Hiking Poles/Trekking Poles ... anyone try them and NOT continue to use them?

10:21 a.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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In the Beginner section there is a new guy in Minnesota getting some advice.

I didn't want to derail his thread so I figured it might be good to ask my question in a new thread.

I'm one of those people who started using Trekking Poles and am absolutely sold on them as a useful bit of kit that is virtually indispensable. Can't even imagine a day hike without using them anymore. Heck if my wife would let me, I'd use them at the shopping mall when she drags me out on the once annual visit I'm forced to make.

But I'm curious, have any of you folks tried them, and then STOPPED using them? If so, why?

Who has never tried them?

12:59 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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I like having my hands free, plus as I get tired I tend to hold my pack straps -  up by the shoulders.

1:16 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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melensdad...Ray Jardine advocates against the use of trekking poles...he believes they are unnecessary (with the right training and exercise)...and more importantly their use makes the use of an umbrella (which he sees as indispensable) difficult to impossible. Where I live and play I believe trekking poles are more practical than an umbrella...because most of the trails I use do not have many of the wonderful switchbacks and vast tracks of sun-exposed earth that the trails in the West have...the trails I use are mostly old hunters' trails and eroded run-offs which weave their way through heavy humid forest. If I was to ever switch my hollars for desert I would probably switch from poles to a long umbrella (that could be used as a walking stick when not in use)...but until then I think I'll stick with most folks and keep using poles.

2:36 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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I use them sometimes and then I don't use them. It depends on what trail and elevation..I have 6 long Distance Hiker friends who have done the AT and longtrail without them and 2 are on the Florida Trail without them,,Its just a preference...

2:40 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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I typically do not use them because I am always carrying a camera and taking pictures.  I need my hands free for that.  

2:49 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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Joseph,

I am an umbrella advocate but also use trekking poles.

Funny you mention the long umbrella as a trekking pole thing; I tried that unsuccessfully several times with several different umbrellas. None were up to the challenge and would be damaged beyond repair in a single weekend trip.

However, if you do find one suitable let me know!

3:09 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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Patman...I don't imagine umbrellas would last too long where you and I hike...I have enough problems with my poncho in the summer:-) I feel like the umbrella as a trekking pole would only be practical out west where under-growth...downed trees and the like aren't as much of an issue. For similar reasons I hate mesh on backpacks...within a trip or two I usually have holes everywhere...it isn't too much of a hassle to sew a piece of rip-stop in place of a mesh pocket...but it would be nice if manufacturers would have the option for us in the Midwest and East.

3:25 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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I find it amusing that so many hikers and backpackers think hiking poles are some modern, geeky contrivance to sell more gear, when for centuries walkers and travelers considered a hiking pole the most essential gear item, a veritable multi-tool before the term "multi-tool" was invented. It was used for pitching your shelter, as a probe for stream crossings and snow, a defense against wild animals and brigands, as a resting post, and with your companions, rigging a tripod to hold your cookpot over the fire. No woodsman would be without one. If one's staff broke or was lost, you immediately found a suitable tree or branch and cut (and carved) a new one. Your carving marked it as your personal tool. When cameras became fairly portable at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries, your hiking staff served as a monopod (I have a couple of monopod/hiking poles, one of which I have sometimes used as one of my two ski poles - it has an internal elastic and folds for storage, a many-years-old predecessor to the fashionable new "Z-poles"). I have seen one version from the 19-tens that doubles as an umbrella.

3:33 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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Bill, good mention....I use a trekking pole for many of my self pictures. I don't know if Black Diamond intended this use but I can plant a pole, push the camera in the wrist strap, adjust the direction and do timer shots. They don't always have a level horizon but usually works well enough. 

3:57 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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I credit my trekking poles with allowing me to start hiking after having gotten into a very unfit and decrepit state a few years ago.  The support they gave and confidence on uneven ground was great. I still use them now as I have roley ankles and they help balance. But not all the time; they don't suit overgrown trails, walking through long greas etc.

