May 8, 2018

Hiking Gear: Why use trekking poles? :: hiking tips. hiking outfits.

So you don’t use hiking poles yourself, but when you’re out on the trails, you occasionally pass by hikers who are using hiking poles.

Or maybe they are even using a makeshift walking stick using a tree branch they found on the trail.

Well don’t they look hard core! šŸ˜‰

But the thing is that it’s not just for show that hikesĀ poles are used.

So what are trekking poles for?

There are great benefits that come with adding this piece of hiking gear to complete your hiking outfit when you’re thinking about what to wear when hiking!


Why use trekking poles on your next hike?

For the short answer, there are 2 big reasons you may want to use hiking poles and what many hikers use trekking poles for…

  • Minimize your chance of injury
  • Last longer on your hike

These types of hiking poles can help you with both of of these things!


So, how can hiking poles help?


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Using hiking poles to minimize your risk of a hiking injury

Going downhill may seem like it’s less strenuous than going uphill, but hike downhill enough, and it can start to take a toll on your lower body.

And the steeper the hill going down, the more stress that’s put on your lower body.

The part that people start to feel it the most when it does start to cause problems is their knees.

Hiking poles can provide support to reduce the strain on specific parts of your lower body, most notably, your knees.

Consider that there have been stories of people who have done multi-day backpacking trips without hiking poles, only to encounter problems when they returned back home from their trip.

There was one backpacker who took a two week backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail without hiking poles.

When he got back home, he had problems with his knees that prevented him from playing his usual pick-up soccer games for 3 months.

Don’t let this be you! šŸ˜‰

This could also illustrate the importance of training prior to your backpacking trip even if you think it’s a “manageable” distance and you are in good shape! šŸ˜‰

But there’s a good chanceĀ that if he used hiking poles when he was on the trail that he could have minimized the severity of his knee pain and it wouldn’t have kept him from his usual activities for so long.


Using hiking poles to stay stronger for longer and go further!

By releasing some ofĀ the stress placed onto your lower body with the use of trekking poles, it can allow your legs to not feel that strain as much.

This ultimately means you will be a stronger hiker capable of going further at full-strength!

But it’s not just hiking hills in which hiking poles can be of benefit to you on the trails.

Trekking poles can also help you gain a rhythm to get you going (and keep you going!) when you’re hiking on relatively flat terrain.

They can also be useful for keeping your balance when you’re on varied terrain, like if you’re going through a patch with lots of thick tree roots sticking out,Ā or if you’re crossing a river or stream with small bouldersĀ as your bridge.


Are trekking poles worth it?

To determine whether hiking poles are worth it or not, you’ll also want to consider the down sides of hiking poles.

One of the biggest drawbacks of hiking poles is that if you don’t learn how to use trekking poles correctly, they can end up doing more harm than good.

This includes proper form from head to toe when going up the hill and down the hill using the poles.

And those benefits of using hiking poles to distribute the weight away from your lower body to ease the workload of your knees?

You could see that as a potential con as well.

Some of that workload that is eased from your lower body is transferred to your upper body which means that you could end up exerting more energy than your upper body is used to.

So, if you’re planning on using hiking poles for a long duration, build up that upper body strength too!

Overall though, you will likely find that the benefits of using hiking poles will likely outweigh the cons of using hiking poles.

So to answer the question of whether or not trekking poles are worth it,Ā here we will say YES, in the name of staying healthy and preventing knee pain when hiking! šŸ˜‰


How to choose trekking poles

If you’ve decided that hiking poles are for you, as you are searching around for the best trekking poles for your hike, you’ll find a bunch of different types of poles.

Here are a coupleĀ of the more distinguishing features of trekking poles.


– Aluminum trekking poles vs carbon fiber trekking poles

There are poles that are made with aluminum and there are poles that are made with carbon fiber. What’s the difference?


Aluminum hiking poles like these tend to be more durable.

They can generally withstand a good amount a strength no matter which direction they are forced in.

They are also less likely to break even if they are flexed withĀ of a lot of weight placed on them.

Carbon fiber poles like these haveĀ a greater chance of breaking when the pole is forced to bend, but they can withstand great strength when used in a straight downward motion.

Other than when they are forced to flex, poles made of carbon fiber are pretty strong too.


Aluminum hiking poles are usually the cheaper option, and carbon fiber hiking poles are usually the more expensive option.

What often makes carbon fiber a more appealing choice than aluminum is the weight.

With carbon fiber being a lighter material, it can be more ideal for easier travel and packing. The weight of the poles is also a consideration for the amount of work that is required when swinging the hiking poles with your arms during your hike. (Back to working on that upper body strength.)


– CollapsibleĀ poles vs non-collapsible poles

With collapsible poles like these, you can find trekking poles that make for easier packing.

If trekking poles are not collapsible, there are adjustable trekking poles thatĀ have a way to extend for when you’re using them, and to shorten the length that can make for slightly easier travel and storage when not in use.

Trekking poles are generally NOT allowed in carry-on luggage though if you’ll be flying to you hiking destination.

The clamping style of hiking poles makes it convenient to adjust the length of the pole.

There are some poles that don’t allow for an adjustment of the pole.

If you get such a type, make sure that it’s the right length for you.

Whether collapsible poles or non-collapsible poles,Ā it’s important to get hiking poles that are the right size for you, because that is part of what goes into proper form in being able to useĀ trekking poles correctly.

(And remember, proper form can prevent hiking injuries!)

You can also find hiking backpacks like this one that have a feature to hang the poles when you’re not using them on the trail!


what to pack for a hike | what to wear on a hike | hiking tips for beginners |Ā hawaii hiking trails | michigan hiking trails | ohio hiking trails


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