Selecting Poles for Nordic Disciplines
Swix Composite Technology Nordic
For more than 25 years, Swix has been the leading innovator in the field of composite ski poles. Top World Cup athletes prefer Swix composite poles, and Swix is the natural choice for maximum performance regardless of skill level.
Selecting Poles for Nordic Disciplines
Selecting a ski pole is a question of the amount and type of skiing activity involved. Important considerations are weight, stiffness, strength, pendulum, and comfort. Any decision will involve assessing shaft, straps, basket and handle. Swix guarantees superior quality throughout the product range.
Which basket suits my needs the best?
If you primarily ski on groomed trails, then we recommend using poles with small, asymmetrical baskets. Small baskets are light and add a lighter feel and speed to the pendulum, while at the same time provide a solid platform on groomed snow. The disadvantage is that small baskets easily penetrate through loose snow. The Force basket (available in 3 sizes) or the large or small ’97 racing basket are recommended for racing.
If you like to ski in fresh snow and off-track trails, then we recommend large asymmetrical baskets that give good support. Large baskets weigh more and will reduce the speed of the pendulum. The recommended basket here is Tour Basket TR400, which also works well on groomed trails.
If you need poles for skiing primarily on ungroomed trails, loose snow and varying snow conditions, then we recommend leather baskets. Leather baskets provide the best support on varied snow conditions ranging from deep or grainy snow through to crusty snow conditions. Due to the weight and radius of the basket, this type of basket is less favorable in terms of shaft balance properties compared to the ’97 Racing Basket. Generally baskets of this type are not recommended for skiing on groomed trails.
Which shaft suits my needs the best?
Selecting an ideal shaft also depends on the amount and type of use. The most important shaft properties are stiffness, weight and strength. Weight has an affect on shaft balance – a lighter shaft ensures a better pendulum.
The lightest shafts are made of 100% carbon fiber. The disadvantage of shafts made of extremely light composite materials is that they are easily damaged by sharp-edged impact. For high-level competition racing, we recommend Force or Star, which are shafts built using a carbon fiber that ensures high stiffness properties (High Modulus Carbon Fiber). Weight, stiffness and balance are optimal in composite shafts. The Team shaft is somewhat heavier than Star, but is more resistant to impact. While Team is not as stiff as Star, the two are similar in balance properties.
Adding weight by replacing some of the carbon fiber with fiberglass has the advantage of increasing ruggedness. Although Carbon, Comp+ and Race are all strong and durable shafts, the additional weight reduces the balance properties compared to Star and Team.
When the percentage of glass fiber in a composite shaft reaches the 60% level, then the weight is so high that aluminum becomes a better alternative. Aluminum is stiffer, lighter and more durable compared to composite poles with a high share of glass fiber. Recommended alternatives are AluLite, AluStar and AluTeam, which feature hardened aluminum shafts. Although these shafts are much more reasonably priced, the added weight is a disadvantage in terms of pendulum properties.
What type of handle and strap should I choose?
Handles are first and foremost a question of comfort. A soft handle feels better than a hard one-component plastic handle, while a handle with natural cork feels warmer than a handle made of plastic. Swix offers two main groups of handles: PC handles featuring a variety of different materials, and touring handles that are simpler handles made of plastic.
Swix PC handles are available in three versions:
• Soft grip zone in rubber that is comfortable to grip and with high durability.
• Cork-filled thermoplastic grip zone offering good insulation qualities and high durability.
• Grip zone made of 100% natural cork – excellent insulation properties and lightweight, but less durable than the other two.
The Swix Just Click system is based on the PC handles and is available in three materials: cork, cork-filled thermoplastic and soft rubber.
The simpler tour handles available on inexpensive models are very practical, but are not as comfortable as the PC handles. The more technical straps such as Pro Fit, Comfort and BIA do not fit on these handles.
World Cup level skiers have been using professional straps designed similar to gloves for several years now. Most skiers will benefit from using a similar type of strap. For Nordic skiing on groomed trails, we recommend the same straps that are used on the World Cup circuit. Swix now offers two professional straps. «Pro Fit» straps are on Force, Star, Team and Carbon and will help you improve your skiing technique regardless of skill level.
The Just Click system offers the same design as the «Pro Fit», but with a more flexible strap. Just Click allows you to easily release the pole without having to take off your gloves or straps.
If you frequently need to adjust your straps because of thick mittens, etc., then we recommend the BIA strap. The wide and relatively soft weave is extremely comfortable and easy to adjust. The BIA strap is still not as practical as the Pro Fit strap, but a compensating measure is to buy a larger sized strap. With the new Swix Click system it is easy to switch to larger straps on cold days.
The less expensive models offer simpler straps such as a straight or shaped strap. Although these straps do not offer the same level of comfort and performance, they are fine for beginners and for shorter trips. If you ski often, however, we recommend that you invest in a higher quality strap.