World-class skiers, instructors around the globe and anyone who wants to stand out on the mountain are clamouring for some exciting new kit coming out of Tignes this season. Poleplant’s new personalised bamboo ski poles are ready to hit the shops and the slopes. So we took a cheeky tour of the workshop and got the inside track…
The set-up and the careful crafting of the first 50 pairs is down to a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised double its target amount, so popular has the Poleplant concept proved to be.
It seems a no-brainer. Bamboo is perfect for ski poles as it’s light, strong, sustainable and naturally pole-shaped. But growing as it does in all sizes, colours and nobbly bits, it’s been impossible to mass produce into poles. And that’s the beauty of them! Each Poleplant pole has been lovingly created by Gabriele and no two are ever the same.
Read our previous story for more about the campaign and the company’s origins.
Now the Poleplant website is up and running, and you can order your own custom poles delivered to anywhere in the world. Get your signature or logo laser cut onto the pole, and choose the type and colour of your handle and custom-made basket (each set comes with both a powder and a piste basket).
We caught up with Gabriele in his workshop at the back of the Palafour building in Tignes Le Lac, to see where the magic happens. He took us right through the process, which starts with a bundle of 50 raw poles just delivered from the suppliers. Although they’re sorted and picked according to his measurements at a warehouse in Holland, around 5% of the poles he gets delivered have to be discarded as they’re not quite the right size. This might mean some local fishermen get lucky as it could be used for flyrods.
Gabriele then carefully cuts the remaining bamboo to size, working out where to slice at just the right thickness for the handle and basket. It’s vital the tip end is the right diameter as the tip is slotted right up into the hollow of the bamboo, rather than stuck on the end, making the poles even sturdier and less likely to snap. Gabriele takes the cut bamboo into the workshop’s bath, washes each pole so it’s completely clean and leaves them to dry. Once the tip is screwed in, the pole is engraved with the Poleplant logo and any personalised message request, using a laser machine. The pole is then coated in linseed oil and left to dry for 24 hours. Gabriele recommends you coat your bamboo poles in linseed oil before the start of each season, to keep the wood supple and alive, though it’s not essential. Once dry, the poles are polished to a finish and a heat shrink is applied over the tip so the basket can be screwed on. The handles are fixed onto the other end, and they’re ready to take on the mountain!
Working on his own, Gabriele can produce about 70 pairs a week, but from the Autumn he hopes to take on 2 staff to help. He’s planned to sell 200 pairs in the first year and next summer go to the bamboo farms in China to source it direct from farmers, once he can bring in bigger order numbers.
He’s already had applications from instructors in Canada, Japan, NZ and India (!) to be brand ambassadors – using the poles and selling them – and the poles are endorsed by famous names in skiing Silvia Moser and Val d’Isere’s Leo Taillefer.
Poleplant has got a stand booked at the London Ski Show in November and if you’re in Tignes you’ll see them in many of the independent ski shops. However, to get the customisation and to choose your colours, you’ll have to buy from the website.
To WIN a paid of personalised poles enter our competition now.