I’ve been breaking trekking (hiking) poles since I started using them. Aluminum or carbon fiber, it doesn’t matter. The same with three-piece, two-piece, and one piece poles, and twist lock or flick-lock style poles. I used to break a pole every 6 months, on average, usually by catching the lowest section between two rocks. Forward momentum took care of the rest.
But I haven’t broken a trekking pole in nearly two years with one simple trick. I keep the snow baskets on my trekking poles year-round. Since I started doing this, I haven’t broken any trekking poles, which I think is kind of incredible. I don’t know if you’ll have the same results, but you might want to give it shot if you break a lot of poles.
Summer Trekking Pole Baskets and Snow Baskets
Trekking poles often come with two types of baskets: summer baskets and snow baskets. I say often because some manufacturers, like Black Diamond, don’t include snow baskets with some of their trekking poles anymore. The purpose of summer baskets is to prevent the tip from becoming wedged between two rocks, while the purpose of the snow basket is to provide flotation and stability when hiking on snow, so your tips don’t plunge down into it.
Both types of baskets screw onto the tips of your poles (if they have a threaded tip), although some manufacturers use a less secure bayonet-style mount. The baskets are usually interchangeable across trekking pole brands, as long as they’re threaded. This used to be the norm when most trekking pole makers had standardized on what was called the Leki Tip, but you can’t count on that anymore.
The problem with summer baskets is that they’re not large enough to prevent many trekking pole tip entrapments, particularly those that cause broken poles. But snow baskets are and will prevent many entrapments by spanning gaps between the rocks and roots that typically cause a pole to snap. Because of their width and size, they also telegraph more proprioceptive feedback back up the pole to your hand, which can alert you to changes in the terrain and footing.
If you a break a lot of trekking poles, try keeping your snow baskets on year round. Yes, you’ll look like a dork and people will tell you that they’re not needed in warm weather. But this little trick can save you some money on pole replacements and will amaze your friends. Try it.Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!