6:31 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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The thing that kept me away from trekking poles was the (many,many) images of people using them as some sort of 'power walking' tool, planting the poles with every stride. That doesn't work for me at all if I'm walking quickly (+ didn't fit with my self-image at all!).

Once I slow down on an uphill slog, or if I'm making moves that require a bit of balance (especially when carrying a pack) the poles come into their own.

I don't find a few rock scrambling moves or grabbing a quick pic with a camera to be a problem with poles - I just let 'em hang by the wrist straps. (You do have to watch that the pole doesn't snag behind you if you have any sort of basket on the pole, though.)

7:09 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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I usually find a good durable wooden stick in nature when I need extra support. I did try hiking poles once about 20 years ago, but found I rarely used them. A found stick is just as easily returned to the forest. The hiking sticks I had I used barely one 1/4 day and them left them against a tree with a little paper sign saying FREE. And left them behind.

9:55 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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In fact if you want a lightweight sturdy hiking stick or sticks, get a Century Plant (Agave) stalk that has been dried naturally in the desert sun. They are as light as styrofoam but very strong. 

1:12 p.m. on January 31, 2014 (EST)
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If I'm out for more than 2 days and I don't have to climb a lot, I really prefer the trekking poles, but for short hikes over rocky, hand-over-hand terrain, I'll typically leave them at home. I have been so frustrated with poles, on rare occasions, that I have flung them a considerable distance. But, for long hikes they do magic for my knees.

3:43 p.m. on January 31, 2014 (EST)
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I came back from an 80-mile hike in March 2013 with my knees shot. What I thought was simple "hiker's knee" turned out to be osteoarthritis. On this trek (and all previous ones) I had carried a home-made wooden hiking staff, that was more for effect than as a hiking aid. To be honest, I thought of trekking poles as trendy, unnecessary, and silly looking.

I spent a month in physical therapy, and my physical therapist told me trekking poles would reduce pressure on the knees by 25%.

I purchased Black Diamond Ultra Distance poles on a whim from Steep 'n Cheep and immediately set out to see if they could "save" my hiking. They have! I have not had a recurrence of knee pain since I have started using them--that's roughly 6 trips and 100-ish miles of hiking in hilly, uneven terrain. 

I expected to finish my days with tired, worn out arms. Instead, I hardly notice them. My arms are no less fatigued than simply swinging my arms at my side with a pack on. Ascending hills is much easier than with my wooden hiking staff.

So, while guys like Ray Jardine claim they are unnecessary, I disagree and will advocate poles to anyone who asks.

10:05 a.m. on February 1, 2014 (EST)
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I started with two trekking poles, but eventually switched to using just 1 about 99% of the time. Though I do carry both of them with me i just keep the other straped to the side of my pack. I typically dont use both unless i have a water crossing that it would aid in or some other type of sketchy terrain. The main reason being that I have my siberian husky Juno with me, so i always have her leash in one hand.

12:57 p.m. on February 1, 2014 (EST)
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There are times when I am on completely flat terrain and only use one pole (carry both) or I sometimes opt for using a canoe paddle like some of the locals here in the Coastal Plain.

Paddles are great at digging in sand, fanning a fire, putting between you and a Cottonmouth, or just beating the brush. They are truly multi purpose if you don't mind using one in this manner.

Trekking poles in general definitely reduce the stress on my body especially with heavier loads.

 

12:59 p.m. on February 1, 2014 (EST)
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GaryPalmer said:

In fact if you want a lightweight sturdy hiking stick or sticks, get a Century Plant (Agave) stalk that has been dried naturally in the desert sun. They are as light as styrofoam but very strong. 

 Thanks for the heads up Gary!

Locally we use Bamboo in this manner.

1:38 p.m. on February 1, 2014 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

I started with two trekking poles, but eventually switched to using just 1 about 99% of the time. Though I do carry both of them with me i just keep the other straped to the side of my pack. I typically dont use both unless i have a water crossing that it would aid in or some other type of sketchy terrain. The main reason being that I have my siberian husky Juno with me, so i always have her leash in one hand.

