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Pacerpole 2-Section Trekking Pole REVIEW

Unique molded grips add extreme comfort and power to these heavier two-section aluminum/carbon fiber hybrids. But are they worth the weight?

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by Marty Coatney | 2006-09-06 03:00:00-06

Pacerpole 2-Section Trekking Pole REVIEW

Introduction

The Pacerpoles are the heaviest carbon fiber poles that we’ve reviewed. Are they worth it? It depends on where you are hiking. The innovative grip design allows you to propel yourself over level terrain with ease and in a manner where the weight is hardly noticeable (when used correctly). The grips allow you to securely hold the poles with minimum effort - your hands seem to curve naturally around it. The molded grips are also where the majority of the Pacerpoles’ excess weight is found. They also limit the poles’ usefulness in steeper terrain and require a slight learning curve. The poles are rock solid with an aluminum upper section and a carbon fiber lower section giving excellent stiffness and stability.

What’s Good

  • Extremely comfortable and unique grips minimize hand fatigue
  • Adds noticeable power to strides on level or smoother terrain
  • Excellent quality and construction
  • Light swing weight due to carbon fiber lowers
  • Weight savings of 0.6 ounces per pole over the aluminum 3-Section model

What’s Not So Good

  • At 10.6 ounce (301 g) total weight per pole these trekking poles are quite heavy
  • The molded grip weighs 4.4 ounce (125 g) alone. That is 42% of the total weight of the pole.
  • Grip design limits use in steep descents or ascents
  • Two-section poles only collapse to 99 centimeters (39 in), making them more difficult to stow than three-section models

Specifications

  Year/Model

2006 Pacerpole 2-Section

  Style

Adjustable length, two-section collapsible

  Shaft Material

7075 aluminum upper, carbon fiber lower

  Tips

Carbide flex-tip

  Grips

Molded thermo-plastic/rubber

  Grip Size

One size

  Weight Per Pole
(without baskets)

10.6 oz (301 g) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 10.5 oz (298 g)

  Pole Length

39-54 in (99-137 cm)

  Baskets Included?

Yes - diameter: 2 in (13 cm), weight: 1.6 oz (43 g)

  Basket Type

Leki-style

  MSRP

$114 (US)

Performance

Pacerpoles set themselves apart with their unique grip. The molded plastic/rubber grips are specific to the right or left hands and angle the hands further forward than any traditional trekking poles, which are gripped in the vertical position. It definitely took a period of adjustment for me to get comfortable with these poles. My first instinct was to use them as I would any other pole: bringing the whole pole out in front of me with each stride; however, the proper technique with Pacerpoles is different than either trekking or Nordic walking techniques.

Pacerpole 2-Section Trekking Pole REVIEW - 1
The Pacerpoles’ unique grip is what sets it apart from other trekking poles on the market.

With proper Pacerpole technique, the poles are held lower and extended behind the hiker and used to propel forward. (Pacerpoles’ website has extensive instructions on how to correctly use their trekking poles.) The poles aren’t meant to be lifted off the ground and swung forward; instead they come forward during natural walking with the tips “skimming” the ground and the entire pole basically staying at the same angle throughout the stride. When used correctly I felt a noticeable increase in my forward momentum. Using the poles on a stretch of open beach hiking I found I could set the “cruise control” and haul on down the trail at an amazing clip and I barely noticed the extra weight.

And the Pacerpoles do weigh more. At 10.6 ounces they are the heaviest carbon fiber trekking poles that we’ve tested. If the neoprene grip on the shaft is removed that weight can be reduced to 10.4 ounces but the majority of this weight is found in the grip. At 4.4 ounces alone (per pole) the grip makes up 42% of the entire pole. Subtract this weight and the Pacerpole would be comparable to several of the poles tested.

When carrying the Pacerpoles in your hand or in a pack, there is no denying the weight increase over lighter collapsible poles. However, this weight is not as perceptible in use as a traditional pole would be because the heavier grips are not a part of the “swing weight” and the light carbon fiber lowers swing with the best of them. That’s if they are used correctly; in varied terrain I found correct usage harder.

The Pacerpoles’ distinctive grip shows its limitations on moderate to extreme ascents and to a lesser extent on steep descents. According to the manufacturer’s website the correct method for ascents is to keep the hands near the sides of your torso and pump the hands up and down “like pistons.” This puts the poles more behind you and does provide forward thrust but provides no increased stability. When I used the Pacerpoles to pull myself up steeper inclines or uneven terrain (as I would with traditional poles), my wrists bent at unnatural angles. The poles do have a 14 centimeter neoprene sleeve on the upper shafts for use as a grip on steep climbs. These were indispensable on the steeper climbs but of little use of slight up-hills or stepping up onto smaller obstacles without adjusting pole length.

On steep descents or stepping down I needed to release the grip slightly to be able to reach and plant the poles. (Note: I have observed this same trend when I use traditional trekking poles.) Once I learned how to properly adjust my grip I never felt as if the difference compromised my safety.

Pacerpole 2-Section Trekking Pole REVIEW - 2
When used to pull myself up rough (even small obstacles) terrain, I found that the grips placed my wrists in uncomfortable and unnatural positions. The neoprene shaft grips only helped with this problem on steeper climbs or larger step-ups. On descents I noticed myself having to release the grip some to reach down.

Like other adjustable poles, the Pacerpoles can be used in shelters requiring trekking poles. The grips contact the ground at an angle and are slightly less stable than traditional poles but I never found this to be a problem. However, I did not try them in a teepee-type shelter that requires the poles to be linked into one long pole so I cannot comment on their usage with this type of shelter.

Compatibility With Trekking Pole Shelters

Shelter type and pole length required Usable with this shelter?
Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic (42 in/107 cm) Yes
Tarptent Virga 2 / Squall 2 and Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo / Europa (45 in/114 cm) Yes
GoLite Trig 2 (48 in/123 cm) Yes
MSR Missing Link (54 in/137 cm) Yes

The Pacerpoles show excellent construction. The twist locks never slipped, even while pole-vaulting myself across stream crossings. The poles are easily adjusted, though I found that the length I used was a good 10-15 cm less than what I would with other poles. This is because of the extra height of the grips and the fact that the poles are held lower when using the Pacerpole technique. On the newest version of the 2-section Pacerpoles the carbon lower is roughened to provide additional grip when making adjustments.

Overall, I loved the innovative grips of the Pacerpoles, especially when using them on smoother terrain. On sections of the PCT they did great. On firm open beach they excelled. When used correctly they have the potential to propel a hiker to speeds they normally wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to attain.

