I speak to a lot of people who spend money on special ski tour poles. But with a few modifications to your existing ski poles you can have the perfect tool for ski touring that are strong enough for all ski purposes and will hopefully last you a long time without the need to spend your hard earned cash.
The first thing to do is get bigger off-piste baskets suitable for deep and soft snow. The bigger basket provides extra flotation and support preventing the pole from sinking any deeper than needed. A smaller basket will only disappear into the deep snow and make the going quite tough. You can normally get these bigger baskets on line. I picked mine up from a ski shop who were happy to get rid of a few spare parts. Just make sure they fit your make of ski pole.
The difference in size between a Piste pole and an off-piste pole
The second thing I do is wrap about 15cm of insulating rubber tape around the top of the pole under the handle. When ski touring, your uphill arm is usually further down on the shaft of the pole. This makes ski touring more comfortable and stops the blood pouring out of your hand that would occur if holding the handle above your head. The tape acts as grip tape, stopping it slip down the pole as you use it for support. It has the second benefit of preventing the metal ski pole acting as a heat sink for your hands.
Self-Amalgamating Rubber Tape (see below) can be found in any hardware store…
The tape has a backing strip that needs to be taken off so the rubber can bond with itself as you wrap it around. Don’t forget this as you will spend ages wondering why the tape is not sticking as I did, doh!. This tape is essentially just a strip of rubber which, when stretched and stuck back onto itself self-fuses, so there is no adhesive involved to come unstuck when wet. As you apply it you need to stretch it out so that the elastic pull creates a sort of tensioned fusing joint where it contacts itself. Remember this tape has no glue and so it does not stick to things – you need to tape it to itself for it to stick. I do put duct tape at the top and bottom of my wrapped section for extra security.
You can also use this method on Ice Axes as well.