Trekking/Hiking Poles

5:12 p.m. on August 19, 2017 (EDT)
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Hello,

Looking for recommendations for poles for slow poke hikers on easy/moderate trail.

So far, I know that we need collapsible and adjustable and with a comfortable grip (like cork). But I'm not an expert.

Thank you in advance for any assistance.

7:31 p.m. on August 19, 2017 (EDT)
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Robert

Welcome to Trailspace! While no expert on trekking poles, I converted to using them over a hiking stick about 4 years ago and haven't regretted it. I use the Black diamond alpine carbon cork. They are showing some handle wear after well over 600 miles of trail time but nothing that affects their comfort...in fact they seem to fit me even better now. The Flick Lock adjustment is solid and only has a tendency to come open occasionally in really heavy brush off trail.

The review page for trekking poles is sortable and has several great reviews...check out Patman's review of the ones I use.

7:44 p.m. on August 19, 2017 (EDT)
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My advice: why do you think you even need them?  I have friends that got them, then stopped using them because they didn't improve travel on trails and served as a distraction.  It is my opinion hiking with pole user that poles often slow them down. 

Trekking poles came from the skiing, mountaineering communities and other extreme sports.  Walking a basic trail is not extreme!  REI and other retailers have aggressively promoted trekking poles because their compact size equates to high profits per square foot of retail space.  To some degree this also applies to water filters, but I digress.

If you need help getting up and down steps on a trail try using a walking staff.  Its length affords optimal placement for balance and control.  If you want more efficiency in travel (something trekking pole advocates crow about) keep in mind this improved efficiency is the result of swinging your arms to place the pole, not the poles themselves.  In other words save your treasure for better warranted purchases, and learn to swing your arms when you walk. 

Ed 

8:13 p.m. on August 19, 2017 (EDT)
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I don't use hiking poles, for the reasons above....and I don't like to carry additional weight on the trail.

That said, I do sometimes wish I had them on a steep descent to save my old knees.  I pick up an appropriate stick where possible for that purpose.

But my wife learned to use them on our hikes in Peru, where all the guides use them. And she continues to swear by them.  She doesn't think they make her faster, but they do make her feel more balanced on and off trail...and they do take stress off her knees.  She uses a cheap pair that came as a package with some cheap snowshoes we bought years ago...

8:56 p.m. on August 19, 2017 (EDT)
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I use them to help my knees as well, but less often now that my knees are starting to feel better. Plus I only have 2 section poles that are hard to stow when not needed. The only times I've used them this year was on my Chocorua & Monadnock trips, and on Monadnock they were in the way more than anything. Chocorua was all packed snow & ice, and they were very handy. As far as speed, I hike at whatever speed is most comfortable so if they slow me down oh well. 

7:20 a.m. on August 20, 2017 (EDT)
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I cant disagree with Eds overall point about poles being overmarjeted and hyped, but for me the purchase made mathematical sense:

2 bad knees plus one bad ankle times 2 trekking poles equals relatively pain free hiking for the first time in 20 years.

I don't have to live on pain meds and my mileage went up 50 percent. Didn't affect my speed much as I am a turtle, not a hare, and tend to plod at a slow steady pace. I can just do it for longer now. I carried a hiking stick for 25 years, but the poles can make a world of difference for some people....but not everyone needs them.

8:12 a.m. on August 20, 2017 (EDT)
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If I'm walking around the block I leave them at home. If I am navigating steep, wet slabs like I was yesterday and the day before I can't imagine I'd be sitting at home and not in the hospital without them. While there were several foot slips, by having additional contact points with the ground they did not result in any falls, though they did produce a few "Thank you Lord!"s

To answer the OP's question, look for light weight poles for conditions you describe. The locking mechanism is important and in my experience I've had better luck with flick locks rather than twist. If the pole collapses unexpectedly, you may collapse too.

The grips aren't as important to me as the straps. Used properly the hands are hardly holding the grip area to direct the pole motion with a flick of the wrist. The real contact area is across the base of the thumb to the wrist. A smooth, wide contact area where the strap meets that part of the hand makes a difference. Too narrow, or a rough strap can irritate the skin, especially in the rain. I had to stop using the straps after about 7 hours in the rain the other day because the skin was becoming macerated due to the somewhat narrow straps on my current Komperdells. I often wear gloves while hiking to prevent that but didn't have any along on this trip.

Should you use them? Try them and find out. Don't let folks tell you that you have to do what works for them. Do what works for you!

whomeworry said:

If you want more efficiency in travel (something trekking pole advocates crow about) keep in mind this improved efficiency is the result of swinging your arms to place the pole, not the poles themselves.  In other words save your treasure for better warranted purchases, and learn to swing your arms when you walk. 

Ed 

 If you are using the poles simply to swing your arms you are not using them properly. It is no wonder you don't see the value. If you use an ax as a shovel it will seem stupid too, but that doesn't mean an ax isn't a useful tool.

The poles allow you to use your upper body strength to augment your leg muscles. While climbing they let you use your arms to push up in time with the legs and while descending they let you take some of the load off of the landing and help control speed.

The key to all of the function is using the straps properly which I think is something people don't understand. I know I didn't until I figured it out and I can't imagine climbing mountains without them now. Bonus benefit is that you get some well toned arms and pecs without having to go to the gym.

8:15 a.m. on August 20, 2017 (EDT)
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the poles I currently use are black diamond, carbon poles, cork handles, flick locks. they do the job; nearly any pole that doesn't break probably will. a few decision points as you consider your options:

1. flick lock type poles, or poles with the sections that piece together. the former are more adjustable, the latter are a little lighter-weight. in my experience, avoid twist-locks. over time, in my experience, they are more prone to slippage and unlocking.

2. make sure the handles are comfortable.

3. shock absorption - some have handles with shock absorbers. not worth it in my experience, except in the most violent of impacts. on the other hand, carbon poles do absorb and dampen vibration better than aluminum, in my opinion.

4. some of the big box stores like Costco and Walmart started selling these a few years ago, a brand called cascade mountain. available in several types - locking latches and twist lock, carbon and aluminum shafts, synthetic and carbon grips.  they cost a fraction of the larger brands - 15-40 bucks as opposed to 80-160 bucks. I have handled them. may not be the lightest or most innovative, but they seem fine. (ps, a number of reviews out there suggest they aren't just a bargain - they are simply good at what they are intended to do).

5. as far as the 'to pole or not to pole' debate, I think it depends but tend to like the ability to shift some impact away from my knees and hips. might they slow you down? perhaps, but the goal is to absorb impact, not speed up your experience, I think.  

