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Being an avid skier I have ski poles lying around, so I've always used those.

Do proper trekking poles offer any advantages for snowshoeing?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted
  • Trekking poles can telescope down and pack away.
  • If you happen to have a shelter that uses trekking poles to hold it up, sometimes you need to be able to set your poles to a different height.
  • Some people also like to lengthen/shorten their poles depending on whether they are going down or up hill.

If your shelter doesn't require them, I think the answer is "Ski poles are fine". Then, in the rare case where you want to walk without poles, you can tuck them horizontally in the small of your back (through your pack straps). If you like to go up or down with different length poles, just grasp the ski pole at a different spot on it's body.

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If you're in the mountains then trekking poles offer a huge advantage in that they can be adjusted for uphill/dowhnill portions of the trail, otherwise ski poles are usually just fine. –  furtive Feb 5 '12 at 19:01
I'd also note that there are lots of ski poles that telescope away. Generally if you're already using backcountry-style poles they will be the adjustable kind. –  Greg.Ley Mar 5 '12 at 22:41

Trekking poles are lighter and sometimes easier to break than ski poles. Some have the advantage of folding up into a short package.

If you use trekking poles, you may want some with changeable baskets so you can put on some larger baskets that won't sink into the powder so easily.

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Oddly enough I have aluminium ski poles that I've bent by falling on them, but my carbon trekking poles have never bent. –  furtive Feb 5 '12 at 18:59
I've broken a carbon pole before -- does that count as bending? –  xpda Feb 11 '12 at 21:32

I have used both and it isn't really a difference to me. I would even prefer the ski poles, because they have baskets at the bottom, so that they can't sink deep into the snow. Trekking poles usually don't have this feature. So I would chose ski poles. But there are also two advantages if you're using trekking poles: Usually these poles you can adjust the length. This is very comfortable if you're wont to lend the poles, or if you cross a steep flank of a hill. In this case you can shorten one of the poles and increase the length of the other poles. Additionally, it is easier to carry them in your backpack because you can make them very short.

Definitively, I wouldn't use cross country ski poles, because they're usually just too long.

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Most trekking poles have baskets as well. The leki poles I have also have replaceable baskets, so you can change the size based on the terrain. They also, as you mentioned, collapse for storage and adjust height for going up vs down hill. –  Timothy Strimple Jan 24 '12 at 21:41

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