Choosing Downhill Ski Poles


two people holding the right sized ski poles

When you are first learning how to downhill ski you may be wondering: how do I choose the correct length of ski poles? No worries, you are not alone. Very few people actually know how ski poles are measured or how to choose the correct length of ski poles. In this Choosing Downhill Ski Poles article, our experts answer these questions and other insights into downhill ski poles.

Parts of a Ski Pole

To help you understand how to hold the pole when finding the proper size, you'll want a better understanding of the different parts of a ski pole. The diagram shown describes the parts that make up a ski pole. On the right side of the photo, you’ll see the bottom of the ski pole labeling the tip of the ski pole and the basket. On the left side of the photo, you’ll see the top of the ski pole labeling the grip, strap, and shaft.

parts of a ski pole

Do I Need Ski Poles?

Your ski poles are meant to give you an extra point of contact with the ground in order to stay balanced when you are maneuvering down the hill. More advanced skiers will utilize their poles when turning with specific pole planting techniques. In order to properly use your ski poles when turning or balancing, you’ll need the correct size of ski poles.

How to Choose the Correct Length of Ski Poles

To determine the correct ski pole length for you, you'll want your arms to be positioned at a 90-degree angle. It is also important to note that ski poles are measured in centimeters (cm) and are offered in increments of 5 cm. (Ex. 110 cm, 115 cm, 120 cm, etc.)

ski graphic diagram

Follow these steps to help you measure your ski poles correctly:

Step 1: Stand on a flat surface with shoes on.

Step 2: Hold a pair of ski poles upside down so you are holding them underneath the basket of the ski pole. 

Step 3: Rest the grips of the ski poles on the ground.

Step 4: Determine whether or not your elbows make a 90-degree angle.

If your elbows make more than a 90-degree angle, you will want to try longer poles. If your elbow makes less than a 90 degree angle, you will want shorter poles. Try out a few poles until you find the right fit. As you become more experienced as a downhill skier, you may find you enjoy longer or shorter poles, however, this is our recommended starting point. 

Ski Pole Sizing Chart

If you do not have access to ski poles, you can use this general chart to match your height in feet and inches or centimeters to find your recommended ski pole length based on your height.

Pole Length (CM)
Skier Height 
Skier Height (CM) 
1406'7" +
> 200
1356'4" - 6'6"
190 - 200
1306'1" - 6'3"
185 - 190
1255'10" - 6'0"
175 - 185
1205'7" - 5'9"
170 - 175
1155'4" - 5'6"
160 - 170
1105'1" - 5'3"
155 - 160
1054'9" - 5'0"
145 - 155
1004'5" - 4'8"
135 - 145
954'1" - 4'4"
125 - 135
90
3'9" - 4'0"
115 - 125
853'5" - 3'8"
105 - 115
80< 3'4"
< 105

Now that you know how to correctly size your downhill ski poles and how ski poles are measured, you are ready to hit the slopes! If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more, take a look at our article on How to Choose Downhill Skis! If you need any further assistance with your ski poles, speak with one of the SCHEELS winter sports experts at your local SCHEELS.