Why ski poles of bamboo?

Well, because bamboo ski poles are durable for skiing and sustainable for the climate!

“Just a grass, bamboo has the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel.”

Bamboo makes durable and strong ski poles

Bamboo is an outstanding natural material with the tensile strength of steel and the compressive strength of concrete. Bamboo ski poles provide a perfect balance between rigidity and flexibility and do not bend like regular aluminum poles or snap like carbon fiber poles. It is a fact that my kids’ bamboo ski poles are as straight before winter as after the season, which has never happened with their aluminum poles. A bamboo stick never breaks off totally. If it cracks, it will do so along the fibers and can usually be repaired temporarily with tape. And it stays straight. Replacing a bamboo cane is pretty easy too.

As early as the 19th century, bamboo was used for ski poles, but it wasn’t until the 1920s, when Tonkin bamboo (Pseudosasa amabilis) entered into the world of skiing, that it became absolutely dominant. Tonkin got its western name from the gulf in the South China Sea, where it was shipped from.

Calcutta bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus) is another variety nicknamed after its port of export. This species has very thick walls, often solid, and is sometimes called “iron bamboo” for it’s extremely strong properties. It is tougher than Tonkin and more tapered, reminiscent in shape of regular poles. The Calcutta canes are therefore ideal for making ski poles. Bamboo ski poles are just as slim, flexible and light as premium aluminum or carbon fiber poles from established brands.

Since bamboo is a natural material, each pole becomes unique, and therefore more time and care is required to select and manufacture a bamboo ski pole. In addition, “it takes two to tango” and form a well-matching pair

“When bamboo is substituted for aluminum, concrete, plastic, or steel, there can be significant avoided emissions.”

Bamboo is sustainable for the climate and the environment

Both aluminum and carbon fiber are carbon sources. They require huge amounts of energy and are extracted and refined on an industrial scale. Bamboo is a carbon sink, that only needs sun, soil and a little rain to create itself. And while it does, bamboo binds carbon dioxide more efficiently than just about anything else on the planet. At the same time, it purifies the air and produces 35 percent more oxygen than trees.*

Bamboo grows incredibly fast (1,5 to 2 years for ski poles) and therefore rapidly sequesters carbon in biomass and soil. When bamboo replaces aluminum, steel, plastic or concrete, greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced. Long-lasting bamboo products are therefore excellent to store carbon over time. And since bamboo is both easily accessible and easy to replace if a pole needs to be repaired, it is perfect for a circular economy.

Calcutta bamboo is perennial grass species. Like all other bamboo, it grows in rugs and can thrive on inhospitable and degraded lands where the roots prevent soil erosion. When harvested, bamboo just shoot even more new shoots that quickly grow into new canes, ready to become eco-friendly and climate-smart ski poles.

* Collected research on bamboo’s ability to save the climate can be found on Project Drawdown. And in the publication Drawdown, p. 117, by Paul Hawken (ed.) 2018.
Bamboo cane being bent to demonstrate it's flexibility and strength as a ski pole.
Both Tonkin and Calcutta bamboo are very flexible, but remain straight. If a cane cracks, it will usually do so along the fibers and can be fixed with tape to be able to keep on skiing.
Calcutta bamboo is often solid or have very thick walls, while Tonkin bamboo is always hollow, with walls varying in thickness.
Calcutta bamboo is often solid or have very thick walls, while Tonkin bamboo is always hollow, with walls varying in thickness.