Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Is all weight equal? - Trekking Poles ...
Display Avatars Sort By:
Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Is all weight equal? - Trekking Poles ... on 02/03/2012 08:48:00 MST Print View

The thread about LT4 Trekking Poles got me thinking.
http://gossamergear.com/trekking/lt4-trekking-poles.html

I have these Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Pole
http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/shop/mountain/trekking-poles/trail-back-trekking-pole

With baskets and straps they weigh 20 oz.

The LT4 weigh 8.4 oz (228 grams) without straps - lets add 6 oz for straps and the hardware to attach them - total 14.4 oz

A difference of 5.6 oz or 2.8 oz per pole.

But, you are not carrying the total weight of the poles when using them - one pole is always on the ground.

So, is the difference between the two in practical applications 2.8 oz?

Allen Farris
(allenbfarris) - M

Locale: Texas
Lighter than you think on 02/03/2012 09:00:02 MST Print View

I am not arguing weather or not the weight matters but a pair of LT4 poles weigh 7.2 oz and the LT4S (straps) poles weigh 8.2oz so the difference is weight is more like 12oz. You also have to consider that even though one pole is always on the ground you still have to lift the extra pole weight (~6oz) every other step.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Is all weight equal? - Trekking Poles ... on 02/03/2012 09:03:37 MST Print View

Well, lets see...

Average pace is 30"

So in 20 miles you will have walked 105,600 feet or 42,240 paces.

extra 2.8 oz lifted on each pace = 7,392 lbs.

10 oz (weight of each pole) lifted on each pace = 26,400 lbs.

Now add the weight your arms are pushing downward to this and it is rather large.

I'll reduce the extra 13 tons from the lifting each pace and let my legs absorb the extra push off, as the leg muscles are much stronger.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Pole weight. on 02/03/2012 09:09:23 MST Print View

Choose the poles to do the job. No point in having very light poles if they break.
I've used very light poles, and found them fine if you only use them on manicured trails.
If you use them in mountainous terrain, and for supporting your shelter, you may wish for something sturdier.

kevperro .
(kevperro) - F

Locale: Washington State
Short answer -- No on 02/03/2012 09:30:40 MST Print View

You have to be careful with following a philosophy without question. In my experience it doesn't impact the same way boot/shoe weight or pack weight would. That is as long as I stay within reason. I'm sure if I carried 5lb. poles I'd feel the difference but I don't notice a 4-6oz. pole weight difference.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Is all weight equal? - Trekking Poles ... on 02/03/2012 09:39:03 MST Print View

Nick, I like your math. :)


Leg muscles may be stronger, but don't underestimate the power of sturdy poles, especially when going down hill. When used properly, poles can lessen the impact on those leg muscles and joints.

I've never really noticed the weight of poles, and I use heavier Leki Super Makalus. If I stow them on my pack, it makes a difference, but not when I'm using them. I've simply never gotten to camp and said to myself, "man, those poles are heavy."

I also use my poles for all of my shelters, so they need to be pretty sturdy, adjustable, and long if needed.

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Re: Lighter than you think - need to compare like to like on 02/03/2012 09:44:40 MST Print View

"I am not arguing weather or not the weight matters but a pair of LT4 poles weigh 7.2 oz"

The 7.2 oz doesn't include the baskets


"and the LT4S (straps) poles weigh 8.2oz so the difference is weight is more like 12oz."

With baskets
254 grams = 8.95958634 ounces

I didn't know they made them with straps - difference 11 oz.

"You also have to consider that even though one pole is always on the ground you still have to lift the extra pole weight (~6oz) every other step."

I realize that - that is what I'm asking - although there is an 11 oz total weight difference - in practical use there is only a 5.5 oz difference.

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Re: Re: Is all weight equal? - Trekking Poles ... Practicle application of the numbers. on 02/03/2012 10:01:14 MST Print View

"Well, lets see...
Average pace is 30"
So in 20 miles you will have walked 105,600 feet or 42,240 paces.
extra 2.8 oz lifted on each pace = 7,392 lbs.
10 oz (weight of each pole) lifted on each pace = 26,400 lbs.
Now add the weight your arms are pushing downward to this and it is rather large.
I'll reduce the extra 13 tons from the lifting each pace and let my legs absorb the extra push off, as the leg muscles are much stronger."

Those are large numbers but they do not give us a perspective on the effect. There are two aspects that I can think of that would be applicable and give us the needed perspective to make a decision.

1 - Energy consumed and resulting weight added - e.g. the added 11 oz (5.5 oz in practical application) over a 20 mile hike caused the incremental expenditure of x calories requiring carrying y ounces of food per day

2 - Fatigue - the added 11 oz (5.5 oz in practical application)over a 20 mile hike caused incremental fatigue - I don't know how you would measure that.

With that perspective we would then be able to make an evaluation.

I think we would all agree that if we added an additional 50 pounds of weight to our packs it would cause a noticeable increase in calorie consumption and fatigue. That is not the question here.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Fatigue on 02/03/2012 10:05:46 MST Print View

Would you be able to hike 20 miles the next day if your 5.5 ounce pole broke during the night? Trying to wrap yourself in a sil or cuben sandwich during a storm isn't very sleep inducing. :)

martin cooperman
(martyc) - M

Locale: Industrial Midwest
Pole weight on 02/03/2012 10:15:39 MST Print View

There is an interesting comment made by the folks who make Pacer Poles.
They make poles with an ergonomic grip.
What I found interesting was their discussion about pole weight.
http://pacerpole.com/faq/why-use-poles
They say that the weight at the tip of the pole is much more important than the weight near the grip.
This makes sense to me as that tip is lifted and moves more than the grip.
Similar to a bicycle wheel.
The weight of the wheel is much less important than the weight of the rim, tire and tube at the perimeter. Saving weight there is significant in how easily the bike rides.
Saving weight at the hub is much less significant.
Marty Cooperman
Cleveland, Ohio

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Is all weight equal? - Trekking Poles ... Practicle application of the numbers. on 02/03/2012 10:34:05 MST Print View

"Those are large numbers but they do not give us a perspective on the effect."