10:27 a.m. on August 20, 2017 (EDT)
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I have been a user of hiking poles/staff for well over thirty-five years and I find them beneficial - everything from replacement shovel handles to collapsible aluminum jobs.  The very most useful was a mop handle I found on the beach- I was hiking on wet,slippery trails with a sprained wrist from a bike accident and I needed a pole.  I prefer a single pole to a pair.

A staff is quite useful when fording streams, going through thick underbrush in snake country, erecting a shelter,rolling rocks out of the trail  - and you always have a stick if you need to shake it at something.

Start cheap - you probably have a surplus mop, etc. around the house which can be converted for pennies.  A loop for your hand is a nice addition. I finally wore out a pair of friction it adjustable poles after about fifteen years of consistent use (one at a time).  I am currently using a pair of cheap Costco flick locks which work just fine.  The main advantage of any adjustable poles is that you can collapse them and tuck them out of the way when not needed.

Start cheap and work your way up.  paying over $100 for a pair of adjustable sticks is just plain ridiculous..... But get a pair!

 

 

 

5:09 p.m. on August 20, 2017 (EDT)
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And besides all that I read somewhere that because your arms are elevated that they help with your. cardio? I'm no doc but they do seam to make breathing easier 

They are great for knocking apples out of trees 

and are excellent dog defense.

I use Black Diamond trail shocks $140 that have flick locks. However that is a significant amount more than the Wally mart brands that I was just as happy with. As long as you get the flick lock, the twist lock just seam to break way to easy.

9:49 p.m. on August 20, 2017 (EDT)
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I really think the OP is looking for advice on which poles to get, not the benefits and trade-offs of poles.

Trekking poles represent one of the few categories where brand, model and features don't matter that much. Yes there are differences, but the main functionality of using straps across the back of the wrist to transfer weight off the legs to the arms and gaining stability in the process is mostly the same from pole to pole to pole.

My suggestion is to go to Walmart and get their cheapie trekking poles, they work perfectly well just might be a little heavier than the outdoor brands but at $20/pair last I checked are just pennies on the dollar compared to Komperdells, BDs, Lekis, etc. That way you can see if you like poles at all. If not you haven't spent a fortune. If you do like poles you can keep using the cheapo ones or using them will give you a better sense of just what features you might appreciate in an upgrade. If you do upgrade then you'll always have the cheapies as a backup pair or to loan to hiking partners.

6:04 a.m. on August 21, 2017 (EDT)
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JRinGeorgia said:

"I really think the OP is looking for advice on which poles to get, not the benefits and trade-offs of poles..."

You are correct in a literal sense, but since the OP acknowledges his newbie status perhaps one should first determine if they even benefit from poles before going out and buying them.

------------------------------------------------

Well my following comments should release a fire storm...  .. but don't hate the messenger.  Keep in mind the following comment address on-trail use of staffs and poles.  Off-trail use or travel over snow and ice are not addressed.

"..whomeworry said:

If you want more efficiency in travel (something trekking pole advocates crow about) keep in mind this improved efficiency is the result of swinging your arms to place the pole, not the poles themselves.  In other words save your treasure for better warranted purchases, and learn to swing your arms when you walk. 

Ed 

 If you are using the poles simply to swing your arms you are not using them properly. It is no wonder you don't see the value. If you use an ax as a shovel it will seem stupid too, but that doesn't mean an ax isn't a useful tool.

The poles allow you to use your upper body strength to augment your leg muscles. While climbing they let you use your arms to push up in time with the legs and while descending they let you take some of the load off of the landing and help control speed.

The key to all of the function is using the straps properly which I think is something people don't understand. I know I didn't until I figured it out and I can't imagine climbing mountains without them now. Bonus benefit is that you get some well toned arms and pecs without having to go to the gym."

 

I have been an avid BC XC skier, telemark skier, alpine skier and winter mountaineer for over 50 years, using poles and walking staffs in just about every circumstance imaginable, so I just might know something about using trekking poles, ski poles and walking staffs.  It is true properly adjusted straps increase the utility of trekking poles, but the force you can apply is highly contingent upon pole tip placement and height adjustment of the poles.  Even poles properly adjusted to provide maximum assist in propelling you provide hikers only limited utility in this regard.  Alas the main advantage of trekking poles is they encourage a more efficient gait (by encouraging the arm swing) and to a lesser degree better balance.  But they provide limited utility facilitating transferring work loads from legs to arms.

As this link describes: "..Classic (XC) ski poles should not be above shoulder height. One rule is that the pole should fit snugly underneath the arm pit (sic)..."  The reason for this relatively long pole length has to do with leverage.  The armpit length allows the skier to be pushing against a pole tip that is anchored in the snow well behind them.  It positions the pole plant so you can push against it with more force.  With XC skis that anchor point is almost four feet behind the skier at the moment maximum force is applied. The reason the length cannot be longer is it would interfere with the return swing.  Most trekking pole users cannot obtain the leverage afforded by longer poles because their poles are too short.  The thing is most hikers adjust their poles more close to elbow height than armpit, and this greatly reduces the leverage you can apply to the poles while under way.  But I will posit even the aid granted by longer XC ski poles is very limited at walking speed.  Poles simply don’t generate much force regardless how long they are.  This same advice about pole size also applies to trekkers if they desire to use their poles to assist ascending and descending steps and inclines.  You can efficiently apply more downward force to a pole when the grip is at or above the shoulder height than a grip at elbow height.  Yet if you look at images of many of the advocates commenting on trekking pole TS forum threads, including most who have already posted to this current thread, you will note their poles are six inches or more under the optimal adjustment.  They use poles more closely sized like those used for alpine skiing, versus XC skiing.  Anyone who has tried to pole their way around on alpine skis will attest your arms tire rapidly, especially going up inclines using those shorty poles!  In any case if one lengthened their trekking pole to armpit length it most likely would drag on the retrieve, causing other issues.   XC skiers are not affected by longer pole length for a variety reasons; likewise walking staff users don't have problems with long staff length because the return swing dynamic automatically clears the ground with no conscious effort required on the part of the hiker.

