The thrill of cross country skiing stays unparalleled when it comes to playing around in the snow, isn’t it? The adrenaline rush is worth all the danger you put yourself in. However, you need to have the right gear to stay on the safe side. And cross country ski poles are a major necessity when you are all booted up to sail across the snow.
Well, you need to have a sturdy pair of poles as you will be using your own locomotion to control the skis. They will not only support your weight better but will also help you navigate better. So, you have to be very careful when it comes to buying cross country ski poles.
If you want to have an amazing pair of ski poles, then read on to find out all you need to know about them.
How to Choose Cross Country Ski Poles? Things to Consider
Getting the right cross country ski poles is definitely the first step to go about skiing. And you have to be considerate of all the product specifications when you are choosing a pair. But along with them, you have to be extra mindful of some of the aspects which have enlisted below.
- Sizing/ Length:
The size of cross country ski poles is very significant as it determines the extent of balance that you get. If the poles are too long, you will have trouble holding on to them. Meanwhile, if they are too short, then you will have to bend more than necessary. This can cause you to topple over when you swerve during skiing. Here is a simple formula which will let you select the most appropriate length for you:
Ideal cross country skiing pole length = Your height in cm x 0.83
- Stiffness and Weight:
The weight and stiffness of cross country ski poles may seem unrelated at first. But they have a direct influence on each other. The poles have to be stiff in order to allow easier propelling of skiers. But the longer a pole gets, the more it loses its stiffness. To overcome this, more weight is added to the poles, which then becomes a problem too. This can lead to problems in carrying the poles and might even slow you down while skiing. So, you have to go for ski poles which have high stiffness and as low a weight as is possible. The rest is on your skills too.
There are three major kinds of materials used in manufacturing cross country ski poles. Entry-level poles have aluminum construction, which makes them quite stiff but heavy as well. They are great for beginner skiers, but racers need something more advanced. The other option is composite material poles, which have a considerable proportion of carbon in them. There are light carbon poles too, but they have lesser stiffness. They are best suited for professional skiers as they have the right skill set to make up for the lack of stiffness.
Best Cross Country Ski Poles
1. Swix Quantum 6 X-Fit
If you want to invest in cross country poles which you and others at home can use easily, then this is the right choice. These Swix Quantum poles have a highly adjustable height from 135 to 175 cm. This allows it to be adjusted according to people with a moderate to taller frame. So, anyone in the family can enjoy cross country skiing with these.
Moreover, it comes with an X fit strap, which is quite practical in terms of adjustment. This helps you set its size according to your hands, both with and without gloves on them. Its grip has a PCU cork type, which is another great feature. It lets you grip the poles without having to use any extra rubber or accessories for comfort.
Furthermore, its shaft is very well sized and has proper finishing. This makes it look great as well as have a reliable strength. The composite shaft construction material adds more value to these cross country poles as well. It makes it lightweight as it weighs only 1.72 pounds.
These poles are also stronger than other aluminum made poles, so they are worth the investment.
- Height adjustable from135 to 175 cm.
- Composite shaft with medium stiffness.
- X fit strap.
- PCU cork based grip.
- Weighs 1.72 pounds only.
- Straps are not padded.
2. Whitewoods Cross Trail Adult Cross Country – 120-160 cm
These poles are certainly great if you want something good in both appearance and functioning. They have a sleek construction with a stylish upper half, which has a red and white design. The rest of it is all black, which contrasts with the upper part quite impressively.
In addition to its stylish appearance, its sizing and strength are admirable too. The multi-directional fiberglass wrap all over the poles makes them stronger and less brittle. This protects them from any major damage caused by weather or over-usage. The wrap also makes the poles lightweight without taking away their stiffness.
This, along with the height adjustment options, makes it a favorite of most users. The poles can have a variable height between 120 cm and 160 cm. This increases the range of uses for these poles as well.
- Multi directional fiberglass wrap.
- Very lightweight frame.
