Skiing is a thrilling sport that combines the excitement of speed with the beauty of snowy landscapes. However, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, it's crucial to have the right equipment, and ski poles are a key piece of that gear. Knowing how to measure ski poles correctly can aid in better balance, control, and overall skiing technique. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to find the right size ski poles for your skiing adventures.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn the correct method to measure ski poles for different skiing styles.
  • Understand the importance of choosing the right ski pole length for better balance and control.
  • Discover the various types of ski poles and how to select the best one for your needs.
how to measure ski poles

Understanding the Importance of the Right Ski Pole Length

When it comes to downhill skiing or navigating mellow pitched catwalks, the right length of ski poles is crucial for maintaining balance and aiding in pole planting turns. Many skiers overlook the importance of the correct size, but it can make a significant difference in your performance and comfort on the slopes. Adjustable ski poles offer versatility, but it's still essential to start with the right base length.

The Basics of Measuring Ski Poles

To begin with, how to measure ski poles, you'll need to stand upright in your ski boots on a flat surface. Hold the ski pole upside down, grabbing directly under the basket. The pole should be touching the floor. Your elbow should be at a 90-degree angle when you hold the pole. If your arm is angled up or down, the pole is not the right size.

Choosing Ski Poles for Downhill Skiing

For those who love the rush of downhill skiing, choosing ski poles with the correct length is about more than just comfort; it's about performance. The standard rule is that when your ski poles are planted in the snow, your arms should be at a right angle. This allows for efficient pole planting and helps in maintaining rhythm while skiing.

Ski Pole Size Chart: A Handy Tool

A ski pole size chart can be an invaluable tool when shopping for ski poles. These charts typically consider your height and provide a recommended pole length. Remember, these are guidelines, and personal preference and skiing style should also be taken into account. For example, freestyle skiers might prefer shorter poles, while those skiing in soft snow might opt for a longer pole.

The Role of Adjustable Ski Poles

Adjustable poles are becoming increasingly popular among skiers of all levels. They allow for quick length adjustments, which can be particularly useful when transitioning from flat lift lines to steep mountain slopes. With adjustable ski poles, you can have a shorter pole for park skiing and extend it for off-piste adventures.

How to Use Adjustable Poles

Using adjustable poles is straightforward. Most adjustable ski poles have a locking mechanism that you can open, set the pole to the desired length, and then close to secure it. Always ensure the mechanism is locked before using the poles to prevent them from collapsing while skiing.

how to measure ski poles

The Significance of Ski Pole Grips

Ski pole grips are not just about comfort; they also affect your control. When measuring for the right ski pole length, don't forget to consider the grip. It should fit comfortably in your hand, and your fingers should wrap around it easily. The straps should also be adjustable to secure the grip without cutting off circulation.

Selecting the Right Grip for Your Poles

The right grip can make a significant difference in your skiing experience. Look for grips made of durable materials that offer good insulation in cold temperatures. Some grips are ergonomically designed to reduce fatigue, which is especially important for skiers who spend long hours on the mountain.

The Impact of Ski Pole Baskets

The basket at the bottom of a ski pole serves to prevent the pole from sinking too deeply into the snow. Different shapes and sizes of baskets are suited for various snow conditions. Standard baskets are good for most conditions, while powder baskets are wider to provide that extra push in deep snow.

Choosing the Right Basket for Your Poles

When you shop ski poles, consider the type of skiing you'll be doing most. If you're a fan of powder skiing, look for poles with larger baskets. For groomed slopes, a standard basket will suffice. Remember, many poles come with interchangeable baskets, so you can switch them out as needed.

The Advantages of Carbon Fiber Poles

Carbon fibre poles are known for their lightweight and durable properties. They can provide a significant advantage for skiers who demand performance and ease of movement. Carbon fiber is also excellent at absorbing shock, which can reduce strain on your arms during a long day of skiing.

Comparing Different Materials

Ski poles are made from different materials, each with its own set of benefits. Aluminum poles are sturdy and cost-effective, while carbon fiber poles offer a lighter weight and increased flexibility. Some poles combine materials to balance weight, durability, and cost.

The Correct Way to Hold Ski Poles

Holding your ski poles correctly is as important as having the right length. Your hands should go up through the straps and then grab the pole grips. This technique ensures that if you lose your grip, the poles will hang from your wrists and not fall to the ground.

The Role of Ski Pole Straps

Ski pole straps are not just there to keep you from losing your poles; they also help in transferring the force as you plant your poles. Make sure the straps are adjusted so that you can easily slip your hands in and out, but they're snug enough to provide support.

Tips for Measuring Ski Poles for Cross Country Skiing

Cross country skiing requires a different approach to measuring poles. For classic cross-country skiing, poles should reach your armpit. For skate skiing, they should be longer, reaching up to your chin or lips. This is because the poles are used for propulsion in cross-country skiing, and a longer pole gives more leverage.

The Importance of Pole Length in Cross Country Skiing

The right length of ski poles in cross country skiing is essential for efficient movement and energy conservation. Too short, and you won't get enough push; too long, and they can become unwieldy and throw off your balance. Always test the poles with your skiing boots on for the most accurate measurement.

how to measure ski poles


Measuring ski poles correctly is a critical step in preparing for a safe and enjoyable skiing experience. Whether you're downhill skiing, hitting the park, or cross-country skiing, the right ski pole length is essential for proper balance, control, and technique. Remember to consider adjustable poles for versatility, choose the right grip and basket for your needs, and don't overlook the benefits of materials like carbon fiber. With the right pair of ski poles, you'll be well-equipped to tackle any mountain adventure.

how to measure ski poles


Can I use the same ski poles for different types of skiing?

While you can use the same ski poles for different types of skiing, it's not ideal. Different skiing styles require poles of different lengths and features. Adjustable ski poles offer the most versatility across different skiing disciplines.

How do I know if my ski poles are too short or too long?

If your ski poles are too short, you'll find yourself bending too much when planting turns, which can lead to back strain. If they're too long, they can be cumbersome and affect your balance. The right ski pole length will allow you to plant your poles with your arms at a 90-degree angle while in a skiing stance.

Should I consider my height or my ski boots' height when measuring ski poles?

You should consider both. Your overall height will give you a starting point, but you should always measure ski poles while wearing your ski boots, as they add height and affect the angle of your arms when planting the poles.