  • In      order to get efficient forward assist using trekking and ski poles the      pole tip must be positioned on the ground well behind      you at the moment you apply force.  This is not possible with the      height most people set their poles without stooping at the waist - similar      to what alpine skiers must do.  And this excessive bending from the      waist will throw you middle ear out of plumb with gravity, and interfere      with your sense of balance, not to mention set you up for unnecessary back      strain and other problems.
  • In      order to get maximum assist going up steps or steep inclines not only      should the pole placement be such that the ground contact point is behind      you when you apply force to facilitate stepping upward, but your hand      position should be at armpit height or higher.  You cannot do either      with short poles.  Short poles force the hiker to lean      forward and attempt pulling themselves forward and up from an awkward      posture, lowering the force that can be applied and potentially causing      back strain.
  • Likewise      in order to minimize pounding your joints on descent the ground      contact point should initially be well in front of you, and your hand      initially about level with your elbow.  Forward motion will raise the      hand relative to the body as you descend, meanwhile positioning your weight      more directly over the pole at the moment you are applying maximum      force.  But short poles cannot be      placed far enough ahead to be of much use and the hiker again finds      himself bending at the waist, causing unnecessary back strain as they      reach to plant the pole, impairing balance as previously explained.

But don't take my word or other's opinion on face value regarding trekking poles.  Instead try the following demonstrations.  Properly adjust and use the hand straps, and do each of these drills with your poles set at the height you normally use them, then repeat the drill, except set the pole length as described in the previously mentioned link.

Measure the forward assist poles provide.
Attach a fish scale to the pole as close to the grip as possible.  Attach a line to the other end of the fish scale and attach the tag end of that line to a stationary object three or four feet off the ground.  Now simulate the arm and pole motion used to move forward.   Do this exercise while standing on a smooth surface so you can drag the pole tip along the ground, simulating the mechanics of forward movement as close as possible.   Establish the proper distance from the stationary object.  You want the line to have no slack at the point your hand passes through the bottom quarter of the swing arc. Facing the stationary object, set the pole tip to the ground wherever you customarily would, then swing your arm and pole away from the stationary object, simulating the motion used to move you toward the object (except you remain stationary).  The line will draw taut as the pole is swung.  At some point the resistance against swinging the pole will equal what you usually impart to the pole while hiking.  Read the scale; most people can only impart about five to eight pounds of force, more than that will fatigue your arms in short order.  (Remember those sore arm poling to the ski lift!)  While this force is sufficient to propel a skier along for a short distance it is woefully inadequate to generate a significant force aiding forward motion over longer distances, such as miles of trail.  The fact is the vast majority of forward force XC skiers generate is delivered by their leg muscles.  It is worth noting we evolved to use our legs not our arms for locomotion.  If you remain unconvinced, then do this: Find a weight bench or picnic bench and get a one gallon bottle of the fluid of your choice.  Lay face down on the bench, and place the bottle on the ground directly below where your hand would be when your arm is extended toward your feet.  Now lift the bottle with a straight arm and hold it next to your side, level with the bench surface.  Most people cannot maintain this position for more than a few moments, and most will get very sore if they had to rely on their arms to repeatedly supply this force.  And it is only about 8 1/2 pounds of force we are dealing with.

Measure the uphill assist poles provide.
Take a bathroom scale and place it on a step.  Stand below the step, place your pole on the step, then apply a downward force to assist ascending the step. Most of us can assert over 50 pounds of force in a onetime effort, but if we had to repeat that effort the number of times we ascend steps on a trail our arms would only be capable of exerting about 10 – 20 pounds without gassing out.  Ask any alpine or XC skier who tried to get up hill using poles.  Repeating this exercise with properly adjusted poles gets better results, but a longer walking staff provides far superior performance.  The main issue, again, is short poles require one to bend at the waist to gain maximum efficiency, while longer poles or a staff allow better arm leverage and a more upright posture with less back strain. 

Measure the downhill assist.
Place the bathroom scale at the bottom of some steps.  Stand on the step immediately above the scale, place your pole on the scale and shift your weight to the pole and step down as you would while descending a trail step.  Repeat this, standing on the next higher step, and then the next.  While short poles can take a sizable weight transfer on short steps, one must bend significantly from the waist to descend tall steps, resulting in impaired balance for the aforementioned reasons, and also induce unnecessary back strain.  As the steps become taller the short poles are almost ineffective.  Properly adjusted poles will work better than short ones, but even that provides limited aid.  They just aren't long enough to be effective as a good long staff when descending.  In any case the load trekking poles can transfer is minor, given impact forces while descending often exceed 400 pounds when shouldering a pack

The truth be told, mountaineers (folks who most closely resemble hikers) use trekking poles primarily for stability, not to transfer loads from legs to arms.  And they normally don’t use poles on-trail.  Since stability is usually not a constant issue while hiking trails, providing better arm movement is the primary benefit to on-trail hikers; trekking poles simply do not do a good job transferring loads from legs to arms.  A staff will provide just as effective stability, and are the superior means to assisting the arms with taking some of the load during climbing and descending.  Do recall, fellow alpine skiers, we are taught to use those short poles primarily for timing the turn, versus placing any weight on them while under way. 

If you give people a long staff and demonstrate proper use they will note it out performs trekking poles in each of the above applications.  If you get a light staff, it is lighter than any set of poles.  My six foot staff weighs 12 oz.  If you get a well-balanced staff you can carry it parallel to the ground when not in use, with practically no effort, and pendulum to and fro to promote pacing and proper arm movement.  Trekking poles are a nuisance when not in use.  Lastly poles require adjusting or moving your hand up and down the shaft to obtain proper hand position for a given obstacle.  Most people do not adjust their poles for every situation, so at best are using their poles in a compromising manner.  Unless your trekking poles have some sort of improvised grip along the shaft, raising or lowering your grip there will be compromised; whereas a typical staff has a long gripping surface along the shaft allowing one to instantly change hand position while being assured a secure grip on the staff. 

Ed

 

 

 

8:04 a.m. on August 21, 2017 (EDT)
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Holy crap that is a lot of words. I read them all and I'm now convinced of something I suspected before. You may be smart, but you don't know everything :)

You are making a lot of assumptions which clearly may make sense to you, but seem wrong and at times silly to me. I just returned from this trip:


GLT17aprofile.png


(Elevation profile compresses mileage. Actual total is just shy of 39)

Maybe you travel on different terrain that I do, I'm pretty certain you do, and that is why you aren't able to comprehend what I'm talking about. Despite your extensive protests, I can assure you that hiking poles are not only a boon, but superior to a single staff on a trip like this. On rolling dirt paths like I grew up hiking on I agree that a staff is a good tool, but not on uneven terrain where the additional lateral stability of two poles comes into play.

