All Poles Are Not Created Equal

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Gear
Gear 1104

They may not be the sexiest part of your ski setup, but these six sticks are worth a double take.

1 MORE THAN LOOKS

It may look like the most girly pole in town, but

Life-Link's Avalanche Lily

($100) is no airhead. Adjustable for skiing or trekking, it converts to a 74-inch avvy probe and also packs to 30 inches. life-link.com

2 NEW ENGLAND-STYLE Scott's

composite construction and ice tip grant the

A-12

($110) conviction on even cementlike surfaces. The contoured grip is anatomically engineered to give a...well, a glove-like fit. scottusa.com

3 SLEEK, BUT STRONG Goode's 10.4

($85) might be just 10.4 mm thick, but it provides six times greater strength-to-weight ratio than an aluminum equivalent.Its two baskets are easily interchangeable for powder or packed conditions. goode.com

4 UPHILL OR DOWN Should you find yourself hoofing it, Black Diamond's Fixed Length Pole ($80) gives you extra purchase. The basket's downward-facing teeth bite the snow, while the dual-density grip means solid control when planting. bdel.com

5 OVERDRIVE Doesn't it even look fast? K2's 5-speed ($100) is made with 10 strands of carbon, keeping it honest, light and dependable. Burnin' Yellow has a narrower grip for women, but the 5-speed comes in blue or silver for men. k2sports.com

6 SHAKE DON'T BREAK Salomon's Scream ($90) is disco-sleek and ready to boogie. The fiberglass/carbon composite offers strength and forgiveness. It won't sing I Will Survive, but no big loss. salomonusa.com

NOVEMBER 2004