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Zack h
(want2belite) - F
TREKKING POLES VS STAFF on 02/19/2010 07:28:36 MST Print View

I still haven't gotten into the concept of trekking poles...which may just be heresy around here!

I can see for tricky down hills and what not. I'm sure I'm in the minority.
The problem is that they've become so integrated into shelter and other systems...not just your tent pole anymore..could be a camera mount or even a fishing rod!

Carrying a separate pole just for your shelter seems like a waste, i'm sure we can agree on that. Having the dual function is always a plus.

I almost remember at one time Ti Goat making a trekking staff.

Is there such an option out there these days?

I'm also considering the merits of carrying a folding saw for off trail hiking. Doubles as means to acquire your tent pole and wood for a small fire.(when the environment permits).


Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Luxury Lite staff on 02/19/2010 08:14:13 MST Print View

Luxury Lite makes a hiking staff called the Big Survival Stik. It is aluminum and carbon fiber, and breaks down into segments. One segment has the aluminum tubing sharpened, and this can be mounted on the point of the staff for use as a spear! It was reviewed here on BPL a while ago, including live-action video in spear mode, and referred to in jest as a "trail defense system".

I have one, actually- I bought it before I went UL when I was still trying to figure out my personal hiking style. I still carry it when hiking with my wife and daughter for two reasons: 1) They slow me down, anyway, so no worries about making mileage, and 2) the staff seems more useful than would a trek pole for fending off coyotes or catamounts should one decide to have a go at my little girl.

Most people acknowledge that trek poles do have uses for trekking. If you use the Nordic walking technique (which most people do incorrectly) they can help you make better mileage, but unless you are really into that then, yes, IMHO they really only have utility for keeping your balance on unstable terrain, saving your knees on long downhills, etc. Many people don't consider them worth the bother. I have found that I do like them, but mostly because I like scrambling rather than hiking maintained trails.

Edited by acrosome on 02/20/2010 17:00:47 MST.

Zack h
(want2belite) - F
wowzers on 02/19/2010 08:33:36 MST Print View

Woa...that's serious business...

thanks for the thorough review...and the added insight regarding the nordic-style application of using trekking poles

at first i thought you were joking about the spear 'mode'

a bit pricey for me. I also wish it was adjustable not in pieces.

maybe i'll have to start looking for someone who 'lost' one of their trekking poles and wants to sell the remaining member...hmm...

William Maaske
(bmaaske) - F

Locale: Southwest USA
re: TREKKING POLES VS STAFF on 02/19/2010 08:35:27 MST Print View

The biggest advantage I find in trekking poles is that they greatly reduce the stress on my joints, particularly my knees. As already mentioned, if you are on fairly even ground the Nordic technique also can enable you to walk faster than normal and distribute the work between your upper and lower body.

When walking on fairly flat ground or uphill the poles are always angled behind me. On downhills they are out in front taking a load off my knees and feet. There are times that my triceps and pecs get more sore than my feet and legs! I feel that I get a much better workout when using trek poles.

One mistake that many people make is not using the wrist straps correctly. Your hand should enter the wrist strap from the bottom and grip the strap between your palm and the handle. This allows you to keep a pretty light grasp on the handle and allow your wrist to take most of the abuse. It really saves your hands!

I've tried a single staff versus two poles and there is just no comparison if you are truly using the trek poles properly. The fact that I now use my trek poles as tent or tarp poles is just a side benefit. I would carry them no matter what.

Juston Taul

Locale: Atlanta, GA
LULZ on 02/19/2010 08:43:02 MST Print View

Seriously. That video had me cracking up.

"If your attacker is getting away... SPEAR MODE!!!" LULZ

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: TREKKING POLES VS STAFF on 02/19/2010 09:40:43 MST Print View


All my life I have hiked with a single staff. I have an old Tracks brand staff and a lighter collapsable staff. I use them when doing day hikes. And for a shelter like the Wild Oasis, only one pole is needed. For tarps I was using a staff and a light sectional carbon pole for the other end.

I asked a similar question a while back and no one really provided me with a convincing arguement to their value over a staff or no staff, for enhancing my walking. Yes there are situations when two poles are helpful, but is it worth carrying them the other 99% of the time (other than their utility as tent poles - especially in the desert where no natural poles may be available?

So I bought a pair of GG LT4s to experiment with, figuring that if I did not like them, they would be easy to sell in Gear Swap.

I have been using them for a year now. They are super light. And I am still not convinced they help me that much when hiking... actually I think sometimes they slow me down. But I have gotten used to them, and automatically grab them for all overnight trips. So overall, I guess I like trekking poles. It is not something I think about that much anymore. One thing I will say about the LT4s, they never colapse when hiking like both my staffs do occassionally.

REI does sell a couple collapsable staffs and Tracks has a website. Also there was a thread going a while back where people were selling single "orphan" trekking poles.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: TREKKING POLES VS STAFF on 02/19/2010 10:00:58 MST Print View

I not only use my poles for saving my knees on downhills, I use them to help me up steep uphills as well, bringing much more of my upper body into the climb.

On even terrain I 'carry' them parallel to the ground, swinging them with my gait. And they've saved me a few times on icy terrain when I wasn't wearing traction devices.

In summer I often hammock camp, still take the trekking poles. I realize they're not for everyone, but they've proven their use to me. And +1 on the GG LT4s!

Zack h
(want2belite) - F
Thanks! on 02/19/2010 11:24:59 MST Print View

I can't say i'm committed one way or another yet, but the thoughtful insight from both sides of the fence has given me some good material to consider.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Zpacks' Joe carries a big staff... on 02/19/2010 11:29:49 MST Print View

Hmmm. Maybe that wasn't worded so well.