Wow, you keep your dog leashed on trail? I almost never see that and as someone who really doesn't like strange dogs running up to greet me with no owner in sight I'm impressed.

On topic...I went from using a single big stick as a walking staff to trekking poles about 10 years ago.  Poles really help me control my speed on downhill sections which is vital to me keeping my toes happy.  They come in handy for balancing on climbs and water crossings and they are great for keeping time when speed hiking level trails too, but for me I carry them for my toes ;)

8:07 p.m. on February 1, 2014 (EST)
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Treks aren't really 'poles' but of course that is their 'heritage'.  If that little piece of nylon handing down from the trek grip is used properly

http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/poles.htm

you can transfer some surprising amount of weight (energy) from your legs (via your skeleton through the wrists) to the poles.  Granted you have to have trained your upper body to do this.  But you only want to use the fingers and muscles controlling your hand (some of the smallest in the body) to only flick the trek ahead.  Don't need to use a lot of grip power.

If you put 20 pounds per stride on the treks you will have transferred about 40,000 pounds per mile* from your legs to the treks.  In a day, this gives you about an extra hour's worth of leg power to push a bit farther or just to lay back and enjoy the evening.  Just taking the weight of your arms on the treks adds up.  Your arms are about 6% of your weight.

*Usual caveats about stride length, incline and skill level.  1000 steps for each foot and trek plants per mile.   Your results may vary and things appear much smaller the farther away they are.

8:12 a.m. on February 2, 2014 (EST)
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on really bumpy, rocky trails that feature more than a little scrambling, my trekking poles are a nuisance - so i collapse and stow them.  if i travel by air and don't check bags, i always bring a day pack and the necessary gear for day or weekend hikes - but i leave the poles behind because i would rather not wrestle with airlines about bringing them on board.

otherwise, i use and abuse them.  

9:34 a.m. on February 2, 2014 (EST)
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LoneStranger said:

TheRambler said:

I started with two trekking poles, but eventually switched to using just 1 about 99% of the time. Though I do carry both of them with me i just keep the other straped to the side of my pack. I typically dont use both unless i have a water crossing that it would aid in or some other type of sketchy terrain. The main reason being that I have my siberian husky Juno with me, so i always have her leash in one hand.

Wow, you keep your dog leashed on trail? I almost never see that and as someone who really doesn't like strange dogs running up to greet me with no owner in sight I'm impressed.

On topic...I went from using a single big stick as a walking staff to trekking poles about 10 years ago.  Poles really help me control my speed on downhill sections which is vital to me keeping my toes happy.  They come in handy for balancing on climbs and water crossings and they are great for keeping time when speed hiking level trails too, but for me I carry them for my toes ;)

 I most certainly do. And in camp I keep her on a 20ft tieout. She's a siberian husky and by no means can she be trusted off leash for even a second, she would be gone with the wind. She is on leash going over, and through all obstacles. Hardest part is a water crossing with swifter moving water because she gets scared. Thats where I go back to using two treking poles .

12:56 p.m. on February 2, 2014 (EST)
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My wife swears by her hiking poles.  She first tried them at the recommendation of the guide on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and loved them.  She loved the support for her knees, and the extra security against falling down on treacherous trails.  She will not hike without them--not even a day hike. 

She was so sold on them that I also tried them, and hated them.  First of all, they are extra weight.  I don't like that.  Second of all, just like an elliptical workout machine, they actually require MORE effort, rather than less.  I don't like that either.  Thirdly, my legs don't need the help going uphill or on the level, so I ended up either carrying them tied to my pack or in my hands on those sections of trail, which struck me as really dumb.  And finally, i found that I spent more time thinking about where I was going to put the point of pole with every damn step than I did looking around at the trails (even worse when we bushwhacked.) 

Then again, I played semi-pro soccer when I was younger (I am now in my sixties) and still bicycle thousands of miles per year.  I find that the poles actually get in the way of my sense of balance, rather than preventing any falls. 