Pacerpole 2-Section Trekking Pole REVIEW - 3
One of the few optional accessories available for the Pacerpoles is this custom aluminum camera mount that turns the pole into a monopod. This is done by removing the colored plug in the grip and sliding the mount easily into place. The newest version includes a protective cap to cover the threading so that the mount can be left in the pole without becoming clogged with grit and dirt.

What’s Unique

The molded plastic/rubber grips are what set the Pacerpoles apart from any other pole on the market. The poles are available in both the version tested here with the carbon lowers and the Pacerpole 3-Section which is all-aluminum and was tested by Backpacking Light in 2005.

Recommendations for Improvement

Pacerpole has reduced the weight of their trekking poles by producing the carbon fiber lower section (by 0.6 oz) but I would like to see the weight reduced further in the grip, possibly with a thinner plastic or carbon fiber core and an EVA foam outer surface (though this would most likely increase costs).


Citation

"Pacerpole 2-Section Trekking Pole REVIEW," by Marty Coatney. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/pacerpole_2-section_trekking_pole_review.html, 2006-09-06 03:00:00-06.

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Pacerpole 2-Section Trekking Pole REVIEW
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Cat Jasins
(CatJasins) - MLife
Pacerpole 2-Section Trekking Pole REVIEW on 09/06/2006 01:56:22 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Pacerpole 2-Section Trekking Pole REVIEW

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
PacerPoles on 09/13/2006 05:49:11 MDT Print View

I was surprised to read the comments in the test report on Pacerpoles that they have limitations on moderate to extreme ascents and to a lesser extent on steep descents. I have used the PacerPoles extensively for several years and find them particularly good for steep ascents and rough terrain. I've also tested many other poles and the PacerPoles are far superior on steep terrain, mainly because you don't have to contort your wrists to use the poles or grip them tightly. Of course if you plant the poles above your head you may have to contort your wrist but this is inefficient and applies to any pole. When using PacerPoles on ascents it's best to plant them low down and push down on them to gain uphill propulsion. Doing this I can ascend steep slopes faster and with less strain on my legs.

Heather Rhodes
(HeatherRhodes) - F
A word about Pacerpoles on 12/12/2006 16:48:53 MST Print View

Ryan Jordan has suggested that as Pacerpole designer, I post this – and hopefully start a wider debate about how we can improve performance by having a better understanding of how we 'move'.
It may be helpful if other designers/pole manufacturers contributed their views, as poles are unusual in design terms. Instead of designing for example - a body's second skin to peel-off as clothing, poles are basically a temporary ''add-on'' body part to transmit arm-power without wasting it. This means disrupting our natural, evolved actions the least. Consider such things as the way our upper-arm moves in an arc as we run. The main emphasis of its arc is behind the trunk as it swings back - with comparatively less of the upper arm passing in front of the trunk. When walking it's the same arc-action but not quite so extreme; it doesn't go back quite as far or forward as far - so when integrating poles, our upper arm need go no further forward than vertical with the trunk.
Understanding what body mechanics is trying to do for best effect is an education process - and as such the reason for Ryan's suggestion to post the following e-mail correspondence we've had about pole reviews and open a debate for all to contribute. Bear in mind that our trunk now moves around a vertical axis, balancing the shoulders directly over the hips – and not in front of them; how our arms and legs (as levers) can balance, support and move a vertical trunk will influence our performance and endurance levels:


It is obvious that great care is taken for BPL Reviews – including the accurate recording of pole 'weights and measures', but getting weighed-down with the minutiae – and not questioning the bigger picture such as 'How can we move more efficiently by exploiting the arm's power more effectively?', seems to be where real scientific application has been missed. For example, never questioning - why DO we pull the body uphill with poles? Review ref: "When used to PULL myself up rough (even small obstacles) terrain ……".
It's generally understood from biomechanics of the body that the pull action is inferior to the push. In practical terms the body performs better when it can push itself along; this has already proved successful in the Review, when moving over ''flat to moderate terrain'', pushing against the handle-contours from behind.

From the Review text though, the reader would assume even though Pacerpoles are especially "nice" to use on flat to moderate ground, that somewhere around the more than "moderate" slopes, and probably the area which is of most interest to readers, the poles are dismissed - using BPL's original illustrated ''uncomfortable and unnatural" arm positions on steeper slopes (a result of the arm's leverage being placed out-in-front, in the habitual conventional pole position, which is one of the arm's comparatively LESS efficient angles in relation to raising the body up a slope, stride after stride).

Biomechanics for optimum leverage and support relates to the whole of the moving body; its centre of gravity – and positioning of lever pivot points on the ground in relation to this. The arm/pole does not work in isolation, but should integrate – so when analysing a movement, ideally the whole body should be viewed rather than isolated bits.
For steeper ascents: the following info sent to our Contact Us page recently with the reference to 'pushing on the arms of a chair' could be useful here:

Hi folks,
Here's what I posted about my first trip out with your poles:
http://www.outdoorsmagic.com/forum/forummessages/mps/dt/1/UTN/14490/last/1/V

