Ski Poles vs. Trekking Poles

Ski Poles Vs. Trekking Poles

Poles are critical companions in the mountains. Whether inbounds skiing or trekking into Aconcagua base camp, backcountry skiing or towing a sled into camp high on Denali, poles give the body very necessary support and aid. Not only do they absorb shock in the knees or add power to a big uphill step, but they also help us to keep our balance and move with good posture.

Which poles are best for which activity? Here we breakdown why specific poles have specific purposes, and how to choose the right poles for your trip.

Fixed Poles (One-Piece)

If you’re skiing inbounds at a resort, enjoying the good, bad, and slapstick found whenever chairlifts are involved, a one-size single-section fixed ski pole is appropriate. For this activity you’re only moving downhill, and so you can pick a pole of the right size for your height. Very simple constructions make fixed poles the cheapest variety. However…single-section poles are only appropriate for downhill skiing. Don’t plan to use this kind of pole for backcountry skiing or climbing.

Backcountry Ski Poles (Two-Piece)

Ski Poles Vs. Trekking PolesFor ski-only pursuits – inbounds and backcountry – 2-section poles are common. Typically, 2-section poles hold up better to the stresses placed on them while skiing. For backcountry uses, 2-section poles can be adjusted for uphill/downhill travel. Depending on the angle of travel, a longer or shorter pole is most efficient – so this adjustability is critical and worth the minor sacrifice in overall pole strength as compared to a fixed pole.

When traveling to ski, we most often have a long ski bag in tow that will easily accommodate our ski poles, whether fixed or two-piece.

Trekking Poles (Three-Piece)

Finally, for any non-skiing pursuit, 3-section poles are best. 3-section poles offer the greatest adjustment range, first of all. In the alpine environment, it’s common to traverse steeper slopes. In these situations it’s very beneficial to be able to shorten your uphill pole dramatically. 2-section poles don’t offer enough range for this. As wellSki Poles Vs. Trekking Poles, it’s common to use a single pole on a climb along with your ice axe. This means you’ll want to stash your spare pole on your backpack, so it’s key to have a pole that can shorten sufficiently so as not to stick out like an antenna.

The other major advantage to 3-section poles is that they’ll fit into most luggage! On your climbing trip, you’re likely to use a duffel bag for transit rather than a long ski bag. Duffel bags – even the biggest duffel bags – aren’t long enough to fit a collapsed 2-section trekking pole.

 

ALPINE ASCENTS BLOG

  • What Type of Boots Do I Need for Climbing?

    By Dani Osman Getting your mountaineering kit dialed in can be a complicated, strenuous process – So many options! So many opinions! – and rarely is the process more stressful than when it comes to boots. As literally and figuratively the base of the whole operation, getting your boots right can make or break your […]

  • Training for Mountaineering Webinar

    Climbing big mountains requires incredible endurance. You don’t necessarily have to move fast, but you have to keep moving for hours, days–sometimes even weeks. Training to have an excellent aerobic base is critical, not just for that continued movement ability, but also for your body’s ability to recover, day after day. On January 30th, Senior […]

  • Women on Top: Expert Advice from a Mountain Guide Webinar & Tips

    There have historically been fewer women than men in mountain sports, but that statistic has been changing as more women establish first ascents, inspire others by summiting challenging peaks and find cohorts of other women climbers. At Alpine Ascents we are fortunate to have more than 25 female guides and offer dozens of women’s programs. […]

Partners & Accreditations

Alpine Ascents International is an authorized mountain guide service of Denali National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
© Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved. Alpine Ascents International