How to Choose the Right Length Ski Pole?

by Simon Knott | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

When you pick up your gear from the ski shop, ski poles are often the last item you collect, almost as an afterthought. However, ski poles serve several important functions when skiing. But how do you know which length to choose?

There are conversion tables that can give an approximation of the best length of a ski pole for a particular height. However, it is best to use the individual measuring technique, which gives a more accurate result.

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Ski poles help skiers to initiate, or plant turns. By planting the ski pole in the snow, you make a psychological and physical decision to turn. It’s an easy way to keep a good rhythm. Skiers also use ski poles to push themselves over flat areas of terrain, so the ski poles need to be strong.

What Are The Parts Of A Ski Pole?

  • Hand Grip - made of neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber.
  • Shaft - can be made from aluminum or carbon fiber. Most ski poles are made from aluminum, which is cheaper than carbon.
  • Strap - if you take a tumble, having the straps attached to your hands ensures your poles remain close by.
  • Tip - the tip is at the opposite end of the pole to the handgrip. The tip is below the basket and is the part of the pole that is pushed into the snow. They are sharpened to a rounded tip, so they are effective without being dangerous in an accident.
  • Basket - The basket is just above the tip of the ski pole. Without a basket, a ski pole would just disappear into soft snow. For downhill skiing, the basket is usually 2 in (5 cm) across, while on powder a larger basket, 4 in (10 cm), is required.

How Do You Measure Yourself For Ski Poles?

  1. It’s best to measure yourself for ski poles while wearing ski boots, which raise you off the ground a little more than ordinary shoes.
  2. Choose a ski pole you think is about the right height. Turn the pole upside down and rest the grip on the floor. Hold the pole underneath the basket, so your thumb rests on the underside of the basket. If the angle of your forearm and upper arm is 90° then the pole is the correct length. If the angle is less than 90° the pole is too long and vice versa.
  3. The ski pole tip isn’t included in this calculation. However, that doesn’t matter because the tip disappears into the snow and so isn’t part of the calculated length.
  4. Always remember that by wearing skis you will be approximately 1½ in (4 cm) higher. So, if you are between two sizes choose the higher of the two. Ski pole sizes normally change in 2 in (5 cm) increments.

As a rule, for cross-country skiing, you can use this formula to work out the right ski pole length. Measure your height in centimeters X 0.83. The pole should be at shoulder height. For skate skiing, the formula is slightly different. Measure your height in centimeters X 0.89. And the pole should be at ear height.

The following table gives approximations of pole length and corresponding heights, but it is best to verify the correct length with the above procedure.

Downhill Ski Poles Sizing

HeightPole (in.)Pole (cm.)
4 ft. 10 in. 42 in.105cm
5 ft.42 in105cm
5 ft. 2 in.44 in.110cm
5 ft. 4 in.46 in.115cm
5 ft. 6 in. 46 in.115cm
5 ft. 8 in.48 in.120cm
5 ft. 10 in.50 in. 125cm
6 ft.50 in.125cm
6 ft. 2 in.52 in.130cm
6 ft. 4 in. 54 in.135cm
Photo by Electronker licensed under CC BY 2.0