As for all of your application of power discussion I'll simply say that by using the poles one learns to use them. It has taken years to get where I am now, but I still learn more on every trip. The few pounds of lift on a single step up multiplied by all the steps up over the course of a day add up to a huge amount of saved leg effort. The load taken off both joints and muscles using the poles to ease descent is multiplied the same way. The angle, not just forward and back, but laterally of the poles can constantly be adjusted to suit the terrain underfoot at the moment mitigating your issues with not having perfect length. The whole thing becomes a dance of motion, especially on downhill sections where the poles allow a descent to become more of a controlled fall down the mountain. A staff would be far too cumbersome to use at those speeds.

Then we get into stability in treacherous terrain. Day three of this trip found me climbing three mountains including one large exposed slabbed peak, in heavy wind and rain. Having four contact points with the ground rather than three means there are more chances to survive a slip. Over a twelve hour day I had more than a few moments when a boot would slide on a wet root or steep, wet slab of rock. Total number of falls: zero.

I'm certainly not going to tell you that you should use hiking poles Ed. You clearly have some strong beliefs on this subject and are welcome to them. I did want to make it clear that I don't agree with your assessment simply because it is totally at odds with my own experience. As I said in my previous post, folks should try things and see what works for them rather than take the word of so called internet experts such as ourselves. Clearly what works for you and I is very different, but that doesn't mean either of us is wrong to do what works.

9:23 a.m. on August 21, 2017 (EDT)
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Judging from the way my poles flex when I'm using them to ascend or descend, I'm putting far more than 10-20 pounds on them. However much force I'm exerting with them, it's enough to make a very noticeable difference in joint fatigue over a day. On level ground I can hike at a comfortable pace without them, but on steep, rocky hills they're knee savers. Same for snowshoeing. Less so on ascents, but it's still noticeable. Plus, like LoneStranger said, they turn you into a 4-legged animal, able to use your other limbs to help keep you from slipping or falling.

On descents I have 2 choices - go without poles and let my forward knee take all the shock of landing, or put a significant portion of my weight on the opposite arm's pole so my foot makes a softer, more knee-friendly landing. It is much slower because you have to find useful footing for both your foot and the pole. 

1:08 p.m. on August 21, 2017 (EDT)
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I use poles and I like them for many of the reasons already mentioned by others.  

They also work well to move thorny plants to one side as I pass, to poke at animal dung ( just to see what they're eating ) , to feel for stream depth and to hold up tarp shelters and numerous other tiny, mundane chores throughout the day.

If they were as bad as some have stated it would be an obvious drawback that would have eliminated them from use.  As it is many people find they help.

11:23 p.m. on August 21, 2017 (EDT)
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Lonestranger:

I hike the Sierra and San Gabriel Mountains principally, but have also hiked most of the Cascades cones, a dozen forays in the Rockies, and did a half dozen high altitude strolls in Alaska and the Andes.  The trip profile you share could easily be mistaken for a typical hike I take nowadays, except most of my hikes start at 8-9000 feet and top out close to 12000 feet.  I usually do these with a 65 pound pack, but sometime go heavy - 95 pounds on these same trails.  Judging by your pack and other posts you probably also tote a massive load on a regular basis.  You reference treacherous terrain - a term hardly suitable for on-trail routes so I assume you are talking about off-trail travel?  As I stated my comments were specifically in regards to on-trail travel.  Off trail I may use trekking poles on snow but still prefer a staff most other times. 

You repeat your assumptions that I am unfamiliar with or unskilled using trekking poles.  As I stated I have used trekking poles off-trail and in snow/ice covered terrain most of my life, almost as long as you have been alive!  I have spent months on expedition using ski/trekking poles.  They practically became extensions of my arms.  The only way I could be as unskilled as you allude after so many days gripping poles was if I was a clumsy couch potato or a brick incapable of learning.  I am neither.  If I had as much experience dancing as I have with trekking poles I would be a Fred Astaire!  But I am not looking to get into a one-upmanship contest with you or Fred.

As for canting poles laterally to compensate for length issues that is exactly what I am addressing.  Such hacks are far from ideal, especially considering other tools can do the job without compromising.  And often terrain next to the trail limits those options.  You don't need to make nearly as many compromises with a staff.     

You have read my spiel about assessing the dynamics of trekking pole use, but did you actually attempt of the drills I shared?  My opinions are backed with objective measurements whereas most coments by others are based on subjective impressions.  As far as the amount of relief poles offer your legs, 20 pounds equate to about 5% of the total force your leg experiences as you weight it going down a step.  Do you really thing that makes a significant difference?   That is like saying an 18 mile hike is so much easier than a 20 miler.   No matter how huge you claim the relief poles provide, 5% is 5%, and most would not tout 5% as huge.  If I told you I could shave 3 pounds from a 60 pound pack would you consider that a huge weight reduction?  (Would you even notice if I said nothing and just lightened your pack?)  Now if you are at the margins of your physical capability 5% becomes significant.  But one should reconsider the risk of pushing the limits in the middle of nowhere, just to hike.   

-----------------

Phil Smith: 

If your poles are flexing noticeably it is not due to the total force imparted, it is due to the force vector applied relative to the pole axis.  Poles will take impressively large loads with no deflection if the load is in line with the pole axis.  Crossloading is  how one breaks a trekking pole.  Be careful!  You can state your claim, but I invite you to actually measure for yourself the amount of force we are talking about.  Do my drills.  I don't know about you but if I was channeling 60 pounds or more force through my arms whenever I leaned hard on my poles I would have rubber arms long before the day's walk was complete.  As far as your downhill choices, you have a third option: use a staff!  It will aid either leg regardless which hand is gripping it.   I have one knee that has been operated on three times, so I know what knee strain is.  Ergo why I prefer a staff, it is much more effective aiding descents than trekking poles. I have taken trekking pole users on hikes and had them try my staff.  They usually admit it is superior in aiding getting around trail obstacles, regardless of no prior experience using a staff.    

---------------

Curtis Evans:

It may be true people find trekking poles helpful, but are they using the best tool for the job (on trail hiking)?  As a bike mechanic I am sure you have seen people riding bikes that are seriously an improper fit to their bodies.  Yet they usually have no complaints.  I would not consider that proof they not encountering drawbacks; but may indicate they are unaware of what constitutes a properly matched cycle and the efficiency gains such equipment affords.  And no one said trekking poles are bad.  My point is staffs do a better job at helping one up and down steep trails better than trekking poles, given the physical strength limits of our arms and the ergonomics of pole and staff use.  But many have never tried using a good staff, they are just doing what everyone else is doing. 

