Trekking poles

11:01 p.m. on June 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Do you guys/gals use no poles, one pole, or two?

 

I use two; I love the stability when going around tricky rock and slippery areas.

 

One question I have always wondered is why do people only use one pole? Is it for looks, couldn't afford 2, or is it something else?

Just a funny question, thanks for the input in advance.

1:04 a.m. on June 29, 2009 (EDT)
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Hmm, I myself don't use poles. If I need a guide on slippery surfaces or rainy days I just use a recently downed link of branch. But just to throw my thoughts into the loop, I think one pole would be for people that rarely use it and maybe don't want the bulk of 2? or perhaps they constantly need a free hand and just ditched the other one?

who have you seen that uses one pole?

6:03 a.m. on June 29, 2009 (EDT)
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Two poles seem alright for clear trails, but would be really annoying offtrail through brush, I would think.

I always carried a staff - it was my height and stout hazel - that I got in Scotland. Unlike a shorter, less robust hiking pole, the traditional staff can be used two-handed; it has some mass, so you can swing it forward for clearing a path through nettles; sheep recognize it as a tool of authority and make way for you; and it will never crumble under you when you most need it. The weight seems negligible once you are accustomed to it, you constantly change your grip as the ground changes, sometimes shooting it ahead of you to vault streams...

 

Two poles, nah, I need one hand free when I fall on my face.

8:16 a.m. on June 29, 2009 (EDT)
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I have two poles, Gossamer gear lightreks - like them much better than the aluminum poles. I always thought I didn't notice the weight of the heavier poles until it was gone. You really don't understand the difference until you try them.

I keep hearing that carbon fiber shatters.... well, metal poles bend, and locks jam or break, and all of them have their life span. So at 3.5 oz per pole for a multi use item that keeps me from falling on my face or being swept out to sea on river crossings, I'm there. Cannot imagine using a single pole trying to cross the Little Sur River in March. No pole vaulting that one. I've used them to deflect brush or animals, with a tarp for a tent, or to test boggy ground, among other things.

10:44 a.m. on June 29, 2009 (EDT)
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I use 1 of some extra stability / balance in rough terrain orbush wacking + I cant stand having something in both hands all the time like trekking poles.

11:28 a.m. on June 29, 2009 (EDT)
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Normally, for hiking, I use 2 poles (look at my avatar - ok, that's not hiking, but snow slogging while hauling 60 pounds on the sled). Years ago, I used a hiking staff. The uses and benefits of poles and hiking staves are different. For something like Kilimanjaro, having two poles is pretty much a necessity, especially on summit day when you descend a bit over 13,000 feet immediately after reaching the peak in one continuous stage from the summit to Mweka Campsite. Most people still end up with sore knees and sore leg muscles after that descent, even with poles to ease the load on that descent.

A staff (of proper length) can be combined with other companions' staves to make a tripod to hang a pot over the campfire, or in a slightly different configuration to make a washstand (yes, it works with the plastic fold-up basins if you configure it properly). You can't really do that with hiking poles.

Both a staff and poles can be used as a support for a tarp, and can be substituted for the support pole for pyramid tents like the BD Megamid (adjustables work best for this).

A pair of poles helps with keeping a smooth rhythm when hiking (if you use them properly), which provides an amazing boost to your speed (yeah, yeah, you could keep the beat by wearing your IPod or MP3 and turning ut up so loud your partners can hear it, too, but you will miss all the sounds of nature).

12:43 p.m. on June 29, 2009 (EDT)
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...... A staff (of proper length) ......

My question is what is the proper length of a trekking pole I realize it will be different for each person but is it what is comfortable for you or is there a rule for adjusting them?

I have always used this as a rule of thumb / Standing on flat ground with your wrist straight you four arm should be parallel to the ground, is this incorrect?

3:06 p.m. on June 29, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

...... A staff (of proper length) ......

My question is what is the proper length of a trekking pole I realize it will be different for each person but is it what is comfortable for you or is there a rule for adjusting them?

I have always used this as a rule of thumb / Standing on flat ground with your wrist straight you four arm should be parallel to the ground, is this incorrect?

I adjust my poles a little higher so they support the wieght of my arms and takes it off of my back and shoulders. Trekking poles are a must for me in order to keep my hands and fingers from swelling.

Gary C.

9:38 p.m. on June 29, 2009 (EDT)
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mike068 said:

"I have always used this as a rule of thumb / Standing on flat ground with your wrist straight you four arm should be parallel to the ground, is this incorrect?"

 

Yes, with your upper arm vertical by your side, lower arm bent 90 degrees parallel to the ground. But I think that is just a good starting point for level ground. On steep accents I like mine shorter, longer for descents. Really long for pole vaulting.

3:30 a.m. on June 30, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks guys at least I'm not to far out of the ball park and the accent / decent part make's sense or it would get kind of uncomfortable.

8:51 p.m. on June 30, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes, that's what I generally do. Then I inevitably fiddle to make them longer for donwhills and shorter for uphills, as trouthunter noted.

If it feels comfortable, then it's good.

I also have this obsessive need to make sure both of my trekking poles are exactly the same length. I will mess with them until I'm sure they're even. It does not matter if the trail is lopsided or uneven, the poles must be the exact same length.

11:00 p.m. on June 30, 2009 (EDT)
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I use one pole, mostly. I live in the desert and it's a great tool to poke around with, looking for rattlesnakes. It does come in handy for stability too!