Yes--they do help your knees on the descents.  Early last summer, when I was struggling with a knee problem, I used them.  I still hated carrying them on the uphills and levels--they didn't help me there except for the really high granite steps--but they did ease the shock for my descents. 

But if I hit a very steep section of downhill, I can usually find a stick that will work for that section.  And I still hike faster than my wife, so I can take it easy on those section and still not slow us down. 

So yeah---I tried them, felt they were helpful for certain situations, but definitely NOT worth the extra weight and work the rest of the time,

10:44 p.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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Tried it once and just didn't like it.  I like to keep my hands free, for my camera, to pick things up (I am constantly picking up things like geological specimens), etc.  I have always had good balance and have no problem boulder hopping with a full pack, so I have not felt the need for something for balance.  The only time I think they are handy is when crossing a deep fast-moving stream, but I usually pick up a branch for that purpose.

9:02 a.m. on February 9, 2014 (EST)
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I use them alot..

Would not hike with out them..

It may be mental but I feel they help me.

P.S. Speacock Great Link!!

11:56 a.m. on February 9, 2014 (EST)
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When I got off the couch, I needed poles for nearly ANYTHING. I use them for trekking, but sometimes only one one and for couple mile outings I don't sue them at all.

11:33 a.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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Anybody watch any of the cross country skiing events in the Olympics?  There is a reason they are flailing those sticks. In EU, especially Scandinavia,  there are a few demanding summer time run/walk contests that use treks. 

You don't need to flail the trails to get results from them.  On trails it turns out to be a personal preference.  The physics are there.

During summer we use them to peg out the tent or to keep the 'barn door' window awning up (Stephensons Warmlight).   In winter they are excellent 'dead men' used to nail the tent to the ground in a blow.

The kids, when younger, said it was like having an infinitely long set of handrails along the trail.

I have a camera attachment point on the top of one of my treks that is used as a mono pod.  A friend attaches a small level to his to determine how high he is in relation to the other side of the valley.  I think he has used it once.  He lost the level the first time out.

We use the set that will collapse to the smallest size,  lighter weight and cheapest.  Sierra Trading Post (.com) have Komperdells, no spring action, cork handles for under $60.  We no longer have matched sets :) . If you get twist tightened ones, you have to keep the innards clean.  Black Diamond has a Flicklock to set length and better in winter when it is VERY cold.  Hard to twist a cold pole tight with ice covered gloves.

Its not rocket science and just a step up from a wooden stick.

1:36 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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giftogab said:

 for couple mile outings I don't sue them at all.

 Your inner-lawyer is coming out, GoG! :D

7:10 p.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
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I only started using them last year. I only turn 30 this year but a nagging knee injury from my high school baseball days started creeping in when I did more intense 15+ mile hikes so I decided to get poles. Best decision I ever made... I can go further and faster over rough terrain and my knee issues are almost negligible. I'm happy that I can extend my hikes and likely add years to my hiking lifetime by limiting further strain and damage. I still do shorter hikes over easier terrain without them, but for long distance, I will never be without them.

9:31 a.m. on February 14, 2014 (EST)
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They are nice for walking of course, but last night I'm pretty sure they were what kept me and my tent from flying away in the blizzard.  So much easier when setting up in gale winds to bring along a couple of nice sticks to use as deadmen rather than fishing around in the snow trying to find the locally grown variety.

11:52 a.m. on February 14, 2014 (EST)
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G00SE said:

giftogab said:

 for couple mile outings I don't sue them at all.

 Your inner-lawyer is coming out, GoG! :D

 good gawd! I cannot type!

5:34 p.m. on February 17, 2014 (EST)
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I used to use them, they are gathering dust in the gear loft now.  I often need an ice axe anyway which is heavy and handy enough without adding anything else for my hands to use. 

I do feel they can save knees on steep descents though so I harbor no ill feelings to those who chose them.  

