How to Determine Proper Length of XC Ski Poles

How to Determine Proper Length of XC Ski Poles
Properly sized cross-country ski poles efficiently transfer power from your body to the trail. This efficiency helps you move faster using less energy than if you used improperly-sized poles. Pole size is slightly different for both classic-style skiing and skate skiing, but determining the right size pole for both styles of skiing is quickly accomplished using ski poles. In under five minutes, you can determine the proper length of an XC ski pole.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ski boots
Step 1
Put on your ski boots and stand on a level surface. Stand up as straight up as possible.
Step 2
Hold a ski pole next to your body to check the height. For classic skiing, a properly-sized ski pole fits comfortably under your armpit when your arm is hanging straight down from your shoulder. For skating, the pole should come up to your chin.
Step 3
Test the flex of the pole by slightly leaning on it. Look for a stiff pole that doesn't bow easily as you weigh it. Stiffer poles transfer the power better.

Tips & Warnings

Ski poles are measured in centimeters, so if you don't have a pole handy, use a tape measure and order your poles based on that measurement.
For beginners, a slightly shorter ski pole helps balance.
Because you're swinging your poles back and forth while cross country skiing, a lighter pole is less tiring.
According to, longer poles don't aid in power, especially for beginners.

Article Written By Bryan Hansel

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.

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