11:56 p.m. on June 30, 2009 (EDT)
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I use them here in AZ and in utah if the trail is really really rough. But I try not to use them often, as many people become dependent on them. I'm not talking about people who have to use them due to injuries, age, etc. But you can test this yourself by hiking a mile or so with the poles, and then a mile just carrying them. Im willing to bet you pick up a heck of alot more speed without them.

9:30 p.m. on July 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I use two, and they save these old knees. Like Alicia, I am fastidious about having them "exactly" the same length.

A few years ago, my wife found an abandoned hiking staff by the trail and adopted it. A week ago we had our first "team" hike and she finally decided to get a pair. I will use the REI dividend for the purchase of a pair (I have been cruising the store for a reason to buy something).

4:52 a.m. on July 2, 2009 (EDT)
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I see that Titanium Goat has their poles available again. Does any one have any experience with these poles?

tm

5:35 p.m. on July 5, 2009 (EDT)
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base871:

I have tried this in the past and have actually done the opposite. When it comes to tricky rock areas and I do not have my poles, I tend to slow down so I don't lose my footing. With the poles, I cruise through everything and don't skip a beat. My rhythm is very important and it keeps my pace steady. I think if I didn't have my poles, I would be a mess on the trail. Thanks for the input.

ps. Ever jump the New River Gorge Bridge in WV? Always wanted to since I was at Bridge Day, but can't afford another expensive hobby. :)

12:08 a.m. on July 7, 2009 (EDT)
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No havnt done new river. I was signed up to go in 2001, but someone crashed an airplane into some buildings and ruined that for us.

7:42 a.m. on July 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I used a single hickory staff for many years. Still get it out for day hikes, and recently loaned it to a friend for a week on the AT and he loved it. A few years ago, due to aging knees, I started using dual trekking poles. Sure glad I did; it really helps take some of the load.

1:04 p.m. on August 6, 2009 (EDT)
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I used a single hickory staff for many years. Still get it out for day hikes, and recently loaned it to a friend for a week on the AT and he loved it. A few years ago, due to aging knees, I started using dual trekking poles. Sure glad I did; it really helps take some of the load.

I have a bad knee, due to an injury and a couple operations to fix it, and I've noticed that using a couple treking poles helps out a lot. When I've tried using a single staff my "good knee" would end up sore, but using dual poles has helped me to keep both knees feeling good.

10:04 p.m. on August 8, 2009 (EDT)
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I tried using a pair of poles but found I just didn't like it. I always carry one pole or staff now. My favorite is a hardwood broom handle with a crutch tip, wrapped with parachute cord as a handgrip and topped with a binocular rest. I also use a 2-section adjustable pole that extends to 5 feet 6 or so, also topped with a binocular rest. I use it for stability on rocks, when crossing over creeks on logs, and in steep descents. I also find it comforting just to carry it in one hand when not using it for stability.

4:29 p.m. on August 11, 2009 (EDT)
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As mentioned above I've also had knee operations so I find the pole as an extra knee, helps take the pressure off.

I find that when I want to make lots of ground I utilize both polls but when distance but when I want to take it slow and photography I always put the other in my pack.

11:32 a.m. on August 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Just got back from the "north country" of New Hamsphire, otherwise known as the Great North Woods. Three things came to mind while hiking 3 short steep day trips.

1. I'm REALLY out of shape!

2. I didn't have or want "rhythm", but did try a few times. Didn't make much difference, I was breathing way too hard.

3. I wish I had trekking poles! The descents, even tho' short, were brutal on my knees and stability was always a concern. This while watching my 15 year old son bounding both up and down the trails!

4:23 p.m. on August 29, 2009 (EDT)
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You see first you buy 2, then you go hiking with someone who has 0, the next thing you know you only have one.

3:42 p.m. on August 30, 2009 (EDT)
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For those interested I believe REI will be having 25% off all Leki trekking poles during their Labor Day sale.

5:32 p.m. on August 30, 2009 (EDT)
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You see first you buy 2, then you go hiking with someone who has 0, the next thing you know you only have one.

HaHa...so true! Sounds like the voice of experience.

2:33 p.m. on September 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I couldn't imagine hefting two poles along the uneven terrain of the High Sierra. I want at least one hand to steady myself around trees, boulders, etc.

12:44 a.m. on September 7, 2009 (EDT)
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I started out just using a staff about 15 years ago, but eventually adopted hiking poles. I cannot hike any appreciable difference without them anymore. I cannot count how many times they have helped me stablize, climb, and save myself from a nasty fall. And my hands no longer swell when I hike/backpack. I even take them dayhiking. I often even train using them.

Style, preference, age, health issues all contribute to one's needs and taste. I know my hubby harrassed me about my poles. Then I got him one to use that had a camera mount on top. Then we got him a second... :) He doesn't tease me any more :):):)

10:24 p.m. on October 5, 2009 (EDT)
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I tried poles while hiking on spring snow this year, was lukewarm about the experience as I ended up carrying them part of the time. I think they're still in my car trunk. Cross-country ski poles with the baskets cut off, incidentally, bought at a thrift store.

I feel like I need both hands free going across boulderfields and through brush. And for swatting mosquitoes.

But lots of people find poles helpful. Many different walking styles and preferences, all equally valid for their practitioners.

11:48 p.m. on October 5, 2009 (EDT)
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Hello OEJ

Cross country grips are very similar to fitness/Nordic walking grips and actually make you work harder.

No baskets make you likely to bend, break and plow in soft ground.

Current quality trekking poles are much more than ski poles.

Lighter, strong and compactable. Designed to make Hiking easier and safer

Find a store or friend, use them correctly..with straps, trek baskets etc.