A locally harvested stick is fine for fording streams then when I am done with it I leave it there for the way back or the next person.  With a trekking pole that's called littering

10:16 a.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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;)

5:23 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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I find them to be useful for backpacking, to unweight the legs joints and provide balance. For day hikes or hunting with a day pack and a rifle they get in the way. The few times I have started out with them, I have ditched them to be picked up on the way out.

4:33 a.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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I am accustomed to use them. Without them, I will be very fear.

12:22 p.m. on March 13, 2014 (EDT)
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I have tried trekking poles, and I do see the benefits of using them. But I just like my hands free. I still take them out with me on occasion, but they usually end up strapped to my pack.

Maybe as I get older and my back gets worse, I'll use them more.

10:45 a.m. on March 17, 2014 (EDT)
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The attitude of "I will use them when my X (X = back, knees, legs, etc) gets worse" seems to be very prevalent amongst the hikers I know.


I tend to look at using poles as more of a preventative measure to save my joints, rather than use them as a crutch after I have already done the damage.

To each their own though, just my point of view on a seemingly more controversial issue than I would have imagined!

:)

10:39 a.m. on March 19, 2014 (EDT)
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I think hiking poles are a placebo - if you want to like them you will.

1:12 p.m. on March 19, 2014 (EDT)
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Ed G said:

I think hiking poles are a placebo - if you want to like them you will.

What exactly would they be a placebo for? Creating multiple new contact points with the ground changes the way weight is distributed on your body... not really a placebo but rather a very distinct physical effect.

Though I do agree that people can and do convince themselves to like anything, just as they can convince themselves to dislike anything for a variety of reasons.

10:58 p.m. on March 27, 2014 (EDT)
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They are helpful on the downhills for the old knees; on easier trails and quick stepping , and on up hills they can be a nuisance.

11:05 a.m. on March 28, 2014 (EDT)
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Hiking poles are like any piece of hiking gear, you take the right gear for the right terrain. If I go hiking in the White Mountains I love my hiking pole, but trekking across the Long Range Mountains of Gros Morne National in Newfoundland I like to leave the pole behind. 

It really boils down to your personal preference on the equipment you take based on where you hike. Like anything else I hit blogs like this one and do exactly what you are doing. A friend once told me the best advice comes from those that have been there, never is this more true then in back country hiking. Gained more knowledge and enjoyed the backcountry more cause of the person who said "when you get to this point keep an eye out for this you love it" or the navigational tip to help you through a tough area.

So back to poles sometimes yes and sometimes no it depends on the terrain and area.

11:39 a.m. on March 28, 2014 (EDT)
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melensdad, I'm an advocate for trekking poles. I had similar thoughts on the poles as many do at first, such as them looking "goofy" and "seeming unnecessary." I'm only 26 but have had a few long hikes and when I had some aggravation in my knees, a friend let me borrow his poles. I could feel the pressuring decreasing from the previous day's hike.  Like G00SE said, around 25% less pressure.

Another thought to add is to not solely rely on poles for your knees, but to also prep your body for the upcoming hike.  Acclimate your body for the trail ahead by jogging, running, or working out on a step mill or other (more) high impact workout other than walking or elliptical.  Get those muscles, tendons, and bursa used to the road ahead. Don't forget to stretch!

Trekking poles can also double for your shelter's poles.

10:18 p.m. on March 28, 2014 (EDT)
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Daniel Oates said:

"Trekking poles can also double for your shelter's poles."

Yep, and this is a huge plus if you carry a tarp or hammock & tarp - or even plastic sheeting for that matter. 

3:40 p.m. on April 8, 2014 (EDT)
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Trekking poles serve several functions, but their utility is sometimes exaggerated.  Their main purpose is improving your stability as you navigate uneven terrain.  I do use trekking poles when hauling a pack cross country, as the soil condition often is unstable underfoot, in addition to the steep grade frequently encountered.  But I usually use a tall staff on trails, as it better performs the need for additional stability on those sections of trail where balance and control are challenged.  I find trekking poles are not as well suited for this application, as they require adjustments for each obstacle; otherwise the length is too short or long, requiring you to reach or stoop to get the pole to provide balance and support, compromising their effectiveness in these instances.  A long staff, on the other hand, proper length is obtained merely by shifting your hand up of down the staff.  It is a very efficient balance aid.  Additionally a long staff is superior for negotiating steep downhill sections, since trekking poles have limited maximum extension capability.  My staff is a six foot section of one of those green, plastic coated, tree stakes available from any local nursery.  They are cheap, and surprisingly lightweight.  Additionally the plastic coating has a ridge pattern in it, providing an ideal grip surface the entire length of the staff.

