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A case for trekking poles?
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Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Trekking Poles 12 Step on 01/10/2009 20:39:34 MST Print View

Hi! My name is Denis and I use trekking poles.

If this thing keeps on it'll outpace the Carbon Flame Wars in the Chaff forum.

Edited by redleader on 01/10/2009 20:41:21 MST.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Trekking Poles 12 Step on 01/10/2009 23:29:37 MST Print View

I didnt mean this thread to a 'dont use poles/use poles' thread.
I understand they can be useful. I also understand that there are people who really do need them- like for bad knees. And there is nothing to say I wont wake up tomorrow and be one of them.
But I think some people who dont need them are convinced they do. It really dosnt bother me -though some of the noisy poles are a little annoying.
Just though I would share the "Heavyhands" info since I never heard this argument before and I though it was interesting. Whether its true or not?....

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
RE:"A case for trekking poles?" on 01/10/2009 23:37:51 MST Print View

I find that trekking poles not only help me keep my balance, take stress off my body, but also help me set a rythum. While I walk, keeping my arms moving helps me move at a very efficient pace and the miles seem to fly by.

It's like marching, but at such a steady pace, It feels like you're walking in the park, even in rugged terrain.

Maybe the coolest thing about trekking poles is that you can use them to pitch tarps and tarp-tents (that use trekking poles).


Edited by edude on 01/10/2009 23:44:28 MST.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
A case for trekking poles? on 01/11/2009 01:27:40 MST Print View

I agree that those shock absorbing poles are noisy! I just switched to Leki Carbonlites (without the shock absorbers) and they are a lot quieter and more comfortable! I haven't noticed any difference to my wrists (which have, in the past, suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome).

Whether or not poles are helpful is such a subjective thing that it's really not helpful to try to posit objective criteria. Better just to do what works best for you! IF they don't work for you, fine. If they do, that's fine, too!

Like others here, I use the poles to hold up my shelter. They could also be splints or a foundation for a travois if my dog gets hurt (I haven't yet figured out how to keep my dog on the travois should it be required). So at least they are multiple-use items!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
I like poles on 01/11/2009 13:28:38 MST Print View

Trekking poles have turned my hikes into ballets rather than drunken stumbling. Going down masses of exposed roots and loose rocks is a much different thing. Going up, I have the added strength of my upper body to navigate the tricky parts. Stream crossings are much easier and walking the rocks across a creek keeps my feet dry. One pole will help and hold up my shelter. Two poles make it easier yet. I use them to get through wet brush and nettles, and knock down the morning spider webs too.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
yes, dancing on 01/11/2009 15:17:29 MST Print View

Right on. I am a convert of about 2-3 years now. I poo-hood it at first. I mostly did not like the way it made everyone out there look so manic and I did not like the clackity clak of people going by but......

I certainly never had any problems using poles when coming down from snow zones after skiing - I would not put them away because 'I did not need them '. They are great in unstable mixed snow and terra-firma. I have come to really enjoy the added dimension of going uphill and down steep stuff with packs or without. They help to make more precise footing to avoid injury. They help me to go slower because they help me to enjoy the terrain more in some cases: like the way you enjoy terrain on skis, a mountain I hate to say it but it almost turns it into a motorized activity but without the motor. I get to shift gears and play with different length adjustments. I love the added upper body workout and they do help conserve energy overall. I have done snow climbs with very heavy multipurpose ski boots and noticed that the extra support there helps with stability and standing up with less energy, even though the boots are heavier to move with each step. The poles are like that and make things more predictable, even to the point were I can be even more reckless ( Dictionary stop here and interesting punn ). I tend to not use them on the flat since it seems they slow me down then, and get in the way but everyone seems to find a niche for them. I have yet to get a light pair but will. I am the type to fill poles with lead shot to get a workout.....need to do that with a Mtn bike.

Even more important than any of these items though, is that keeping the upper body active and mobile really helps many people carry packs better and keep the blood flowing through the shoulders, arms, and back and allows for more pelvic movement too. Packs of any kind are easier on the body if the body can move more under them. Each time a shoulder is raised, it can lift the load off a hip temporarily. If you lean to the right temporarily, you can dump the load from a shoulder to a hip and get some dynamic resting and redistribution.