- Height is adjustable from 120 to 160 cm.
- Straps are padded for comfort.
- Better grip with ergonomic handles.
- 15 mm tapering of the shaft.
- Attaching baskets is hard.
3. Rossignol F-600
The Rossignol F-600 is totally what you should get if you want a firm grip. The poles have a bi-injection based grip which reduces any discomfort for the users. This makes it both comfortable and highly useful. If you want to keep enjoying long hours of cross country skiing without having any strain in your hands, then this is the best option for you.
Other than its grip, the construction of the poles is quite amazing as well. Its shaft has a 10% proportion of pure carbon in it. It makes the poles stay around for a longer time as carbon undergoes lesser wear and tear. The percentage of carbon makes the poles more lightweight and stiff as compared to other poles.
In addition to these, the poles come with looped straps. They provide better support to your grip as they do not come off easily. The padding on these straps makes them even better for people who love long cross country skiing matches.
Its fit tour baskets are also great as they help in stopping the poles from digging all the way into snow. So, getting these poles can do you a lot of good if you want to excel in cross country skiing.
- Loop straps have padding.
- Has a fit tour basket.
- Bi-injection based grip.
- Shaft includes 10% carbon.
- Height is not adjustable.
- Lesser stiffness as compared to others.
4. Barnett XC-09 Carbon
If it is versatility and comfort you are aiming at, then these Barnett XC-09 poles are what you need. They are ideal for both cross country skiing and skate skiing as they have the right cuts. The manufacturers kept this in mind while designing the poles, so you can rely on these.
The most striking feature of these poles is carbon construction, which helps in improving them. The carbon material makes these poles very lightweight, and they have added stiffness in them. This is something great as most stiff poles can be very heavy too.
Moreover, these poles are both for beginner skiers and expert ones. The sharpness of its frame and the strength of the tips make sure that it provides you the right balance. This balance is what helps you propel yourself forward without any falls.
To add to this, its baskets are quite useful too as they are easy to put on the tips of the poles. They help in preventing any unnecessary digging into the snow and keep you active.
- Versatile performance poles.
- Highly durable carbon construction.
- For both beginners and experts.
- Lightweight framed due to carbon.
- High level of stiffness ensured.
- Paint chips off easily.
- Straps are a little too big.
5. Alpina ST Plus Women’s
Women skiers need special cross country poles which suit their build. And these Alpina ST Plus Women’s poles are best for them. They have been manufactured while keeping the kind of balance that women will need in line with their bodily strength. The best thing about these poles is the diameter of the shafts, which is very practical at 15 mm. It gives the poles the right amount of thickness that they need.
Moreover, the cork type grip stands out to us too because it prevents any slippages. This makes these poles workable even during snowfall, where the snow can melt into your hands and moisten them.
The touring baskets on the base of these poles increase their stability further. They do not let the pole go too deep into the snow or ground, which helps in keeping the poles upright. This also prevents any accidents as it provides greater support. The poles work equally well on both rough and smooth terrain so they can be a great help.
- Shaft diameter is 15 mm.
- Cork type grip.
- Steel tip for better power transfer.
- Has touring basket.
- Works on rough terrain as well.
- Unpadded handles are uncomfortable.
1. Whitewoods New Cross Trail Junior – 60-115cm
The Whitewoods New Cross Trail Junior poles are best for kids who want to go cross country skiing. These poles can be adjusted between a height of 60 and 115 cm. This allows for both the kids and the teenagers to set the poles according to their own height. The ergonomic plastic handle makes these poles a good choice for kids as it provides a better grip.
In addition, the straps have paddings that make using these poles even more comfortable for kids. The multi-directional fiberglass wrapping on these poles is another big win. It does not only protect the exterior of the poles from any damage but also makes them light. The poles are also highly stiff to provide better balance and support to kids.
