How to Size Downhill Ski Poles

Man and woman skiing downhill
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Using a correctly sized ski pole is imperative to successful skiing. The wrong size of ski pole will offset your skiing stance and can jeopardize your safety. Ski poles that are too short force you to reach too far forward and thus tire you out. Ski poles that are too long feel awkward and unwieldy. Measuring for the right size takes less than a minute. 

Sizing Downhill Ski Poles

  1. Place your arms at your sides and bend them at your elbows so your forearms are parallel with the floor (arms forming a 90-degree angle).
  2. Make a fist as if you were gripping imaginary ski poles. Be sure to check that your forearms are parallel to the floor—glance in a mirror, or have someone check for you.
  3. Have a friend measure the distance from the top of your thumb to the floor. If you don't have someone to measure for you, complete the same steps while facing a wall. Use a pencil or a piece of tape to mark the spot where the top of your thumb meets the wall. Then, measure from that mark to the floor.
  4. Add 2 inches to your measurement. This accounts for the added height of your ski boots and skis. The resulting dimension is the overall length of your ski poles. For example, if you measured that your thumb is 44 inches from the floor, your ski poles should be 46 inches long. 

Tips for a Good Fit

  • Ski poles are measured in both inches and centimeters. To convert from inches to centimeters, multiply the inches by 2.54, or use a converter to find your size in both types of measurement.
  • Ski poles are sized in increments of 2 inches or 5 centimeters. If you need to round to next size, always round UP. Ski poles can easily be cut down but cannot be extended.
  • Check the size you measured against a ski pole measuring chart. Enter your height (add 2 inches if necessary), and see if the size you determined matches the standard size for your height.
  • If something doesn't feel right about your ski poles, don't hesitate to take them to a ski shop to get an expert's opinion on the size.