Just as you should wear your ski socks when trying on ski boots, prior to purchasing poles, you should always wear your gloves. Then, determine how much you want to spend, and how much longevity you would like from your poles.
For example, while aluminum poles are the least expensive, in the event of a wipe-out, they might flex or break completely. Composite poles are much more durable and in recent years, their prices have begun to drop. Be sure to choose poles that are suitable for the type of skiing you prefer. If you are a telemark skier, you will probably want to take a look at double or triple section adjustable poles. These specially-designed poles can be linked together to create avalanche probes, which are a crucial safety feature for backcountry skiers.
If you have kids, resist the temptation to buy poles that re too long in the belief that your children will eventually "grow into them." Longer poles can cause injury. Since children's ski poles are relatively inexpensive, it's best to consider safety instead of price.
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