What Size Ski Poles Do I Need?

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Poles help you when you’re skiing but some people choose not to use them. They serve a few purposes. First, they can help you move around when you’re on flat snow. Ski poles can also you help you with your rhythm when you are making turns. You need poles that are the right size for you so that they’re comfortable and easy to use.

Ski poles are usually made of graphite, fiberglass, aluminum, or a composite material. They’re measured in centimeters.

How to Get the Correct Size Ski Poles / Measuring

Basically, the poles should be from your hands to the ground when you have your arms at a 90 degree angle – which is at your side with hands forward. Your elbows should be bent, making that 90 degree angle.

If you have the pole physically in front of you, you can turn the pole over so that the handle is on the ground and the tip is pointing up at you. Hold your hands under the baskets. The right length of ski pole should have your arms at the 90 degree angle. If you don’t have the pole with you (like, if you’re buying ski poles online and need to know the size), then stand in that position and have someone measure from the ground to the top of your hand. Add 2 inches and then convert to centimeters (cm) to come up with the right pole size.

More Ski Pole Tips

Some other tips that will help you size ski poles:

  • Wear your ski gloves when checking out poles to make sure the handles feel good in your hands.
  • Check out the weight of the poles. Graphite ski poles a the lightest and most durable and aluminum poles are usually the cheapest but bend easily.
  • Pole basket size will depend on what kind of snow you’re skiing on. If you ski in powder, then a larger basket will keep the pole from digging into the snow too far. If you ski on harder snow, then you need a smaller basket. Most people will choose a medium sized basket so that it works good in all kinds of snow.
  • Your poles can either have a handle or a handle with a strap. The strap is used around your wrist so that if you let go of the pole, you can still grab it and it won’t be left behind. If you have straps on your poles, you should use them.

SPORTS AND RECREATION © 1998 PhotoSpin www.powerphotos.comProperly Hold Ski Poles/Straps

Do not wrap the pole strap around your thumbs – that’s a sure way to get your thumbs bent back or hurt. To hold them properly, loop them around your hands so that the poles hang down. Next, grab the pole handle. You should have the strap wrapped around your fingers (not your thumb) and in the palm of your hand.

If your poles do not have straps (as pictured on the right), then just hold the poles. Personally, I prefer poles with straps. There’s a new kind of pole where your gloves snap into the top of the pole but I’ve had friends try that and they don’t really like it. It’s more difficult to do pole plants/touches or to do what is called the “Bullfighter’s Turn” on a slope (which is used to turn yourself around on a slope).


Remember that poles do not help you stop. That’s one way to really get hurt. A pole in the gut or worse is no fun. The proper way to hold your ski poles when you ski is at your side with the tips and baskets aimed slightly back. If ski poles are too long, then that will put you in too much of an upright stance (versus leaning forward, balanced).

Getting the right size poles is important to feeling comfortable when skiing. It’s better to error on having poles that are a little bit too short than too long. Follow what we list here to have the correct size ski poles.

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