/8/SP/

~~~
Just back from 25 miles and 3 Munros in Cairngorm NP. PacerPoles were great.

Walking on flat, they help push (not pull) me along. But, they also did the
same going uphill. Someone on an earlier thread described it like pushing on
the arms of a chair to help you get out of the chair. I got the reference
this weekend.

Also noticed that the poles work at a better angle on steeper slopes than
'conventional' poles.

I'm going to recolour the strings so I can tell quickly which pole is which
without referring to the wee plastic inset.
Duncan Macleod
_____________________________________________________________________
From the basic User Guide note not to shorten the poles from your personalised shaft height on an ascent or use the neoprene sleeve (unless on almost scrambling terrain). The neoprene sleeve is there for easier gripping when twisting the shaft-section, especially in wet weather - to encourage people to lengthen the shafts on steeper descents to improve performance. This longer shaft affects the geometry of the whole arm so that the upper arm can remain back, nearer to a vertical trunk allowing more effective use of shoulder-girdle muscles (to brace and improve stability of the arm and trunk moving downwards). See Background Info pages www.pacerpole.com which applies aspects of descent technique.


On an ascent your hands should be nearer the trunk to push down on - and not out in front pulling you up to where the slope is higher in relation to 'you' i.e. your-centre-of-gravity. Remember, the body has evolved its 'musculo-skeletal' system to move around a vertical axis, not a horizontal one encouraged by forward action of the arms in front of the body on poles.
Conventional pole manufacturers stipulate to shorten the shafts on an ascent. This practice has nothing to do with applying the arm's leverage to be in its most efficient position. It is because having the arm/pole higher up the slope ahead of the body is the only 'comfortable ' position available using conventional designs. The shorter shaft length is necessary to avoid the hands having to be raised even higher, as when the tips hit the ground ahead, the height differential between the body and the tip is significant. In repetitive leverage terms these poles are poorly placed to provide maximum effect. In addition this pull action encourages the trunk to tip forward, squashing the lower ribs and making breathing more difficult. More strain is also put on the postural muscles as the trunk insidiously dips forward, and so will be more tiring.
Using conventional design straps/poles nearer to the body's centre of gravity to maximise the push down action, proves to be awkward and uncomfortable. Instead, proper use of Pacerpole's handed handles allows the arm levers to push down more effectively to raise the trunk balanced around its evolved vertical axis.
Dynamic stability concerns the balancing of body segments on each other (our posture) - so that a vertical line passing through our centre of gravity (behind the navel) can fall within our effective base. Try walking upstairs (hands at your sides), whilst keeping erect with shoulders balanced over the pelvis, and then repeat the ascent leaning forward with the shoulders tipped in front of the pelvis; this may be helpful in understanding the basics of better body posture. The tipped forward posture is usually the one adopted by conventional pole users – which then relies on the forward pole to stop them feeling unstable. If this same posture is retained when using Pacerpole's push-down action nearer to the body, it will be unsatisfactory. To benefit from the push down action to raise the body up the slope, we need to be more aware of our overall body posture, and the effect it has on improving our performance as we move. Learning/understanding how to balance the whole body better to move more safely and effectively is the basis of Pacerpole research and use.

In March 2006, Steve Perry was summiting his 284th Winter Munro having backpacked a continuous route over the rest of the 283 Scottish 3,000ft mountains during the winter with his Pacerpoles. The first to achieve this epic. It can be confirmed that these are much steeper than any 'moderate' slope referred to in the Review. For this final summit Chris Townsend, John Manning, Graeme Burns – and Lorraine McCall were with him. All were using Left and Right Pacerpoles with their contoured, angled handles maximising on the push of arm-leverage to reach the summit. Age range 20's to 50's and between them - experience to take notice of.
Pacerpoles slogan ''Shaping the Future'' is not just about the contoured design of the handle shape and the rationale underpinning it – but about understanding the "Shaping" or "posture" of the body and its levers so that they are allowed to function better naturally.

It would be helpful to have your comments about the many points raised here – and any queries so I can help. The aim is to improve people's walking performance and endurance levels so that they can enjoy the-great-outdoor experience even more.''

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
PacerPole love on 12/12/2006 17:25:40 MST Print View

I've been using the three-section PacerPoles for about a year now, with most of my use being concentrated in Yellowstone this summer. I love them. They are extremely sturdy. They are convenient to use as shelter supports. They are comfortable to hold, and I never notice the weight. Most importantly, I feel that they greatly increase my stability and my ability to push myself more efficiently through all kinds of terrain.

But they do take some getting used to. I initially had to spend time rethinking how to use the poles, i.e. not putting them up in front of me and using them like handholds for pulling. Once I did, they were a boon; now I just swing and piston my arms like I would if I were not holding poles, and look at me go.

However, I'm not unwilling to think that the advantages I feel these poles have over traditional ones are totally subjective and the result of a combination of my own physiology, body type, marketing hype, whatever. I would really like to see a thorough, fair, and well-designed scientific analysis of these poles that judges them based on something more than weight, "traditional" trekking pole use, and "Hey, these feel kinda wonky/right on" to see if what I'm perceiving correlates to any hard data. Of course, that's no easy experiment to design, perhaps even impossible... so I'll leave it up to the staff!

For now, I know what I like. I like PacerPoles. (Imagine that to the Frito's advertising song, please.)

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/12/2006 19:59:25 MST Print View

Heather, here's something I posted on the TLB general discussion forum a few days ago:

And Now For Something Completely Different:

#117888 - 12/08/06 07:44 PM

"I had a love/hate relationship with trekking poles for years and was about to give up on them. Then I tried these:

http://www.pacerpoles.com/

After eight months of use in all kinds of terrain and conditions I have to say that I AM a believer."


Back in the spring, after reading about Pacer Poles, I had one of those "ah-ha" moments, an intution of how it would actually feel to use them. After ordering them from Brian Frankle at ULA, I read the instructions carefully and practiced around the house. A couple of days later I took them on a three-day trip with plenty of steep ascents and descents. About an hour into the trip, I was getting more and more excited about these poles. They were really increasing the quality of my movement and I remember thinking that this was the biggest improvement in my hiking life since I discovered trail running shoes. With "normal" poles I had always felt like a guy using poles; with Pacer Poles, I was starting to feel like an upright four-legged creature. Since then, I always hike with them, even when I'm just hiking a couple of hours in the local foothills. My enjoyment of the act of hiking has increased so much.

