Feb 21 2014

1st Look: Ski Baskets with a lift


The new shape of baskets to come. Lift basket not only pushes, it can pull too.

The new shape of baskets to come. Lift basket not only pushes, it can pull too.

One of the new directions in ski pole development has been a recognition of how limited the function of most baskets are. Yes, they provide a resistance to pole planting in soft snow but when it comes to using that disk for anything that requires a bit of backbone for support they’re next to worthless.

Some are better than others, and there have been attempts to make baskets more utilitarian but I think most have missed the mark for true backcountry utility. That will soon change.

Features of the patent pending Lift Basket.

Features of the patent pending Lift Basket.

Hugh Patterson has come up with a basket that is semi soft for about two-thirds of the arc with a beefier, rigid section that, for this first version is designed to integrate well with the heel lifters on most passport bindings. No doubt they work well with AT bindings, but how do they work with smelly tele bindings? The Hammerheel even works with powder baskets, so no trouble there. It works well with the Freedom climbing posts but the tough ones, like Voile, TTS, or Black Diamonds 01 are definitely tougher, but doable, thanks to a pair of small hooks on the top side, for grabbing tough climbing wires that need some persuasion to stand up. Don’t even think about using a regular ski basket for that task. In some cases a beak on a pole grip can do those things better, but few poles have a hard enough lip on top to do that reliably and sometimes it would be nice to keep the grip in your hand and let the tip do more than poke. With a more rigid basket, like the Lift-Basket, you can.

What’s the problem with ‘em? A few things. As you might expect, they’re heavier than standard pole basket, about 50% heavier. Is that enough to negate the swing weight advantage of carbon fiber poles? Not completely, but you’ll will notice it, then adapt and forget about it. If want more utility weight is part of the price.

Secondly, at the moment, the demo pair I received were for a much thinner pole tip than I, or most backcountry skiers I know, have. Backcountry skiers that are just venturing away from the lifts may be using cheap aluminum poles where these baskets will work fine, but most adjustable ski poles come with thicker diameter composite tips. Lift-Basket entrepreneur Hugh Patterson knows a basket for BC ski poles needs to be offered. Thus, I haven’t actually used them on a ski tour. They need a lot of reaming out to make that possible.

Side view so you can gauge the hieght of the hooks on the basket.

Side view so you can gauge the hieght of the hooks on the basket.

Which brings me to the third problem with these poles. They are nyet, as in, not yet available.

Hugh launched a kickstart campaign to fund production costs and it appears it was successful. If you’re interested and know you want a pair contact Hugh yourself and help launch his business with an advance order.

© 2014

  • Raggi_Thor

    I’ve been wondering why you Americans have such big skis but small baskets :)
    I have 12cm diameter baskets on my mountain touring poles, almost 5 inches that is, a simple plastic ring with two leather strips in a cross.

  • Raggi_Thor

    .. or a metal ring almost the same size on adjustable Gipron..

  • http://ern.reeders.net.au/blog/ Ern Reeders

    Those old style baskets are good on hard packed snow as the basket doesn’t work as a lever for the tip to dig divots. How much more effective contact area they have than the common 10cm basket for better soft snow planting would need to be measured though.

    The Grivel Condor (if you can find one) uses a 10cm basket mounted via a ball joint as another solution to divot digging.

  • Ross Collins

    Yeah but do they open a beer?