Cross Country Ski Pole Sizing Guide
Author: Bert Hinkley, nordic expert at Webcyclery
If you’re wondering how to choose cross country ski pole length, you’ve come to the right place. In this in-depth guide we offer a helpful size chart and break down all the most important information so you can buy nordic poles that will help you ski your best.
You’ll get the most out of this guide if you read the entire article. We’ll start off with a cross country ski pole size chart that can help you get in the right neighborhood, but the really helpful information follows directly after that. After you've read the guide, check out all our cross country ski poles for sale to find the perfect set.
Let’s get started.
Cross country ski pole size chart
Use these cross county ski pole size charts as a jumping off point. We have one for adults and one for kids. They'll help you get going in the right direction, then read on to learn why you should choose one length over another.
Adult cross country ski pole size chart
|Body length without boots |
|Pole length (cm) |
|Pole length (cm) |
Kids cross country ski pole size chart
|Body length without boots||Pole length|
|90 cm||70 cm|
|95 cm||70-75 cm|
|100 cm||75 cm|
|105 cm||75-80 cm|
|110 cm||80 cm|
|115 cm||85 cm|
|120 cm||90 cm|
|125 cm||95 cm|
|130 cm||100 cm|
|135 cm||105 cm|
|140 cm||110 cm|
|145 cm||115 cm|
How to choose cross country ski pole length
While a size chart can sometimes work for recreational skiers who aren’t as concerned with performance, if you want poles that are right for you, there’s a little more that goes into the decision. Keep in mind that it is pretty easy to shorten a pole. It is not so easy to stretch one that was bought or cut too short.
Let us walk you through the process.
First, you need to ask yourself what kind of cross country skiing you’ll be doing most often with the poles you’re looking to buy:
- Is the pole for skating?
- Is the pole for classic track skiing?
- Is the pole for light touring, cruising that is mostly in groomed track?
- Is the pole for back-country skiing with no groomed track?
Second, you’ll want to keep in mind the following attributes about yourself as a skier:
- Are you a young, physically strong racer?
- Are you a person who only skis once or twice a week for social interaction with friends?
- Do you have any chronic shoulder or elbow or wrist issues?
- How old are you?
- What is your general fitness level?
- What is your technical skill level?
With those factors in mind, let's get into the nitty gritty of proper pole length for both classic and skate skiing.
How long should classic cross country ski poles be?
Classic poles used for skiing in a groomed track should be cut so that, when not wearing boots, the strap comes out of the grip at the height of the middle of your clavicle (collar bone).
So, to determine this yourself you can take a piece of masking tape and place a strip that is just a bit taller than you and reaches down to below your chest on a door jamb in the house. Then, while standing in stocking feet, mark on the tape the height of the middle of the clavicle. That is the height of the strap of your classic poles.
The clavicle is a long, narrow bone that runs from the sternum (chest bone) to the acromion process (the outside tip of the shoulder). Find the middle of the clavicle and this is where the strap should be. It will also be very close to 83% of your height standing in stocking feet.
Important: if you are competing, the FIS regulates the length of classic poles. Their rule is that the strap must be no higher than 83% of the body height measured while standing in classic ski boots.
When to choose longer cross country ski poles:
If you are a strong racer, and you are going to be doing much of your skiing using the double pole technique (mostly pushing with both poles at the same time) you may want to measure this height wearing classic ski boots. Determine your total height while wearing the boots and multiply that by .83 to get the maximum allowable height of the strap.
When to choose shorter cross country ski poles:
On the other hand, if you are mostly skiing very hilly terrain and will be either diagonal striding uphill or coasting downhill, you might want to go with poles that are 1cm - 2cm shorter. Shorter poles allow for higher turnover rate and a little less stress on the shoulder joint.
How to pick the right cross country ski poles for kids:
- Classic: To the middle of your shoulder (max)
- Skating: To your chin (max)
- Small kids: Up to your armpit.
- Remember: Too long poles can cause injuries by accident.
How long should skate ski poles be?
We recommend the height of the strap to our customers to be somewhere between the lower lip and the tip of your chin, when measured in stocking feet. This works out to be about 88.5% of your body height. It will also be 9.5cm to 10cm longer than classic poles.
Again, people with very strong shoulders and those who are training and racing may want to ski with a pole 1cm - 2cm longer. FIS states that skate poles may not exceed the height of the skier measured wearing ski boots.
Poles that are longer generally put more stress on the shoulder joint. Long poles, while they do provide a longer push phase in each repetition, also tend to slow the turnover rate.
For kids doing skate skiing, subtract 5-10cm from their height to find their skate pole size. For kids doing classic, add 10cm to the skier height.
How long should cross country ski poles be for untracked snow?
For skiing out of the groomed track the ski pole length will be considerably shorter than for groomed track skiing. Many people who ski in untracked snow use adjustable poles. These have larger baskets than poles for groomed trails and the length can vary depending on the conditions. Probably the maximum length would be for the strap to exit the grip at the height of the arm pit.
The trouble with manufacturer measurements
It is unfortunate that most pole companies measure poles from the point of the basket to the top of the grip and label the pole as, say, 160cm. That is easy to measure. But it is not a really relevant measurement. My poles measure 160cm to the top of the pole, but the strap comes out at 155.5cm. The important measurement is how high the wrist strap exits the pole grip. That determines how high the hand is when the skier starts to push on the poles. The grips of many poles differ from other poles. This is why we don’t recommend measuring to the top of the pole.
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