There is a serious strenght difference in poles.

If it says something like 'for balance only, not body weight'

Please, what are they thinking?

6:42 a.m. on October 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks, Elder, but I've skied for years and find the Nordic grip-and-strap very familiar and ergonomic. As far as buying new specialty poles, no thanks -- at this time my travel style simply does not require them. Maybe as I age...I'm 53 now, so perhaps at 63 I'll feel more comfortable with poles. Or not.

5:58 p.m. on October 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Hello my first reply -I use one pole because no matter what I cant get co-ordinated enough with two-but like others I often change grips or hands.My pole also holds the front of my tent up so its multi use,recently I fell spraining my ankle badly 10km from my car and was glad to have the pole along -I wasn't using it when I fell!-a lesson there.One more tip if walking single file in a group and you are just "carrying" your pole hold it so the point is in front where you are less likely to spear one of your frien.ds

4:22 a.m. on October 19, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm almost 54.

I use a pair of old ski poles with baskets removed.

I think they cost all of one dollar at a garage sale.

They help me keep my balance, prevent my fingers from swelling, maintain a rhythm, 'pull' my way up steep sections like a truck in 4WD, take impact off my knees going downhill, flip snakes and poison oak out of the way, stabilize me when stream crossing, etc.

I've pushed down on a scale with about the same force I use when hiking and measured the 'weight' at nearly 10 lbs. per stride... that adds up to a LOT of weight off my knees at the end of the day.

They don't have shock absorbers or telescoping mechanisms but for a buck, I can live without the bells and whistles. I can 'choke up' in a heart beat if I'm on an incline and stick them under my arms or strap them to my pack if I don't feel like using them.

They also serve double duty as tarp poles.

Perhaps the best dollar I ever spent.

3:45 p.m. on October 19, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes, that's what I generally do. Then I inevitably fiddle to make them longer for donwhills and shorter for uphills, as trouthunter noted.

If it feels comfortable, then it's good.

I also have this obsessive need to make sure both of my trekking poles are exactly the same length. I will mess with them until I'm sure they're even. It does not matter if the trail is lopsided or uneven, the poles must be the exact same length.

Comfort is what it is all about.My knees love poles on the descent with a pack on.But i can relate to the need to have them the exact same length.I dont know what that is all about due to the fact that no part of the earth i plant them on is anywhere near level.Ah but it does let my mind rest at ease knowing that they are the same length.

8:06 p.m. on October 19, 2009 (EDT)
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But i can relate to the need to have them the exact same length.I dont know what that is all about due to the fact that no part of the earth i plant them on is anywhere near level.Ah but it does let my mind rest at ease knowing that they are the same length.

I know. I'm perfectly capable of walking on uneven ground without any problem or complaint, but the poles must be equal. It's a compulsion.

9:44 a.m. on October 20, 2009 (EDT)
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I know. I'm perfectly capable of walking on uneven ground without any problem or complaint, but the poles must be equal. It's a compulsion.

I'm the same way. I've memorized the height markers that I like to use for my poles.

12:03 p.m. on October 20, 2009 (EDT)
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You guys must not do much traversing on steep terrain. I find that the ability to adjust (or swap) the poles so that the uphill pole is shorter and downhill is longer makes a big difference. Going up steep snowfields switchbacking I find it makes a huge difference. If it is a short distance, I will just "choke up" on the uphill pole. By steep, I mean slopes greater than 35 or 40 degrees (yeah, yeah, I know, 38 deg is the angle at which the percentage of avalanches is maximum, but sometimes the snow is consolidated). It really makes a difference at 50-60 deg. And yes, I have measured these from time to time with my avy clinometer, since I am well aware of the tendency to overestimate the slope (lots of people call 30 deg "straight up" or "absolutely vertical" - when I do star talks, people will call an object at that elevation angle "straight overhead"). I don't bother, though, with 10 or 15 deg slopes, since the difference is only a few inches (5 or 6 inches at 15 deg).

1:23 p.m. on October 20, 2009 (EDT)
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You guys must not do much traversing on steep terrain. I find that the ability to adjust (or swap) the poles so that the uphill pole is shorter and downhill is longer makes a big difference. Going up steep snowfields switchbacking I find it makes a huge difference.

We don't believe in switchbacks in the East, Bill. Just go straight up!

5:55 a.m. on October 23, 2009 (EDT)
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We use two Leki trekking poles.

8:38 p.m. on December 9, 2009 (EST)
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I use one. An old battered Blackdiamond. It is an excellent addition to my gear and saves a lot of strain on my knees.

My wife uses two and it has speeded her up a lot and they have improved here confidence on rough grounds a lot! Recommend em.

5:57 p.m. on December 10, 2009 (EST)
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http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/poles.htm

Is the go to page on what to think about and how to use.

If trek poles are used properly you need two. One thing that separates a trek from others is generally the little bit of material that hangs from the grip. That, when adjusted correctly, puts a thrust weight on the wrist and then to the bone structure rather than the relatively weak muscles of the hand/arm.

If you put 20 pounds per step (stride) on the poles (a lot of that is just the weight of your arms), then over a mile you have transfered 40,000 pounds from your feet to the treks. So have to plan on getting a bit of upper body strength along with cardio and legs, etc.

If you don't have two, you will be simply carrying the one most of the way. The poles are normally 'flicked' out and ahead using no hand muscles except to control where it is going. If you are pounding up steep hills then you can use them as extra handrails to hunker that pack and your bod up there. Cross country or in rocks, its probably time to take advantage of the collapsed size in the pack.

