by SkiNerd 

October 2, 2017

There's all sorts of marketing magic out there trying to convince you to spend hundreds of dollars on the latest carbon fiber models. But when it comes to poles... it's size that matters;)

Pole length is really the only thing recreational skiers need to consider and it mostly comes down to preference. Hot doggin Bumpers and freestylers tend to go a little shorter whereas racer types usually prefer them a little longer.

Your speed and level of ski performance will also have an effect. At intermediate speeds the body tends to remain more upright favoring a little longer pole. Whereas at higher performance levels the bigger lateral moves may keep your upper body a little closer to the snow. 

So what is the right length?

You should be able to swing your pole basket through each turn in time with your feet moving through the turn and still be able to maintain a fairly quiet upper body.

The classic method used in rental shops to determine pole length is to stand relaxed with a slight flexion in the joints, grabbing the pole upside down just under the basket. They're typically looking for the bend in the elbow to be around 90 degrees. These days most instructors agree this is a little long. So for the average recreational skier I usually recommend going a little shorter... so the elbow is slightly more than 90 degrees.

Old School Pole Measure Method: Typically done with boots on elbow is a bit more than 90 degrees.

Pole basket should be able to swing smoothly through the arc in sync with your feet.

Possible signs that a longer pole size may be beneficial:

  • You keep missing pole plants.
  • You need to way crouch down or create unnecessary angulation to plant.
  • Your legs get tired from squatting or your back hurts

Possible signs a shorter pole size may be beneficial:

  • Your timing is off and you feel like you can never swing the pole fast enough.
  • You have to make wild arm movements to get your pole around.
  • Your hand is often above your head when you plant.
  • Your balance tips to the inside ski as you swing your pole.

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About the author 


I like skiing, outdoorsy stuff, artsy stuff... and hanging with my family;)

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Jessi Morris
Jessi Morris
10 months ago

I love having adjustable touring poles, then I can fiddle till my hearts content to the length I am happy with for the day and the mode I am skiing in…Plus then for touring I can make em longer…but I tend to be super hard on gear, so not the greatest plan for me to use fancy touring poles for day to day use… @Mengsha what style do you prefer?

10 months ago
Reply to  Jessi Morris

So…it sounds silly but I like those leki pink racing poles…part of the reason is because they are pink 😂 and also the attachable harness. When I did my L1& L2, I used rental poles at 115cm. Then I got 110cm when I passed L3. Two months after that, I had it cut shorter(now at approximately 105cm…) I find shorter poles are so much easier than the bumps lol

Jessi Morris
Jessi Morris
10 months ago
Reply to  Mengsha

That’s not silly at all!!! Style points! The attachable harness sounds like a cool idea! Yeah I have bounced around from 115 to 110… 105 sounds super short! But hey if it works in the bumps then awesome! I’m terrible at actually using my poles properly, I swear half the time they are just there for timing and decoration but then I try to ski without em and I’m lost so hey I guess I do use em! At least for counter balance haha

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