How to Choose your Ski Poles

When it comes to buying ski poles, your first thought may be “Does it really make a difference which poles I use?”. And the answer is “Yes!”.

Ski poles provide balance, assist with your turn-timing, improve your co-ordination and are a great way of maintaining speed along flat sections. They help keep you in an athletic and strong body position and are great for dragging along your snowboarding friend who will inevitably get stuck somewhere flat.

What are the different types of ski poles?

Like skis, boots and bindings – ski poles can be broken down into several categories. It’s important to consider what sort of skiing you will be doing, to know which ski poles to buy.


Ski race poles are lightweight and can be aerodynamically curved to fit nicely with the body during a tuck position. Slalom poles are straight and will have guards fitted to protect racer’s hands from gates. Ski race poles are longer than a beginner’s ski pole would be, as they are planted further down the hill when initiating a turn.


Ski poles have an additional use in the backcountry, helping you find grip and traction when hiking up hill. As such, they feature a larger powder basket for the best grip on soft, ungroomed snow, when you’re using your poles not only for balance but to also transfer some weight to pull your body up the mountain to where those beautiful zones of fresh powder are. Some backcountry poles feature a locking mechanism that allows you to adjust the height, as you might prefer a different length of pole when hiking to when you’re skiing back down.


These ski poles are the jack-of-all-trades pole that most skiers will use. Comfortability becomes a factor again in the design of HEAD Performance ski poles. Whilst still aiming to be lightweight, they’re a lot sturdier than race poles and feature an anatomically correct grip with left and right straps for a more secure feel.

What material are the tips of ski poles made from?

The tips of ski poles are made from a hardened material, usually steel. This allows you to easily penetrate hard-packed snow and get a good grip as you initiate your turn or propel yourself along flatter sections of piste.

What is the best material for ski poles?

HEAD offers poles made of three different materials. It’s once again important to consider your style of skiing when choosing the material of your ski pole.

Carbon Composite poles are light and stiff, with a very well distributed swing weight, making it the perfect material for our top-level poles. Carbon is more effective than aluminium at absorbing vibrations, and HEAD Worldcup Rebels Carbon is a prime example of this, providing that lightweight balance that our world class ski racers desire.

Aluminium 7075 is the lightest and toughest aluminium used in ski pole construction, and is used in HEAD Slalom and Super G poles. After the shaping of the tube, we harden them once more for maximum durability. They are nice and stiff and minimise vibrations when skiing hard-packed snow, and the toughness of the material means they are very long-lasting and resilient to breakage.

Aluminium 5083 is the material used for our price point poles. It’s a little softer than Aluminium 7075, meaning that overall, these poles are thicker to provide the same durability, therefore making them slightly heavier. It’s a great material to look for as an entry-level ski pole for beginner and intermediate skiers.

How do I choose the correct length of ski pole?

This is once again discipline specific, as skiers focusing on different styles of skiing will prefer different lengths of ski pole. Freestyle skiers will opt for a shorter length of pole, partly for balance and partly so they don’t get in the way when rotating over jumps. Ski racers use longer poles for more leverage when pushing off at the start, particularly in speed events like Super G and Downhill.

How do I determine the right length of my pole?

Ski poles are made in length increments of 5 cm/2 inches. To determine the right size turn the pole upside down and place the grip on the floor.

Now grab the pole beneath the basket.

If the pole length is correct, your arm will be bent in 90 degree angle at your elbow.


Bend your arm at 90°, similar to the image. Make a fist and measure from your index finger to the ground. Add 5 centimeters or 2 inches to this measurement and this will be your pole length.

Size chart

Skier height Pole size
193-198 6'4"-6'6" 135 54"
185-190 6'1"-6'3" 130 52"
178-183 5'10"-6'0" 125 50"
170-175 5'7"-5'9" 120 48"
163-168 5'4"-5'6" 115 46"
155-160 5'1"-5'3" 110 44"
145-152 4'9"-5'0" 105 42"
135-142 4'5"-4'8" 100 40"
124-132 4'1"-4'4" 95 38"
114-122 3'9"-4'0" 90 36"
104-112 3'5"-3'8" 85 34"
94-102 3'1"-3'4" 80 32"
84-92 2'9"-3'0" 75 30"
76-82 2'6"-2'8" 70 28"

What are the benefits of the right length ski pole?

Having the right length ski pole will dramatically help your balance whilst skiing, as well as your coordination and turn initiation. Additionally, it will also help your body position, preventing you from being too upright or too bent-over.

If you don’t believe us, try a run with the wrong size poles (or no poles!) and see how you fare – you will quickly notice what you are missing out on.

What is the difference regarding the grips of ski poles?

HEAD poles come with one of three different types of grips: Single component; bi-injected; and Thermo.

Single component grips are used in our race line and give you the most direct contact with your pole, allowing for precise pole plants when you want your ski pole to feel like an extension of your body for maximum performance.

Bi-component grips provide more absorption of vibrations, protecting your arm and wrist from vibrations travelling through the pole. They’re slightly heavier but give you a more secure grip thanks to the rubberised sticky inserts.

Thermo grips are designed with comfort in mind, using specially formulated foam that stores and reflects the heat from your hands.

How do I correctly use a ski pole strap?

Something that’s often overlooked is how to correctly use a ski strap, but as your contact point to the pole, it’s important to use the strap correctly. The straps are also multi-purpose, partially there to secure your hand to the pole, but also to provide support and leverage when pushing.

Holding the strap above the grip of the pole, push your hand through from behind, then move your hand down so the strap is under your palm, and between your thumb and index finger when you are holding the grip. You can then adjust the length of the strap to fine tune your fit.

What are the different types of baskets available?

The purpose of ski pole baskets is to prevent the pole from penetrating too deep into the snow, and once again depends on the type of skiing you are going to be doing. HEAD poles are available with three different sizes of baskets.


diameter baskets are the universal on-piste basket for ski poles, providing the perfect balance between surface area and weight. You don’t need to go too big with your pole basket if you are staying on-piste, it will make your ski pole seem unwieldy and it’s overkill for the type of snow you’ll be planting in.


baskets is a great size for skiing a hybrid of terrain, from groomers to off-piste, but with the focus still being on skiing on-piste. The added diameter just provides that little boost of surface area for when the snow does get a bit fresher and deeper on the side of groomed runs.


are the real powder baskets for when you are exploring the backcountry, preventing you from sinking into the snow with your pole and providing you with sufficient support even in the deepest of snow conditions.