Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » West Coast Trail and Hiking Poles


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Megan S.
(megslegs) - F
West Coast Trail and Hiking Poles on 07/20/2011 06:56:19 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I am about to do the West Coast Trail. Not exactly "ultra"light style, but more lightweight compared to when I first did it 18 years ago. We are going to take it about two days slower than our last trip, too. Another change may be to bring poles. I have always hiked with a staff - a tree branch that I find on the trail, to help balance on logs and stuff like that. In Newfoundland a couple of years ago, we shared a set of poles for that reason. But I have been encouraged to try a pair. I cannot for the life of me imagine hiking with both hands in poles, but am wondering if there is a reason to deviate on this particular trail?

Mike W
(skopeo) - F - M

Locale: British Columbia
West Coast Trail and Hiking Poles on 07/20/2011 09:50:51 MDT Print View

Of all the trails I've been on, the WCT is the one trail I would consider a "poles mandatory" trail. I know lots of people leave them behind but I would think it increases their chances of falling signicantly. I've always believed that the trail rating on the WCT should be based on the "number of falls per mile" rather than degree of difficulty :)

Another thing to consider is that we have received a record breaking rainfall this summer (I live on southern Vancouver Island and we are actually still waiting for summer to arrive...). The WCT is bound to be a muddy, slippery mess unless we suddenly get a really warm stretch of weather.

Jozef _____
(DerJosef) - F

Locale: The southern border of Holland
always poles on 07/20/2011 11:21:45 MDT Print View

I did the WCT some 12 years ago without poles. I was perfectly fine. At the time I never had used them, and I was sure that I never would. A buddy slipped on one of the boardwalks but that was it. I don't think poles would've helped much on those slippery surfaces. I suppose you would be better off with a (long) staff on those.

A couple of years later I started using them, and have never left them at home since.

It takes some getting used to, especially downhill, to effectively use them. When you're walking the WCT you probably pack a bit heavier. There are some calculations out there that show you how much weight you take off your knees each step and accumulative on the whole trip, when using poles (the right way).