I hesitated posting here initially because I wanted to gain more experience with Pacer Poles in steep terrain and deep snow, two areas where the reviewers here didn't give them very high marks. Well, I've encountered plenty of steep terrain over the summer and fall and recently some deep snow. In my experience, Pacer Poles excel in both conditions. There was no need to contort my wrists to pull myself up. Instead, I just pushed down against the handles while the tips were planted alongside my body.

So thanks for designing these and best of luck in getting the word out. Hopefully, others will join Brian, Chris, Miles, and others in discovering how different, and how good Pacer Poles really are.

Edited by Dondo on 12/12/2006 20:10:43 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/13/2006 06:49:25 MST Print View

First off, let me state that i love my PacerPoles and have both the 2 section and 3 section poles. They are a marvel of design and manufacturing. Great thought and insight went into their design and top notch manufacturing is utilized in every aspect of them.

However, they are NOT the panacea for every conceivable trekking situation one may find themselves in. Overall, they are exceptional and may be superior to other designs for many, many terrains one will encounter, depending upon where one is hiking.

Bottom line for me: i really like them.


Trekking poles, in any incarnation, including Nordic Poles, offer better balance, and potentially offer the ability to move at a faster pace, or to produce less fatigue of the lower body muscles groups mainly responsible for locomotion by "off-loading" those muscles, thus allowing us to hike longer, or a combination of a bit faster and a bit farther.

The following discussion fully realizes that no matter the technique used, the primary muscles used for locomotion when hiking are those of the lower body. Since this is in common regardless of technique employed, they are being largely "factored out" of the discussion that follows. Again, this doesn't mean that they aren't important, it just means that the arguments regarding them are largely the same regardless of how trekking poles are used - the differences are really minor.


Now for generalized comments i disagree with.


[Note: obviously, it's easy to find some point of disagreement with a somewhat generalized comment by trying to apply it to situations for which it was not originally intended - sort of a erecting 'straw man' to be easily torn down. i'm not trying to do that here - at least i hope i'm not and don't mean to. i just want to show what i believe are the reasonable limits to those generalized statements and to reveal that they aren't a panacea applicable to every situation. the way i read the original Post was that the generalized comments were made to be applied to every (or nearly every) situation. maybe i misread the Post? Hope not.]


[Note: Also, it should be noted that i truly believe that i am using the PacerPoles as they were intended to be used, but perhaps my following comments may reveal a misunderstanding in my use of them and so make my arguments moot and, in fact, totally wrong. I welcome any correction.]




>>"It's generally understood from biomechanics of the body that the pull action is inferior to the push. In practical terms the body performs better when it can push itself along; this has already proved successful in the Review, when moving over ''flat to moderate terrain'', pushing against the handle-contours from behind."



While i can't say that i categorically disagree with the above quote, i can say that it is too generalized. The quoted statement, specifically the first part and not referring to the Reviewer's first-hand experience on more moderate terrain, i would agree with for moderate slopes, but i would NOT AGREE with very steep slopes. Why? The superiority of pulling to pushing depends upon at least two factors: muscles involved and the position of the body when force is exerted.

The reference made in the original Post to biomechanics is just that a reference w/o any substance or detailed explanation. Here is what i'm thinking, and anyone please correct me if you feel that i am mistaken.

When speaking of trekking pole use when ascending a steep slope, the pushing movement relies heavily, upon extending the triceps muscles of the upper arms, with a much slighter movement of other upper body muscle groups. Depending upon arm postion when attempting to climb the steep slope, the Biceps muscles might be required if one is to pull oneself up - this is a weak point of pulling. Relatively speaking both the Tris and Bis are smaller muscles than the Latissimus dorsi and Pectoralis major muscles. The latter two larger muscles would be the main muscle groups involved when climbing a steep ascent if the arms are postioned properly and the arms, together with the trekking poles, are placed in front of the body and then used to PULL the body up the steep incline. This might, depending upon positioning begin with the Bis, but will end with a push involving the Lats, Pects, and Tris. Even here the Tris can get some rest as they are not the only or primary muscles involved as they often are (thought the workload is light) when just using the PacerPoles to push one along the trail.

If one can visualize the callisthenic exercise commonly referred to as the 'Dip', you can see that the three main muscle groups involved in the 'dipping' motion are the Pects, Lats, and Tris. Now, imagine positioning yourself on the dip bars in such a way that you are resting your chest or forearms on the dip bars and then trying to lift your body weight using just your Tris. How many semi-dips/lifts do you think you could perform using just the Tris? In many cases, the answer would be zero. Besides not being up to the task from standpoint of just force, in this example, admittedly, there would also be a very poor mechanical advantage due to the postioning of the arms - this does NOT carry over to the use of the poles to PUSH the body; it is a weak point of my example, but the other points, i believe, hold true. Now admittedly, this is a heavy lift (for the Tris), but the point is that it is a relatively easy movement when all three muscle groups are utilized. My point being, or movements requiring both maximum effort and/or repeated continued efforts, utilizing the larger muscles groups will resort in less fatigue. Also, utilizing these larger muscle groups will be able to off-load the lower body muscles to a greater degree than if the tricps are the main muscles groups utilized.

Engineers and Mathemeticians like to sometimes approach certain problems as what we might term "limit problems" in order to get an idea of the range of values that they might be working with. Let's try and do that here.

What's the steepest slope that we can climb (ignoring negative angles)? It would be a vertical surface. Imagine climbing a peg board in Gym class, or a big wall just pushing yourself up using your Tris. Case closed.

Now my example of 'Dips' ignores the use of the Biceps that are often used in, not in 'Dips', but in pulling oneself up when ascending a steep slope, and so the 'Dips' example was meant to focus on the inferiority of using just the Triceps vs. using the Pects, Lats, and Tris for the ascending steep slopes. The example of climbing the peg board, introduced the use of the Biceps muscles in ascending since they would be needed to pull oneself up a steep slope. Tri's, in most people are larger stronger muscles than the Bi's, but the Bi's aren't used alone in the technique i use, so a simple Tri's vs. Bi's argument doesn't work against the technique i use. In fact, the Tri's are used in the technique i (and most others) employ, just not as heavily as in the PacerPole technique.

In fact, PacerPoles recognizes that on very steep slopes one can't use the arms low and behind Tri's only approach. The design of the PacerPoles includes a ~12in" long section of foam on the upper portion of the straight shaft of the poles just for this purpose!



Also, admittedly, from a cardio standpoint, partially extending the arms in front of us, elevates a portion of our body, perhaps, in some cases, e.g. steep ascents, even above the level of our heart (a "no, no" if we want to keep our HR down), and increases our HR. On very steep ascents we might have no other choice than to do this, if my assessment of kinesiology and biomechanics is correct, but generally it's a bad practice (unless one is trying to give themselves the most demanding cardio workout possible for fitness purposes) and PacerPoles, properly used, are great for keeping the arms low (in other than steep ascents; but then, no pole will keep the arms low on steep ascents, so this is NOT a criticism of PacerPoles).



>>"a result of the arm's leverage being placed out-in-front, in the habitual conventional pole position, which is one of the arm's comparatively LESS efficient angles in relation to raising the body up a slope, stride after stride"


Again, this comment is too all encompassing to be true in all situations - both from the standpoint of Kinesilogy/Biomechanics and from firsthand personal experience.


If i haven't totally led us all (including myself) down the wrong path here (and i don't think that i have missed anything), there comes a point in ascending a slope where it actually becomes beneficial to extend the arms partially (so as to maintain a good mechanical advantage aka 'leverage') in front of us and use the larger muscle groups of the torso to pull us up a steep slope. The angle of the PacerPoles are NOT a hindrance on steep ascents b/c i need to grab the poles lower down on the straight portion of the poles' shafts (just as i would when using any type of pole or staff).

For lesser slopes i have no disagreement with the original Post. I've attempted to use PacerPoles in the proper manner and find them wonderful poles to use (i have both 2 and 3 section poles). Despite their relatively heavy weight which i normally (on flat and slight to at most, in some cases, moderate, slopes) don't even notice, they are very efficient at propelling me along. I truly like them.

When ascending steep slopes, the angle of the poles hinder a bit compared to more mainstream (including Ergo) shaped poles. When ANY grade slope, i, personally (YMMV) find the angle of the PacerPoles useful and not a hindrance.

My firsthand experience on the extremely hilly trails i hike in New England agrees with my limited understanding of Kinesiology and Biomechanics.



In summary: PacerPoles are great, IMHO (YMMV) and very useful. The Post to which i'm responding makes some generalized statements which could have been clarified just a bit, IMHO, which is what i've attempted to do here. Whether i've been successful or not (believe it or not, i've tried to minimize my words here!!!) in these few words, i'll leave it up to those who read them. For any who disagree with my science/pseudo-science (i'll let the reader choose the right word) or my practice, you may fire when ready. Shields Up!!






EDIT
NOTE: be sure to read all of Dondo's posts and mine to get a better idea of the issues. Apparently, some of my statements are not very clear to some and, hopefully, by reading all of our Posts, what i was attempting to communicate may become clearer.

Edited by pj on 01/11/2007 13:02:41 MST.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/14/2006 09:34:33 MST Print View

pj, while sitting at your office chair try this. Grab the arms of the chair and push yourself out of the chair toward the ceiling and hold. Certainly, you'll feel it in your triceps. But also notice all the other groups of muscles that come into play. These are the same muscles that are being used for ascending a steep slope when Pacer Poles are used correctly. The instructions state to plant the tip of the pole parallel with the center of the opposite foot and push down in a vertical direction. I find that this offers me a lot of strength because I'm operating in the same axis as my center of gravity. In comparison, trying to pull myself up a steep slope using conventional poles seems weak. Since I started using Pacer Poles, I've encountered lots of steep and rough terrain. Not once did I wish that I had brought conventional poles instead. When it gets too steep for Pacer Poles, I put the poles away and go into scrambling mode.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/14/2006 10:33:25 MST Print View

I've tried what you're describing on very steep slopes. You can do it, yes. However, when you want to do it many hundreds of times in succession up a 30+ degree slope, the smaller tricep muscles fatigue faster than using much larger groups. You can offload your gluts, quads, and calves more, and distribute some of that workload among the Bi's, Pects, Lats, and Tri's.

At the end of the steep ascent, my legs are fresher and can then carrying me faster once the terrain levels out some. Plus my Tri's aren't fatigued and i can continue to use the PacerPoles properly on level, slight, and moderate slopes.

I'm beginning to think that i may have in mind and more often encounter slopes that are much steeper than y'all are thinking of.

Now, if you tell me that using PacerPoles properly you would rather climb a set of stairs or an incline steeper than a set of stairs by keeping your arms low, then i must be using the PacerPoles incorrectly. On such steep inclines, I find it easier to have the poles in front of me. Perhaps it could just be how my musculature has developed from Power lifting and swimming? If so, it's a personal issue and i'm wrong to suggest that it is the right way for others.


I'm interested in knowing how you would prefer to use the PacerPoles for such steep inclines as i just described above. At what point does PacerPoles want us to use the nice foam grips they provided on the upper portion of the straight shafts? I'm sure they didn't include them just to add a little weight or to encourage people to use the poles incorrectly and slow down the learning curve.

Again, let me state, I LOVE MY PACERPOLES. The right way to use them is a real eye opener on flat and slight to moderate slopes. On steep slopes (at least the ones i'm talking about), i go to the foam grips which PacerPoles' provided for recalcitrant thick heads like me.

Edited by pj on 12/15/2006 06:11:14 MST.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/14/2006 10:58:57 MST Print View

>>Now, if you tell me that using PacerPoles properly you would rather climb a set of stairs or an incline steeper than a set of stairs by keeping your arms low, then i must be using the PacerPoles incorrectly. On such steep inclines, I find it easier to have the poles in front of me. Perhaps it could just be how my musculature has developed from Power lifting and swimming? If so, it's a personal issue and i'm wrong to suggest that it is the right way for others.

pj, actually, those are the kind of slopes I'm referring to. I've never used the foam grips, never needed to. So, in the end, it may well be a personal issue.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/14/2006 11:24:35 MST Print View

Dondo,

amazing. maybe i'm just gettin' old. i'm going to give it more attempts. i know just the place to do it too. An ~500' ascent of a rock face, i'm not sure of the angle (i'd have to check the maps and calculate rise over run), but you have to lean forward quite a bit to keep from falling over - even w/o a pack (it's definitely over 30deg incline; my wife is afraid to climb it, so i've never tried to force her to do it).

I usually really need to "choke up" on any pole i use when i ascend this face (never used the Pacer's on this trail - considered the most difficult one in CT). Some parts i'm grabbing the poles 12" to 18" from the bottom. At these points, i'm guessing even you might(???) have your arms in front of you? Please let me know on this last point as i don't want to be wasting my time trying a "Dondo" when even you wouldn't attempt it.

Anyways, it might be personal, but i'm willing to try it again and learn from you. Many thanks for taking the time to interact and educate me. Appreciate it.

-----
I'd love to hear from the PacerPole people about why they put the foam grips on the shafts and when or under what circumstances they envision someone using them.

Edited by pj on 12/14/2006 11:26:05 MST.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/14/2006 11:39:27 MST Print View

pj, for something that steep, I'd probably put my poles away (either conventional or Pacer) and scramble up using my hands and feet.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/14/2006 11:59:58 MST Print View

