In downhill skiing, your ski poles are important. In order to be effective, your ski poles need to lightweight and flexible, yet strong and sturdy as well - they also need to be sized correctly for you. Here's a guide to finding, sizing, and buying the best ski poles for you.
Determine a Price Range
Ski poles can run anywhere from $19.99 to over $200. That being the case, a fancy ski pole isn't necessary for everyone. While there can be distinct differences in quality, it's up to you to decide how much you're willing to spend on ski poles.
Figure Out What Type of Ski Pole You Need
Different types, and different levels, of skiers will need different types of ski poles. If you're a beginner skier, it's safe to say that a basic ski pole will be fine for you - you don't need to spend lots of money on a "fancy" ski pole. However, advanced skiers may find it truly beneficial to ski with a lightweight, aerodynamic ski pole. Ski racers would want to look for a racing pole. So, consider your level of ability and go from there.
Consider Different Brands
It's a good idea to note the different characteristics that certain brands are known for. For example, Scott has your most basic poles for beginners, but they also offer poles for intermediate and advanced skiers. Pricier Goode ski poles are known for being extremely lightweight, aerodynamic, and yet sturdy at the same time. Leki has excellent alpine ski poles, with specialty poles for freestyle skiing and ski racing. Royal Shaft Ski Poles are quality poles, but decorated with amazing graphics. These are just a few brands out there, so it's a good idea to shop around and see what fits your needs the best.
Find Your Ski Pole Size
Read the guide to sizing downhill ski poles, and then compare your result with a ski pole length calculator to confirm your accuracy.
Consider Ski Pole Baskets
Your ski pole will have a basket, which is the plastic disk-shaped appendage at the bottom of your pole that keeps your pole from sinking into the snow. If you're skiing on hard-packed, groomed trails, a smaller basket is fine. However, when it comes to conquering powder, a larger basket will be useful.
Examine Ski Pole Handles
Most ski pole handles are rubber grips, with a loop that can secure your hand, if you choose. Some skiers opt not to use this loop, fearing that it can lead to wrist injury during a fall, yet other skiers frequently use these loops to secure their ski poles. In general, the handle that comes with the pole is perfectly adequate but using the loop keeps the pole near you in a fall. Many Slalom racers choose to use pole guards to prevent their hands from hitting slalom poles.
Shop for Ski Poles in a Ski Store
If you choose to shop in a ski store, remember your price range and whether or not you need a racing pole. Keep your size in mind, and have that number at hand - in both centimeters, and inches. Even if you know your size, it's a good idea to check the fit of a ski pole in the store. You can do this by holding the pole upside down, under the basket. Your knees should remain slightly flexed, with your forearm horizontal, parallel to the ground. If your forearm remains parallel to the ground, the pole fits.
Browse and Shop for Ski Poles Online
If you choose to purchase ski poles online, make sure you have your ski pole size at hand. If you're unsure of your size, always remember to round up to a larger size, as ski poles can always be cut down, but never extended. Be sure to check on shipping and return policies, too.