I recently decided to buy myself a set of poles. I was struggling with the idea for couple of months. When I’m running I want to have minimal amount of gear. Just essentials (or mandatory stuff the race needs, which is often more I’d like to ;)).
For buying a poles I just needed the length. Material etc. is easy - just the lightest possible. That also means the poles will be fixed length. Based on some research I managed to measure my forearm in 90° angle and rounded it down as the uphill propulsion is what matters, apparently.
Order placed and I was awaiting the package. When it arrived and I unfolded the poles my forearm wasn’t leveled. Not even close. I was rounding down, sure, but only few centimeters. I was at least five centimeters short. What happened? Then it hit me.
The measuring and selecting is little tricky. As it turned out the length of the pole is length or complete pole. From tip to the end of the handle. But your hand is holding the handle bit below the edge. So you really need to measure the hand to the very top and maybe even add one or two centimeters when comparing the length declared by manufacturer. I.e. this image - from Black Diamond as I was buying Black Diamond poles - is pretty off.
Hope it helps you to select proper length on a first try. In case you’re wandering what I’ve got it’s Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles.