I rarely snowshoe with trekking poles. It’s just not something I do. I like having my hands and arms free to use a camera, examine local trees, check e-mails on my blackberry, and throw snowballs at passing snowmobilers. I feel somewhat restricted when using trekking poles; plus, I’m not a fan of most pole handles because they’re too rigid and only provide standard handgrips (nothing too creative). However, I recently used a replacement pair of pole handles called ChukGrips, which have completely changed my perception on the power of trekking poles.
What most pole manufacturers forget in the design of pole handles is that the wrists are just as important as the hands. Most pole handles seem dismissive of hand/wrist ergonomics – they’re designed to be lightweight and durable. I get it. The last thing any snowshoer wants is a weighty pair of poles; nonetheless, the handgrips should be comfortable to grasp.
So, what are ChukGrips? They are multi-positional, ergonomically correct pole handles. Not only are they great for snowshoeing but they’re perfect for hiking, walking, cross-country skiing, and mountain climbing.
The ChukGrips provide the proper positioning of the hand and wrist in relation to the poling stroke. It’s similar to gripping a steering wheel in the 10-2 position, and far more appealing than gripping a regular pole handle like a handgun. The comfortably shaped main grip of the ChukGrip is angled to enable the snowshoer to keep the poles inward and close to the body, increasing the power and efficiency of each pole plant. Especially geared for large, bulky gloves, the ChukGrips are essential for ascending and descending steep, snow-covered terrain – as it is important for arduous treks in deep snow.
Because I don’t own a pair of telescopic trekking poles, I had an old set of ski poles that worked great for my set of ChukGrips (ignoring the inability to adjust their length). My old pair of Scott brand ski poles have the standard handgrips and offer no snowshoeing benefits (and had gathered some cobwebs in the basement). But, once I removed the old grips with a hacksaw, I then easily installed the ChukGrips in their place.
Tools needed: hacksaw, drill and a screwdriver.
First, use the hacksaw to remove the old handles from the poles. Each Chuckgrip has a hand strap that’s anchored to the base of the grip with a screw and washer. Unscrew and remove the hand strap from the ChukGrip. This will allow you to line-up where to drill a hole for the hand strap, which also helps keep the ChukGrip in place. Drill the hole, install the ChukGrip on the pole and then reinstall the hand strap to secure the ChukGrip to the pole. Easy stuff.
Here’s a short video demonstration that will help further explain how to make a pair of bland ski poles into a pair of awesome ChukGrip poles for snowshoeing:
With the ChukGrips, I have given my ski poles new life. They are now an essential part of my snowshoeing equipment, simply because I received an effective upper body workout (and I could feel it the next day). In fact, I can’t remember the last time I used these poles for anything other than skiing, which was years ago. Now, my ChukGrip poles hang proudly by my snowshoes and winter sports equipment.
As I used the ChukGrips, my pole stroke and snowshoe stride were more consistent – amplifying my efficiency on the trail. Considering it was an early-season snowshoe outing, I haven’t found my snowshoe legs yet. The ChukGrips offered the support that I needed to get outside, snowshoe with confidence, provide the crucial stability to ascend/descend hills, and burn more calories per hour as a result of a solid workout.
If you have a pair of old, retired ski poles – or a pair of snowshoe trekking poles that need improvements – my advice is to replace the old handles with a pair of ChukGrips. The ChukGrips are available for purchase as standalone grips or in a complete trekking pole set: http://chukgrips.com/pro-shop.html.