There’s only one meaningful difference between a trekking pole and a snowshoe pole—and it costs as little as $7 to upgrade your summer poles for snow-tromping fun. The key item you need? A snow basket that prevents your poles from piercing deeply (and uselessly) into the snowpack.
Most trekking poles come with a small basket just above the tip. While this diminutive accessory is helpful at keeping your poles from sinking into soft dirt, it is close to worthless in all but the most hard-packed snow.
Fortunately, it’s easy and inexpensive to replace these standard hiking baskets with a larger snow basket. The only annoyance is that you have to buy a set of snow baskets separately. What’s more, every brand uses a different attachment system for baskets, which means you must purchase the ones specific to the brand of poles you own.
Here are the three most common:
|Leki Snowflake Basket|
I strongly recommend using poles with snow baskets while snowshoeing, especially if you’re new to the activity or if you’ll be traveling over a mixed snowpack that alternates between harder and softer sections. They greatly aid your balance, plus they make it much easier to right yourself if you take a tumble in soft snow.
Lastly, note that you do occasionally see poles marketed as “snowshoe poles.” They come equipped with snow baskets, but many feature only two collapsible sections, which makes them more cumbersome to pack and carry when not in use.
Equipped is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.