Backcountry ski pole length

Blazing your own trails

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Lynx
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Backcountry ski pole length

Postby Lynx » Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:25 am

Howdy,

A question for the off trail folks about ski pole sizing. I'm 6'2" and it seems that most charts recommend 155cm for the backcountry or something to the effect that the poles should be armpit height with the boots on. What are peoples' experiences? While some of the places I go to are somewhat steep, I do not intend doing telemark turns.

Raubie
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Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:13 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Backcountry ski pole length

Postby Raubie » Tue Mar 05, 2019 7:34 pm

See my earlier comment on your other post regarding a few thoughts on pole length.

The challenge for backcountry is that while you skis (or snowshoes) float on the semi-compacted track you make in deeper fresh snow, your poles are going to plunge into the soft snow below the plane of your ski bases, depending on snowpack density and humidity/etc. Add incline and the problem worsens. In this situation, you need longer poles than the "boot base to acromion bone" standard, or your trapezius muscles are going to scream after a day out. Back on firmer conditions, a traditionally-length pole is more suitable.

So, I'm 6'1, and picked up a set of Black Diamond "Traverse" telescopics. Compared to my CF poles, they're heavy, bow under compression, and worst of all, have straps designed in the 1930's. Borrowed a friends Leki Titanium Vario (or Genius Vario) w/vario baskets (155cm-175cm) and was reluctant to give them back! Love the Trigger shark system. Great system of interchangeable baskets, too. Not cheap, though.

Lots of options available.

Lynx
xcskiforum 10K
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: Backcountry ski pole length

Postby Lynx » Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:09 pm

Thank you for the information, Raubie

I agree with your observations about the poles plunging beneath the plane of the skis, as I noticed that myself on snowshoes with powder basket equipped poles. I wonder why manufacturers recommend touring poles that are sized 5 cm shorter for touring vs groomed trails for the a person of the same height. It seems that if I were to get one piece aluminum poles it would make sense to go 5 cm longer rather than shorter? I believe I've read somewhere that some folks put tape below the handles of their one piece poles to extend the gripping area. The reason I am bringing up one piece aluminum poles is that on my snowshoeing trips I do fairly often use my trekking poles to smash through the smaller branches when going through Douglass fir thickets. I would not want to do that with a pole with carbon fiber, though I realize that my routes will probably become different once on skis. Having said all that your suggestion of getting some adjustable poles seems like the way to go.


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