Ever wonder what the correct pole length is right for you? Probably not, because most ski or rentals shops will make sure you get the right poles, but here is the Rule of Thumb for these rest of you.
Skating Poles :
If you are skating, current wisdom is to measure from the ground up halfway between your chin and your lower lip. Skating poles are longer than conventional striding poles because they are angled more and you push much further behind you. Swix has their recommendations for pole lengths on their website.They should be stiffer because you put more weight on them. Most people use a good aluminum pole for skating rather than the entry level fiberglass poles. Carbon poles lighter than aluminum that are still stiff enough for skating have stiff prices as well, commonly pushing the $200 mark. Or how about a nice pair of carbon fiber Swix poles for around $300-$400?
Classic Diagonal Striding Poles:
These poles are shorter than skating poles and the quick fit is to have them just come up even with your armpits. Another method is measure from the ground up halfway between your chin and your lower lip and then subtract 10 to 15 centimeters. Personally, I like mine on the longer side because when you get on the snow you will be standing on the thickness of a pair of skis and the tips of the poles will be sticking into the snow a little bit, making your poles effectively shorter than when you tried them in the store.
By the way, the proper way to grip the poles is to run your hand UP through the straps from the bottom so you end up gripping BOTH the grip and the upper portion of the straps. This will allow you to push off with the pole using just your wrists versus having to hold onto the grip.