All About Snowshoe Poles

If you’ve been following our snowshoe series you may have noticed that we haven’t discussed snowshoe poles yet! I have mixed feelings about snowshoe poles so we’re going to spend a few weeks talking about them.

Today we’re  asking the question: “Do I really need them?”

First, a little description of snowshoe poles. Snowshoe poles differ from regular old ski poles in that they have a telescoping shaft which allows the snowshoer to adjust the length of the pole. Think trekking pole only with a basket. The components are as follows: grips with straps, telescoping shaft, baskets which allow the pole to float on top of the snow and tips.

I use poles when:

  • The snow is really deep.
  • I have a baby or toddler on my back.
  • On icy terrain.
  • On a technical trail when balance is an issue.

I prefer not to use poles when:

  • I’m snowshoeing with a toddler who is also snowshoeing and needs a hand to hold onto (more on snowshoeing with kids later).
  • I have a baby in a front baby carrier.
  • I’m pulling a child on a sled.
  • I just want my hands to be free.

Honestly most of the time I don’t use snowshoe poles but just an old pair of cross-country ski poles that have a permanent home in the back of my SUV.

There are a few things to think about when you’re purchasing a pair of snowshoe poles.

1) Look for a pair that is also a trekking pole so you can get the most use out of them just by adding a basket.

2) Make sure that they have a comfortable handle with adjustable straps.

3) Read some reviews and buy a pair that doesn’t suck. Al and I both have cheaper snowshoe/trekking poles that collapse when we put a lot of weight on them. It is very annoying. It’s worth it to spend the money on a good pair of poles.

Do you use poles when you snowshoe? If so can you recommend a good brand/model for our readers? Or…do you prefer not to use poles?

Be sure to check back next Wednesday, we’ll be talking about how to size a pair of poles and the correct way to put on a pair of poles.

For more in our snowshoe series check out these posts

* Bonus Content: Should Snowshoeing be an Olympic Sport?