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Trekking Poles Vs Ski Poles (Compared)

Trekking Poles Vs Ski Poles

Whether you are a seasoned adventurer or a newbie, poles can be helpful when trekking or skiing. Besides absorbing the shock, they help support body weight and allow you to maintain a proper posture throughout your adventure.

If you are wondering about the differences between trekking poles vs ski poles and if you can use a trekking pole for skiing, this post is for you. I’ll do a detailed breakdown of the differences between these two poles.

Can You Use A Trekking Pole For Skiing? 

Theoretically and technically, you can use a trekking pole for skiing. But hold on! Why are there two types of poles produced for these two activities if you can use one for both? 

Trekking poles and ski poles each have their own unique design and features that serve to assist the user in different ways.

Can You Use A Trekking Pole For Skiing

For example, the “powder basket” feature in the ski pole provides easy maneuverability to the skier while skiing. Since a trekking pole does not have anything like that, it won’t be able to provide the skier with the same function.

Another good example is bent ski poles. So, If you try to use a trekking pole for skiing, you’ll run into problems because it won’t give you the support you need.

Trekking Poles Vs Ski Poles

The main difference between trekking poles and ski poles is that trekking poles are typically longer and more flexible, allowing them to absorb shock while walking on rough terrain. They also often have rubber tips for better traction on the ground.

Ski poles, on the other hand, are shorter and stiffer, with a basket at the bottom to help with balance while skiing on snow. Additionally, ski poles often have a wrist strap for a secure grip while navigating through moguls or other challenging conditions on the mountain.

You can read more about adjusting ski pole straps here.

Trekking PolesSkiing Poles
Built with aluminum or carbon fiber and adjustable into greater lengthsBuilt with aluminum or carbon fiber or mixture of them and adjustable into smaller lengths
An excellent supporter when you walk uphill.An excellent supporter when you ski downhill
Not a good choice when snow sports are involvedEasy to handle and maneuver in the snow
They can get stuck in snow and mud and not effective for skiingExcept in rare cases, they won’t get stuck in mud, and it is more effective in the snow
Mainly used by backpackers and casual hikersOnly used by skiers

Since both pieces of equipment are designed for different purposes, their physical and functional differences are obvious. But let me explain the others in detail:

Materials Used In Construction 

Ski poles are made of aluminum or composite material such as carbon fiber and in some cases, manufacturers use graphite and fiberglass to construct parts of the pole. However, modern ski poles are made of a mixture of two or more materials to incorporate the characteristics of all materials.

Materials Used In Construction

Most trekking poles are also made from either carbon fiber or aluminum. Aluminum poles are inexpensive, durable, and flexible to use. On the other hand, carbon fiber trekking poles are expensive and prone to scratches and cracks. However, they offer you more support, especially when you are climbing down steep slopes.

 Design And Shape Of The Poles 

Skiing poles are pretty similar to trekking poles in shape and design. Moreover, they have similarities between the major parts, which are the grip, shaft, and basket.

The grip, shaft, and basket are the three main parts of a pole and some of the auxiliary parts include straps, locking mechanisms, shock absorber, and tips.

Shaft

Ski poles have either one or two-piece shafts, while trekking poles have three-piece shafts. In that case, trekking poles can be lengthier than ski poles. But the grip is often longer than that of a trekking pole to accommodate users climbing steep slopes.

Modern trekking poles come with three sections that can adjust the length according to your need.

Shaft

Basket 

The basket is the little disk shape component attached near the tip. The main difference between a basket of a trekking pole and a skiing pole is the size.

The basket of a trekking pole generally does not exceed a diameter of two inches. In comparison, the ski pole’s basket is 4 inches in diameter. The ski pole’s basket acts as a stopper when it sinks through the snow.

Costs

The exact price depends on the material it is made of and the availability of different features but ski poles are generally cheaper than trekking poles.

Trekking poles could cost anywhere between $125 to $225 where poles made with aluminum are cheaper than ones made with carbon fiber. Ski poles cost ranges between $70 to $150, however experts believe you should spend at most 100 bucks for a ski pole.

If you are in the market for a ski pole, make sure to read our guide on the best ski poles.

Benefits Of Trekking Poles

  • They give you great agility by supporting your weight when climbing steep slopes.
  • They can make your movements fast, as trekking poles allow you to balance your body along the narrow trails.
  • Trekking poles allow you to maneuver along the trails and absorb the pressure endured by your knee joints.
  • They offer you confidence in your footing while climbing uphill.

Benefits of Skiing Poles

  • They offer you the balance required when you are going downhill.
  • Shock-absorbing ski poles ease off the stress exerted on your knees.
  • It allows you to maintain a proper posture and relax your muscles, especially when walking down.
  • It increases your speed and bolsters your confidence. 

Bottom Line     

Trekking poles and ski poles are both useful gear for outdoor activities, but they serve different purposes. Trekking poles are primarily used for hiking and backpacking to provide stability and support on rough terrain, while ski poles are designed for skiing and help with balance and turning.

Technically you could use either type of pole for either activity, it’s not a good idea as it’s important to consider the specific design and features each pole offers.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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