Swix - How to Choose a Ski Pole
Which Cross Country Pole is Best For Me?
Selecting a ski pole is a question of the amount and type of skiing activity involved.
Swix Composite Technology Nordic
For more than 25 years, Swix has been the leading innovator in the field of composite ski poles. Top World Cup athletes prefer Swix composite poles - Swix is the natural choice for maximum performance regardless of skill level.
Selecting Poles for Nordic Disciplines
Selecting a ski pole is a question of the amount and type of skiing activity involved. Important considerations are weight, stiffness, balance and comfort, and any decision will involve assessing shaft, straps, basket and handle. Swix guarantees superior quality throughout the product range.
Which basket suits my needs the best?
If you primarily ski on groomed trails, then we recommend using poles with small, asymmetrical baskets. Small baskets are light and offer excellent balance properties, while at the same time providing solid grip in the snow. The disadvantage is that small baskets easily penetrate through loose snow. The recommendation for skiing on groomed trails is to use the large or small 97 racing basket.
If you like to ski in loose snow and off-track trails, then we recommend large asymmetrical baskets that give good support. Large baskets weigh more and are not optimal for balance, however. The recommended basket here is Tour Basket TR400, which also works well on groomed trails.
If you need poles for skiing primarily on ungroomed trails, loose snow and varying snow conditions, then we recommend leather baskets. Leather baskets provide the best support on varied snow conditions ranging from deep or grainy snow through to crusty snow conditions. Due to the weight and radius of the basket, this type of basket is less favorable in terms of balance properties compared to the 97 Racing Basket; nor is the pole recommended for skiing on groomed trails.
Which shaft suits my needs the best?
Selecting an ideal shaft also depends on the amount and type of use. The most important shaft properties are stiffness, weight and strength. Weight has an impact on balance – a lighter shaft ensures better balance.
The lightest shafts are made of 100% carbon fiber. The disadvantage of shafts made of extremely light composite materials is that they are easily damaged by sharp edges or impact. For high-level competition racing, we recommend Force or Star, which are built using carbon fiber providing favorable stiffness properties (High Modulus Carbon Fiber). Weight, stiffness and balance properties are optimal in composite shafts. Team is somewhat heavier than Star, but is more resistant to impact and sharp edges. Team is not as stiff as Star, but the two are similar in balance properties.
Replacing some of the carbon fiber with glass fiber increases durability significantly. Although the added weight is a disadvantage in terms of balance, Carbon, Cross and Comp are all rugged and durable shafts.
When the percentage of glass fiber in a composite shaft reaches the 60% level, then the weight is so high that aluminum becomes a better alternative. Aluminum is stiffer, lighter and more durable compared to composite poles with a high share of glass fiber. Recommended alternatives are Alulite, Alustar and Aluteam, which feature hardened aluminum shafts. Although these shafts are much more reasonably priced, the added weight is a disadvantage in terms of balance properties.
What type of handle and strap should I choose?
Handles are first and foremost a question of comfort. A soft handle feels better than a hard one-component plastic handle, and a handle with natural cork feels warmer than a handle made of plastic. Swix has two main groups of handles: PC handles with a variety of different materials, and touring handles that are simpler handles made in plastic.
Swix PC handles are available in three versions:
• Soft grip zone in rubber that is comfortable to grip and with high durability.
• Cork-filled thermoplastic grip zone offering good insulation qualities and high durability.
• Grip zone made of 100% natural cork – excellent insulation properties and lightweight, but less durable.
The simple tour handles available on the most inexpensive models are very practical, but are not as comfortable as the PC handles. The more technical straps such as «Pro Fit» and BIA do not fit on these handles.
World Cup skiers have been using professional straps designed very much like gloves for years now, and most recreational skiers will also benefit from using a similar type of strap. For Nordic skiing on groomed trails, we recommend the same straps that are used on the World Cup circuit. Swix «Pro Fit» fits on all our composite poles and Alustar, and are straps that will help you improve your skiing technique regardless of skill level.
If you often need to adjust your straps because of thick mittens, etc, then we recommend the BIA strap. The wide and relatively soft weave is extremely comfortable. Even though the strap is not as practical as the «Pro Fit» strap, it is quite easy to adjust.
The less expensive models offer simpler straps such as a straight or shaped strap. Although these straps do not offer the same level of comfort, they are fine for beginners and for shorter trips. If you ski often, however, we recommend that you invest in a higher quality strap.