On Skis.com ski poles are sold in pairs. When you select a quantity of one on a product page and add it to the cart you will receive one pair of ski poles.
What to look for when purchasing ski poles?
There are four essential things to consider when buying ski poles: length, basket type, grip, and shaft material.
Sizing and Length
Ski poles are either measured in inches or in centimeters depending on the brand. Ski poles are produced in 2 inch or 5 centimeter increments, respectively. It is highly recommended that shoppers use the Skis.com Ski Poles Size Chart to determine the correct length of ski poles.
Once the ski poles are received it is a good idea to check to make sure the ski poles are the correct length. To do this, the skier should stand their arms to their sides. Flip the ski poles upside down so that the grip or handle is on the floor. Grab the shaft of the pole just below the basket (round plastic piece near the tip of the ski pole). The skier’s forearms should be roughly parallel to the floor. Based on current skiing technique it is fine to have ski poles which are a little shorter (in this case the skiers hands should be a little closer to the ground than the elbows). By flipping the ski poles over like this you can get an accurate measurement since the tip of the poles will penetrate the snow while skiing.
Adjustable ski poles are also available if skiers are interested in back country skiing or telemark skiing. These ski poles can be shortened for a more enjoyable back country skiing experience and then lengthened for frontside skiing. A few manufacturers also make adjustable kids ski poles at reasonable prices, making it easier and more economical to keep kids in the correct size ski poles.
Baskets are plastic discs located near the tip of the ski pole and make sure the tip of the ski pole doesn’t dig too deep into the snow. There are two basic sizes of ski pole baskets. Standard baskets are smaller and designed for skiing on groomed snow. Powder baskets are larger and prohibit the poles from pushing as far into the snow. Some of the more expensive ski poles come with both styles of baskets. When both types of baskets come with a set of ski poles the baskets are interchangeable, so skiers can swap the baskets to meet snow conditions.
Grips and Straps
Ski pole grips are usually made from plastic or rubber so they can be ergonomically shaped for comfort. Basic designs have a notch for the skier’s index finger and a large notch for their other fingers. High end designs include notches for each finger to keep them all from sliding on the grip allowing the skier to maintain a good ergonomic position.
Straps are connected to the grips of ski poles and go around your wrists. Most are made from high strength nylon for strength against tearing. Basic straps ensure that skiers don’t drop or loose their ski poles while skiing or on the chair lift. Many of the high end ski poles have ergonomic straps which help support your wrist especially while making quick pole plants and smaller radius turns.
Some brands have safety systems built into the straps to protect skiers from injury during a fall. If the ski pole gets caught on something during a fall this safety system will release the ski pole from the strap to protect the skier’s wrist.
The material of the shaft of ski poles can affect price, durability and weight. Ski poles are typically made of aluminum, carbon fiber, aluminum and carbon fiber or composite materials. Aluminum is more rigid than carbon fiber or composite materials used to make ski poles, therefore they are typically more durable but also slightly heavier. Ski pole shafts made from carbon fiber and composite materials are generally lighter and thinner. Some brands are made from both aluminum and carbon fiber. Typically the top portion of the shaft is made from aluminum and the lower shaft is made from carbon fiber to give skiers the best of both worlds – a rigid, light weight ski pole.
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Racing ski poles are designed to be highly durable as they take more abuse from racers hitting the gates as they ski through race courses. Race poles are typically made from high strength aluminum, but may be made out of carbon fiber. There are technically three types of races ski poles available; Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Downhill.
Slalom poles are straight with small baskets similar to the standard baskets on recreational ski poles. Most racers attach slalom guards to their slalom poles to protect their hands while running gates. When purchasing race poles and slalom guards, pay attention to the shaft diameter of both the poles and the guards. The guards are available in two sizes to accommodate junior and adult slalom poles which have different diameter shafts.
Giant Slalom and Downhill poles are used for events where athletes will be tucking to be more aerodynamic. The poles are curved to accommodate the tuck position. The curves of the poles wrap around the racer’s body to ensure that the poles aren’t going to get hung up on the gates. The baskets on Giant Slalom (GS) poles or Downhill poles are typically shaped like a cone so that they don’t get knocked off easily in the event that the poles do clip a gate. It is ok to use either style of poles for Giant Slalom, Super G and Downhill. Additionally, many racers tend to size up one size in their Giant Slalom or Downhill poles to help provide better leverage in the start and skating to the first gate. Since some if not most of the course will be skied in a tuck position, racers won’t be making pole plants and the additional length isn’t detrimental to the racing technique.
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