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 cross country 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 intend to have an amazing pair of cross country ski poles, then read on to find out all you need to know about them.
How to Choose a Cross Country Ski Pole? Things to Consider
Getting the right cross country ski pole 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.
The size of a cross country ski pole is very significant as it determines the extent of balance that you get. If the pole is 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 pole has 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 pole, which then becomes a problem too. This can lead to problems in carrying the ski poles and might even slow you down while skiing. So, you have to go for cross country 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 a cross country ski pole. Entry-level ski 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 a composite material pole, which has a considerable proportion of carbon fiber in it. 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. Rossignol 2020 Force 5 Cross Country Ski Poles
Skate skiing is already challenging, and if you lose energy due to having the wrong equipment, it will make your experience horrible rather than good.
Made from 50% Carbon to get the right amount of lightness and stiffness, this Rossignol 2020 Force 5 Cross Country Ski pole is excellent equipment to save yourself from the problem mentioned above. Skiers looking for an affordable ski pole will find this fit for their needs.
You can get better power transfer with this pole, all thanks to its lightness and stiffness, and you can perform at the maximum speed on the track. This way, you need less power when you move your arms forward after each stroke.
A lightweight and stiff pole is just what you need if you are a fast runner and an advanced level skier. The adjustable ergonomic race strap and the tight cinches on your wrist will allow you to perform better.
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. Corks will mostly 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 better to take you off the powder snow pistes.
- 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 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. 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
4. 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 various 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.
5. Whitewoods Cross Trail Adult Cross Country – 120-160 cm
These are certainly great if you need 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 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.
6. 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.
7. 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 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.
8. 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.
9. Swix Quantum 6 X-Fit
If you want to invest in a cross country 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 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.
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.
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 a ski pole that is 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 ski 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 pole!
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 a pole that didn’t have this kind of handle. In the second photo you can see how this type of strap allows you to regrip your ski pole, even after you let go of it at the end of your pole push.
These ski 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. A high end pole all has a small racing tip. 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 need a larger basket so your ski pole doesn’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 ski baskets are for deeper, ungroomed snow and small ones require groomed conditions. In the photo below, the ski pole on the left has a very large basket, the second ski pole from the left has a nice all purpose sized ski basket, and the three on the right are all ski racing tips.
The Price You Pay
An entry level pole is usually made of aluminium. They are cheap and durable. 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 they are far less likely to break than expensive 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 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 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!