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Strong, light and reliable – I’ve reviewed this year’s best kids ski poles for downhill and backcountry skiing.
Ski poles help us to create rhythm in our turns and help to propel us along flat sections. While they’re an important piece of a skiers toolkit, not every child needs to use ski poles and kids should be at a certain age and skill level when the benefits of ski poles outweigh the risks.
Best ski poles
|Ski Pole ⛷||Score 👍||How much? 💰|
|Zipline Blurr 16.0||7/10||Check Price on Amazon|
|LEKI Racing Kids’||7/10||Check Price on Amazon|
|Volkl Phantastick Kids’||8/10||Check Price on Amazon|
|Salomon Kaloo Junior Alpine||9/10||Check Price on Amazon|
When should kids start using ski poles?
Children don’t need to use ski poles until they’re around 8-10 years of age or are learning to do short turns and ski bumps or good at skiing in parallel – whichever comes first (source).
There is a range of opinions depending on the ski instructors school of thought (pun intended!), but the general consensus is that focusing on good technique first without poles is more beneficial in the long run. However, once a young skier grows in ability or gets a bit older, using ski poles has more of an advantage.
What type of ski poles?
Ski poles come in three main materials, aluminum, carbon composite (mix of carbon and fiberglass) and carbon fiber. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but for most recreational skiers aluminum ski poles are the best choice for their great mix of strength and cost.
Aluminum: Strong and cheap but comes in different strengths – 7000 series is the strongest.
Carbon Fibre: Most expensive but lighter and won’t bend – but may snap if hit hard against a rock.
Style of skiing
There are three main styles of ski poles, everyday alpine ski poles that most people use; backcountry ski poles with wider baskets and racing poles that are very light.
Alpine Ski Poles: Most young skiers will choose an alpine ski pole, which is perfect for everyday resort skiing.
Backcountry Ski Poles: These poles tend to be lighter, may be extendable for hiking and will have a larger basket at the bottom to stop the pole going too far into deep snow.
Racing Poles: some poles for specific ski disciplines are bent for aerodynamic at speed and for safety in case of an impact – the pole will bend rather than cause injury.
Does ski pole weight matter?
Yes – a lighter ski pole is easier to use throughout the day and will cause less arm fatigue. Although weight savings is only in the tens of grams across most recreational ski poles, the lighter the ski the easier it is to carry when you add up the thousands of movements you make throughout the day. Lighter skis tend to cost more and can be less durable (cheaper aluminum series) and carbon fiber poles are not always the lightest option (they can be wider in diameter).
I wouldn’t recommend finding the lightest pole available as it will generally have a lower stress tolerance and be more prone to damage. However, finding a pole for a decent price with a good mix of strength and weight is the best strategy.
What length ski pole?
Your child’s ski poles should roughly come to the height of their hands when they’re elbow is put into a 90° bend. If you’re buying online you can measure the distance from the floor to your child’s hand to get the height of the ski pole.
Most poles are sized in 2” increments – If your child is in between sizes, it’s best to go with the shorter pole as poles that are too long are more of a hindrance than too short – sizing chart.
How to pole plant?
Read on If you’re learning to pole plant or want to give your child some advice.
Getting the right pole planting technique brings a huge boost to your skiing enjoyment. Most new skiers let their hands drop by their side and their ski poles hang back – only using them to propel themselves on flats or steady themselves while stopped.
Correct pole plant
- ✅ Gently flick the pole into the snow at a straight angle.
- ✅ Allow the pole to flick off the snow and fall behind you.
- ✅ Change edges and turn into the direction of the pole.
Incorrect pole plant
- ❌Putting the pole into the snow at the wrong angle
- ❌Supporting weight on the pole.
❌Starting the pole plant too early or late.
- ❌Slamming the pole into the snow too hard (may break or hurt you)
- ❌Resisting the flick of the pole and not allowing the pole to fall backward.
I wrote a whole guide to pole planting – check it out if you want a walkthrough instruction on the proper technique.
Is there a difference between girls and boys ski poles?
All ski poles are unisex, but some brands to offer women or girls specific ski poles that have a grip more shaped to the average female hand with smaller gaps between the ridges. All other differences are cosmetic and are differences in the overall look of the pole, its colors, and graphics printed onto the pole.
If you’re interested in more differences in ski gear read my piece on the Difference Between Men & Women’s Skis.