yeah, it's been a while since i've done this part of the trail (last year), and your words reminded me that in two parts, i had to sling the LightTrek poles i was using onto my pack and use my hands, but some spots, when it was just real transient, i would choke up quite a bit (12-18 inches from the bottom).

the day after i did it, the last time, a co-worker was out there the next day, and a whole section of the old, weather beaten, cracked, eroded rock, off to the left of the ascent, fell away while he was nearby. he heard a loud crack and almost became Mr. Walnut (so he told me using different words; my thanks to Roman Dial for a proper understanding of the Mr. Walnut terminology) right then and there. when the dust settled, he was precisely where he remembered he was two to three minutes earlier.

anyways, i'll try them there and elsewhere on that trail (that's the steepest part).

Edited by pj on 12/14/2006 12:01:23 MST.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/14/2006 12:11:59 MST Print View

>>I'd love to hear from the PacerPole people about why they put the foam grips on the shafts and when or under what circumstances they envision someone using them.

Here's what Heather Rhodes, the designer, has to say about that above:

>>From the basic User Guide note not to shorten the poles from your personalised shaft height on an ascent or use the neoprene sleeve (unless on almost scrambling terrain). The neoprene sleeve is there for easier gripping when twisting the shaft-section, especially in wet weather - to encourage people to lengthen the shafts on steeper descents to improve performance.

Edited by Dondo on 12/14/2006 15:34:59 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A word about Pacerpoles on 12/14/2006 12:33:52 MST Print View

Dondo, there you go reading User Guides again. What are we gonna' do with you. I know where mine is, i guess i'll go read it. I think i skipped it having read the online info on the PacerPoles website, thinking that was sufficient to instruct me in their use.

Not sure i buy into that explanation even though it's the OFFICIAL Party Line. Why? Well, why 12" of foam when 4" would do just as nicely? Why up at the top of the shaft instead of just above the first twist-lock? Also, it's on the shaft that least requires extra grip for torquing (it's the largest diameter shaft - though you couldn't really put it on the thinner sections since you couldn't fully retract them then). Also, the angled handle when grasp to react torquing is far superior to the foam grip. So, why not just leave them off? They certainly aren't required for the stated purpose.

I'm still not sure 'bout these steep ascents. It's just so easy for me to do a pull-push manuever with my arms out in front. Used to love pullup and dips, including chair dips with my arms behind me. Hmm.... gotta' think about that...chair dips...hmm...PacerPoles...tricep extensions...chair dips....arms behind...PacerPoles...proper use...hmm...



I also, have one additional reservation about placing the poles where i can't see the tip on these very steep and possibly 'dicey' slopes. I'll not comment more until i test it out, but logically it makes sense to me. I'll wait to see if practice proves this concern valid before elaborating.






EDIT
NOTE: be sure to read all of Dondo's posts and mine to get a better idea of the issues. Apparently, some of my statements are not very clear to some and, hopefully, by reading all of our Posts, what i was attempting to communicate may become clearer.

Edited by pj on 01/11/2007 13:02:05 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Pacerpoles - more first hand testing on 12/17/2006 04:10:38 MST Print View

Repeated my testing on two new trails and a previous trail that i had used the PP's on. About 9.6mi total.

The prev. trail was a largely a x-cntry ski trail and so is relatively flat with some slight and moderate slopes. It's surface in places is rather rocky, with low rocks which are rounded, flat, and pointed (obviously, NOT all on the same rock!).

The two new trails were rather technical. One was a very steep rock face and the other was nearly entirely rocky, mostly flat with some slight to moderate slopes and much overall unevenness, resulting in nearly 2000' of cumulative elevation gain per mile travled - (think up-down-up-down sometimes just a step or two). Just to clarify, whenever possible, i step over (rocks, large roots, or deadfall) or "around" (i.e. take a step or two around rocks, and obstacles), and don't generally, if at all possible step on top of surfaces that i will immediately have to step down off of. If NOT hiking for cardio purposes, the rule is to avoid unecessary gains and losses of "altitude" (yeah, i know, but 4", 8", 12" or a bit more adds up over a large number of steps).

As expected and experienced previously the PP's performed admirably on the x-cntry trail, moving me and my 15lb pack along at an estimated 3.0-3.5mph based upon time and distance (GPS was largely non-functioning due to heavy tree cover even though no leaves on trees). I simply love the efficiency of movement of the PPs in this type of situation. Even ascending slight to moderate slopes no problem, very easy to maintain proper PP form. On descents, i find the angled PP's help in pole placement which is, of course in front to help maintain balance and not in the usual position described in PP documentation. Clarification: on slight descents, normal PP form is maintained, on moderate or steeper descents, they will be placed in front to help maintain balance alleviate loading of the knee joints.

As expected and previously experienced on other steep slopes, i find, and again maybe it's just me (maybe you can't teach this old dog any new tricks???) maintaining proper PP form is next to impossible. Attempting to do so, doesn't offload the lower body as much on these steep ascents since the Tri's simply aren't strong enough to bear any significant load (is how i believe this is working under these conditions - feel free to correct me if anyone thinks i'm wrong). Switching to placing the poles in front of me and using a pull (bi's, and initial contraction of pects and lats, i.e. larger angle of humerus from centerline of the body) - push (ending portion of contraction of pects and lats, i.e. as angle of humerus decreases from centerline of the body, but this is still really a 'pull', and tri's pushing),produced, FOR ME (YMMV), a much better result. The lower body was far more off-loaded during these demanding step ups on the steep slope. Placing the pole tips in front also help with balance as i could lean forward more and not feel as much backward pull. Perhaps i could have maintained as much balance with proper PP form (don't really know), but psychologically it also just felt better, knowing that if a pole tip slipped that i would fall forward and not over backward. During much of this ascent i made use of the foam grips that PP has included in the design. The ~12" (i've never measured the length of the foam grips, nor can i recall reading a spec for its length, though i probably did and have just forgotten it - "old-timers", ya' know) was really helpful in giving me a range of grips that worked for most of the ascent. Ther were a few times that i grabbed the poles just above a twist-lock (which kept my hand from slipping). My prev. 12" from the bottom figure was exaggerated i see now ("old-timers" is my defense). In these cases, the heavy handle/grip of the PP's could prove to be just a little unwieldy if the pole was not "plumb", in other words if not precisely vertical, the weight of the handle could be felt - this is more of an observation rather than a complaint since at no time did i have to struggle to maintain the pole plant under these circumstances. This brings up a second point, knowing i had placed the pole tip in a secure location since i could look forward and down just bit, was, psychologically, very comforting. It is just unnatural on these steep slopes to be looking down, to make sure that the pole tips are placed securely, and not really forward very much or at all, preparing for the next step. Had a pole tip slipped, in some parts, i might have had a 200' or more glissade on my belly down a rock face before natural rock formations had abruptly arrested my unintentional rock glissade, or i might have ended my glissade at the bottom. This is true whether using proper PP form or not. I just felt it better to see where i placed my pole tips and still maintain some few in front of me, mentally preparing myself for the next/following step, instead of looking down (to place pole tip), then up and forward, then down, then up and forward. Once at the top, proper PP form was once again resumed (think, smile on my face here). Of course, what goes up, must come down and so PP form was sometimes abandoned on the far less steep, but far longer distance descent on the other side. See my comments on pole tip placement in front which was as described above for moderate descents.

