Different ski poles for classic, skate, and backcountry
Cross country ski poles can be made of various types of materials. Ski poles for beginners are most often made of aluminum, whereas the more expensive cross country ski poles contain different amounts of carbon. The advantage of cross country ski poles with carbon is that the poles will be stiffer and thereby give the glide more energy. Furthermore, ski poles made of carbon are usually lighter in weight than aluminum poles.
The length of the cross country poles may also vary depending on the main purpose. Poles for classic cross country skiing are usually a bit shorter compared to poles for cross country skating. Ski poles for classic skiing should be around 30 cm shorter than your own height, whereas they should be around 15-20 cm shorter for cross country skating.
If you are a backcountry skier, we recommend that you choose a pair of ski poles with wide baskets. The reason for this is rather simple. When exploring the backcountry, you want your ski poles ready to meet the deeper and ungroomed snow, whereas the small baskets are more fit for groomed conditions as we know from the classic cross country.
Curves for higher speeds
Another thing you might consider when buying a pair of ski poles is whether you want them to be straight or curved. Curved ski poles for cross country is a relatively new concept, and according to the manufacturer's tests have shown, that curved ski poles deliver almost 20% more propulsion power with each push.
Exel has their flagship curved model, X-Curve X-HMC 100. This is a high-end set of ski poles, but Exel also provides a set of curved poles for the casual skier, that might be on a budget. If that is the case for you, take a look at the X-Curve X-70 Cross Country.
Trying high-end ski poles is like tasting good wine
As you might notice the ski poles vary a lot in price. We have ski poles for as little as 20 USD, but at the same time, there are ski poles that cost 20 times that.
A positive thing about a pair of less expensive poles is that they are often very durable. The aluminum makes them almost impossible to break. The downside is the weight and the lack of flexibility. Poles from 20 - 50 USD are perfect for skiers with little or minimum experience.
When the price goes up, so does the quality of the materials. High-end poles are often made of carbon which gives you a better power transfer than standard aluminum poles does. High-end poles provide what some describe as a beautiful swing or pendulum action. Some describe it as developing a taste for expensive wine - you won’t give it up once you try it.