Ski poles

Expert tips on finding the right ski poles
© Fischer Sports GmbH

Find the perfect products – with INTERSPORT Rent!


When was the last time you went skiing without poles? Avid skiers know that skiing is simply better with poles. After all, they affect your performance on different levels.

Ski poles …

  • … support your movements during skiing.
  • … help you to keep your balance.
  • … help you to build rhythm during carving and parallel turns. 
  • … help you to initiate turns.
  • … give you propulsion on flat sections.
  • … can be used to lean on them during breaks.

We at INTERSPORT Rent think that despite their many benefits ski poles are sadly underrated. That’s why we have dedicated this article to telling you everything there is to know about ski poles. Expert tips included!

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© Atomic Austria GmbH

What makes a good ski pole?

Good-quality ski poles need to be lightweight and solid. An average ski pole weighs in at about 200 to 300 grams and has a diameter of 14 to 18 millimetres. Which ski poles are right for you? That depends on your preferred terrain and riding style.

A ski pole consists of the following parts: 

  • Grip: The grips of cheaper poles are usually made of plastic. Higher quality products often feature a mixture of rubber and foam that is pleasant to the touch and offers a solid grip. Be sure to choose a pole with an ergonomic grip!
  • Strap: The strap is attached to the grip. It keeps your pole from getting lost when you let go of it. Most poles have adjustable straps made from synthetic fabrics. Poles with clip systems are safer and even more convenient. This kind of system connects the pole to your glove and allows you to unhook it as needed.
  • Shaft: Good vibration dampening, stability and low weight: These are the main properties that the shaft of your ski pole should have. Most shafts are made of aluminium or carbon fibre. You can find out more about the perfect length for skiing poles further down below in this article.
  • Basket: The basket towards the bottom of the pole stops the pole from sinking too deep into the snow. It also gives you support and helps your forward motion. Ski pole baskets come in different shapes and sizes. For use in powder, larger, star-shaped baskets are recommended, while general piste skiing works best with smaller, round baskets.
  • Tip: Ski poles usually come with steel tips but there are also tips made from other materials such as carbide. What’s more, there are standard tips and hollow tips. What all of them have in common: They offer you a firm grip on snow and icy surfaces.

Our recommendation: If you’re looking for high-quality ski poles, keep an eye out for products complying with the ISO 7331 standard.

The perfect length for ski poles

Actually, there is no such thing as the perfect length when it comes to ski poles. After all, the right length depends on your height, your preferred terrain and riding style.


As a general rule to calculate the right length for your ski poles (in centimetres), you can use the following. It’s valid for both children and adults: 

Body height in centimetres multiplied by 0.7

Example: A height of 1.70 metres would mean a pole length of 119 centimetres (170 cm x 0.7 = 119). Good to know: Ski poles come in five-centimetre increments. That’s why in our example you would pick a ski pole with a length of 120 centimetres.

Our tip: Have you found the perfect length ski poles for your needs? Find out with this easy trick: With the poles upside down and the grips touching the floor, grab the shaft just underneath the basket. If your elbow is now at a 90-degree angle, the pole length is right for you.

Our recommendation: If you’re in between sizes, choose the longer pole. Plus, the calculated value should only be used as a reference. After all, the length of your legs and torso as well as your preferred terrain and riding style also play an important role in choosing the right length ski pole.

© Fischer Sports GmbH
© IIC - INTERSPORT International Corporation GmbH

Riding style

Do you prefer powder descents, fun parks, race slopes or perfectly groomed blue runs? Either way, your preferred terrain influences your choice of ski pole. Check out the list below to find out which ski poles are recommended for your riding style:

  • Alpine & on-piste: poles made from carbon fibre (lightweight but expensive) or aluminium, small baskets
  • Freeride: length-adjustable telescopic poles (also popular with ski tourers) or poles that are 5 cm shorter than the calculated length, wide baskets
  • Freestyle & park: very short poles (standard length: 1 m), preferably made from robust, flexible aluminium due to the increased risk of falling
  • Racing: longer poles to propel you forward, often with a slightly bent shaft
  • The alternative: telescopic poles: Thanks to twist or clamp lock systems, telescopic poles can quickly and easily be adjusted to your individual needs and height. That’s why they are especially popular with ski tourers. During the ascent, longer poles help you on your way up. During climbing sections or breaks, you can conveniently store them away in your backpack. And on the way down, you can use them as “normal” ski poles.

Which material is best for ski poles?

Lightweight or heavy? Stiff or flexible? There are various aspects to consider when choosing the right material for your ski poles. Most standard ski poles are made of aluminium or carbon fibre.

Aluminium poles

Aluminium is stiff and robust but bends easily. The advantage: With a bit of effort, you can bend it back into its original shape. Plus, aluminium poles are less pricy and fairly resistant to scrapes and scratches from your ski edges. This makes them a great choice for resort skiing.

Ski poles made from heat-treated aluminium are even stronger and more flexible. There are different series depending on the type of alloy used. To find out about your pole’s stiffness, have a look at the number printed beneath the grip. The higher this number, the better the quality of the poles. As a general rule, the number “6” indicates a good-quality pole with high stability.

© Atomic Austria GmbH
© Fischer Sports GmbH

Carbon fibre poles

Carbon fibre poles are mostly used by professional riders – and for good reason. They are very stiff and extremely lightweight. What’s more, they have a high flexural strength and good dampening characteristics, which makes them a great choice for precise turns.

Another benefit: As carbon fibre poles will not take a (permanent) bend, they are easier on your wrists. On the downside, they are quite expensive and scratch fairly easily.

© IIC - INTERSPORT International Corporation GmbH

Ski poles for children

What’s the right length for children’s ski poles? Should your little ones learn how to ski with or without poles? Would you like to know how to teach your kids the basics of skiing and whether you should use ski poles for it?

Our blog has all the answers!
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Take the test!

If you’re unsure which ski poles to get, simply drop by at INTERSPORT Rent and test our vast selection of high-quality ski poles! On top, you benefit from the expert advice of our RENTertainers on site. Plus, you can find everything else you need for skiing at our shops.

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