Another reason folks prefer trekking poles is they can improve walking efficiency.  Flicking trekking poles requires an arm motion that facilitates a more efficient walking motion.  Try walking with your arm passive at your sides, then walk swinging them synchronized to your stride.  You should notice your gate feels more powerful.  But that same arm swing can be accomplished without poles.

Two reasons folks uses trekking poles I do not agree with, despite the alleged research.  Folks say the poles take some weight off their legs; and that poles allows the arms to contribute to the forces required to locomote you forward.  I assert the effect of poles in both instances is minimal at best.  Anyone who has XC skied uphill will attest using your arms to keep from slipping backward will quickly exhaust your arms.  Likewise the push-off force generated with poles when performing trad XC ski kick & glide technique is minor, relative to the force generated by the legs.  Indeed experienced skiers will advise ski poles are principally used to facilitate balance and cadence.  As for taking weight off your legs, try this: Put a scale at whatever you think is the best height for you to apply a downward force with your hand, assuming the position of a hand gripping a pole.  I can apply about 30 pounds for a moment - but I would quickly fatigue if I tried doing this repeatedly as one would during the course of a hike.  In either case our arms can contribute only about five pounds of force momentarily when required to do this repeatedly over a duration of time.  Our arms are not designed to support our weight, and since most of us are not performing specific arm strengthening exercises the effect of using arms ands poles as a source of additional strength in the stride or to support our pack and body mass is marginal at best.  Thus I am inclined to agree with the comment that use of trekking poles in this regard yields mainly a placebo effect. 

Thus I only use two poles when skiing, or traveling off-trail along rugged terrain, or over ice.

Ed

5:25 p.m. on April 10, 2014 (EDT)
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I tried using 2 trekking poles once and I prefer just a single pole. The walking stick way is more relaxing and has saved me from a fall now and then, which makes it worth it when you are out a couple days in the wilderness.

Joe

10:35 a.m. on April 11, 2014 (EDT)
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@whomeworry    I'm glad you qualified your post with "sometimes " in your very first line!  I would like to know what you do with your staff if you don't want to use it while on a hike.  Also, what is light?  You look much stronger than me.  I am always looking for the cheap way out no matter the situation though I still need my gear to work.

@ Jeff    So what are you going to do with those lonely poles up there in your gear loft?

Now for my story:

On my winter trip, all but 2 of us had poles.  Going up and down those relatively steep hills in southern OH wasn't any problem, but everyone moved so much faster.  Now age could have played a part, since I am about 10-15 yr older them ;)  I also wear a knee brace.  After 3 acl reconstructions over a 16 yr period with the last one in '96, I decided I never wanted to go through that again so the brace.  My left big toe needs a new joint too.  Given all my achy breaky parts I decided that I wanted to give them a try.

I got my wish 2 days ago on a hike lead by a local outfitter.  They have demos on hand for those without.  By gosh, I was impressed!  It took some getting used to though.  When I thought about it, I found the whole thing to be too complicated. However, as I went along, chatting with fellow hikers, I fell into a rhythm and voila!  

I got to bring my demo poles home to use both on a quick overnighter tonight and another hike with my backpacking group tomorrow.  I'll post what I think of poles while carrying a pack when I get back.

4:15 p.m. on April 11, 2014 (EDT)
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SweetPea36 said:

..I would like to know what you do with your staff if you don't want to use it while on a hike.  Also, what is light?  You look much stronger than me.  I am always looking for the cheap way out no matter the situation though I still need my gear to work.