Well I have beaten this horse very dead!  You all can try the drills mentioned in my prior post and see for yourselves what the objective data states, or go on assuming there is no better solution.  As Ed "Big Daddy" Roth says: You can lead a rat to water, but you can't make him fink!


Rat-Fink.jpg


Ed

 

9:27 a.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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Not sure whether to laugh or feel bad for you there Ed. You keep on being you since it seems to make you so dang happy. I'm going to go backpacking... with my poles :p

12:04 p.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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I started to use hiking poles after the age of 60. They unweight the joints somewhat, and provide some assist in the steeps. The Sierras are full of rocks, and I find the poles really help with balance. I also use them to hold up my tarp at night. 

For a day hikes I don't use them, but for overnights with 25-30 pounds they are a big help. 

4:33 p.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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Ed what you do now? Just kidding..I see both sides of the issue and ED makes good points if your open minded about his stance...Hes been doing this for a while..All I can say is some days I use my poles and some days I do not..It all depends on what I am hiking or backpacking...But anyday doing either beats a day at the office...Please continue the conversation..I was just adding my 2 cents which is worth 1 cent LOL

4:58 p.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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Ed,

I'll definitely try to figure out a way to measure my down force, I don't have any rubber tips so I'll probably have to use a block of wood to keep from breaking my scale. 

As far as the poles flexing, the force being applied slightly off axis is exactly why. But like you mentioned about XC ski poles, they seem to work best when your direction of push is slightly behind you (not necessarily the pole tip itself) so the strap pulling on the rear of the grip does flex the pole a little. Going downhill it's not noticeable since I usually palm the top of the grip and am pushing directly in line with the axis (or very, very close to it.)

I tried hiking with a staff 30+ years ago in Boy Scouts, as a 140lb runner of a teen I didn't need it and, just like now, I hated having my hands full when I wasn't using it so I stopped. Granted, it was a straight hardwood branch or sapling trunk as high as my shoulder so it was on the heavy side, but I just never took to it. At least I can hang my poles off my pack. 

7:19 p.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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Figured this thread would still be going on after I got back....two thoughts:

I wonder if Robert, the OP, got anything from this or if he really just wanted advice on which poles....or if he is still wanting to be on Trailspace...

Can we agree that the one should never use trekking poles to poke around off trail in the Dolly Sods Wilderness?
20170822_155558.jpg


7:37 p.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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for what it's worth, Andrew Skurka's musings on trekking poles:  http://andrewskurka.com/section/how-to/gear/trekking-poles/ 

7:44 p.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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Ed, you contradicted yourself.  A person with an ill-fitting bike and someone with the correct fit both are using a bike.  A bike can be easier than having no bike.

People using poles as they see fit and those that could comprehend and follow your lengthy posting are both using poles.  Poles can be easier than having no poles.

10:04 p.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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Let's play nice folks.

There's no need to turn this conversation into an argument or commentary on how posts are written. 

To the discussion. I carry trekking poles because of arthritis in my knees. They are most helpful on long descents. On flats, I usually carry them in my hands or strap them to my pack. 

If your interest in poles is that you feel you need them to be a "real" backpacker, then let that go. If you need some assist, then I really like these: https://www.trailspace.com/gear/leki/micro-vario-carbon-dds/#review36044

But they are pricey. There are cheaper options if you only need a quick assist. 

10:16 p.m. on August 22, 2017 (EDT)
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I'd rather have poles and not need them, than need them and not have them. 

For the past 4 or 5 years I've been using a pair of Black Diamond Synclines (no longer available) and I love them. The "Flicklocks" are very sturdy and I've never had a pole collapse more than about a centimeter total throughout a whole day. They're only 2-section, though, so they don't shorten up much and can be hard to stow on a pack. I'm thinking of getting another pair, either 3-section Flicklock or Z-poles w/Flicklock adjustment under the handle. Earlier this year I bought a pair of surplus rental MSR Flight 2s for less than half MSRP on eBay, they looked like they'd never been used. These use a spring-loaded nub that fits in any one of a series of holes for a locking mechanism, and the wrist straps have quick releases so if the pole gets trapped in ice or rocks it won't take you down. A friend used them on our Mt. Chocorua hike in March and he liked them. I'll have to try them this winter. 

6:04 a.m. on August 23, 2017 (EDT)
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LoneStranger said: 

Not sure whether to laugh or feel bad for you there Ed. You keep on being you since it seems to make you so dang happy. I'm going to go backpacking... with my poles :p

I take a laugh, as long as it is with me.

Perhaps the following comments to feedback you all provided may clarify some concepts.  And those with joint ailments I feel your pain - my left knee has sustained three surgeries, the result of an over active youth.

denis daly said:

Ed what you do now? Just kidding..I see both sides of the issue..  ..I use my poles and some days I do not..It all depends on what I am hiking or backpacking...

Oh there are probably more than two sides!  But your comments about being a sometimes user is actually the foundation of my message: Sometimes poles are the solution, and sometimes there are better solutions.  I use one or the other - or neither - selecting the solution best suited for the venue considered.

Phil Smith said:

As far as the poles flexing, the force being applied slightly off axis is exactly why. But like you mentioned about XC ski poles, they seem to work best when your direction of push is slightly behind you (not necessarily the pole tip itself) so the strap pulling on the rear of the grip does flex the pole a little. Going downhill it's not noticeable since I usually palm the top of the grip and am pushing directly in line with the axis (or very, very close to it.)

I tried hiking with a staff 30+ years ago in Boy Scouts, ..  ..it was a straight hardwood branch.. ..it was on the heavy side, but I just never took to it...

Phil, your description about how you are using your poles warrants some comments.  If you were to talk to ANY OEM of trekking poles they all will advise: do not apply cross axial forces to your poles!  If you are doing this and think it is part and parcel to correct use of trekking use poles, then your technique is probably in error, and possibly unsafe.  But I can't tell exactly what you are doing, because I cannot not identify the situation where you are bending the poles (up hill/downhill/flats). Check out my primitive cartoons about force vectors and pole use:

Going uphillAscending-1.pngAbove, upper left and right: When going uphill force is applied to the poles while in front of you, aligned with the pole axis.  Since you hands are usually lower than your shoulders your leverage is limited.  As you move up hill the point the poles contact the ground is next to your feet; it is here maximum leverage is achieved.  You can continue to get efficient uphill lift as you pass the contact point(s), but unfortunately this is short lived.  As the contact point with the ground passes further behind you, the distance between it and your shoulders lengthens, rapidly making it impossible to apply force aligned with the pole axis to push against.  At that point the pole(s) are advanced to the next plant.   Some try to extend the working distance of their poles by using them like a cane, pushing with palms on the top of the grip.  But this is an unstable technique (read explanation below in the descending section).  As such, trekking poles are only partially effective in assisting your legs going up.    
Above, lower left: The hiker should not try applying force that is not aligned to the pole axis, for example an attempt to force the tip rearward by a muscular pivot of the wrist.  Nor should one attempt to tug the grip rearward, in a motion similar to pulling ones self close to an anchored stationary fence post.  Such techniques are highly inefficient as well risk breaking the poles.  Below:  Since you can plant a staff next to your feet and grip it with hand placed at or above the shoulder you get superior leverage to assist your legs lifting you up steps. And the staff length permits a longer vertical push off from the contact point with the ground.  The movement is stable and efficient.Staff-on-flats.pngOn the flats
Below, upper right:  Trekking poles  are not very effective in assisting forward motion by pushing off the ground, if adjusted at the conventional elbow high length.  One has to stoop at the back with the resultant strain it places on the spine.  Below upper left: You could get better performance if the poles were extended to armpit height, allowing you to push off the pole when the tip trails behind, but then you would probably drag the pole tip on the forward swing.  Below, lower left and right: Neither conventional height trekking poles or even a long staff provide much in the way of assisting forward movement, other than promoting pacing and better arm swing.  The poles do so by simply using them similar to the way a skier uses poles, lightly touching the ground somewhere in front of you, then walking past the pole plant while swinging the opposite arm to advance the other pole.  A staff encourages arm swing motion when held parallel to the ground from a relaxed arm that is swinging like a pendulum.  Both staff and poles are of equal utility on level terrain.Pole-on-level-terrain-2.pngDescending (see below):
Pole-downhill-3.png
Above, upper left: Using poles like a cane with palms positioned on top of the poles is a common practice, as the reach of standard length poles is limited.  Above, upper right: As one's shoulder advances close to the force vector, one's ability to steady the pole is compromised - in worst case instances the pole may lurch out of alignment, pitching the hiker off balance.  Above, lower left: The length of a long staff permits the walker to reach well down trail to establish an anchor point on the trail without bending from the waist.  Above, lower right: As the hiker approaches the anchor point a high grip on the long staff allows continued application of downward force without bringing the shoulder in line with the force vector and the resulting aforementioned instability issue.

Phill, you mentioned trying out a staff in your youth.  So did I.  Mine was also a big stick.  I didn't like it either.  It lacked nimbleness and was heavy.  In fact I dislike most "modern" staffs for the same reasons.  Some are lighter than their predecessors, but most still weigh more than two sets of trekking poles.  A CHEAP, much lighter and more nimble alternative to commercially marketed walking staffs are those green plastic coated tree stakes you can get at garden centers  Get a six foot one about the diameter of typical trekking poles. The surface texture provides a good grip and they are well balanced.  Alas it looks so uncool!  But If you like the way the green pole handles you can make a excellent staff from modern light weight composites.
DSCN0270.jpg

Above: Me and my staff.  I do not recommend using a staff to negotiate steeply inclined snow fields, but that was only a brief portion of this XC hike.  My staff is made from two hollow cross-woven carbon fiber composite telescoping tubes.  A collect, seen here near where the staff penetrates the snow, adjusts the length of the staff so I may use it also as the spar for my pyramid tarp tent; otherwise the adjustable feature is optional.  The shaft is tipped with a plugged, hollow, steel tube, and a foam fishing pole butt is used as the final.  If you enlarge the image you will note a series of knuckles made from faucet O-rings running half the length of the shaft, sheathed in a velvet texture shrink wrap fishing pole grip, providing an excellent grip.  I can produce all the force I wish without a wrist strap, clutching the staff using just my thumb and index finger (like the way one grips a golf club).  It is easy to hit the intended ground target when planting it.  If feels like tossing a dart!  It is light enough to easily carry with one finger when not in use.  Top of the line carbon fiber trekking poles cost over $200 and weigh 17 ounces; my staff cost about $70 to make and weighs 12 ounces.  If you know how to use a handsaw, sand paper and follow instructions on the tube of epoxy glue, then this Saturday afternoon DIY project is a no brainer.

Curtis Evans said:

Ed, you contradicted yourself.  A person with an ill-fitting bike and someone with the correct fit both are using a bike.  A bike can be easier than having no bike.

People using poles as they see fit and those that could comprehend and follow your lengthy posting are both using poles.  Poles can be easier than having no poles.

You missed my point.  Of course poles can be better than nothing - as a poorly adjusted bike is better than walking.  My point is would you continue using a poorly adjusted bike if you knew a properly adjusted bike affords improved performance?  In that vein I am suggesting many use trekking poles unaware of the alternatives, or don't bother trying the alternatives.  But if they considered a light weight, properly balanced staff and practiced just a little, they may well realize it provides better assist ascending and descending steps on a trail, which happens to be the place where most leg joint strain occurs.

---------------------------

Summary: trekking poles and long staffs are about equal in facilitating movement over level ground.  Trekking poles provide better stability on uneven ground, while a staff is better at taking some of the strain off your legs on ascents and descents.  Obviously some ascents and descents are both steep and on uneven terrain - the priority you place on stability versus leg strain relief will determine which device you should use.  For me a staff is stable enough for 3 season on-trail use, but I prefer trekking poles on very steep off-trail excursions that find me shouldering a pack or whenever doing prolonged travel over snow.

I'll be happy to respond to any additional remarks but I think you have enjoyed all you can stand of my spiel.

Ed
 



 

10:24 a.m. on August 23, 2017 (EDT)
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Ed,

There's no way to make stick figure drawings on my phone that I know of, but I think the reason my poles flex is they're planted slightly uphill of me. Since I'm below them, when I push down on them I'm also pulling the handles slightly toward myself. Once I start moving uphill in my step they straighten out, but they look like they deflect about 1/4". It's hard to estimate without anything to compare them to. If I place the tips farther back from the vertical the tips don't grab and hold as well. I usually place them maybe a foot or so in front of me, depending on solid footing for them of course.

As far as staffs go, I just don't like carrying stuff in my hands. It's the main reason I don't use my poles very often any more, I have to carry them in my hand when I'm not using them because they're too long to hang on my pack and keep out of the way. I want to say they only collapse to about 37", so they either stick above my head and grab low branches or hang down near my thigh. It's the main reason I'm considering a pair of Z poles, for the short folded length and Flicklock. 