Blackdiamond arguably has the best adjustment. But I have been getting by for many years on the lightest per pair, smallest when collapsed, and cheapest, no kant to the grip and no springs. Komperdells fit my needs just fine if you keep the twist mechanism clean. Sierratradingpost have them for around $50/pair at times.

Its not rocket science, so you don't necessarily need the most expensive. They will all break or bend if you put a lot of torque from a near fall on them. But if you come out of it relatively unscathed, they have done their job.

*And Alicia is right. The eastcoasters do not seem to have discovered or acquired the advanced technology of the inclined plane - switchback - and most of their trails seem to follow a creek bed or an exposed ridge*.

1:27 p.m. on December 19, 2009 (EST)
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I totally agree with those posting for using two poles. I went to two Lekis for a 2005 Nepal Trek and have never used any other method since.

Off trail, on rough ground, it is like having four feet instead of two.

On two 16 day Nepal treks most all poles were either Leki or Black Diamond and the Black Diamond owners seem a little prouder of "how quickly" theirs adjust.

I bent the bottom shaft of my Leki on the 2005 trip when both feet went out from under me on a steep "ball-bearing gravel" section. Put all my weight on one pole that was well behind me and slowly set down. Afterwards I called up Leki, explained it was all my fault and tried to buy that section.

They sent it to me for free. Nice people.

4:36 p.m. on December 19, 2009 (EST)
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I love the Black Diamond adjustments but I quit BD when I found out they do not support their product. Leki has a Life time warranty and basically no questions asked. The tip of my BDs broke off and BD would not make it right. I was willing to buy the lower section but they said I had to buy the two lower sections. The bottom line is that I would have spent about as much as the set cost to continue using them. I wnet to Leki and glad I did.

8:16 p.m. on December 19, 2009 (EST)
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You guys must not do much traversing on steep terrain. I find that the ability to adjust (or swap) the poles so that the uphill pole is shorter and downhill is longer makes a big difference. Going up steep snowfields switchbacking I find it makes a huge difference. If it is a short distance, I will just "choke up" on the uphill pole. By steep, I mean slopes greater than 35 or 40 degrees (yeah, yeah, I know, 38 deg is the angle at which the percentage of avalanches is maximum, but sometimes the snow is consolidated). It really makes a difference at 50-60 deg. And yes, I have measured these from time to time with my avy clinometer, since I am well aware of the tendency to overestimate the slope (lots of people call 30 deg "straight up" or "absolutely vertical" - when I do star talks, people will call an object at that elevation angle "straight overhead"). I don't bother, though, with 10 or 15 deg slopes, since the difference is only a few inches (5 or 6 inches at 15 deg).

Thanks bill.For traversing on foot or skis i do adjust them short and long,it would be very awkward to traverse a 45 degree slope with both poles the same length.I was reffering to general backpacking on trails and direct decents and ascents.

7:57 a.m. on January 2, 2010 (EST)
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poles are a must for me they take da pressure off my knees and help greatly on da up hills as well as da downs.i dont use them in deep snow thoe.

10:54 p.m. on January 28, 2010 (EST)
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I am probably one of the biggest hypocrates when it comes to this topic! For the longest time I had seen people on the trails with two poles and kind of laughed thinking to myself "what in the heck is that for? to look like a pro?" Well, I have knee problems and a buddy of mine recommended them to help with the strain and......THEY ARE THE GREATEST THINGS KNOWN TO HIKERS!! I now fully support the use of and recommend the use of poles (two of them for best support) and am currently using some Leki Summit Anti-shocks which are pretty good and have an adjustable rebound!

D

2:09 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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I always carried a staff ... the traditional staff can be used two-handed; it has some mass, so you can swing it forward for clearing a path through nettles...it Wiill never crumble under you when you most need it. ... you constantly change your grip as the ground changes, sometimes shooting it ahead of you to vault streams...

I also carry a good sturdy staff, approximately 6.5 ft long, heavier at the top or head of the staff, and slimmer towards the point. I prefer one made from a beech sapling- very strong, with some spring to it. It is perfect for warding off dogs, clearing streams, propping your pack up, descending steep treacherous slopes, and clearing your path of brush and spider webs. you can instantly change where you need to hold it to give you the most stability, whereas to adjust a hiking pole you must stop, loosen, adjust, and re-tighten. It is also very helpful when proceeding cross country and through dense brush, as it is very effective at helping manage braches and to push your way through.

6:26 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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Do you guys/gals use no poles, one pole, or two?

Yes. Depends on circumstances, duration, difficulty, etc. Relatively short/easy--probably none. Long/hard: probably two--adjusted as per Alicia's recommendations.

I definitely prefer BD poles for their locking mechanism. In my experience, it's much superior to any twist-lock type. No issues with warranty/support for them or any other. Their basic Trail model is hard to beat, I think. Sure, there are elliptical poles, carbon fiber poles, and poles that can in a pinch take your temperature. But I'd rather spend the extra $ on something else where the difference for me is more important.

6:32 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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Just want you to know I never get sick!

7:12 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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I have a pair of the BD trailbacks but I only use one. Believe it or not it does still help. I tried using two but I never could get comfortable useing two. I think the main reason may be that I like to have at least one hand free just in case.

7:21 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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So, for a long while I've extolled the virtues of Black Diamond's FlickLock poles as being superior to anything else, particularly Leki's twist-lock, which I've also owned in the past.

Well, now I'm going to come back and muddy the waters just a little.