On the other new technical trail, described above, maintaining proper PP form was ill advised. Certain damage to the PP tips would have resulted. I tried, but not looking down, needing to look ahead b/c of the bed of rocks, caused at least 50% (addmittedly a rough 'guesstimate' on my part since i didn't really count, though i feel that in parts the pct was really much higher) of the pole plants to get a PP tip jammed in cracks or crevices in the rocks. I realized ahead of time that this would happen and so was going slow so that i could feel when this occurred and wouldn't lever a PP against a rock and bend or break it. Using PP's like a normal trekking pole, and swinging them fwd and planting the pole tip in view of an angled downward gaze proved to be far superior here. It also helped with balance, b/c on this rocky trail balance could be upset and/or lost in any direction.



Bottom line: I find the PP's immaculate both in their design (almost a work of art) and execution (flawless manufacturing on both of my sets of poles). PP form likewise is wonderful, liberating in fact, and like the old Scotsman says, "is better felt than telt". However, PP's are not a panacea for all hiking situations. They perform no better or worse than other more mainstream trekking pole designs in certain very technical situations or on very steep ascents (though their angled grips prove extremely useful on moderate and steep descents). PP's are in my backpacking "toolbox", so to speak. Like any good tradesman, one must pick the right tool for the job. PP selection is no different. Since, personal preferences are wide and varied, i hate to preach dogma and say that they are the best "tool" for the widest possible range of "jobs", but they might be? Just so no one misunderstands, I also still love the LightTrek poles (both newer LightTrekPlus and the 'willow stick', as i sometimes like to call the Original LightTrek- i've yet, in several hundreds of miles of trekking, a lot of which was on techincal trails, have yet to break one - maybe, i just move too slow??), also TiGoat take-downs are great, and LL TrailStiks - often my favorite, especially when i need to adjust grip height to emulate pole length adjustment (which is lacking, of course, in the fixed length CF poles i just made mention of). Keep in mind, this is just one person's opinion, YMMV. I'm planning next year, once i save more pennies, to purchase a pair of BMW ultra-stiff CF poles (i'd love it if they had a 2pc take-down version by then) - my 'old-timers' is actually acting up right now and i'm forgetting their proper name, but y'all know which ones i mean (i'm running late due to 106 posts that i needed to catch up on, and need to get ready for Church meetings and so don't have any time to look up their BWM t-poles' name).






EDIT
NOTE: be sure to read all of Dondo's posts and mine to get a better idea of the issues. Apparently, some of my statements are not very clear to some and, hopefully, by reading all of our Posts, what i was attempting to communicate may become clearer.

Edited by pj on 01/11/2007 13:01:25 MST.

Heather Rhodes
(HeatherRhodes) - F
Re: pacerpoles on 01/09/2007 15:30:38 MST Print View

It might be helpful to have a recap.
Evolving as bipeds, the trunk became vertical and now balances on the legs which specialise to stabilise, support and propel the body so it naturally moves around a vertical axis – how effectively the legs are able to do this however, depends on the positioning of the trunk as it balances on the pelvis. Perhaps consider that the optimum trunk alignment when moving over rough ground, or on ascent/descent can be maintained through integrated use of arm power (extended to the ground via poles allowing a vertical stance) to check and subtly adjust the trunk position as it balances hour after hour. Use of the "arm's power" therefore is not simply one of supplementing propulsion etc. but significantly influences lower limb performance.

How effective the arm's in-put can be relies on how well it integrates with its extension so that they can work instantly 'as one'.

The body works and moves as a unit, and integrating effective arm actions to adjust trunk alignment when hiking becomes a significant factor in maintaining a good stride rhythm - fundamental to walking efficiency, and therefore influencing endurance levels. Effective arm action integration is also a mountain safety issue – something which Mark Inglis (Everest 2006) touched on when using Pacerpoles, because as well as improving his performance ….. "they certainly meant that even when very tired and fatigued you could use them with accuracy and confidence."
Designing from first principles provides for this, which is why Pacerpoles are different to conventional poles. Their design concept is one of anatomical/biomechanical integration, whereas that of conventional poles is more of an add-on tool where the body structure has to adapt to use it.
Designing for a new joint, half of which is the hand – is the design challenge – in order to provide the contoured shape of a handle (the other half of the joint) to transmit upper body power without wasting it, plus instant shaft control - so that reflex arm actions can pin-point the accurate placement of the shaft-tip in the ground immediately around the body to correct/balance the trunk's position (as a safety issue).

Continuous use of the Pacerpole's neoprene sleeve as a grip is not recommended – as basically it means the hand becomes a clenched fist – as a grasp (as per conventional pole handle grip mode). Note blanching of the knuckles which is a visual indication that there is continuous forearm muscle work, as well as that of the smaller muscles of the hand. Sustaining such a continuous grip is tiring for these muscles. There is also loss of ability to have precise shaft tip control within a wider range of the ground around the body - to allow for instant tip placement as a check to balance. Having to maintain a clenched fist around the shaft as a clamp, limits tip placement options to be more in front of the body. In turn this encourages the trunk to tip forward on the pelvis - potentially shifting the body's centre of gravity forward instantly. Such action could de-stabilise the status quo and the feet slip from underneath.
When on steep almost scrambling terrain, shorten the shaft length rather than dispense with using the contoured handles. These steeper inclines could also be considered as the ground rising-up to meet the vertical trunk balancing on the legs. The arms can be used to 'hold' the body into the slope whilst the legs are positioned under the pelvis to thrust the trunk upwards. Using the arms to position/stabilise the trunk so the extension thrust of the legs can push the body upwards, is probably a more sustainable and effective use of body resources – rather than repetitively stretching the arms out-in-front on poles to pull the body upwards. Such 'pull' actions are used when hands-on-climbing up a vertical wall – often when the feet have failed to find a toe hold which would allow the legs to use their extension thrust to push the trunk upwards with better effect.

Learning how to manoeuvre over 'all-terrain' is an education process; it's about learning how to move on different inclines, and where to place the limb pivot points on the ground in relation to you (you're centre of gravity).
