Skiing poles are very essential for helping with proper timing and balance during skiing and executing rhythm for parallel turns. Using poles with appropriate height is important to have smooth skiing experience. Too long poles are difficult to hold and control whereas too short poles may not be able to control the speed of skiing in a proper manner. If the length of the pole didn’t match the height of the skier, then it may interfere with the skiing techniques of the skier and skiing can be tough. It is easier and recommended to choose lightweight poles over heavy poles.
To know the correct height of the pole that you should use, flip the pole upside down to the ground and hold in a way that the thumb is pointed along the basket. If your elbow forms the right angle, then choose this length of the pole.
The main materials that are used for poles are: Aluminum poles which is the most popular, strong, durable and lightweight. Since it is affordable and comfortable most skiers prefer it. Carbon poles are made from carbon fibers and are stronger, heavier, narrower and flexible than aluminum poles. It's usually more expensive and is considered to be more durable than aluminum poles . Composite poles are made from a variety of aluminum, carbon and graphite or even from a combination of plastics and metals. It has better shock absorption ability and is considered to perform well in backcountry or hard snow terrains. However it may break for rigorous or hard use. Fiberglass poles are thinner and stronger than aluminum poles which are commonly used by downhill skiers.
Ski poles can also be categorized with respect to the terrain and skiing types. The pole type doesn’t really matter for a beginner whereas, for an expert skier they chose different types of poles for various skiing types in order to exhibit their skiing skills.
Alpine Poles: This is most commonly used by downhill skiers which has a comfortable handle to grip, a straight shaft and standard snow basket. The length of the pole should be such that the elbow angle is 90 degrees. Freestyle Poles: These are thin shaft poles used for terrain parks and therefore are called park poles. They are shorter but have large baskets in order to avoid obstacles and provide a floating effect on snow. Nordic Poles: These are shorter and lightweight than alpine poles and mainly used while hiking, skating, snowshoeing and trekking. It is also called cross-country poles and offers better grip due to its thin shaft and spiked tips. Powder Ski Poles: They have adjustable lengths and are also called backcountry poles. Since it is used more in fluffy snowy terrains and it should offer a cushioning effect, it has a thicker shaft. Ski Race Poles: These are usually thin, lightweight and curved, and have less dragging and features that allow them to ski faster.
Apart from these features, the kind of grip, straps and baskets should be considered while skiing. Usually adults have longer grip and kids have shorter grip. Some straps are automatic, such that it can be released with one click. Alpine skiers and racers prefer smaller baskets whereas the backcountry skiers prefer larger baskets in order to prevent it from sinking into the deep snow.