Anyway, in his photos at least he seems to prefer a walking staff to hiking poles. It might be worth to send him an email and see what his thoughts are on the matter.

Zack h
(want2belite) - F
again on 02/19/2010 11:51:07 MST Print View

thanks again!

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"TREKKING POLES VS STAFF" on 02/19/2010 13:00:34 MST Print View

I've found that, in addition to the other benefits of trekking poles, I like how they help me get into a "rhythm" while walking.....but a staff is definitely way more cool!

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
poles and staff on 02/19/2010 13:14:25 MST Print View

If I could get a staff like Gandalf's, I'd lose my trekking poles!

Until then, I find the poles more useful, and much lighter, than a staff.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: poles and staff on 02/19/2010 14:59:12 MST Print View

i like trekking poles, as they have saved me from slipping and falling a few times, along with taking the load off knees.

Though, one time I was climbing over large boulders in a dry riverbed and lost my balance. I fell backwards onto my pack (thankfully) in a round depression between rocks. I fell in such a way that my trekking poles were pinned underneath me, with my hands firmly locked into the wrist strap. I literally could not move. I had to have my girlfriend pull me out. (Okay, I could have eventually wiggled out of them, but I pinned myself down pretty good!)

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Big Survival Stik on 02/20/2010 17:03:40 MST Print View


The Big Survival Stik's length isn't adjustable, thats true, but the wrist strap height IS. In fact the Prusik knot strap works just as well as advertised- adjustments on the fly are easily accomplished without even breaking stride. Otherwise it is just an aluminum and carbonfiber pole- no "handle" per se, so no need for adjustable length, really. You can also buy additional segments to make it longer, if you prefer. And the spear-point doubles as a potty trowel- just clean it well to keep grit out of the joint.

But it is indeed wicked expensive. And not terribly light, except in comparison with traditional wood staves. :o)

I should also add that the Big Survival Stik (with one extra pole segment) is the PERFECT length to be the center-pole on an MLD Supermid. I just slip an empty Tylenol bottle over the top end so the exposed aluminum edge doesn't cut the fabric. It is CERTAINLY strong and stiff enough for the job. YMMV with other 'mids.

For the record I'm not a Luxury Lite fanboy or anything- in fact I rarely use mine. I'm just trying to pass on what little I know about hiking staves, since you asked. You could certainly do much worse than the Luxury Lite product.

I'm not a fan of the raw aluminum point on it, though. I keep a blob of Shoe-Goo on it, which I'll replace if it ever wears out.

Edited by acrosome on 02/20/2010 17:15:48 MST.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Big Survival Stik on 02/20/2010 17:35:23 MST Print View

Good point. I'd missed the review. James Bond goes into the backcountry.

Wonder if someone will come up with a bayonet attachment for BPL Stix?

Philip Delvoie
(PhilipD) - MLife

Locale: Ontario, Canada
TREKKING POLES VS STAFF on 02/20/2010 17:38:16 MST Print View

I started using trekking poles in 2009...specifically the GG LT4's. At the time I took the plunge primarily because I was changing up my shelter system and it just fit. I went into it hoping I would also learn to like the poles. For me....I was an instant convert and could not see hiking without them now for any distance over rough terain. The extra balance they provide, especially when things are a bit greasy or wet out is worth it to me in itself. Like mentioned by some of the others on this thread I also find I really appreciate the help in the uphills and the support on the downhills.

Now...saying that...I went from nothing to trekking poles...would I see the same benefit from a staff or single pole...perhaps...but I do know I am very pleased I took the plunge.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Walking staff is handy dandy on 02/20/2010 17:50:32 MST Print View

AT thru hikers competing for shelter space

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Strength on 02/23/2010 14:26:32 MST Print View

I do not use trekking poles or a staff, mostly because I do most of my hiking barefoot and that forces me to swing my arms a lot for balance. Trekking poles or a staff would most likely slow me down.

However, I will point out that one obvious advantage to using the thicker staff (such as the Luxury Lite Big Survival Stik) would be that it would make a much stronger shelter pole compared to the ultralight trekking poles mentioned (such as GG LT4s). This would be particularly true if your shelter will experience snow loads. I have not confirmed this myself, but I'm pretty sure the Big Survival Stik would do much better as a center pole in a Mid type shelter in the winter than any of the smaller diameter trekking poles.


Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Trekking Ples vs. Staff. on 02/24/2010 07:24:26 MST Print View

From someone living in a climate that actually gets a heavy snowfall each year. . .
I have to disagree with ST on the idea that a wood hiking staff would be stronger than a trekking pole for use with a pyramid shelter in winter.

The idea behind using a pyramid shelter in winter is that it sheds snow to reduce the chance of snow build up. In addition I've used adjustable Black Diamond trekking poles for years now with a pyramid tarp. I've never had an issue with the pole failing let alone collapsing in winter conditions with 24 inches of snow falling in a 15 hour period.

When it comes right down to it all that matters is personal preference. I personally don't think either pole is superior to the other. Just find what you like and go with it.

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Re: Trekking Ples vs. Staff. on 02/24/2010 13:23:52 MST Print View

"I have to disagree with ST on the idea that a wood hiking staff would be stronger than a trekking pole for use with a pyramid shelter in winter." -Chad Miller

I was think more along the lines of a CF staff, not a wooden one. However, I do not know this to be true from experience, I only assumed. I will take your word for it.