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 exhausting work you put in. However, having the right gear can make your job much more efficient and easier. Whether you are classic or skate style skier, besides having the right cross-country skis and boots, cross-country ski poles are just as essential for propelling yourself forward in the tracks.
Well, you need to have a sturdy pair of cross country ski poles as you will be using your own locomotion to control the skis. They not only support your weight but they are your number one partner for powering yourself forward in a swift and efficient manner. However, having the wrong type, or wrong size of poles can completely exhaust your energy and ruin the experience.
If you intend to find the ideal pair of cross-country ski poles, firstly you need to know how to measure the correct pole length.
How to Size Cross Country Ski Poles
There are two equally acceptable ways to find the correct pole length for classic and skate cross-country skiing.
- Measure your height while standing in boots, then calculate 83% of your body length, according to FIS regulations for classic cross-country skier athletes.
- While standing in boots, the top of the correct length classic ski poles should reach up just below your shoulder height, in middle between the top of your shoulder and your armpit.
For skate style cross-country skiers, the general rule is to add 10 centimeters (4 inches) to the above calculation or calculate 90% of their body length with boots on.
Best Cross-Country Ski Poles
1. Rossignol 2020 Force 5 Cross Country Ski Poles
Cross-country skiing is already challenging, and if you lose energy due to having the wrong equipment, it will make your experience horrible rather than a satisfying workout.
Made from 50% Carbon to get the right amount of lightness and stiffness, this Rossignol 2020 Force 5 Cross-Country Ski pole is an excellent equipment to help you stride forward. Skiers looking for an affordable ski pole will also find it fit for their budget.
Thanks to its cutting edge design, the power transfer between your arms and the snow is easy and efficient. This way, you need less power when you move your arms forward after each stride. The adjustable ergonomic race strap will allow you to perform at a maxium level.
Moreover, it comes with a natural cork grip, which is just the right complement. The cork is a temperature conductor that is comfortable, warm, and doesn’t absorb or hold the cold so that you can get warmth, even in a freezing temperature. Also, corks generally last longer than rubber ones if used intensely. It is suitable for experienced skiers who want a balance between weight and sturdiness.
Its Race XL basket is quick in working of those pole plants and push-offs, with minimal slippage. This basket is preferred if you expect to go off the beaten track, as it is most ideal for deep and ungroomed snow conditions.
- Lightweight and stiff
- Adjustable ergonomic race strap
- Cinches to your wrist
- 50% Carbon shaft
- Comfortable natural Cork Grip
- The ideal size of race basket for fast skiing
- Suitable for an experienced skier
- For men and women both
- Not available for shipment outside of the United States.
- Not suitable for beginner skiers
2. Swix Classic Standard Nordic Ski Poles
The Swix Classic Standard Nordic Ski Poles, suitable for both women and men, comes with universal performance features. It can be used on groomed cross-country ski tracks at a Nordic center, for an adventure on logging roads, setting your tracks and route in untouched fresh powder, or snowmobile trails. This cross-country ski pole will give you precisely what is required for broad-ranging conditions and terrains.
It is durable and flexible with outstanding performance. Its robust aluminum alloy ski pole shafts are lightweight, which most people prefer in a ski pole.
The ski pole grip is comfortable and has an ergonomic PC grip. It has proprietary Swix BIA straps so that you can get the energy transfer quickly and efficiently. Not only that, but it is fully adjustable and can fit all styles and sizes of gloves and mittens.
Next is the ski pole basket. The ski pole comes with a large powder basket shape and has a low resistance thanks to the overall design with plenty of flotation suitable for all snow conditions, ranging from groomed to deep snow. The medium-size baskets are the ultimate for groomed trails and classic skiing.
If you are going for a classic style sick and glide stride, this ski pole is the right one for you. It will assist you uphill as well as downhill.
It weighs 816 grams, and its size is 135 cm, and the dimensions are 162.56 x 17.78 x 7.62 cm. The pole has a diameter of 5mm while the grip has one of 8mm.
- Lightweight shaft
- Easily adjustable to all gloves and mittens sizes
- Efficient energy transfer
- Low resistance
- Basket size may not be optimal for balance
- Added weight due to the aluminum shaft
3. Rossignol F-600
The Rossignol F-600 is totally what you should get if you desire a firm handle . The ski 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 ski pole 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 ski poles more lightweight and stiff as compared to other poles.
In addition to these, the poles come with looped straps. They provide good support 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 ski poles from digging all the way into snow. So, getting these poles can do you a lot of good if you intend 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. Alpina ST Plus Women’s
Women skiers need special cross country ski 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 this ski pole is the diameter of the shafts, which is very practical at 15 mm. It gives the pole the right amount of thickness that it needs.
