Pole length is a topic that generates hours of discussions among skiers. There are some general guidelines and rules of thumb, as well as charts from the various manufacturers. But there are several factors that complicate the matter, such as technique, proficiency and individual preferences. And of course, length depends on whether the poles are to be used for skate or classic.

“Skiers have different needs and individual strengths. The Aukland brothers want their classic poles to fit in their armpit in order to get sufficiently up and over their poles, and leverage all of their body weight,” says Jon Fewster, who is the Global Category Manager for Poles and Boots at Madshus.

“Some people want to go longer, maybe to the top of their shoulders, if they double-pole a lot. The reasoning is that the longer pole give them a longer poling stroke,” Fewster continues.

However, Fewster warns against going too long.

“If you go too long, you’ll break that forward lean that generates the momentum and propulsion,” Fewster explains.

“Everyone has different needs and preferences, and skiers need to determine what is the right length for their technique and strengths. The top of the shoulder is the longest classic poles should be,” he says.

Measure the right distance
Fewster also points out that determining pole length is not necessarily just measuring the pole from the tip to the top of the handle.

“You have to see where the strap is attached to the handle, and that can differ between the manufacturers. But that point is what matters when you measure the pole length,” Fewster says.

Roller ski poles
You might have to adjust the length of your roller ski poles slightly compared to the poles you use on snow. Roller skis are generally higher off the ground than skis, but on the other hand, your tip sinks into the snow and the roller ski ferrules don’t dig into the pavement.

“The best thing is to get on your roller skis and see how the poles measure up when you have taken the baskets off and put roller ski ferrules on the poles,” Fewster suggests, adding that it’s important to use roller ski ferrules on pavement.

Snow baskets are not designed to withstand the pavement pounding and will break very easily.

Standard chart for pole length  

Skier height (cm) Classic Poles Skate Poles
150 120 130
155 125 135
160 130 140
165 135 145
170 140 150
175 145 155
180 150 160
185 155 165
190 160 170
195 165 175