During the winter, with the snow falling everywhere, there are usually very few outdoor games worth the freeze, unless it’s cross country skiing.
Cross country skiing has carved a little space for itself in our hearts; it is loved all around the world due to its technical and team-building characteristics. If not for the few challenges cross country skiers face in the wild, we would have very little to complain about.
One such challenge is the pole strap adjustment feature; some of us simply can’t get it right. The whole pole straps dilemma drags along other issues like pole length selection and improper usage of this gear. In some severe situations, skiers doubt the usefulness of wrist straps on the track if they can deliver pole strokes equally better without them.
Well, enough with problems, it’s time we offered answers.
How To Adjust Pole Straps For Cross Country Skiing?
Locate the strap’s edges and pull; this will release the pressure on the material letting you adjust it to fit you. If that doesn’t work, get hold of the strap itself and pull it up-it might be tucked into your grip so a little strength will come in handy.
Almost every skiing pole brand offers straps that can be adjusted; the standard hand and glove sizes are never perfect. Most poles are designed to accommodate a wedge that holds the straps in place and tightens them as you push on the straps.
On more advanced cross country ski poles, the grips bear pins and sometimes caps- the added features secure the straps and you have to take them out to access the straps for adjustment.
If you are here because you feel your straps are too short, know this; straps on skiing poles are made short to improve your control and also add power to your strokes. Without this design, you would need more strength to propel yourself and in turn cost you much-needed energy.
Well-set pole straps should not be too loose or too tight; just tight enough for you to push back on the snow and lift the poles for a second stroke without straining. In fact, you should be able to do it with your hands open, this allows you to rest your hands for a second or two before the subsequent push.
If you can loosen your grip for a few seconds without dropping the poles then your straps are set just fine- they are made to help you maintain a grip over your poles even when making those powerful uphill strokes.
Other items that accompany pole straps are skiing gloves. These are the thick gloves we wear to keep warm when temperatures fall too low. Skiing gloves are essential but not mandatory; if you feel warm enough to ditch them, go ahead.
Activity on the track might get too intense- adding gloves onto an already sweating pair of hands will only result in discomfort, ensure every piece of gear you have on is necessary.
Cross Country Ski Poles Straps
These are rubber or fabric gear pieces that we use to attach the skiing poles to our hands- we run them around our wrists.
Aside from securing our skiing poles in the wild, they act like support areas as we can lean on them when stroking.
Different brands offer skiing straps in different designs although the standard model is built with its core role in mind.
The main factor when purchasing skiing pole straps is their usability and comfort although you can always go for a brand with better aesthetics or design- there are brands with detachable straps that you can take apart if the pole gets stuck.
Skiing Poles And Skiing Pole Length
Cross country Ski poles are support sticks used by skiers to maintain balance and propel themselves forward. They are a very crucial part of the skiing gear package and they work hand in hand with the straps.
Skiing poles have a bearing on your performance as a competitor- choose your pair wisely. The main consideration for skiing poles is length although some skiers look for certain material builds and grip designs.
You must ensure that your skiing poles’ length matches your height- this not only makes skiing easier but also shields you from unnecessary pains due to muscle strain.
How To Calculate Cross Country Skiing Pole Length
There are mathematical formulas for determining pole lengths although most skiers prefer the easier route- calculating the length in reference to various landmarks on their body.
We recommend the body landmarks method as it is easier plus the formula method does not accommodate persons on the extreme ends of height parameters- too short or too tall.
Your body height determines your pole length but you can explore other considerations to make your skiing poles more matching to your needs. It is common practice among skiers to get longer poles if;
- Most of your skiing activity is restricted to flat terrain; this can be anywhere from lake-side snow grounds to open fields.
- Your strength is concentrated on the upper body. This means that you have enough power to stroke even with longer-than-normal ski poles.
- Your skiing style does not have double pole issues. Double poling affects very many racers.
With that said, there is another group of skiing enthusiasts who prefer shorter poles. Why would you get shorter poles? Well, the answer revolves around adaptability and ease of use.
You are likely to prefer shorter poles if;
- Your skiing routes are not defined, you encounter steep climbs or your terrain comes with different levels of difficulty. When skiing up a hill, you are forced to bend down; shorter poles work better in situations like these.
- Your upper body is not strong enough to handle all the stroking needs.
Skiing Pole Lengths For The Different Techniques
There are two main xc skiing techniques; classic and skate. Their only similarity is that they both happen on snow, other than that, classic and skate skiing methods are worlds apart.
Their methods of propulsion and gear choices are also different; we will focus on pole lengths for these two techniques.