Moreover, the cork type grip stands out to us too because it prevents any slippages. This makes these ski 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 ski pole go too deep into the snow or ground, which helps in keeping the ski pole upright. This also prevents any accidents as it provides greater support. The pole works equally well on both rough and smooth terrain so it 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.
5. Barnett XC-09 Carbon
If it is versatility and comfort you are aiming at, then the Barnett XC-09 pole is 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 pole, so you can rely on it.
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, this pole is both for beginner skiers and expert ones. The sharpness of its frame and the strength of the tip makes 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 it is easy to put on the tip of the pole. 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.
6. Swix Quantum 5
If you want to invest in a cross country ski pole which you and others at home can use easily, then this is the right choice. The Swix Quantum pole has 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 handle has a PCU cork type, which is another great feature. It lets you handle 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 ski poles as well. It makes it lightweight as it weighs only 1.72 pounds.
This ski pole is 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.
7. Whitewoods Cross Trail Adult Cross Country – 120-160 cm
These cross-country ski poles are certainly great if you need something good in both appearance and function. They have a sleek construction with a stylish upper half, which has a red and white design. The rest of it is all in black color, 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 pole makes them stronger and less brittle. This protects them from any major damage caused by weather or over-usage. The wrap also makes the ski pole lightweight without taking away the 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 ski 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 shafts.
- Attaching baskets is hard.
- COMFORTABLE SKI POLES - These cross country ski poles feature adjustable padded straps and ergonomically shaped handles that keep your hands from getting tired during long ski rides
- LIGHTWEIGHT & STRONG - The Whitewoods Cross Trail Poles incorporate multi directional fiberglass wrap that keeps the pole lightweight while making it strong …
8. Fischer BCX Variolite Ski Pole
The Fischer BCX Variolite Ski Pole can be used for backcountry, cross-country, or anything else as well. This lightweight aluminum pole is durable and comes with a useful basket that adapts to any terrain quickly, so the skier gets the right support.
The shaft is made of solid aluminum, so you get the right balance between breaking strength and weight. This pole comes with a flex lite basket, which is extremely flexible and lightweight.
Its easy-to-use Air Lock 2.0 allows you to quickly and easily adjust the pole length just by a single hand movement. On the other hand, the exceptional Multi-Grip allows different hand positions. It weighs 285g with a shaft diameter of 16mm and size 95-160 cm. The pole can adjust from 37 to 63 inches. The size of the shaft is 16:14:19 mm, and the tip is made from sintered metal. The sintering process makes the particles of metals bond together, so you get the tip that does what it is supposed to.
You can flick the Power Lock switch and have a touring pole and ski just quickly downhill length without any trouble.
The memory foam EVA BC strap is easy to take on and off. If you enjoy off-track skiing, then this ski pole will be the right choice. The adjustable length will eliminate the trouble you face due to the changing snow conditions and terrains variations. Its manufacturer’s warranty is for a fair amount of 2 years.
- Power lock adjustable
- Adjustable handle strap
- Good for daily use
- Soft handles
- 105-135 cm adjustable
- Sintered metal tip
- Baskets are removable on the poles
- Might be challenging to put the basket connection when out in the cold
9. Fischer XC Sport Pole
The durable and lightweight Fischer XC Sport pole comes with adjustable loop straps that go over your wrists. Along with it comes a touring basket, which is helpful for pushing you off the snow. The touring basket often covers a large area, sacrificing weight to stay on the snow’s top when off the packed trail.
Its shaft has a size of 15 mm and is made from the material fiberglass. It has a mono-injected grip, which will allow it to fit easily in any hand size. It has a loop 20 strap, which will save the time wasted on fiddling with your gear, and you can spend that time actually skiing.
The pole has a tip made from hardened steel. The shaft will be very light and robust as it is made from fiberglass, which will work just fine for both beginners and experienced skiers.
These cross-country ski poles can be used for plenty of activities in different types of terrain, so you can use it season after season – all thanks to the shaft and the touring basket.
All these features enable you to enjoy your cross-country skiing without making it complicated or dangerous. It is a good choice for all levels of touring skiers.
- Super simple and easy to use
- Easy entry and exit
- Strong and stiff shaft
- Suitable for beginners as well as experienced
- Some people have reported it to break within a short time.
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. This pole 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 this ski pole 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.
- With a 15mm tapered shaft that provides lateral strength
- Adjustable padded strap Fiberglass Wrap Plastic Ergonomically Shaped Handle
- Multi directional fiberglass wrap that keeps the pole lightweight while making it strong this pole has tons of technology at a bargain of a price.
Cross-Country Ski Poles: Parts and Materials
Many novice cross-country skiers are amazed by how long are the poles experienced Nordic skiers use, and they often tend to pick small poles, closer in size to alpine ski poles. However, the role of cross-country ski poles is not to control direction or to simply support your weight, but to efficiently power yourself forward by planting the pole and pushing.
