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Looking to have your kids learn to ski, but aren’t quite sure if they need ski poles or not? It can be a bit controversial, but after all of my years as a professional ski instructor, lifetime skier, and mom of 5 ski kids, we’ve learned a lot about ski pole use for kids.
When To Avoid Ski Poles For Kids
Do kids need ski poles? NO!
If you’re new to skiing, it might surprise you that it’s better for kids to learn how to ski without poles, especially if they’re younger than 10. Poles introduce another layer of complexity when learning to ski, and when introduced too early, they create bad habits and can be dangerous to your child and other skiers.
Young skiers often can’t control the movements of their poles, so we never let our kids ski with pole until they are at least age 6 (our kids are all solid intermediate skiers by that age). Before then they often hit others in the lift line, drop them while on the chairlift, and can even get injured from improper pole placement.
Benefits Of Skiing Without Poles
Does your child want to ski with poles? If not, don’t rush it! The longer you have your child ski without poles, the more time they’ll have to focus on the basics. Without the distraction of ski poles, kids can focus more on their turn and balance and they learn to develop better control on their skis.
When ski poles are introduced too early, they often become a crutch for skiers learning to ski. Beginning skiers often try to use ski poles to get up, stop themselves, and to turn…each of which can be incredibly dangerous. Skiers should only start skiing with poles once they can stop, turn and control their speed on all beginning and easy intermediate terrain WITHOUT POLES. If you want your kids to become great skiers, avoid poles as long as you can (within reason of course – most kids want ski pole by age 10).
How Do I Know If My Child Is Ready For Ski Poles?
Are you trying to figure out “When should kids use ski poles?”
While there’s no magical time to introduce poles to your skiing kid, here are a few things to consider to help you figure out when your child is ready for poles.
- Can your child ski in control with proper turns on all green and most blue terrain? We recommend waiting until kids can do that to introduce poles.
- Can your child get on and off the chairlift alone, without poles in their hands? If not, they’re not ready for poles.
- Is your child generally aware of their surroundings while they’re skiing? Are you worried that they’ll cluelessly hit someone with their poles in the lift line?
- Is your child comfortable enough on the chair lift that they can get on with one hand, leaving the other hand free to carry their poles?
- Does your child have a good ski stance and balance with their weight forward? Are they willing to hold their poles properly with their hands out in front, not dragging or swinging their poles?
Another factor to keep in mind is terrain. Some resorts have lots of flat terrain that require a lot of shuffling for little kids. If you ski somewhere like that, you may want to introduce snow ski poles a little earlier than if you were at a resort with mostly downhill.
Older kids can often start using poles a little sooner than younger kids, but overall, your job is to teach them how to use them properly so that they help instead of hindering their skiing.
If you still don’t know when should kids get ski poles, I’ll recommend that around the ages of 7-9 is a great starting point for most kids (if they meet the skills above). If your child has been skiing for several years or is really advanced, they could start using poles as early as age 6. If you’re still not sure when to give kids ski poles, that may be a sign that your child is not ready to ski with poles.
What SHOULD Kids Use Ski Poles For?
If you have a child who’s ready to start skiing with poles, I recommend starting them out by giving them a little lesson in pole use. Basic pole use can and should occur as a habit with every turn kids make while skiing. We tell our kids that they need to “stab then turn” every time. This helps them get into the habit of using their pole so that kids ski poles can be more beneficial to them when they start skiing harder terrain.
In more difficult terrain like moguls, tree skiing, or steep terrain, poles can help establish a pivot point for kids to jump turn around.
What Size Poles Does My Kid Need?
Getting the correct size ski poles is really easy to determine. To see if your child’s ski poles fit them properly, place the pole upside down and ask your child to grab it just below the basket. If their arm is at a right angle, then you’ve got yourself a good fit. If not, it’s time to get a different size. A ski pole that’s too short will make your kids hunch too far forward and kids ski poles that are too big will have them hitting themselves in the chest, so make sure to choose the best size of kids ski pole for your child.
Best Kids Ski Poles
Finding a good pair of ski poles for kids can be a little bit tricky. Most are made with aluminum, which bends easily, so most kids ski poles don’t last too long without needing to be replaced. If you can find a good pair of composite or adjustable ski poles, they’re likely to be the kids ski poles that last the longest.
Goode Jr G-Max Ski Poles, composite ski poles
Overall Best Kids Ski Poles
We’ve been through SO MANY ski poles in our family (5 kids X 14 years skiing), and these have HANDS DOWN been the best ski poles for kids that we’ve ever found. In fact, my husband and I both use the adult version of these ski poles and have had ours for over 20 years (without any breaking or bending).
These are far superior to any aluminum kids ski poles that we’ve tried and because of their composite construction, they last for SO LONG (and don’t cost too much more). The only downside of these composite ski poles for kids is that they don’t come in really small sizes (we rarely see them in any size under 36 inches). Ours are an older version of this and we’ve owned them for 5 years with no issues (and we bought them used).
These bamboo ski poles for kids are handmade just down the road from us in Park City Utah. While we haven’t used them personally, we love that their a sustainable product and handmade touch. Since bamboo is a naturally strong product, these are some of the strongest kids ski poles you can buy. They’re not cheap, but to make things more affordable, you can upgrade your kids poles for just $30/size whenever your kids hit a growth spurt!
K2 Sprout Kids Adjustable Ski Poles
This is a great pair of adjustable ski poles for kids. Kids have a frustrating tendency to outgrow their expensive ski gear FAST. That’s what makes these kids adjustable ski poles for kids so great. Being adjustable from 75-105cm allows these kids ski poles to be adjusted and fitted to your kids as the grow, giving you years of use from these kids ski poles.
K2 Decoy Kids Ski Poles
This is a simple aluminum pair of ski poles for kids that is great for younger kids who are ready to take their skiing to the next level. They’re pretty affordable and come in lots of size options that will fit most kids until the tween ages. We’ve had several K2 Ski poles over the years and they’ve been some of the most durable aluminum poles we’ve owned.
If you have a kid who is picky about their ski pole color, get them a pair of the Atomic ATM Jr children’s ski poles. These ski poles for children come in 4 different color options so your skiing kid can get poles to match the rest of their outfit! These are a great pair of budget ski poles for young kids.
Honestly, the most important part of having kids use ski poles is teaching them how to use them properly. They need to be able to get on and off the chairlift while holding them in one hand, hold them close to their sides in lift lines and crowds, and be able to hold them out in front of them while skiing (and make proper pole plants). If you’re not sure if you can teach your ski kids these things alone, consider signing them up for a ski school lesson to help them learn proper pole use.
Can I get my kids cheap ski poles?
We’ve recommended a few budget ski poles for kids here, but please DON’T just get the cheapest poles you can find. Kids bend ski poles really easily, so getting poles that are lightly better quality is worth the investment.