Classic Skiing-Pole Length
Classic cross country ski poles should be long enough to reach your collar bone (clavicle) but should not go beyond the middle. You should measure the lengths with your ski boots off to avoid height exaggeration.
There are different ways to determine your pole length based on this concept but we will only look at one.
Using masking tape, mark an area just a few inches above your height on a door or clean wall (you should be standing). The tape should come down to an area below your chest. With the tape well-set on the wall, you can now measure the height of your chest from the ground and mark the middle of the collar bone on the tape. Remember, no boots.
The marked point (the middle of the collar bone) is the exact height of your classic skiing poles.
The collar bone is a stretched thin bone located in the chest area. It acts as a joiner bone for the sternum and the acromion process.
The middle of the collarbone or clavicle is the most ideal height for the straps, if you get it right, you’ll notice that it’s around 83% of your raw height.
If you are shopping for competition poles, you must consider FIS regulations. FIS dictates that all straps should not be higher than 83% of the skier’s body height measured with the classic skiing boots on.
Skate Skiing- Pole Length
The recommended height of straps in skate skiing is the mid-point between the lower lip and the chin. The measurements should be taken without ski boots (stocking feet) and the figure should be arraigned in ranges- working with exact numbers can be misleading.
If well done, the measurements should be around 88.5% of your actual body height. As we said, skate and classic skiing are two very different sports; skate skiing poles are almost 10 cm longer than their classic skiing counterparts.
These measurements are only a recommendation; you might want slightly longer poles especially if you participate in highly competitive races or have strong shoulders that could come in handy when gliding uphill.
FIS regulation restricts skate skiing pole lengths to anything not higher than the skier’s height measured with the skate skiing boots on.
Longer skate skiing poles are ideal and all but they can be detrimental to your performance if you do not use them properly. With longer skate skiing poles, you’ll get a better push but with a downside; longer poles tend to strain your shoulder bones and could negate your turnover rate.
If you have kids on your team, simply subtract between 5 to 10 cm from their height to get their ideal pole length.
Cross Country Skiing Pole Height For Untracked Snow
Crosscountry skiing in the wild calls for shorter poles.
To get around the pole length question, get adjustable poles instead; these are poles whose length you can adjust based on the present conditions- this way you won’t need to buy new poles for the different terrains.
Adjustable poles will serve you better in ungroomed and unpredictable snow areas due to their large baskets which are easier to work with.
Mathematical Formulas For Calculating Cross Country Skiing Pole Length
To calculate your ideal skiing pole length, you will need two components; your height and the manufacturer’s pole length.
Your height is simply the distance from the ground to the highest point in your body without any exaggeration.
The manufacturer’s pole length on the other hand is the figure indicated on the pole as its actual length. The idea is basic but it can get tricky; most manufacturers measure their products’ lengths from one extreme end to another but some calculate it from the ski pole tip tip to the area where the pole strap ‘’hooks’’ to the grip.
The variation in measurement methods makes manufacture lengths unreliable as different users look at pole lengths differently.
Classic Skiing Pole Length Formula
Actual body height minus 30 cm = pole length for classic skiers
Skate Skiing Pole Length Formula
Actual body height minus 30 cm = pole length for skate skiers.
We did not include examples as the formulas are pretty straightforward.
You must note; the above formulas are not definite and can be altered slightly to accommodate unique circumstances- the user might be too tall, too short or they might prefer tailor-made pole lengths. You can view them as thumb rules.
Can I Cut Skiing Poles To Match My Needs?
Yes, you can cut your skiing poles if the set length is not ideal for your style or body configuration. It is not recommended but If you must, cut it at the handle and never at the tip.
The handle grip and pole shaft are adjoined using melted glue; a little heat should soften it. If the handle is covered in plastic, you can loosen using hot water. The water must be very hot if you expect to get anywhere with this trick.
Some handles have natural cork on them, here, you’ll need a heat gun or a basic heat source. Run the hot dry air over the handle carefully to avoid burning the cork until the heat reaches the inner part of the handle.
Slow heating works better in this case and with time you’ll melt the inner glue lining. The amount of time required depends on how fast the heat penetrates the material.
When the glue melts or softens, you can now pull the shaft out (bit by bit). Cut the excess length off and reattach the handle as was.
Cut gently or get help from a more experienced workman- cutting through carbon fiber can be hectic; the fibers can easily peel down and ruin the whole thing plus aluminum has its fair share of problems. Make use of he videos online to work around this one and be on your way to succeeding as a racer.
If you feel insecure about your cutting skills, walk into a Nordic skiing shop and ask for help. If you bought the poles from them, they’ll probably do it for free or charge you a meagre fee.
What Materials Are Crosscountry Skiing Poles Made Of?