I had the chance to demo some Lekis with their new SpeedLock mechanism two weeks ago while cross-country skiing at Snowbasin during the Outdoor Retailer demo day. I'd needed some poles quickly and grabbed (well borrowed) a pair from the Leki booth, not even realizing they were SpeedLock models until I got out on the trail and needed to adjust the length. I'm not kidding when I say how easy they were to use, even with gloves on, and how surprised I was by them.

I was really pleased. They were so simple and easy to adjust. I wanted to take them home. It was a genuine good gear moment at OR. I even told the Leki folks how well they worked. (I swear they didn't pay me or give me anything for this endorsement.)

I still like my Black Diamond trekking poles, but I also got a pair of Black Diamond ski poles earlier this winter, which I like, except that one of the FlickLocks is not as smooth as it should be when closing it.

I don't know how well the SpeedLocks will hold up and can't speak to durability, but my initial impression was positive.

If you're buying poles and have the chance to try out the adjustment first, I recommend doing that.

11:18 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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God bless the notion of free enterprise and competition!

I wasn't aware that Leki had introduced a new locking mechanism, but given the (dare I say glowing?) capsule review from Alicia (above), I'll admit to an open mind on the subject of best poles. But I remain a fan, at present of BD's Flick-Lock. (Is that their spelling? Or do they use some proprietary creative spelling of the phrase? I can't recall.) Regardless, though, I'm pleased to see competition raising the bar of performance once again.

The ultimate test may be the one deciding which more easily allows for the two poles to be adjusted to exactly the same length....or come with a free psychological consultation making same unnecessary.... ;-)

(Full disclosure: I'd need one of those free consultations myself!--unless I'm on a particularly steep traverse, I suppose.)

8:02 a.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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The SpeedLock will be on some Leki models in March. So, you can't actually buy it quite yet.

Before I tried it out I would only have bought a Black Diamond pole (in fact that's what I've done and told others to do). I'm still a fan of the FlickLock. My BD poles have served me very well, even when getting abused by my oldest kid. But now, I would at least consider the Leki models, which is a big change.

Alas, Perry, none have an automatic equalizing adjustment feature for those of us who are neurotic.

9:27 a.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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The Leki Speedlocks are starting to show up in stores!

REI has the new Corklite in stock.

Easy to use, no righty tighty /lefty loosey issues,...but... the Leki Superlock (twist) is still the strongest, and the only Functional shock system.

Yes, shocks are important!

But for those who have not used shocks, or do not care, the Speedlock actually meets the EN (European) strength standard continuing Leki's standard of being the ONLY company that does...

The Aergon grip is the most efficient, comfortable and relaxed grip yet designed!

6:47 p.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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I'd like to see a disclosure statement from Elder! Sounds like a Leki rep!

Not sure what is meant by the claim of Leki having the only "Functional" shock system. Not sure I care, either, since I'm not willing to shell out for the shocks. (Apparently they're not THAT important!--at least to me.)

BTW, Alicia, I'm working up a proposal to send to BD suggesting a laser interferometer-based automatic length adjusting mechanism internal to the pole, with Bluetooth communication between poles to assure identical lengths within a 100-nanometer range of accuracy. Would add slightly to the cost of the poles, but.....

Oh, it also would serve as an emergency fire starter, navigational aid, coffee grinder, and make julienne fries.

10:14 p.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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BTW, Alicia, I'm working up a proposal to send to BD suggesting a laser interferometer-based automatic length adjusting mechanism internal to the pole, with Bluetooth communication between poles to assure identical lengths within a 100-nanometer range of accuracy. Would add slightly to the cost of the poles, but.....

Oh, it also would serve as an emergency fire starter, navigational aid, coffee grinder, and make julienne fries.


Yeah, but can you run Linux on it? =)

10:51 a.m. on February 5, 2010 (EST)
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I always prefer two unless I'm loaning one to somebody. For me, the biggest benefit is balance on steep slick terrain.

1:05 p.m. on February 5, 2010 (EST)
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I'd like to see a disclosure statement from Elder! Sounds like a Leki rep!

Yes, if someone has a personal or professional association with a company (manufacturer or retailer) they should divulge it, either in the relevant post, or in their profile.

Rule #3 from the Community Rules and Guidelines:

Tell the truth.
Be yourself. Write what you know. Do not post any information that you know is false, inaccurate, or misleading, or that you don’t have permission to post. If you have any personal or professional affiliation with a company or its competitors, clearly state that relationship.

It's absolutely fine for reps or others with business relationships to post and answer questions, in fact it can be helpful at times, but they need to make that info pubic. The easiest way is to mention it in your profile bio.

1:35 p.m. on February 5, 2010 (EST)
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Yes, I am the Leki Guy...aka rep in the Southest.

Bill knows me, it was never a secret, do I need a disclaimer for every post?

1:52 p.m. on February 5, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks, Elder. No need to write it in every post. That would get tedious. You can just mention it in your profile's bio.

10:27 a.m. on February 6, 2010 (EST)
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I carry two old ski poles that I found at Goodwill for $5. They weight about the same as trekking poles, and they're 1 piece so there's no moving parts to break.

10:29 a.m. on February 6, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks, Elder. I didn't really expect that you were/are a Leki rep--just thought it sounded that way. But it's only fair for others to know that such is the case, and so I appreciate your candor.

Doesn't mean your thoughts, opinions, etc. aren't of value--simply that they have a different quality that may make them of more or lesser value to others, depending on circumstances, etc. I, for instance, may find your comments of particular interest because of your familiarity with the product, knowledge of product line, etc.