11:28 a.m. on August 23, 2017 (EDT)
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The issue for me when looking at staff vs. trekking poles is the manner of weight transfer.

With a staff you grip it with your hand, an inward squeezing force. Meanwhile, the force you really want is downward, so you are relying on the friction between your skin and the staff from the strength of your grip to translate your inward force to downward force. Inefficient and tiring. And, it puts all the pressure out on your hand and fingers, using your wrist as the main leverage hinge from your body.

With trekking poles you put your hand up and through the wrist strap, so that the strap makes a 'V' across your palm. Now, you apply the force downward, which is the direction you want the force, more efficient and less tiring -- in fact, you don't have to grip the handle at all. And, with the wrist strap going over the back of your wrist it is transferring the weight to the ends of your lower arm bones, using the elbow as the main leverage hinge from your body, which is much stronger.

7:50 p.m. on August 23, 2017 (EDT)
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Phil Smith said:

"..As far as staffs go, I just don't like carrying stuff in my hands..."

Alas the bane of both poles and staffs.  You can buy/make a telescoping staff, so you can stash it away when not in use, just as you would trekking poles.  Neither device has the upper hand in this regard.

JRinGeorgia said:

The issue for me when looking at staff vs. trekking poles is the manner of weight transfer.

With a staff you grip it with your hand, an inward squeezing force. Meanwhile, the force you really want is downward, so you are relying on the friction between your skin and the staff from the strength of your grip to translate your inward force to downward force. Inefficient and tiring. And, it puts all the pressure out on your hand and fingers, using your wrist as the main leverage hinge from your body.

With trekking poles you put your hand up and through the wrist strap, so that the strap makes a 'V' across your palm. Now, you apply the force downward, which is the direction you want the force, more efficient and less tiring -- in fact, you don't have to grip the handle at all. And, with the wrist strap going over the back of your wrist it is transferring the weight to the ends of your lower arm bones, using the elbow as the main leverage hinge from your body, which is much stronger.

As I just posted, the knuckles on my staff allow me to capture the shaft using a light grip with just index finger and thumb, using only slightly harder force than you would grip a standard flash light.  The knuckles serve the same purpose on my staff as trekking pole straps to transfer force.  I rarely has to juice up the force of my grip to facilitate transfer of force.   The lack of a surface one can assert forces against is a shortcoming of many commercial staffs.  But one can easily apply knuckles to a store purchased staff if they so wish.  None of the people who I had try out my staff commented on difficulty gripping the staff or problems being able to effectively transfer weight.  In fact they stated it took less effort transferring forces (I am sure other ergonomic considerations play some part), was better at lowering leg strain, and was intuitive to use. 

As far as using my wrist for leverage, I use my wrist less with a staff than with poles.  Moving ones hand high on the staff when you need to transfer a load allow the forearm to remain totally limp save for the thumb and index finger grip force.  This is always the case going up hill.  It is as if the forearm were a rope attaching the upper arm to the staff.  The triceps muscle and shoulder does all the work.  On occasions where particularly large downhill steps causes even a high placed grip on the staff to fall below shoulder level, the dynamics of the forces on my wrist and forearm are very similar to those experienced using a trekking pole on less severe steps.  Keep in mind the shorter size of trekking poles impose a host of trade offs in this situation, such as bending from the waist to hit the pole plant target or correctly apply the force vector, instability if the force vector aligns with the shoulder, or forcing the user to settle on suboptimal pole placements.    

Being a frequent user of both poles and staff, I find a staff better suited for most on-trail hiking.  It has better ergonomics overall, and provides instant adjustment to every step and contour by simply sliding the hand to a new position on the shaft.  I easily out pace trekking pole users going up and down step sections, and I am no race horse.  That objective comparison speaks for itself.  My subjective experience indicates a staff requires less concentration to use; I don't have to split my attention between two poles and the force dynamics are easier to manage, allowing me to focus more on where I am going versus what I need to do with my poles.  And since I am not constantly bending from the waist to plant a pole or get my weight onto the pole, the plumb line corresponding to my center of gravity rarely falls outside the footprint of my stance.  And that equates to safer travel.

Ed 

 

9:18 p.m. on August 23, 2017 (EDT)
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Ok, now let me directly address what is important to me in a trekking pole.

Durability
Ultralight gear is great, but poles are subjected to greater forces than any other gear except skis.  Carbon composites are strong but fail catastrophically, shattering, while steel and most alloy poles will bend somewhat before breaking.  Ergo I do not recommend carbon poles for newbie pole users, you will first want to perfect your technique before hopping on that race horse.

Straps
Straps vastly improve ergonomics of poles.  Straps need to accommodate bare hands and gloved hands.  Make sure they are long enough.  Breakaway straps are a great feature. They preclude injuries that may occur when your pole gets caught in something and yanks you off your feet.  Fortunately I haven't enjoyed the circumstance where they came into play.  I prefer 3/4 inch wide synthetic straps that have a twist in the loop - it makes for better interface with your hand and wrist.  Check out XC ski pole straps if my description about the twist is not clear.  I also prefer a simple buckle to facilitate adjusting the strap length.

Ease of adjustment
I haven't seen a trekking pole whose adjustment mechanism was so quick and easy to use that it wasn't distracting.  But I haven't looked at trekking poles lately.  I look for a mechanism that will still work if dirt gets in the joint or water happens to freeze inside the tubes or mechanism.  I prefer the old school ball detent.  The female shaft has a series of holes drilled in-line at regular intervals.  The male shaft has a ball that is spring loaded to protrude through the holes, thereby locking the poles together.  The advantage of this mechanism is it is very simple, very hard to damage, and once locked in place the adjustment will not change on its own.  An added bonus is replacement/spare ball springs are generic, available in many sizes at low cost from third party vendors.  Lastly, since the mechanism doesn't rely on friction to hold, one can liberally coat the interfacing surfaces of the pole shaft tubes with silicone lubricant, greatly reducing the chance of ice seizing up everything. 

Tips
I prefer metal, they last longer.  it makes little different what the geometry of the tip is.  Replaceable?  I have never seen the need to replace the tip of any of my trekking poles, after over forty years using trekking/ski poles. 

Grips
Some poles have interchangeable grips. I find that superfluous.  Some grips are detachable or allow attaching various hardware to the pole ends: camera tripods, self arresting  devices similar to an ice axe, etc.  I find whenever in terrain where I want self arrest capabilities I prefer an ice axe over trekking poles; most of the arresting hardware for trekking poles doesn't perform as well.  I prefer a hard plastic grip with a simple pummel and final.  Leather and other porous materials degrade and freeze rock hard if wet in cold conditions.  I prefer no knuckles along the grip surface as they may not fit my hand size or interfere with various hand positions. 