Well, there’s no one material for xc skiing poles but aluminum and carbon fiber can be worthy off-the-bat answers. Of course, there are other materials and material combinations but we will focus on the two as they are the most common and sought-after.
If you are selecting cross country ski poles based on the manufacturing material, we’d advise that you learn the basic pros and cons of each material and make your conclusion from there.
Even as we advise you to look at different materials and weigh your options objectively, there are some materials we feel are outdated and not worth considering. Wood, fiberglass, and plastic might have served well during their time but with other more durable and light materials available, it would be unwise to get a pole set made of these materials.
Aluminum Crosscountry Skiing Poles
Aluminum as a material is affordable, reliable and most of all durable; even after 10 years of service, aluminum will still have life left in it. This is of course if you have not punished it too much over the years but do not worry as it is pretty easy to bend aluminum objects back into shape.
If you’re looking for a strong, durable, and inexpensive ski pole, we’d advise that you go for aluminum-made options.
One of the main benefits of working with aluminum over carbon fiber is how easy it is to repair them. Take handles and baskets, for example, it is pretty easy to replace an aluminum pole’s handle or basket compared to a carbon fiber’s; the latter comes with cork handles.
Another exciting aspect of aluminum alpine ski poles is the price points; this material is relatively cheaper compared to other materials.
Some reviewers will say that aluminum is heavier compared to composite and carbon fiber but we’ve never heard of a skier who missed the finish line because their aluminum poles were too heavy .
The main drawback of aluminum must be its stiffness compared to other lighter materials like carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are less responsive; using aluminum poles will cost you the energy and liveliness that comes with spring-like poles- this can be disadvantageous for race skiers who have to push themselves from the beginning to the end to maintain speed.
The energy loss is, however, a direct trade-off for durability, aluminum wins nevertheless.
Other advantages of using aluminum ski poles are that you can improvise them into almost anything as they are pretty strong. You can use aluminum ski poles to make a lightweight stretcher or a makeshift shelter.
Even after their time is done, damaged aluminum ski poles can still serve; you can repurpose them to act as tent supports or something like that- aluminum is never useless.
Composite Fiber Crosscountry Skiing Poles
Carbon fiber ski poles are in a lot of ways different from aluminum poles. Aluminum’s pros are centered around durability while carbon fiber’s design is all about improved performance.
From their lightweight nature to their flexibility, carbon fiber ski poles are more responsive and drain less energy on the track.
The most profound benefit of carbon fiber ski poles is their swing weight- it has little or no effect on your base technique and will never slow you down. This is an important aspect for race skiers.
Swing weight can be illustrated by running around carrying equal loads in each hand. You will notice difficulty maintaining control over yourself because the weights will be pulling you to either side.
Carbon fiber is considerably lighter than aluminum but only professional or competitive cross country skiers notice this. Most skiers will notice the difference but when offered aluminum poles, they’ll ski just fine; the extra weight is only felt when compared to carbon or composite poles.
The lightweight is carbon fiber’s best selling point; some reviewers even refer to carbon fiber ski poles as performance poles.
In simple terms, carbon fiber ski poles are easier to move around with. Looking from a different angle, this could be a challenge though; without a proper technique cross country skiers will have trouble landing lightweight poles on the snow correctly- if you’re strong, they’ll feel like nothing.
Another drawback of carbon fiber ski poles is their high purchase cost plus they are very fragile; a little mistreatment is all it takes to break a carbon fiber ski pole. Once broken, the most you can do is replace them; they are not repairable unless you have a contact at the manufacturing facility.
You’ll find damaged carbon ski poles in multiple garbage fills because a skier somewhere made one too-strong pole push and the poor thing called it quits. We do not advise against purchasing carbon fiber ski poles; we are simply laying out the facts and mentioning our preferred option.
Do You Really Need A Skiing Wrist Strap?
Yes and no, from the information above, ski pole straps are important but your ski instructor might differ. They might argue that when things go wrong and the poles are trapped since you are tied to each at the wrists, they could easily drag you into the debris or hole.
As a safety measure, these instructors advise that you ditch straps altogether or wear them just well enough to remove them when an emergency arises.
Skiing without straps might feel naked though so whatever way you choose to go, keep the facts in mind.
Skiing pole straps are as important as the pole itself; a wrongly selected or set strap will only strain your wrist or even make you slower. These rather basic gear components are made standard in terms of size and shape but sometimes standard is never adequate and we need a little adjustment.
To adjust skiing pole straps, reach for the edges and pull, if you sense difficulty, pull harder but carefully though.
There’s so much to say about ski pole straps and how they liaise with the poles to deliver the perfect ski- the article above tells it all plus a few other important aspects about this combination and how it serves the xc skiing sport.