Getting the most out of yourself (and your Pacerpole extensions) means learning about your optimum body posture on a given incline, shaft tip placement, and when to change shaft length. Ideally this practice can be gained locally on a short, steep section of ground – by repeating ascents/descents/traversing etc just as an exercise to discover how to gain optimum performance for when out hiking for real.

James Pitts
(jjpitts) - F

Locale: Midwest US
Re: Pacerpoles - more first hand testing on 01/09/2007 15:44:55 MST Print View

I don't see the point if your hands have to hold onto the handle. I will have to try them out before I would be even remotely convinced. I'll think about this. I tried these ultralight trekking poles with the 'Riemenliechter' grip/attachment and I as NOT impressed. My decision was that they should not be called trekking poles because that is not what they are... yeah, I know, really opinionated. I wound up making my own but I still am not pleased.

Edited by jjpitts on 01/09/2007 15:45:56 MST.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: pacerpoles on 01/09/2007 17:50:41 MST Print View

>>Their design concept is one of anatomical/biomechanical integration, whereas that of conventional poles is more of an add-on tool where the body structure has to adapt to use it.

That may be what I was trying to get at when I stated above: >>With "normal" poles I had always felt like a guy using poles; with Pacer Poles, I was starting to feel like an upright four-legged creature.

Your words do a good job of explaining the theory and practice of using Pacer Poles. Doubters may require more that words to take the leap. Perhaps video on your web site of someone correctly using Pacer Poles on a variety of different slopes, including almost scrambling terrain, would go a long way in demonstrating the benefits.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: pacerpoles on 01/10/2007 04:03:09 MST Print View

Again, PacerPoles, as wonderful as they are and as much as i like mine, are not the perfect pole, IMHO, for steep inclines.

The suggestion of changing pole length simply is impractical for some of the surfaces i regularly encounter. Doing so would be tantamount to take several steps, change pole length, take several steps, change pole length, take two steps, change pole length, ascend for 30seconds, change pole length again.

This would be a ludicrous solution at best.

Efficiency and economy of movement is very important. However, efficiency too is not a panacea for all situations. It might be more efficient to use the larger, stronger, and mechanically advantaged lower body, but at some point fatigue sets in during a very lengthy ascent. Off-loading those superior (for ascending while bearing heavy loads, i.e. body+pack) limbs, while being less efficient and causing an increase in energy expenditure, can allow one to hike faster and longer particularly when on the steep and sometimes very irregular grades that i encounter quite frequently.

Think about it this way. Load yourself down with your gear. Do as many partial deep-knee bends as you can (simulating the knee joint angle required to step up perhaps 18"-24"). Keep track of the number that you can do.

Three days later, try it again, but this time have something that you can hold on to to assist lifting your body back upright. My guess is that a person will be able to do significantly more partial knee bends this way than just using the lower body musculature. This is really just common sense. We've all experienced how much easier it is to rise from a seated or kneeling position (or any position with the knees bent) if one or both of our arms assist in the lift.

Less efficient? Yes. More calories burned? Yes (it's less efficient, remember?). More knee-bends/step-ups before reaching the point of MMF (momentary muscular fatigue)? Yes. So, by my way of thinking, in certain, very specific situations, the upper body can assist in order to allow one to go faster and farther, though somewhat less efficient. The alternative is to stop and rest on face of the ascent until the lower body musculature recovers from its momentary fatigue. If this is what one prefers to do, then so be it - HYOH. My preference is to rest as little as possible (perhaps too goal oriented? or, too old - if i stop i might not get going again!).

This is the only point i'm attempting to make.

Other than steep ascents, i really do enjoy the PacerPoles. Actually, i still enjoy the PacerPoles on steep ascents. I just don't stick with the Dogmatic/Orthodox PacerPole Form in these situations, abandoning it for something which works better for me (and which i think might work better for most others encountering similar situations).





EDIT
NOTE: be sure to read all of Dondo's posts and mine to get a better idea of the issues. Apparently, some of my statements are not very clear to some and, hopefully, by reading all of our Posts, what i was attempting to communicate may become clearer.

Edited by pj on 01/11/2007 13:00:48 MST.

James Pitts
(jjpitts) - F

Locale: Midwest US
Re: Re: Re: pacerpoles on 01/10/2007 10:53:42 MST Print View

I am certainly less fatigued using my trekking poles than without them...

So I will continue here because I don't want to be accused of hijacking a thread again. I am very interested in these PacerPoles because they are new to me and I have never tried them. That plus P J's post is outstanding and very thought provoking.

With trekking poles you basically drag the poles behind you at a 45 degree angle and pull them forward counter to each foot on every stride (for straight line travel). The weight of your arm is supported by the pole strap on each stride. Your forearm muscles are not really involved because the strap supports your arms weight (transfers it to the pole). No strap or improper use of the strap, gripping the pole basically, and you lose a lot of the advantages the trekking poles should provide.

I would say that 90% of the people I have hiked with aren't hiking using trekking poles, they are hiking while carrying trekking poles. I see a multitude of errors like straps being improperly used, poles of the incorrect length, people gripping the poles with a death grip, improper cadence with the hiking stride, and really poor use of the poles on uphill travel (generally all of the above). Trekking poles used like this are basically dead weight in the hands, providing stability like a hiking stick but little else.

Still, I believe you can be less efficient and yet hike with less fatigue... here is the way I like to to think about this.

I have a friend that is a cyclist. As many know cyclists train at high cadence (they pedal fast). I have a friend that swears that this is a more efficient way to ride a bike. We fight about this all the time. I tell him it can't be more efficient for two reasons. First, high cadence means that you have to turn the crank more times to travel the same distance and hence are exposed to mechanical loss to a greater degree. Second, and most importantly, you have to move the muscle group of your legs (a large, heavy muscle group) through more revolutions to travel the same distance.

So, he would counter, why does Lance Armstrong do it that way?

This is where I'll quip, "Well, Lance Armstrong uses steroids, so not everything Lance Armstrong does is a good thing, right?" At this point the conversation is over, having been intentionally ended by me. :)

My point, however, is that less efficient isn't necessarily a bad thing. Cyclists pedal with high cadence because it is less fatiguing. The watts-per-pedal stroke are less than low cadence meaning the workload is more tolerable to your muscles.

However this isn't "cyclinglight.com"... and as I said earlier, I don't want to be accused of hijacking another thread. :)

My point here is that less efficient and more fatiguing do not necessarily go hand in hand.

With trekking poles the weight of your arm (several pounds) is supported by the pole through part of the stroke meaning that weight is taken away from you and placed onto the pole. One's arm hangs in the strap by the wrist. That's the idea, as I understand it, as to why people find hiking using trekking poles beneficial.

So I can see why PacerPoles would make hiking less efficient but I can also see why they (and trekking poles) would make hiking less fatiguing.

Edited by jjpitts on 01/10/2007 13:56:59 MST.