How to Choose Ski Poles: A Comprehensive Guide for Downhill Skiers

How to Choose Ski Poles: A Comprehensive Guide for Downhill Skiers

Ski poles are an essential part of a skier's gear, providing balance, stability, and support on the slopes. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned skier, the poles you chose can impact your experience and performance. Let’s dive into how to choose the right ski poles for you.

Why Do Skiers Need Poles?

A good set of poles can help skiers with:


Ski poles help you maintain balance and stability as you navigate downhill terrain.


Poles are used to generate power during turns, aiding in steering and control.


They contribute to timing and rhythm while skiing, especially when skiing moguls or in challenging conditions.


In situations where you need to traverse flat or uphill terrain, ski poles can be used for support and to prevent falls.

Choosing the Appropriate Length

Ski pole length is generally determined based on your height and skiing style. Beginners should use poles based on height; as you spend more time on the slopes, other factors will help you choose ski poles.


If you’re choosing poles in person, picking the right length is simple—with your shoes or ski boots on (but not clipped into your skis), flip the poles upside down. Grasp the poles directly underneath the basket (the circle at the bottom that prevents the pole from sinking in the snow). So you should have the tip at the top, the basket directly underneath, and then your hand directly underneath the basket. If your elbow forms a right angle when you hold the pole this way, you’ve got a good length.

If you aren’t choosing poles in person, use the following height chart to estimate your pole length. Don’t worry if your pole is an inch too long or too short—as a new skier small differences in length won’t impact your skiing too much.

Height Pole Length (Inches) Pole Length (Centimeters)
3'6" and Under 30" 75cm
3'8" 32" 80cm
3'10" 32" 80cm
4'0" 34" 85cm
4'2" 36" 90cm
4'4" 36" 90cm
4'6" 38" 95cm
4'8" 40" 100cm
4'10" 42" 105cm
5'0" 42" 105cm
5'2" 44" 110cm
5'4" 46" 115cm
5'6" 46" 115cm
5'8" 48" 120cm
5'10" 50" 125cm
6'0" 50" 125cm
6'2" 52" 130cm
6'4" 54" 135cm
6'6"+ 56" 140cm

Experienced Skiers

For experienced skiers the choice of ski pole length becomes a matter of personal preference. Many advanced skiers prefer slightly shorter poles for quicker turns and enhanced agility. Experiment with different lengths to find what suits your skiing style best. 

Ski Poles for Backcountry Skiers

In backcountry skiing, where versatility and adaptability are crucial, telescoping ski poles are highly recommended. These are adjustable poles that are easy to carry and can be customized to the terrain, allowing for an easy transition from uphill climbs to downhill descents.

Material Matters 

Ski poles come in a variety of materials, each with their advantages. The more traditional materials include:

Aluminum Poles

Aluminum is affordable and durable. Poles made from this material are a good choice for budget-conscious skiers who need a robust option.

Carbon Fiber Poles

Carbon fiber poles are strong and light, making them popular with advanced skiers looking for precision and agility.

Considering Sustainability

Aluminum and carbon fiber make for sturdy, reliable poles, but the manufacturing process is rough on Earth and its resources. Skiers who want to do their part for the planet while enjoying the slopes have several sustainable options to lessen environmental impact.

Bamboo Ski Poles 

Once the standard, bamboo poles may now be a rare sight on the slopes. But they’re making a comeback as a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to traditional materials. Bamboo combines some of the best characteristics of other pole types—more lightweight than aluminum and more durable than carbon fiber, bamboo poles have a lower environmental footprint.

Goode Carbon Neutral Poles

These innovative poles from longtime pole manufacturer Goode offer the benefits of carbon fiber while striving to reduce the environmental impact. They're designed with a lower carbon footprint in mind, using sand as the primary ingredient to make them a sustainable choice for conscientious skiers.

Choosing Ski Poles

Whether you're a beginner hitting the slopes or an experienced backcountry explorer, the right choice of ski poles will enhance your skiing adventures while being mindful of the environment.

Happy skiing!

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