Your ski poles have a big effect on your core balance and responsiveness, as well as the way you manoeuvre the slopes – so finding the right poles is important.
Choosing the right ski poles can really benefit your performance on the slopes, making you more responsive, faster and smoother. Whilst finding the right pair of poles might move you from beginner to expert overnight, the right skiing poles will certainly benefit you technique and help you up your skills over a period of time.
The first step to finding the right ski poles, is understanding what ski poles do and how they work. For most skiers, their ski poles make up a key part of their skiing kit. When used correctly out on the slopes, your poles are designed to help you maintain balance, control your turns (and time then right) and even give you that extra momentum and speed on the slopes. If you’re more into off-piste skiing, such as backcountry and alpine touring, your poles are going to be useful tools when it comes to hiking and pulling yourself up in various hilly environments.
So now you know how important ski poles are, how can you ensure you’re choosing the right ones for you? Here are some tips…
Tip 1: Ensure the fit is right
When you’re fitting a pair of ski poles (or checking that your current fit is still ok) you’ll want to stand wearing your ski boots. If you don’t have your ski boots in the store with you, make sure you’re wearing shoes, so you still get the height of the boots. With your ski poles upside-down, with the pole grips touching the floor you’ll want to grab hold of the ski pole just under the basket (so that the top of your thumb touches the basket itself).
Assuming the pole is a good fit, your elbow should hopefully be at a 90° angle. If it’s not, and the angle is less than 90° – you might need to give a shorter pole a try. The opposite also works – so if the angle is greater, you’ll need a longer pole.
Tip 2: Ensure the strap is easy to get on and off
Another thing you’ll want to make sure is right, is your pole straps. Your straps (connecting the pole to your wrist) should be easy to slip on and off. This is to prevent accidents, where your wrist can get caught or stuck.
You’ll ideally want to try the straps out whilst wearing your ski gloves – so you can be sure they’re not too restrictive and they’ll be easy to work with on the slopes.
Tip 3: Make sure they’re built for what you’re using them for
There are lots of different types of skiing, and different conditions to ski in. This obviously alters the way different products are made, as some are made for certain environments and terrains. Always check with the poles you’re buying that the materials and the design functions suit the kind of skiing you’re going to be doing.
Tip 4: Make sure they feel right
A big part of choosing the right ski poles, is making sure you’re comfortable with them and they feel good to hold. If your poles don’t ‘feel’ right – the chances are, they’re not. Always ask a professional or seek advise if you have any doubts you’re using the wrong equipment.