Furthermore, the shaft of these poles has a diameter of 15 mm. The shaft also has tapering in it, which provides it a greater strength to help the kids navigate easily through the snow. Other than the tapering, its baskets give more support to the kids as the ski across the snow. There is also a greater measure of the lateral strength as it has a sharply tapered frame.
So, get these poles for your kids and see them becoming the cross country skiers that they want to be.
- High lateral strength.
- Shaft has a 15 mm tapering.
- Padded straps are adjustable.
- Multidirectional fiberglass wrapping.
- Lightweight and stiff.
- Ergonomic plastic handle.
- Baskets need boiling to adjust.
How to Buy Perfect Poles
As we already mentioned above the most important thing to consider when buying new poles is pole height. Be careful you don’t buy poles that are too short for modern poling technique. The old style of poling was quite different and consequently many stores still sell new cross-country skiers short poles. It’s always best to shop at a store that specializes in cross-country skiing, where the staff is knowledgeable and gives you good advice.
The guidelines below assume you are standing in shoes without too much of a rise. Hold the poles you are testing so they are vertical and close to your body.
Classic Pole Height
Classic Poles: Measure the pole height to the point where the strap connects with the pole (red arrow). You want that point to reach the midpoint of your shoulder or about three centimetres below the top of your shoulder (red bar). Some variance is OK. Any pole within two centimetres of this ideal height will be fine.
Skate Pole Height
Skate Poles: Skate poles should be taller than classic poles. The point where the strap and the handle meet (red arrow) should be between the bottom of your chin and your upper lip (double red lines). You can start skiing on longer poles and cut them down later if you find them to be too tall, but can never add length back to your poles!
These racing straps are like a sling that cradles your hand and holds it next to your pole, even if you let go. They are wonderful and I wouldn’t ski with poles that didn’t have these grips. In the second photo you can see how this type of strap allows you to re-grip your pole, even after you let go of it at the end of your pole push.
These pole straps come in different sizes and are very expensive to buy as separate parts, so be sure to check the fit carefully with your glove or mitten.
The final feature of your poles is the basket, or tip. High end poles all have small racing tips. They are light, don’t negatively affect the swing action, and have super sharp points for great traction. On groomed trails, they are wonderful, but if you are more likely to be skiing in fresh snow, you will want larger baskets so your poles don’t punch through the snow too much. You can buy different style tips for different conditions and then change them out when you need to. Ask at the store about this option.
The rule of thumb is larger baskets are for deeper, ungroomed snow and small baskets require groomed conditions. In the photo below, the pole on the left has a very large basket, the second pole from the left has a nice all purpose sized basket, and the three on the right are all racing tips.
The Price You Pay
Entry level poles are usually made of aluminium. They are cheap and durable. You can get very nice poles like this, even with a racing strap, for under $50. I skied on poles like this for years before I invested in more expensive poles. Aside from cost, the other advantage of these poles is they are far less likely to break than expensive poles.
Mid-range poles cost roughly $100-200. Poles in this price category are normally a composite of carbon mixed with an additional material. Sometimes they are 100% carbon, but a lower quality than is used in high end poles. While not as light or stiff as racing poles, sport poles offer the best bang for your buck and are ideal for skiing on groomed trails.
Racing poles range in price between $250 and $600. That probably seems like a crazy price to you. If you ski with poles of this quality, you’ll notice they are extremely light and stiff. This is especially great if you are a taller skier, as your poles will flex quite a lot under the force you load onto them.
The other thing you will notice is that expensive poles have a beautiful swing or pendulum action. It’s hard to describe, but once you experience it, you won’t want to give it up. I guess it’s like developing a taste for expensive wine!
My best advice is to invest according to your budget and your interest in the sport. If you are passionate about cross-country skiing and plan to do it forever, the investment you make in your poles will pay dividends in many years of performance and pleasure.
Finally, if you are choosing between investing more money in skis, boots or poles, I would prioritize my investment as follows: skis first, then poles, then boots. Of course, I’d want to leave enough money for a nice jacket too!