Many skiers wonder about the advantages of choosing the lightest ski poles. While the subject is open to debate, the general consensus is that lighter ski poles enhance ski technique.
Benefits of Lightweight Ski Poles
The benefits of choosing the lightest ski poles has to do with a concept known as swing weight. Just as golfers need to be concerned with the swing weight of their clubs, skiers need to think about the swing weight of their ski poles. The correct swing weight of a ski pole is determined by the amount of energy a skier requires to swing the poles on different types of terrain. It is calculated by a combination of the skier's body weight and personal strength.
Choosing the a pole with the best swing can bring about subtle improvements in your ski technique. Heavy ski poles can cause excessive tension, which can deplete your energy. In fact, back in the days when ski poles were made of steel, many skiers suffered from tennis elbow. Lighter ski poles also provide better balance, and aid in skier posture. When poles are too heavy, the skier might tense his or her shoulders, which can throw off total alignment, and create inaccurate pole touches. Note the words "pole touches." There was once a time when they were referred to as pole plants, which implied that you actually pressed your pole into the snow. Due to modern ski design, a light touch is all that is needed. The lighter ski poles make this more intuitive.
Disadvantages of Lightweight Ski Poles
Aside from being expensive, lightweight ski poles have few disadvantages. However, if you plan to do some ski racing, a lightweight pole may pose some minor problems. They are most likely to snap under impact. As such, ski racers tend to choose ski poles that are light but stiff.
Materials Used in Lightweight Ski Poles
Lightweight ski poles are made from composite materials. In general, these poles are composed of a combination of carbon, graphite and glass fiber. Some poles may be composed of 60 percent carbon and 40 percent glass fiber, while others are composed of 90 percent carbon and 10 percent glass fiber. Occasionally, aluminum may be used to add stiffness.
What Companies Make the Lightest Ski Poles
There are a number of ski gear manufacturing companies that specialize in making the lightest ski poles. Hear are just a few of them.
Goode Ski Poles
Goode ski poles have been used by world champion skiers such as Mark Giradelli, AJ Kitt, and the Mahre brothers. In fact, during the 1990s, over 50 percent of the top ski competitors were using Goode ski poles. Goode has an excellent, user-friendly webpage, which will help you determine the best poles for different types of conditions.
Leki Ski Poles
Leki is one of the world leaders in ski, hiking and trekking poles. Their claim to fame is ski pole and glove combinations that have a mechanism which allows the pole to be attached to the glove.
Kerma Ski Poles
Kerma, which is a division of Rossignol, has an entire division of lightweight composite ski poles. They manufacture poles for men, women and children.
How to Determine the Best Lightweight Ski Pole
Since swing weight is a subtle concept, determining the best ski pole for your needs may be challenging. For most people, it comes down to trial and error. Fortunately, ski pole rentals are not that expensive, so you can try a few of them in a day. For best results, ski with a friend who is an experienced skier, or better yet, a certified ski instructor who can evaluate your technique while using different poles.