LENGTH, weight, and snow conditions are all things to consider when choosing the best ski poles for you.
We explain what to look for and round up some of the most popular options for every budget.
How long should ski poles be?
Length is one of the most important things to consider when choosing your ski poles as this affects how easy they are to use and might even affect safety.
Unsurprisingly, the exact length will depend on your height – but your skiing style and what the snow conditions are like will make a difference, too.
To find a starting point, take your height in centimetres and multiply it by 0.7. So if you were 5ft2, that would be around 157cm, meaning you should look for a ski pole that’s around 110cm.
Next, you have to test the fit for you, as different people have different upper body to leg ratios.
To do this, you have to turn the pole upside down and, with the handle touching the ground, hold on to the bit just under the basket (it separates the tip from the rest of the ski pole) to mimic the height of the pole when it’s being used in snow.
When you’re holding the ski pole like this, your forearms should be at right angles to your upper arms or even slightly lower.
Next, you need to think about what kind of skiing you’re doing.
If you’re skiing downhill (Alpine), a shorter pole will be better for balance and can help you turn without getting in the way.
For cross country skiing across flat surfaces, many people prefer a longer pole to cover more ground in a shorter time.
And if you’re ski touring, where you might go up or downhill, an adjustable ski pole would be best.
Best ski poles to buy now
We’ve rounded up options for a range of different budgets and activities below.
1. Black Diamond Compactor 2022 telescopic poles
- Black Diamond Compactor 2022 telescopic poles, £94.24 from Blue Tomato – buy here
These foldable ski poles from Black Diamond’s Compactor range are perfect for ski touring.
Designed for unisex use, the length on these poles can be adjusted, giving a range between 105cm and 125cm.
And when not in use, they can be folded down to just 41.5cm – great for taking on flights.
2. Wedze Boost 900 men’s downhill ski poles
- Wedze Boost 900 men’s downhill ski poles, £17.99 from Decathlon – buy here
For affordable Alpine-style ski poles, try these ones from Wedze.
The aluminium alloy poles are lightweight and the small basket near the tip means it’s best in hard snow conditions, rather than off piste.
Four different lengths are available, ranging from 115cm to 130cm.
3. Leki Airfoil 3D ski poles
- Leki Airfoil 3D ski poles, £95 from Ellis Brigham – buy here
Thanks to the aerodynamic design, these high end ski poles are ideal for skiers who love going down the slopes at top speed.
Made from sturdy and lightweight aluminium, the poles also have moulded handles that are ergonomically shaped for all-day comfort and are available in lengths of between 115cm and 130cm.
It’s also equipped with Leki’s signature 3D Trigger system, which lets you “click out” of your poles at the touch of a button without having to remove the straps if you fall.
4. Nevica Meribel ski pole S21
- Nevica Meribel ski pole S21, £9.99 from Sports Direct – buy here
These super affordable aluminium ski poles are ideal for beginners.
They are available in lengths of between 110cm and 130cm, which will suit men and women.
You can also get them in two different colours.
5. Komperdell Trail 280 Te II Av ski touring poles
- Komperdell Trail 280 Te II Av ski touring poles, £59.96 from Alpine Trek – buy here
Offering an impressive length range of 115cm to 140cm, these adjustable ski touring poles are suitable for unisex use in a range of different conditions.
At just 554g for the pair, these aluminium poles are also extremely lightweight, ideal for longer journeys.
The handles are rubberized for better grip and the straps are adjustable as well.
6. Atomic Redster racing ski poles
- Atomic Redster racing ski poles, £35 from Amazon – buy here
These unisex poles are designed for racing, and are lighter for better balance and speed.
The rubber handles make these poles easy to grip while the straps are adjustable.
There are six different lengths to choose from, ranging from 115cm to 135cm.
7. Rossignol Hero Gs-Sg Jr kids’ ski poles
- Rossignol Hero Gs-Sg Jr kids’ ski poles, £45 from Rossignol – buy here
These top of the range ski poles are made for kids who are seriously getting into skiing.
The unusual triangular shaft is designed to be more aerodynamic and is ideal for racing.
The aluminium frame is also super lightweight while the handles are slimmer for smaller hands.
8. Volkl Phantastick FR 2022 telescopic poles
- Volkl Phantastick FR 2022 telescopic poles, £72.81 from Blue Tomato – buy here
These telescopic poles are designed for unisex use and will suit a range of different conditions.
The length can be extended from 110cm all the way up to 140cm.
The moulded handles and adjustable straps will also make these ski poles easy to use.
9. Leki WC Lite SL youth race ski poles
- Leki WC Lite SL youth race ski poles, £70 from Ellis Brigham – buy here
For younger ski racers, these high end ski poles are perfect.
You can get them in a range of sizes, from 95cm all the way up to 120cm
Like the adult versions of the Leki 3D ski poles, these have been fitted with easy release straps to reduce the risk of injury.
10. Wedze Team 100 children’s ski poles
- Wedze Team 100 children’s ski poles, £5.99 from Decathlon – buy here
With just three sizes ranging from 70cm up to 90cm, these ski poles are meant for younger children and are suitable for those who are four and upwards.
The aluminium frame is super lightweight and the plastic handles are moulded for smaller hands.
As well as being super budget-friendly, they also come with a two year warranty.
11. Salomon Arctic unisex ski poles
- Salomon Arctic unisex ski poles, £22.65 from Amazon – buy here
These affordable unisex ski poles are available in lengths ranging from 110cm to 135cm – note, the prices do vary between different lengths.
While best for skiing on piste, these poles have been fitted with a basket that’s suitable for all terrains.
The handles are moulded for comfort and the standard straps are adjustable as well.
12. Scott men’s 540 P-Lite ski poles
- Scott men’s 540 P-Lite ski poles, £27 from Snow + Rock – buy here
There are just three sizes for this design: 110cm, 115cm and 120cm.
The shorter length means they’re better for race skiers who might need poles more for balance.
These are also available in three different colours.
How to hold a ski pole
To hold a ski pole, you have to put your hands through the straps from underneath them.
Once your hands are through the loop, you just hold onto the handle of your pole with the straps underneath your hands – this should tighten the loop and help you to hold the pole in place.
Check the length of the straps to make sure they’re loose enough to easily accommodate your gloves, but not so loose that you’re left with extra material that can get caught.
Holding it this way means you can easily and safely release the poles if you happen to fall.
How to shorten ski poles
Ski poles come in standard sizes, which means depending on your height, they might not be quite the right length for you.
Getting an adjustable ski pole is an easy fix but you can also shorten your existing ski poles to fit.
Be aware though that aluminium poles are generally more easy to shorten and carbon ones can split if you’re not careful.
First, you’ll need to remove the handle on your pole. Depending on the ski pole you have, some will need to be unscrewed first while others can just be removed by force.
Next, measure out how much you want to shorten the pole by – mark this on the pole with a pencil or pen.
For aluminium poles, you can get special pole cutters that you just attach and twist round and it will saw through the metal.
For carbon poles, you need a hacksaw fitted with a blade that’s designed to cut through carbon.
After you’ve made the cuts – making sure both poles are even – file down any splinters that might be on the outside of the pole.
Then you simply need to reattach the handles and you should be good to go.
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