I thought I would discuss a subject I have been asked about at least 1 Million times – possibly a little less but close – in almost every ski resort I have visited, should I use my ski pole straps or not?
It’s one of those questions that depending on who you ask you will get a different answer, this is my view – if you agree or disagree please jump into the comment section below and let me know.
The answer is both!
2 good reasons to not use straps on your ski pole and 1 good reason too!
No, I’m not sitting on the fence here, hear me out.
Depending on what type of skiing you are doing prioritises the good and bad of why you would use ski pole straps.
Just to be clear from the start this is a picture of a ski pole strap in case you didn’t know what one looked like. 🙂
Let’s start off with why you WOULD use ski pole straps
Picture the scene if you will, you are on your ski holiday with your family and decide to race your son down the strife without your hands in the straps. You whizz down faster than Graham Bell on a Sunday and as you take a corner at Mach 2 you drop your pole!
As you are travelling so fast the pole is 100 metres up the piste before you can stop. That is a long and tiring walk up unless another “ski racer” is kind enough to stop and pick it up for you.
That’s a light-hearted scene but there is a more serious reason why you would use ski pole straps.
As an off-piste skier there are times when you can put yourself in, let’s just say “not sensible positions”.
I mean standing at the top of a couloir which is only a metre and a half wide and steep enough to make you clench your bottom can’t seem sensible to a non-skier.
So, whilst standing there with butterflies in your belly you know if you fell now you would be earning your wings too soon.
Every jump turn needs to be on point, so a little help with the balance from your poles is very much required. If you drop an unstrapped pole now it could make your next 10 minutes much much harder.
On top of this, the climb up the next peak with just one pole is not what I call “fun”.
A very good reason to be strapped in then.
OK so let’s defend the reason to NOT use ski pole straps
My first reason not to use straps is mostly a concern for learner skiers but could affect all levels of skier.
We all fall over from time to time, some more than others, and some who seem to have a magnetic pull where they spend more time cuddling drifts of snow than being clipped in. These tumbles can sneak up and bite you at any point whether you are bouncing through fluffy pow or trying to survive an ice patch with some style.
Falling in powder isn’t so much of a problem compared to an ice-slide-and-bump when It comes down to wearing straps or not.
But falling at speed – there is rarely a slow ice-slide-and-bump – and landing with all your weight on one or both ski pole grips can soon become an ice-slide-and-bump-and-break.
I think only secondly to knee injuries the broken wrist is the most common ski break. I would guess at least all of them the skier had their hands in ski pole straps.
I would so prefer to stop and pick up my pole than nurse a broken wrist for 6 weeks, so this is one of the reasons I think you shouldn’t use ski pole straps.
My final thoughts on the use of straps are for the off-piste skier and could help decide if you live or not.
OK, that’s a little dramatic but hear me out.
Avalanches occur every day and as much as us humans try to avoid them sadly avalanches do take skiers lives. If you have ever been on an off-piste course or attended some training on what to do in an avalanche – Hats is a very good one and recommended – one thing all avalanche experts agree on is that when the avalanche stops moving, it sets like concrete. So, the last few seconds before everything stops moving are very important. Being able to swim and keep on top of as much snow as possible increases your chances of survival so the last thing you need is an attached pole dragging back your arms as the pole is being caught up in the very powerful snow.
There is something you can do with your pole in an avalanche which could make it quicker for someone to find you. This tip is a little off subject – I resisted writing “a little off-piste” – but as it’s an important tip the more skiers know about this the better.
If you are ever in an avalanche “try” and keep hold of one of your poles – hand not in the strap – and keep it pointing to the sky, therefore, increasing the length of your arm by an extra metre and a half. If you’re buried your fellow skiers might just see your pole sticking out of the snow and find you under it.
So back to the question, should we use ski pole straps or not?
Well, it’s up to you but I personally don’t unless I’m at the top of that couloir. Let me know your thoughts and situations when you use or not.
I wanted to discuss this question for people who already have ski poles, however, there is another option if you are in the market to buy some poles.
Another option we can throw into our mini-debate is pole straps that automatically disconnect from the pole in emergencies. The idea for these pole straps is that you always have your wrists in the straps and if enough force is applied the straps will disconnect from the poles.
I’ve tested several versions of these but only tested disconnecting manually – didn’t fancy falling over many times to test – by pulling on the straps. They work fairly well, however, I tried several pairs of the same models and there was a difference in the amount of force needed to disconnect, which would make sense when mass-producing products.
You can buy these types of poles like the Leki Giulio for around £65 and go up from there. I haven’t tried the top of range poles of this type which “might” allow you to adjust how hard the force is needed to disconnect. You can easily spend up to £200 which is a lot of money for a couple of sticks.
Let me know if you have got some of these poles and if they are any good.