Snowshoe Poles and Bags
The truth is I am not really a fan of snowshoeing after I discovered that I can run on trails with these nifty things called YakTrax and if there is any bit of powder out there you won’t be able to find me anywhere but on my skis. But snowshoeing is an easy and affordable way to explore the winter landscape and it is a great way to get introduced to winter sports.
Unlike other winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and snowkiting, snowshoeing is easy to learn and relatively inexpensive to get started. All that you need to get started in snowshoeing is a pair of snowshoes and suitable footwear.
While not required, snowshoe poles can help you balance and even navigate wintery terrain. You also may need a snowshoe bag if you plan on taking your snowshoes on a plane. A snowshoe bag is also nice for protecting your snowshoes, as well as your car’s interior, when traveling by car.
Honestly I can’t figure out the difference between trekking poles and snowshoe poles and I really don’t understand why we need separate poles for skiing, snowshoeing, and trekking. I used my ski poles as trekking poles for years (although not recommended) before I threw down the money for some trekking poles.
Snowshoe poles are essentially trekking poles with large snow baskets. You can either purchase some snow baskets for your regular set of trekking poles or buy a pair of specific snowshoe poles. I would suggest going with a good pair of trekking poles and adapt them for snowshoeing. I would recommend any of the “standard trekking poles” in our Best Trekking Poles for Hiking and Backpacking.
But if you insist on having a pair of poles specific for snowshoeing, here are some good ones:
Crescent Moon is a popular maker of snowshoes so their trekking poles are made with snowshoeing in mind. Constructed from aircraft grade aluminum, the Crescent Moon Snowshoe/Trekking Poles are designed for all seasons and conditions.
The 3-section adjustable poles fit most people from 4’6” to 6’4”. As a bonus, the poles come with both a powder and disc basket and they have an adjustable shock system that can be turned on and off with a simple twist.
The MSR Denali II Snowshoe Poles are 2-section poles that adjust from 32 to 59 inches so you can easily adjust them to fit the terrain, plus they shorten for easy storage and travel. The pole’s aluminum construction is strong and durable enough for winter travel. The steel tips provide traction across a variety of terrain and the snow baskets provide flotation in deep snow. The powder baskets can be removed for hiking adventures.
The reasonably priced Atlas 2-Piece Snowshoe Poles are lightweight and sturdy enough for snowshoeing. The poles have a smaller adjustment range than the MSR Denali, they only adjust from 41 to 51 inches. Soft rubber grips are ergonomically shaped for comfort and hand straps are fully adjustable. Steel tips will give you good traction in all sorts of conditions and the powder baskets will keep you afloat.
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Every hardcore snowshoer needs a safe place to store their snowshoes while they travel. Look for a bag that is ventilated and/or has a drain hole so you can place your sopping wet snowshoes right in the bag and not have to worry about them getting all mildewy.
The MSR Snowshoe Bag has a ventilated top to dissipate moisture and a drain hole at the bottom of the bag to drain snowmelt. Made from tough, abrasion resistant nylon, the MSR bag can handle getting tossed around a bit plus it has webbing loops to you can easily attach the bag to your backpack’s exterior. The shoulder bag holds snowshoes up to 25 inches long and has an exterior pole attachment to secure your collapsible snowshoe poles.
The Tubbs Snowshoes Napsack is constructed from a durable nylon and mesh material so your snowshoes can dry out in the bag. Adjustable shoulder straps let you carry the snowshoe bag like a backpack. Available in three sizes, the Tubbs Snowshoes Napsack will make carrying your snowshoes to the trailhead a breeze.
Crescent Moon Snowshoe Carrying Bag
The Crescent Moon Carrying Bag is designed specifically for Crescent Moon snowshoes and fits all Crescent Moon models except for Model 17. The bag is made from a heavy-duty canvas with a ventilated front pocket and a waterproof liner. The Bandelero style bag is worn over one shoulder.
[Photo courtesy of photogramma1]