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It is not common to find a pair of ski poles comprised of 99% carbon fiber that is also decently priced. Luckily, the Health Pro MBC M160Q Turbo 5 Professional Trekking pole offers just that. This exceptional set of ski poles allows you to avoid any cheap fillers thanks to its majority carbon fiber construction. The carbon fiber allows it to be super lightweight to carry around on the mountain.

The poles also feature the unique ability to damp any vibration that you may experience. You will also be able to retain strength no matter the type of snow or mountain incline you find yourself on.

The hand grips are another feature that makes this one of the best ski poles. The grips feature an EVA foam that is both ergonomic and easy to hold thanks to the contoured shape. The grips also feature wrist straps that are adjustable for added support.

The baskets that are used on these poles are trekking baskets. They allow you to stay stable on soft terrain, If you need to remove or replace the snow baskets, you can easily do so so by simply turning them and removing them.

 

Atomic AMT SQS Ski Poles

Black Diamond Expedition 2 Ski Poles Powell Blue, 95-145cm

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If you are looking for one of the best ski poles that are primarily for alpine use, then look no further than the Atomic AMT SQS Ski Poles. These ski poles have consistently been rated as one of the best alpine ski poles for beginners.

The shaft is constructed of a durable and they come in a range of sizes including 110 cm, 115 cm, 120 cm, 125 cm, 130 cm, and 135 cm.With this range of sizing, every type of skier is certain to find the best fit for themselves.

When it comes to the grip, there is plenty to enjoy as well. There is an an ergonomic AMT 2K) grip that is both easy to hold and super comfortable. For added stability, there is also a padded strap. The base of the shaft is rounded off with a steel tip that can easily navigate a range of snowy terrains.
If you are a beginning skier, then this pair is easily one of the best ski poles to invest in for your adventures.

 

Black Diamond Expedition

Salomon Arctic Skiing Pole (Black/Green, 110)

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When it comes to a high quality brand at an affordable price, the Black Diamond Expedition Backcountry Ski Poles are a great option to go with. The Black Diamond Brand is known for putting forth some of the highest quality products that every outdoor enthusiast loves. Their backcountry ski poles are no exception.

This high performance pair of ski poles is constructed with aluminum. The shaft features a 16 mm aluminum upper and a 14 mm aluminum lower part. When it comes to the grip, you will find a 4 seasons extended foam grip. This grip also offers an aggressive hooking point that allows you to manipulate buckles and bars. You can also adjust the poles thanks to the FlickLock adjustability Feature.

Overall, these ski poles allow users to have absolute control and strength when they are on the mountains. Coupled with the fact that these poles are manufactured by the reputable Black Diamond brand, you are sure to have these ski poles season after season. Plus did we mention that this pair is one of the lower priced high quality ski poles? Generally, you can not go wrong with this pair if you are looking for the best backcountry ski poles.

Final Thoughts on the Best Ski Poles

If this is your first time shopping around for the best ski poles, then don’t be alarmed to know that not all ski poles are made alike. Luckily for you our helpful article has allowed you to understand the difference in ski poles in a very simplistic form.  Also, we hope that our handy article has helped you clear up any confusion you may have come across on your shopping experience.

The good news is that now you are better equipped with weeding through all the options to finding the best ski poles for your needs. If you do not have the time or patience to do the shopping around, we are sure you will be pleased with our picks of the best ski poles to invest in.