[Cdt-l] Trekking Poles

Jonathan Ley jonathan at phlumf.com
Tue Jan 1 19:14:53 CST 2008

Just to add to what Jim said...

- If you climb up/down a long staircase & there's a handrail available, 
do you use the handrail? probably... if you think of hiking poles as 
portable handrails, they become a lot more logical.

- I find I hike a little faster with poles because they help me 
hop/vault over little obstacles in the trail, like rocks, roots, etc. 
and give me more options wrt/ where to put my feet. This makes the whole 
hiking rhythm smoother for me.

- you can use poles to "vault" yourself over streams, allowing you to 
cross slightly wider streams without getting your feet wet.

- They'll keep your fingers/hands from swelling up. Sure, you can put 
your hands through thumb loops to help with the same thing...

- Poles are a huge help when walking on packed snow. They aren't meant 
to act as self-arrest tools, but can greatly reduce the slipping and 
sliding of your feet, which can improve one's efficiency tremendously... 
and prevent falls. Plus, they give you something to brace yourself with 
when you're sliding off/down a snowbank.


Jim and/or Ginny Owen wrote:
> Doug -
> Some hikers don't like them.  Cool.  It's their hike. 
> But there are several positive aspects to them.  In no particular order -
> 1. They'll save your knees.  If used properly they'll relieve part of 
> the stress - especially on the downhills.  Those who use them tend to 
> have less knee problems.  Some people have severe knee problems and 
> can still hike as long as they use the poles. 
> 2. You "can" use them to increase hiking speed.  I've done that - and 
> increased my speed by at least 30%.  But that really uses calories.  
> And increases the stress on the knees as well as other body parts.  
> Not for long term use. 
> 3. They'll maintain at least some of your upper body strength.  Most 
> long distance hikers used to lose a lot of upper body muscle mass - 
> and strength.  With the advent of trekking poles, that has been 
> somewhat mitigated - for those who use them.  Makes sense - if your 
> body's gonna eat muscle mass (and it generally does over the course of 
> a long distance hike) then it'll take the muscles that aren't 
> immediately needed - meaning NOT leg muscles. 
> 4. For wet, muddy trails, the poles can save you from falls. That can 
> happen on western trails as well as eastern ones.  They're also really 
> handy for stream fords and blowdowns, too. 
> 5. Some people favor carrying weapons on the trail - I don't.  But the 
> poles "can" be used as such. 
> If you have the knowledge to use them.   
> 6. Too many people just step over tree litter (branches and other bits 
> and pieces) on the trail and leave them for "someone else" to clean 
> up.  We don't.  We use the poles to clear a lot of the small stuff - 
> it's a lot easier to "flick" branches off the trail than to bend over 
> and move them.  Or to step over them in some cases.   
> Using them "may" (in fact, probably does) use more calories - but not 
> significantly.  For me, certainly not enough to offset positive 
> aspects.  But YMMV. 
> Walk softly,
> Jim
> http://www.spiriteaglehome.com/
>     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     From: doug-sue71 at comcast.net
>     To: Cdt-l at backcountry.net
>     Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2007 16:52:46 -0500
>     Subject: Re: [Cdt-l] Trekking Poles
>     A LDH on the Backpacker forum mentioned he didn't use trekking
>     poles because they used up more calories than they were worth.  I
>     like using trekking poles generally, but wonder if the posters
>     comments are valid?  Do poles use up more calories than they are
>     worth?  How many LDHers use trekking poles?  Now I am wondering....
>     I watched /Walking The West- "Hiking 2600 miles from Mexico to
>     Canada/  about a hike on the PCT.  I noticed the two hikers on the
>     video didn't use trekking poles but they did carry an ice axe. 
>     That got me thinking.  Seems like I use trekking poles like a
>     second pair of arms and hands at times. 
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