Yock--

And yes, of course my proposal to BD will include an option for Linux as the OS! (It won't run on the iPhone, though. Apple declined to approve the app, blaming it all on a "strategic partner".)

11:41 p.m. on February 7, 2010 (EST)
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I am considering getting some poles for the GA section of the AT. In looking at mostly BD and LEKI, I was almost sold on BD, but then I saw the LEKI Corklite AERGON SpeedLock, does anyone have any personal experience with this set of poles?

1:26 p.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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SEHiker,

I am currently testing the Aergon Speed Lock and will write a review of it in a few weeks. As a quick comment, I used the Speed Lock this weekend at the Bear Valley Telemark Festival as my one and only ski pole. I have had BD Flicklocs for a number of years and carried them on places like Denali, Kilimanjaro, and in Antarctica on Vinson. As a first impression, the Speed Locks are quick to adjust and really light in hand (something really nice when you are flailing, er, I mean, trying to do a series of rapid tele turns down a diamond run in deep powder (we had snow all day Thursday through Saturday - not as much as DC, I suppose, but it was on the mountain where it was supposed to be). Elder (Chris) gave me the powder baskets to use during the testing, which were really good to have. The locks stood up to my heavy pounding (I'm not the world's most graceful telemarker, but I do get down the hill without falling). I still have more testing, since I only got in about 45,000 feet of vertical over the weekend.

I should note that the BD FlikLoks do loosen with time and will require having something to tighten the screw on the mechanism. If you do not do this, you will find that they will collapse at awkward moments. Eventually, they will wear enough to require replacement of the mechanism (it took several years of hard use for mine). In part this appears to be because of the clamping being onto the split section of the aluminum tube. Because the Leki Speed Lock does not depend on a split tube (the plastic locking mechanism has the split), the wear should be less. The adjustment of the tightness is somewhat easier as well on the Leki (you should still have a coin or screwdriver along just in case.

Since this is about trekking poles, though, I should note that the Speed Locks are not antishock. At this point, there are no good lever locking poles that have antishock on the market. That is, the few that there are, are the "pogo stick" variety. To me, these are really unstable. Leki has a much better antishock system which I wrote about a few months ago. The pole-length adjustment is a twist-lock system that works very well. As I said at the time, that is the first antishock system I have tried that really works. Barb and I have had older antishock poles by several manufacturers and have ended up locking them out of the "shock absorbing mode" because the pogo-stick effect feels so unstable, especially on downhills on rugged (off-trail) terrain. The test pair of Lekis proved so nice for both Barb and me that she tried to permanently steal them. So now she has her own (women's version, decorated with pretty flowers - she says that she appreciates that the flower pattern is pretty subtle, but also appreciates that they are slightly lighter).

If you do not want the antishock feature, then the Speed Lock is a good choice. If you want the antishock feature, the Leki antishock is a better choice.

I should note that with any multi-section, adjustable length pole, you should take care to maintain the poles properly. This means never putting any lubricant on the pole sections (oil and grease will attract dirt resulting in difficulty in adjusting). After a hike or ski, you should open the poles fully (or separate the sections), wipe them down with a soft dry cloth, and let them fully dry. Most poles are aluminum and will corrode with time, especially if you store them wet and fully compressed. It is like any piece of gear you have - take care of it and it will serve you well for a long time. Oh, and when using them as ski poles or hiking poles, don't fall on your poles - a bent section doesn't adjust for length very well.

2:41 p.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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Bill S,

Thanks for all the info, I plan on picking a pair up later this week.

12:32 a.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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Wow Bill

I take it your wife likes the Diva's!

Thanks for a good first overview on the Speedlocks.

I will be curious to hear if you find they work loose or need tightening over time. I have had no loosening on the prototype samples I've beat on.

Of course I've only hiked on mine. :)

"only 45,000'"......mercy!

Keep beating on them!

2:33 p.m. on February 10, 2010 (EST)
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Elder,

Yes, Barb likes the Divas. She especially appreciates that they are a bit lighter, and that the flower design is subtle. She often comments that way too many "designed for women" things means lots of prominent flowers, lots of pink, and other "fashion", but not the important things like shape and weight. I saw one "women's" pack line at the Winter OR that seemed to differ from the "men's" versions only in having "pretty" colors and flower and butterfly designs on the fabric.

Sorry, I miss-added, or rather, I realized that the Polar HRM had the OR Show Demo Day skiing in it. It was 38,000 for Bear Valley Telefest. Anyway, 38,000 vertical is pretty easy to accumulate over 3 days if you have detachable high speed quads to get you back up the hill, and if you get on the first lift (Bear Valley opens their lifts by 8:30 and last lift is after 4:30). Most per day I ever did was on a trip to Whistler/Blackcomb - you have 6000 ft of vertical available and a set of very fast lifts to get you from bottom to top. I managed to get close to 30,000 feet there in one day once by taking the first lift in the morning and finishing with the very last lift of the day (got back to the village in the dark!). But I have also been there when it was light powder at the top and slush for the lower 500 feet or so. Most fun, though, was taking the upper Blackcomb lift and dropping down to the glacier on the back side that curled around the mountain - the lower part of the glacier was pretty level and hence slow, though. The comparison is that the day on Whistler took 6 runs, while the 3 days at Bear Valley took pretty continuous ride the lift and ski down yoyo (waaayyy too much time sitting in the chair on the lift - 14 runs on day 1, 17 on day 2, and 9 on day 3 for 40 runs total).

