Ski Pole Buying Guide
A pole is a pole, right? Read our buying guide to see why it might be worthwhile to splash out a little extra next time you're grabbing a new set.
Ski Pole Types
Alpine poles are what most people use for on resort skiing. They are fairly basic overall, but have some differences that can make one more user friendly over the next. See the list of features below to decide what might benefit you in your next set of poles.
There are many options on the market for touring poles. To find the right option you'll need to take a look at what you're using them for and what key features are important to you. These poles need to be able to function well while touring/hiking as well as perform strongly while skiing.
- Telescoping poles are the most common for touring. These usually have two or more sections that can be pulled in and out of each other. This is great for giving you multiple options for length as well as easy storage. Three piece poles usually collapse down a bit further. Many of these can double as tramping poles for the summer months.
- Collapsible poles are a great option if you need to store the poles in a pack often. This can be ideal for splitboarding or mountaineering.
- Whippet poles are bought as a single and used with another single from a set of touring poles. They provide a pick on top of the handle in order to self arrest if needed on steeper or icier terrain.
Race poles are usually come in different cuts depending on the discipline. These are usually designed very sturdy as they take a beating. They also have the smallest baskets in order to avoid catching on gates. If you need a specific race pole get in touch with us and we can get them in for you.
Ski Pole Features
Materials will change a fair bit between poles. Usually on pricepoint poles, you'll be getting some sort of aluminum or alloy. This keeps the poles durable and fairly light at a good price. From there you can make the jump up into poles that are made with carbon or composite. These poles are usually lighter and have better balance. The swing weight is much more natural with less delay.
Grips are upgraded as well when you get into the higher end poles. Basic poles usually have a mono-injected grip with a fairly basic shape. As you look at other options you will notice some have a bi-injected grip with an anatomical ly focused shape to contour to your hand. This provides all day comfort and makes it easier to grip. Women's poles often have grips that are slightly smaller, making them a better fit for smaller hands.
Straps can make a big difference when using poles all day. Most are just a basic loop that can be adjusted for size. However, some are padded and contoured to sit around the wrist without tangling or any uncomfortable feeling.
Baskets are specific to the conditions you expect to use a pole in. If you're arcing turns on piste, a narrower basket is benefficial in order to be able to plant the pole at a steeper angle. A wider basket makes planting off trail and in softer snow possible. It packs the snow down and stops the pole much sooner whereas a narrower basket will just sink into the snow.
In order to properly size a ski pole turn the pole upside down and hold it directly under the basket. A proper fitting pole should have your arm bent at a 90 degree angle when you do this. If it's too long or too short, your skiing form can be negatively affected.
Touring poles often come in one to two different sizes as they are extendable. If there are two different sizes make sure you choose one that has the proper sizing within the range.
Kids poles can be sized the same as regular alpine poles. Telescoping kids poles are often a good choice to think about. These can grow with your kids, giving you many years of use out of a single pair.