Size
Most will advise proper size is elbow high.  I prefer about five inches longer.  I also want poles that can lengthen to shoulder length as they are more useful on downslopes and as the down hill pole of steep traverses; and likewise I want to shorten poles to about waist height as that is better suited for the uphill pole while traversing steep slopes.

Weight
Less weight equates to lower swing weight and faster response.  But that is had at the expense of durability.

Baskets
If you intend to travel on snow get poles that can accept baskets.  The basket should be replaceable as they tend to get mauled with hard use.  Wider baskets are generally preferable.

Ed

4:04 p.m. on August 24, 2017 (EDT)
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Mountain Tactical Institute has done some real world testing of trekking pole use, a quick search will find their site and information.

7:25 p.m. on August 24, 2017 (EDT)
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Curtis Evans said:

Mountain Tactical Institute has done some real world testing of trekking pole use, a quick search will find their site and information.

I like your diligence!

I was only able to access the study Mountain Tactical Institute (MTI) performed assessing performance on level ground.   The article also referenced studies by other organizations that included ascending and descending inclines.  All of these findings are within my own expectations, which are based both on my personal subjective perceptions, little experiments such as the drills I previously mentioned, and the perception of others with whom I had the opportunity to discuss the topic at length. 

Regardless these studies all reflect what I would expect, I still question their veracity.  The third party studies are conducted in lab settings, and treadmills are no substitute for real trail conditions.  And the MTI study is hardly scientific, as the sample size is absurdly small and the distance their test was conducted on absurdly short.  My own experiments had formal structure, too, but my small sample size also miniscule and test situations not as refined as one would prefer.  Furthermore the criteria measured by these studies doesn't address various significant other factors for example: poles' affect on stability, injury rates due to falls, back strain or other ergonomic consequences; the effectiveness of different techniques; comparing poles to other devices (to borrow on a previous metaphor: working bike versus broken bike versus skate broad versus walking, etc).  The results can also support various inferences some even contradictory, for example: poles may result in increased heart rate but they also may extend leg endurance.  So is that more or less efficient?  You can argue both!

You'd figure by now someone would have performed some exhaustive serious research, given the amount of money involved in trekking pole economics.  Then again maybe the parties most vested in this market have reasons they do not want to get to the bottom of this subject...  Hey, I am bored talking able poles - lets start another hot topic: what is the best fire starter or best knife!

Ed

 

7:53 p.m. on August 24, 2017 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

Hey, I am bored talking able poles - lets start another hot topic: what is the best fire starter or best knife!

Ed

 Ed

firestater= one that works or bic

knife=mine. Really it's a tie between my Case and Uncle Henry both folding. Although I'm still mad at my Uncle Henry for sticking me a decade ago!

yeah that's it one that works and mine . 

12:17 a.m. on August 25, 2017 (EDT)
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Hey John, and the best beer and spirits  are what you haul up for me in your pack!

Ed

6:32 a.m. on August 25, 2017 (EDT)
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Grinning

4:19 p.m. on August 25, 2017 (EDT)
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Ed cooper Institute did a study on muscles of the lower body with use to poles with and users without...Really what I am finding they lack saying 100% what they did for the conditions and testing...They only give you sippets...Kind of makes you go um really lol

9:30 p.m. on August 25, 2017 (EDT)
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Robert, if you are still around...

make sure they go to your required height (a few inches above your elbow for the downhill bits) , collapsible is good for transport and storage and I would suggest the flick Lock(side lock...) rather than the twist type .

5:38 p.m. on August 28, 2017 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

LoneStranger said: 

Not sure whether to laugh or feel bad for you there Ed. You keep on being you since it seems to make you so dang happy. I'm going to go backpacking... with my poles :p

I take a laugh, as long as it is with me.


 

Not an option I'm afraid Ed. I'll be as gentle as I can given the environment, but the choice is dependent on your level of self awareness. If you are not aware of how offensive your posts in this thread were then I feel sorry for you. If you were intending to be offensive then I will laugh at you because it seems silly to create strife in a world that surely has enough already.

Back from a six day family backcountry trip that found all members of the team happy to have used their hiking poles throughout the adventure. Heavy parent packs (57lbs wet day one for Daddy Pack and 38lbs wet day one for Mamma Pack), lengthy bog board sections, slippery water crossings all benefited from the balanced use of two poles and at the end of the day we could use them to hold up the bug net under the tarp.

As we walked I paid extra attention to how I was using the poles and noticed just how wrong your arguments against them were Ed. Your physics are way off in terms of how power and weight are transferred when backpacking. The human body is not a stick figure was something that became evident on closer inspection. Thank you for making me take the time to notice something that I'd come to take for granted. Hiking poles are amazing when well used and the human body even more so!!!

4:45 p.m. on August 29, 2017 (EDT)
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LoneStranger said:

Not an option I'm afraid Ed. I'll be as gentle as I can given the environment, but the choice is dependent on your level of self awareness. If you are not aware of how offensive your posts in this thread were then I feel sorry for you. If you were intending to be offensive then I will laugh at you because it seems silly to create strife in a world that surely has enough already.

Back from a six day family backcountry trip that found all members of the team happy to have used their hiking poles throughout the adventure. Heavy parent packs (57lbs wet day one for Daddy Pack and 38lbs wet day one for Mamma Pack), lengthy bog board sections, slippery water crossings all benefited from the balanced use of two poles and at the end of the day we could use them to hold up the bug net under the tarp.

As we walked I paid extra attention to how I was using the poles and noticed just how wrong your arguments against them were Ed. Your physics are way off in terms of how power and weight are transferred when backpacking. The human body is not a stick figure was something that became evident on closer inspection. Thank you for making me take the time to notice something that I'd come to take for granted. Hiking poles are amazing when well used and the human body even more so!!!

Well gee, I guess I am thick as a brick.  I am sorry I offended you.  I am sorry if I have offended others.  I try to avoid getting personal.  Life is too short.

Your last paragraph intrigued me.  If you think my physics are off, just don't pass judgment, explain why.  What are mechanics how you use poles, what are the force vectors.  (Feel free to draw stick men to illustrate your methods, engineers use such visual aids all the time.)  I bet there are other opinions, too.  Lots.  There are almost as many opinions on trekking poles and staffs as there are "experts".  It is all advice, some which the OP may even consider.

Ed
 

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