Many new hikers and mountaineers wonder if trekking poles are truly a necessary piece of equipment. Or are their main use to make you look like a more legitimate hiker? Our first step in determining if hiking poles are needed, is to figure out what exactly it is that they do. So what do trekking poles do for you as a hiker?
Trekking poles are for more than making you look good on the trail. They have standard uses for which they are advertised, as well as coming in handy for trail nuisances.
The first and main use of trekking poles is to give you more stability. Whether on unstable terrain such as rock, going up a steep hill. Or hiking through mud, snow, and generally nasty terrain. The extra two points of contact give you more grip and allow you to control yourself better while navigating nastier terrain.
The added stability is especially useful when carrying a heavier hiking pack. If you have ever hiked up or down a steep hill with a heavy hiking pack on, you will know that it becomes harder to stay upright. The trekking poles will give you a place to put some weight to counter act the heavy hiking backpack.
Hiking poles allow you to use your arms and shoulders as well as your legs. Which results in using your legs less, resulting in less leg soreness at the end of the day. Which will also translate to an increase in speed on the trail, due to energy being used more evenly throughout the body.
Trekking poles also reduce impact on your legs, ankles, knees, and feet. Particularly when going downhill. Which in turn will allow you to have a longer trail life with less joint pain.
Trekking poles can also be used to clear trail nuisances such as thorn bushes, spider webs, and to move anything you wouldn’t want to touch with your hands. Trekking poles can also be used to check water depth before stepping into it.
Hiking poles can be used to fend off dogs that get away from their owners. We have heard of multiple cases of the trekking poles being used in this way from hikers. They can also be used to fight off bigger animals in dire, life or death situations.
Trekking poles can also be used as tent poles, allowing you to carry less weight in your hiking backpack. Trekking poles are much stronger and rigid than tent poles, which means they are less likely to break in high winds.
Trekking poles can also be used as an emergency splint, as well as ultralight packcrafting paddles.
So should you use trekking poles on your next hiking adventure? We recommend trekking poles when carrying a heavier pack. If i’m not using my trekking poles, I will usually have them on my pack for when I do end up needing them.
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