4:31 p.m. on March 7, 2010 (EST)
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After years of walking through the woods with a single hiking stick or a long-shafted ice axe I broke down and purchased a pair of treking poles. The first time I used them I hated 'em, I mean I almost took 'em to the recycling center, but I gave them a second chance. Now, about a year later, I'm hooked. I feel naked rambling down a trail without them. I find that my knees feel much better (major issue) and that I feel far more stable crossing streams by boulder hopping or side-hilling. I suppose I'm sold on the concept. I do, however, put the rubber caps over the ends if I'm going to be on mostly rock as I'm still not a fan of the scratch marks the tips leave behind! I ordered mine from LLBean - I think they're "hike lite" or something similar to that - easy to adjust for length - seem to work just fine!

7:45 a.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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I’ve had a few surgeries on my left knee so using an aid when negotiating high trail steps or side hills really helps. It is my (experience that trekker poles are a merchandizing gimmick, and actually not very practical for 3 season use. It isn’t that I am unaccustomed to using poles; I telemark in the back country regularly. The problem is trail obstacles and grades are continuously changing, yet the poles are set to a specific height, making them a poor match to most situations you encounter that invite the stability poles were intended to provide. Typically the hiker ends up altering their posture to utilize the poles, rather than wasting time readjusting to each obstacle, negating any advantage poles would otherwise offer.
A better solution is a staff. I use one of those green tree stake poles available at any garden shop, They are made of a light weight steel tube coated in plastic with a rebar like texture. This staff is lighter than any other such walking aid, and the textured coating gives infinite positions for your hand, thus optimal utility when you need it. Also, unlike trekker poles, a lightweight staff is easy to carry when not in use, whereas poles force you to pole along even when you don’t need them. It doesn’t hurt my garden tree stake staff costs only $6.
As for those with swollen hands; drink more fluids, that is an early sign of dehydration!
Ed

8:13 a.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Lately I've been taking one half of my heavily abused Leki Super Makalus -- for hikes under 10 miles, I find that the benefit of poles does not outweigh the hassles. But for hikes in the middle of North Carolina -- with lots of rocks, roots and stream crossings -- a single pole is very handy (as long as I don't lean on it too hard).

I took both poles along on a 15-miler the other day, however, and the effect on my feet was very notable: the poles basically added about five miles of comfortable hiking.

I need to be in a situation where the benefits overcome the suspicion that I look somewhat ridiculous. Usually that''s backpacking or all-day trekking.

One note on poles now on the market: Easton's trekking poles combine the flick-lock mechanism of the BD/Leki school but also have a built-in tightener to overcome the issue with the lock loosening over time. It's called "Rock Lock." I tried the poles out at OR Winter Demo -- the hand loops are very comfy. All of Easton's stuff seems very well thought-out; it's all brand new, though, so the durability hasn't been proven (yet). Not sure where they're available, either.

9:07 a.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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I'm becoming a strong convert to the use of trekking poles. On a recent ramble through NW Arkansas (see Trip Reports if curious), I used a pair of Black Diamond poles and found they added more than they took away by a significant margin. As aids in stability when negotiating streams, blow-downs, and climbs, they help me avoid high-level stresses and precarious bits of balancing. By using them in proper fashion when descending, they also reduce the banging my knees receive, and that was a (literal) relief in camp at night.

Yes, they do seem to add a certain level of geekiness, I suppose, but I can't claim to be setting fashion trends, anyway.

Although my poles are relatively new--just purchased last year for some climbs in Colorado--and I've not yet proven myself fully committed to their regular use, they're growing on me. I plan on using them on my next few trips, including our Scout troop's adventure in Philmont this summer. They're proving useful enough that I've even started considering acquisition of a trekking-pole-dependent shelter setup, such as the Nemo Meta 2P.

9:56 a.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Poles are also serious calorie-burners, which makes them a nice addition to a training regimen if you're looking to take off a few pounds. Mind you they have to be used correctly (that is, one arm stroke to one leg motion -- right side pole moving in concert w/left leg). This takes some getting used to but it's very much worth the effort to learn it.

My main caveat with poles is that after using them exclusively for awhile, my legs feel much more strain on climbs (and tire more quickly) without them. Then I develop angst about being dependent on them.

Just because you own a pair doesn't mean they have to be taken out on every hike.

9:41 a.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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Tom--

I actually found the rhythm I achieved with the poles kinda fun. Quite reminiscent of snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, with regards to the motion and rhythm, though with obvious differences. And by getting more of the body involved, I felt more "into" the physical activity of hiking. I'm sure I burned more calories, but I don't have a sense for how much more. Have you seen or heard anything, Tom, that indicates how much more energy is used by hikers using poles vs. not?

10:47 a.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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This article says 20% more calories are burned by hiking with poles in the "nordic" method - stride for stride as you'd do with cross-country skis.

This is good from a fitness angle, but's also something thru-hikers should keep in mind if they use poles -- a fifth more calories means you need a fifth more food.

For most hikes it's a matter of more efficient use of muscle mass -- even though you're burning 20% more calories (and presumably using 20% more energy), your body is spreading the effort to such an extent that the extra effort is barely discernible.

12:36 p.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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Tom and Perry

You have a serious increase in energy used by Nordic Walking poles used as fitness enhancers.

BUT. Trekking poles are designed to minimise the effort, limit the inpact on your whole body, and provide balance, support and propulsion.

Yes, you can work your upper body harder with trekking poles, but the design is different.

Specifically? The grip of a Nordic pole is like a XC pole. Small, narrow, and enhances the grip/release/regrip motion that causes the burn!

Trekking pole grips/straps are designed to minimise gripping, and allow relaxed motion .

The 20% increase in calorie burn is for Nordic...

