Snowshoeing poles vs trekking poles

12:26 p.m. on December 28, 2010 (EST)
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Hello - What is the difference between using snowshoe poles vs. a trekking poles with a snow basket?  Nothing I've read explains what makes a snowshoe pole different.  I hope this hasn't been asked yet but I have searched here and elsewhere and have not found the answer.

1:25 p.m. on December 28, 2010 (EST)
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Do manufacturers sell them as separate items? I would'nt think there would be much difference between them as mosst hiking poles are made so they can have a snow basket put on them.

2:01 p.m. on December 28, 2010 (EST)
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Yes, from what I've seen they are sold as separate items.  Just marketing, or is there actually a difference?

3:10 p.m. on December 28, 2010 (EST)
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Some of it is marketing, some is not. Trekking poles, especially the more expensive ones, usually have a shock absorber in them, which you don't need for snowshoeing. If you already have a pair, sometimes the shock absorber can be locked out. They also usually collapse for travel or carrying or adjusting for trail conditions. That is helpful on snow. Poles can be made from different materials-carbon fiber/graphite or aluminum are the most commonly used.

You can use cheap ski poles, often found in second hand stores for around $10 or you can buy top of the line carbon fiber poles that cost around $200 or anything in between.

Not sure if anyone makes poles out of fiberglass, but if so, stay away from them. If they break, they are unrepairable. With poles that come in sections, if you break one, you can replace the broken or bent piece. However, I think it's fairly unlikely you will be putting the force on a pole while snowshoeing that you might while skiing so unless you have a bad fall, I wouldn't worry too much about breaking one.

Whatever you get, make sure they have snow baskets on them.

btw, the poles I have in my picture are Leki Makalu poles which I got at REI a few years ago. They are aluminum with twist lock sections. The locks tend to slip in winter, probably because they get wet inside the lock mechanism, which given the cost of these things is annoying. I hear that Black Diamond flick-locks work better.

4:22 p.m. on December 28, 2010 (EST)
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Tom D pretty much covered it. Most of it is marketing hype. But basically any trekking pole with a snow basket and no shock absorber will work just fine.

I use BD alpine carbon cork poles year round regardless, all I do is just put on the snow baskets when applicable.

8:19 p.m. on December 28, 2010 (EST)
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Thank you for the helpful info.  I actually was given a pair of LL Bean Ultralight Carbon snowshoe poles as a Christmas gift (I think they may be made by Komperdell) and was wondering whether it made practical sense to keep them or exchange for trekking poles, which I could use year round by switching baskets.  But perhaps it's the reverse - keep these and use them year round.   Thanks again.

7:52 p.m. on December 30, 2010 (EST)
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I'd keep them unless you want something with a shock absorber. Swapping baskets should be fairly straightforward.

October 30, 2014
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