I agree. But to me the root questions is, do trekking poles really help?

I found they slowed me down, and were extra items to deal with every day -- an unneeded fiddle factor, generally a pain in the butt. Since I went back to no poles, I am much, much happier. I do kinda miss my old hiking staff, but its functionality is questionable too. And I may start using it again, only because it is an old friend.

Granted, people with lingering injuries or aging joints may find them extremely valuable, and allow them to hike where they might not be able to do so without them. Folks who use them because they are overweight would probably be much happier if they shed the excess pounds and left the poles at home.

Stephan Doyle
(StephanCal)
Re: Is all weight equal? - Trekking Poles ... on 02/03/2012 10:37:50 MST Print View

You're swinging the poles. I'd rather add 3 lbs to my pack than 11oz of poles to move around all day.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Not fat on 02/03/2012 10:48:42 MST Print View

You don't need to be overweight to use poles.

Some of us non-desert living folk find them a great help in river crossings, snow fields, shelter support, etc, etc,....

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Is all weight equal? - Trekking Poles on 02/03/2012 10:53:01 MST Print View

Given my weak old knees and ankles I find poles absolutely indispensible, particularly going downhill. And I use them often to hold up one or both ends of my tarp so I need some strength. And I use them on rough trails and bushwacking.

I have relatively heavy by today's standards 3-piece poles (great for packing for an airplane trip!), maybe 16 oz per pair. I too have never got to camp and felt the poles were a burden, in fact I rarely notice their weight.

As for slowing me down, if true this is an advantage, and not only because going too fast is the usual reason I overstress my old joints. Hiking for me is not an athletic event, it is an aesthetic endeavor.

My hiking motto is to "start out slow, then taper off...".

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Not fat on 02/03/2012 10:54:15 MST Print View

Nothing like running down a rocky, slippery hill with poles; fast, light, graceful. More akin to a fast animal with 4 legs. Would not recommend it for bigger folks, though.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re Re Not fat on 02/03/2012 11:01:09 MST Print View

I think you are from the Alps originally, Kat?
Folk have been using them for years in Europe. In mountainous terrain, they can be superb. Only relatively recently have folk in the US discovered them for flat trail walking.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re Re Not fat on 02/03/2012 11:06:30 MST Print View

Correct Mike.
Used to be wooden poles. Now you will see young folks to 80 year olds heading straight up (and down) the steepest slopes with poles.
Poles are also great for upper body strength. Since I am little, some of the taller "steps" can be hard for me; I use poles to literally propel myself up the steps.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: "Is all weight equal? - Trekking Poles ..." on 02/03/2012 11:18:40 MST Print View

I used to laugh at poles but then tried them. I think they safely double my speed on steep downhills while also reducing stumbles. Flats or moderate uphill they require more energy and I just carry them horizontal in one hand. Steep uphill with high steps I use them again.

On family trips where the pace is much slower I don't bring them at all. Already carrying too much stuff.

In use, I would say that poles require energy similar to footwear. Lighter is better as long as they are sufficiently strong, stiff, and durable.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Weight on 02/03/2012 11:19:25 MST Print View

"what I'm asking - although there is an 11 oz total weight difference - in practical use there is only a 5.5 oz difference."

I'd say the impact is far more than having 11oz. I can't imagine it would be less.

When you are using trekking poles there is constant acceleration and deceleration going on, so you are doing a lot more than just suspending the mass (like you do with stuff in your backpack). When you push off of a pole, you then need to lift that pole up and accelerate it forward at a high rate of speed so that it passes you, decelerates and lands it front for your next step. So the mass of your poles is constantly being accelerated up/down and forward/backward by the muscles in your arms and wrists. This is particularly pronounced at the bottom of the poles. The handles of the poles move sort of at a constant speed, but the speed of the bottom of the pole is constantly fluctuating radically as the tips accelerate, move quickly and then stop.

Comparatively, weight on your back moves in a fairly constant vector. The speed remains pretty steady, and it does bounce up and down a little, but it's not moving around nearly as much as a trekking pole tip....so mostly you are just suspending the weight and not really accelerating/decelerating it too much.

To illustrate what I'm saying, imagine adding a 5 lbs weight each to the bottom your trekking poles vs. adding 5 lbs to your pack. It would totally suck. You could hardly walk. 5 lbs in your pack on the other hand would slow you a bit, but not nearly as much.

Now with the LT4 poles, you've got virtually no weight in the bottom half of the poles since they only weigh 4oz and half of that is probably in the handle. When you walk with these, they whip forward so effortlessly. If you switch back to other poles its noticeably more work. You may not notice the work if you've never used super light poles, but there is a real difference and it's more pronounced than 11oz would be on your back.

Edited by dandydan on 02/03/2012 11:21:45 MST.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
Distance on 02/03/2012 11:21:14 MST Print View

I have an winter training loop nearby of roughly 15 miles with 4000ft of gain, it is useful to keep in shape because of constant gain/loss, and varied rocky terrain with some light scrambling sections. I wasn't bringing my poles (it is a dayhike after all) and would always miss them by the end of the day, plus I felt quite a bit slower in the steeps.

I started bringing them to see if they would be helpful even without a pack on, and right away knocked about 30 minutes off my time. I definitely feel less beat up at the end. Hardly scientific, but I'll keep my "heavy" BD poles.