Edited by wildlife on 01/11/2009 15:37:12 MST.

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Poles are a mixed bag for me on 01/11/2009 15:58:40 MST Print View

Like any other piece of equipment it depends on the trip... For me it breaks down based on the terrain and whether I have a trail or not:


Downhill sections they help me. Uphill they exhaust me and on the flats they annoy me.

Off Trail:

They are reassuring for balance and great for crossing streams/rivers. But, on class three terrain they are in the way. Even on the pack, if not collapsible, they snag as I climb and can throw me off balance.

David Nyman
(dnn8350) - F
Re: A case for trekking poles? on 02/15/2009 19:23:50 MST Print View

Forgive me for using my first post for a correction of fact, but as a long-term user of Heavyhands (20+ years), I feel I need to point out that HH is explicitly not "running with weights in your hands". Carrying weights has been shown definitively to add little to the benefit of either running or walking. Rather, HH is (mainly) walking (sometimes using exaggerated gaits - e.g. knee 'dips' - to develop specific leg musculature) whilst simultaneously using the weighted hands to perform vigorous arm movements of wide range and variety. The aim, as described, is to achieve considerably higher and more sustainable continuous workloads than running, by distributing the load and effort over the whole body.

Since the initial inspiration was derived from cross-country skiers, I agree that there is direct relevance to the use of trekking poles for a similar distribution of effort. I've found, particularly in long and steepish ascents, that the upper body conditioning derived from HH transfers quite handily to poles in helping to achieve similarly comfortably distributed four-limbed propulsion. I hasten to add that the traditional two legs are also good (whatever Orwell may have implied to the contrary), but sometimes it's nice to have other choices available.


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: A case for trekking poles? on 02/16/2009 12:09:25 MST Print View

> they do help conserve energy overall.

Not really. They increase energy use (calories burned), but distribute that energy use more evenly over the body.

(epilektric) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: A case for trekking poles? on 02/16/2009 16:09:33 MST Print View

I didn't use trekking poles when I first started hiking. I didn't own any and my shelter had its own pole. I found my hands would swell hanging down by my sides as I hiked.

Then I purchased a new shelter that required a trekking pole to setup. So I purchased some trekking poles too. After using the trekking poles I found that my hands didn't swell and I rather enjoyed the extra stability they provided.

I'm not arguing either way on the topic. This is just my experience. If I didn't need the trekking poles to setup my shelter I probably wouldn't miss them much.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: A case for trekking poles? on 02/16/2009 19:05:09 MST Print View

Dana, aside from that being my experience, I have several friends who have also noticed a big improvement in hand swelling. It sure is nice to not have sausage shaped fingers to deal with at the end of the day!

I also agree with those that find the rhythmic nature of poling is seductive. I like to vary the rhythm myself. Sometimes poling every step, or every alternate step, double poling, one-handed poling, poling in-sync with the forward leg or out of sync, etc...

The poles go on my pack whenever the bush gets thick and tangled though. They are a downright hindrance in such conditions. I don't use them on large boulder fields either as they get caught too easily, and I like to have my hands free to lower down/climb up big boulders.

(epilektric) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: A case for trekking poles? on 02/18/2009 22:55:10 MST Print View

Thanks Lynn. Regarding the hand swelling, I could have ordered my Conduit with the additional thumb loops but didn't. Your right about the rhythm of poling though. It's very seductive. Although I haven't tried switching it up yet. I never learned how to crawl properly (I started walking at a young age) so I still check now and then to make sure I'm poling correctly. I'm afraid I'll just fall over if I try to complicate the rhythm!

Paul Martin
(bearded1) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
My experience is similar on 02/23/2009 15:59:49 MST Print View

I tried poles a few years ago and I liked them quite a bit. I liked the cadence and pacing of them. Although I hadn't noticed the swelling issue, but I do notice it when I don't use them.

Somewhere along the line I sold them to my hiking buddy and he lost them, so I guess I need a new set soon.