 

The trails I hike usually require frequent but momentary use of a staff.  When not using my staff I just carry it in my hand with one end pointing forward, the other end pointing back.  It's only slightly more obtrusive than carrying around a smart phone.  The staff is light enough to compare to trekking poles - the green tree stakes are thin wall tempered steel tubes, similar to ski and trekking poles except the tree stake is coated with a plastic skin.  But don't take my word, go to a nursery, pick one up, check 'em out.

I may be stronger than you, but if my arms fatigue trying to muscle along with my poles, you can bet your arms will not fare much better.

You can do several things to reduce discomfort and fatigue of a bum knee.  I also have a knee that required multiple (4) operations - various repairs,  ligaments, cartilage, and joint surface shaving; probably not much left under the skin!  I found the doctor's advice to keep my legs strong instrumental in improving both day to day comfort, as well as getting effective performance from my legs.  Those straight legged lifts they advice you do before your surgeries are an excellent way to accomplish this.  You will get more out of these lifts if you try to write the alphabet with the pointed toe of your lifted leg.  I probably do several thousand lifts a day, while sitting, laying, even a modified variation when standing.  I also cross training other sports; cycling is an EXCELLENT conditioning exercise for non-arthritic knee joints.  When my daughter was younger chasing after her and  her friends, playing tag and soccer were my workouts.  I do things like taking the airs, parking at the back of the lot, and try to get in 30+ miles a week walking.  But avoid activities that shock load your joints; jogging is not advised!  My point is relief from a non-arthritic knee is best achieved maintaining a more active lifestyle, with the emphasis on movement activity, not weight lifting.  If I slack off it takes only a matter of a few weeks before the discomfort level raises.  It is literally use it or lose it.

Of second most importance to lame knee joint maintenance is maintaining overall strength and flexibility.  Yoga accomplishes both.  Drop a dime on an instructor or book and check out stretches that focus on all the muscles groups along the back side of our bodies, from the ankle to the neck.  Also look into stretches and positions that strengthen the small core muscles; usually these exercises place you in positions that require constant, subtle shifts in body positions to maintain balance.  To an observer it doesn't look like exercise, but after five minutes you will know you were putting up an effort, and will feel an immediate improvement in you back as well as your legs.  If you can climb three stories of stairs without your legs getting tired, and can touch you palms to the ground doing straight legged bends from the waist, you will notice a significant improvement, regarding your knee.   

I am now solidly into the ARRP ranks, yet still backpack ludicrous loads, usually having the heaviest pack in the group.  I like my camp comforts and good food.  But I will cut back on weight on my solo trips where I tend to push further daily.  If my knee is sore when I reach camp I will wade thigh high into the freezing cold Sierra Lakes; it works wonders, just like icing down, and brings significant, immediate relief, as well as reduces the swelling and suffering the next day.  I also watch my weight.  Folks like to brag about reducing their backpack kit weight by a few pounds, but I find my feet can't tell the origins of the weight they support, and most adult Americans can lighten their load ten to twenty pounds through body weight reduction, sticking to a proper diet/activity regimen. 

Lastly hiking is not a race (at least for most of us).  I used to be able to literally jog and bound up steep Sierra trails under a 75'+ pack, but nowadays I craw along in last place.  We all hear a drum beat, though not the same drum.  The folks you pack with will respect your limitations, and be glad you are out there.  Much as we don't desire crowds in the backcountry, we cherish the company of each and everyone of our buds who are fortunate enough to be able to make the trip. 

Ed

5:34 p.m. on April 11, 2014 (EDT)
179 reviewer rep
191 forum posts

My wife swears by two poles but I can't stand having both my hands full all the time, and thankfully I don't need two of 'em.

We've also chopped a good ten to fifteen pounds offa our packweights in the last few years and that has helped more than anything else.

If you can walk ten miles without trekking poles but need 'em for a ten mile walk while wearing yer backpack, maybe think about lightening up some?

I remain a one-pole kinda guy, either an old school wooden staff or something newer.

 



  

 

November 21, 2014
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