Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Poles: what you need to know

Often overlooked, selecting poles is an important consideration in optimizing your skiing experience. Important considerations are weight, stiffness, strength, and comfort. Therefore, we must consider the shaft, handle, and straps.

Fast Trax carries a variety of poles from Swix, Salomon, and Madshus to ensure we can pick the perfect pole for your skiing needs.

For simplicity, this synopsis focuses on Swix poles. 

Shaft:

The shaft for the pole can be constructed of either a carbon composite or Aluminum. The most important shaft properties are stiffness, weight, and strength.


Composite Shafts:

The lightest shafts are made of 100% carbon fiber to reduce weight and maximize stiffness. However, 100% carbon shafts are easily damaged by sharp-edged impact and are prone to breaking in the event of a fall. By replacing some of the carbon fiber with fiberglass, the impact strength increases dramatically. Although the weight also increases, a blended shaft is a good choice for a junior racer or loppet skier who may take a tumble from time to time.

Aluminum Shafts:

When the percentage of fiberglass in a composite shaft reaches 60%, the weight becomes so high that aluminium is a better alternative. Aluminum poles are less expensive and much more durable than composite poles. This makes Aluminum a great choice for a skier who is just learning to enjoy the sport.

Handles:

Handles are first and foremost a question of comfort. A soft handle feels better in the hand than a hard one. Also, a handle make of nature cork feels warmer than a hand made of plastic. The Swix handles are available in three versions:

PC - soft rubber grip zone that is comfortable with high durability. Available on the Comp pole.
PCU - cork filled, urethane grip zone with better insulation qualities and high durability. Available on the Cross and Carbon poles.
PCC - 100% natural cork grip zone, best insulation qualities, perfect felling in the hand, and lightweight. Available on the Team, Star, and Trian poles.

Straps:


High level skiers have been using velcro straps for many years. All skiers can benefit from using this type of strap due to the additional feeling of security and control it provides. The velcro strap is standard for Triac, Star, Team, Carbon, Cross, and Comp poles.

Less expensive models offer simpler straps such as the traditional loop or shaped straps. Although these straps do not offer the same level of comfort and performance, they are fine for beginners.

Summary of Poles:

CT5 (Comp):
  • 50% carbon fiber
  • PC handle
  • Among the most durable composite poles
CT4 (Cross):
  • 65% carbon fiber
  • PCU handle
  • Compared to Comp: 10% lighter
CT3 (Carbon):
  • 80% carbon fiber
  • PCU handle
  • Compared to Cross: 11% lighter, 7% stiffer, 3% stronger
CT2 (Team):
  • 100% carbon fiber
  • PCC handle
  • Compared to Carbon: 15% lighter
CT1 (Star):
  • 100% carbon fiber
  • PCC handle
  • Until the introduction of Triac, the gold standard in poles for more than 10 years
  • Compared to Team: 4% lighter, 25% stiffer, 13% less strength
Triac 2.0:
  • 100% carbon fiber
  • PCC handle
  • The most technologically advanced pole on the market today
  • Compared to Star: 11% lighter, 19% stiffer, 11% stronger
  • Stay tuned to the blog for a detailed review of this amazing pole