Choose Stiff and Light
Since cross-country ski poles have the task of transferring your pushing power to the snow, thus get you moving, most importantly your poles have to be stiff. However, as we already know, cross-country ski poles tend to be quite long, and as common sense tells us, longer poles are less rigid and more prone to bending then shorter ones. This flexibility comes as a disadvantage in cross-country skiing. If your poles bend, then much of your energy is lost to bending the pole, instead of transferring it to the ground, and propelling you forward as a stiffer pole would do.
For this reason, many poles on the market tend to use stiffer, but heavier materials for longer poles. The point is that if you have to choose between a stiffer and a lighter pole for your size, always choose the stiff.
Being the largest and most important part of the pole, the quality of the shaft can determine your overall performance with a given pole. It decides all the aforementioned properties of the pole, like stiffness, weight and durability.
It’s mostly all up to the material. There are two major kinds of materials used in manufacturing a cross-country ski pole shafts. Entry-level ski poles have aluminum construction, which makes them quite stiff but relatively heavy. Being very durable and cheap, they are great for beginners or backcountry skiers. One of the biggest advantage of aluminum poles is that even if they are deformed due to an unfortunate fall, you can bend it back by yourself.
The other option is a composite material pole, which is made of varying proportions of carbon fiber and fiberglass in it. The quality of composite shafts depends on the ratio of these materials held together with a specific kind of resin.
Composites with a larger proportion of fiberglass is another common construction for recreational cross-country ski poles. They are quite inexpensive, and have the stiffness it requires, but only at the expense of weight.
On the other hand, poles with larger proportions of carbon fiber are much more expensive. While being stiff and durable, their lightness what’s make them No.1 choice for advanced and even race level cross-country skiers, as well as skate skiers. Note, that carbon poles are the most fragile, and break surprisingly easily. At the other end of the scale, there are even high-end full carbon fiber poles that are both extremely stiff and light making them the perfect elite level cross-country ski poles.
Important note: Adjustable, telescopic poles cannot be used for cross-country skiing!
Straps are like a sling that cradle your hands and keep it next to your poles, even if you let go. They are essential part of cross-country skiers’ equipment. Straps are used in a passive way during almost all poling motions. They are there to keep the poles at your hand even when your release your grip and have your hand and arms relaxed. There is a surprising amount of variety among ski pole straps. The most common types are the following:
- Loop straps provide the easiest use for beginners, however they are far from being comfortable and light on your wrists. Their size is often adjustable.
- Harness straps distribute forces more evenly compared to looped straps, therefore much more comfortable. They are more expensive, and their skilled use needs more experience.
- Quick release harness straps are able to disengage the strap from the pole without the need to take off the harness from your hand. While it sounds a practical mechanism if you have to quickly get your hands free (as biathletes do), but as moving parts generally wear out faster, these will do too.
Cross-country ski pole straps also 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.
Pole grips are usually made of rubber or cork, as well as plastic. Rubber–plastic combinations are available already fixed to the poles, making it impossible to replace after worn out. On the other hand, cork grips are available in different types and sizes, and you can glue them on by yourself. Cork grips are also warmer and more comfortable to the touch, while they wear down more easily.
Pole Basket and Tip
Cross-country ski poles have their baskets fixed at the pointy end. They also feature an indispensable metal tip and its job is to grip the snow, while the basket prevents the pole from punching deep into the snow.
While racers use only a very small basket, most cross-country skiers have a mid-size basket for being the most versatile. Generally bigger baskets grip the snow better, thus they somewhat hinder the speed and general performance. For this reason, racers use the smallest baskets available, while skiers on ungroomed terrain make advantage of the large basket, as it prevents the pole to punch deep into the snow.
Classic cross-country skiers use the shortest poles of them all, with varying sizes of baskets. On the other hand, skate skiers generally use 10 cm longer poles as a classic skier of the same height. Skate skier poles also tend to be somewhat lighter.
Backcountry and touring poles all have large baskets to prevent the pole from sinking in the deep snow and assist the floating experience. Their shafts are usually made of aluminum for being very durable and reliable. Some backcountry skiers also use telescopic poles for adjusting when climbing uphill in deep snow.
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The Price You Pay
A cheap, but durable entry level pole is usually made of aluminum. You can get a very nice aluminum pole like this, even with a racing strap, for under $50. I skied on poles like this for years before I invested in a more expensive pole. Aside from cost, the other advantage of these poles is that they are far less likely to break than expensive carbon poles.
Mid-range poles cost roughly $100-200. A gear in this price category is 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 ones, 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 cross-country 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 an expensive pole has 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 advice is to invest according to your available 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 cross-country 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 ski jacket too!