Hikers who use paired poles, versus one, or none,; take an average of 6% fewer steps per mile..

longer relaxed stride plus no hesitation steps for up/down.

YMMV...and be even better.

1:09 p.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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Couple of comments -

I keep seeing these statements about poles being "geeky" and other hikers thinking pole users are "weird". Having used staves and ice axes for years and later poles, and seeing most of the people I hiked with doing the same, I have never encountered anyone on the trail who indicated in any way that poles, staves, or ice axes were geeky or weird. At the same time, I see some posts saying that dayhikers consider backpackers weird and backpackers thinking dayhikers are dilettantes and not "true outdoorsmen". I suspect it is more a reflection of the loss of the viewpoint that each person is a unique individual and the view that if you are an individual, not part of "the crowd" and "connected" through artificial networks, you must be weird, crazy, antisocial, or maybe outright insane.

Ya know, as I was brought up in the woods and hills from the time I was born (and for the first year or two, I was borne as well, until I could walk on my own), it was expected that you would get into the outdoors by any and all muscle-powered modes, and that you would use those tools that got done what you needed to get done. It was expected that you would develop and contribute as an individual and not merely be one of the "sheep", meekly trailing along with the rest of the flock.

This past weekend, I led a beginning snowshoe clinic at Clair Tappaan Lodge (Sierra Club lodge at Donner Pass), and also provided the evening entertainment at the lodge (showed the video from my 2002 summit of Denali). One teenager came up to me and said, "You must be a Super Adventurer!" in all seriousness, not joking. Somehow, to me this is a sad commentary on today's youth. No way I am a "Super" adventurer. Maybe an ordinary adventurer. But when getting out there is viewed as requiring "super" skills or tools, something is being lost by the general public.

2:55 p.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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Bill, no offense intended, but you and I must not frequent all the same bars. I most definitely have seen sign that some folks consider trekking poles geeky, weird, or even abnormal. That I've seen it in others doesn't mean I endorse their findings, but the fact I don't support 'em doesn't make it go away, either.

The general public, I'm afraid, is a heterogeneous mixture, with a big chunk of it more interested in the antics of some group of "dancers" calling themselves "Jungle Boogie" on a "reality" TV show called America's Best Dance Crew than much of anything to do with hiking, trekking, or whatever. I don't think the general public can any longer lose what it as a body has long since lost.

2:40 p.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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I have to agree with Bill. I myself recently started using trekking poles and in all the times that I have passed people on the trail or talked to people about hiking I have never once had someone look at me funny or make me feel like a "geek" for using trekking poles. In fact a lot of those that I've seen or talked to use trekking poles themselves. I think most people see it as just another way to hike. Just like there isn't one right way to ride a bike, there isn't one right way to hike. I think most of the people that I've met understand and respect that.

I'm also embarrassed to be part of this younger generation. It's sad that everyone is so concerned with their cell phones, and their Myspaces or Facebooks that they hardly ever go outside. I feel so sorry for people that say the one thing they couldn't live without is their cell phone. There is a beautiful world outside and they choose to ignore it. That to me is sad. I also find it extremely odd when I meet someone and tell them about backpacking only to have them ask "What's so fun about that?" Are you serious? I'm sorry I just can't stand those that don't enjoy this beautiful earth while they can.

1:04 a.m. on March 21, 2010 (EDT)
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mluna, do you find it interesting that in the first paragraph of your post, you report that you've "never once had someone look at [you] funny or make [you] feel like a 'geek'", while in the second you report the existence of persons who clearly don't "get" the world in the same way you do, to the extent that they might even ask why one might find backpacking fun? I can imagine that some of the latter might "look at me funny"; can you not? But regardless of what experiences one or two individuals may have had, it remains true that if some other persons had quite different experiences in the same circumstances, then what they experienced is and continues to be just as true as what the former persons experienced.

To one who has been caught in the maelstrom of unruliness and violence that sometimes erupts in "celebrations" of things like sports championships, a crowd may always have a tinge of the mob about it, while to another without the experience, the notion of danger arising in the midst of celebration may not arise at all.

Finally, from a mathematician's perspective, it is absolutely clear that if the set defined as those people who find the use of trekking poles in any way "geeky" has as the number of members n, and n > 0, then there is some greater-than-zero level of geekiness associated with their use. And since I've personally encountered such reactions, I'm confident that one can reliably assert that the universe is encumbered by some level of geekiness associated with trekking poles. Said level is probably not as great as that associated with the wearing of bow ties, and almost certainly not on a par with the pairing of black socks with shorts, but it exists nonetheless. Its significance varies with circumstances, but it exists.

And BTW, I not infrequently wear bow ties. I'm fairly comfortable with my geekiness, most of the time.

12:09 p.m. on March 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Everything I said is based off my own experiences. That's why I said things like, "Most of the people that I've met" and so on. I can only speak for myself which is what I am doing. I am simply stating that in my own experience I have never felt like someone thought I was a geek because I use trekking poles. As far as people not understanding the fun I find in hiking into the wilderness, that's on a different level than thinking it's geeky. Just because I don't understand why someone does something doesn't mean that I think they're geeky. For instance I don't understand why some people run marathons but does that mean I think they may be geeky for doing it? Not at all. The same applies to backpacking. Yes, I have talked to people that don't understand the joy I find in backpacking but I have never felt geeky because they didn't understand why I do it.

6:32 p.m. on March 22, 2010 (EDT)
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I started off using one but migrated to two. Using hiking poles keeps your hands from swelling and really come in handy when crossing streams, etc.

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