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Thread: Trekking Poles

  1. #1
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    Default Trekking Poles

    I've never been a fan of poles; they seem like extra weight to me, especially now that I'm using an ultralight hiking style. But... I'm planning a section hike on the AT next year and everyone seems to recommend them. Can you tell me the pros and cons of using (and carrying!) poles on the AT? (I plan on hiking from Springer to Fontana Dam next May). Is there a brand to really consider? Is there a brand to avoid? What price range should I be looking at? Should I ever bother?

    Thanks,
    Tejloro

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    I suggest you borrow a pair, learn how to use them correctly and see if YOU like them.

    https://www.thebmc.co.uk/hill-skills...trekking-poles

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    Registered User The Cleaner's Avatar
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    I still meet hikers with no poles,some with a nice wooden stick.Do what works for you.I'm a Leik Wanderfreund 1 pole guy.I've got a friend on the trail now with about 500 miles left and he uses a stick for a while then chunks it for another one when needed.The folks who benefit most from 2 hiking poles are the outfitters selling them.
    Sleep on the ground, rise with the sun and hike with the wind....

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    Ask yourself why skiers use two poles and not one.
    You can use trekking poles pretty much the same way as cross country skiers use theirs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tejloro View Post
    I've never been a fan of poles; they seem like extra weight to me, especially now that I'm using an ultralight hiking style. But... I'm planning a section hike on the AT next year and everyone seems to recommend them. Can you tell me the pros and cons of using (and carrying!) poles on the AT? (I plan on hiking from Springer to Fontana Dam next May). Is there a brand to really consider? Is there a brand to avoid? What price range should I be looking at? Should I ever bother?

    Thanks,
    Tejloro
    Poles are usually extra weight unless they double as part of a shelter system such as a tarp tent. That said, they are not much extra weight, and for me, they provide valuable benefits - mostly, they alleviate knee pain on downhill sections, and they provide a means by which to stop myself from falling all the way to the ground if I stumble (and that does happen occasionally). One can also use them to bat down spider webs across the trail, move foliage aside to check for snakes, help steady someone during a creek crossing, etc.

    I find almost no cons from carrying them. Sometimes my palms get a little sore from the (cork) handles when I do a lot of downhill (one usually holds them differently downhill than up). Brand-wise, I chose LL Bean's branded Komperdell poles because I had some gift card $ to spend there, as well as their indefinite satisfaction guarantee.

    While I don't know of brands to avoid, I would say that shock absorbing poles may add extra weight without commensurate benefits.

    One last notion: poles not only alleviate knee pain, they may help prevent it. I'll tell you this, I wish I had hiked with them from the start ... perhaps I would not have the issues I do now, or maybe not as bad.

  6. #6
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    I remember several years ago we were hiking the Georgia section southbound in mid-March. Met a lot of nobo beginning thru-hikers on the way, and spent one night at The Hiker Hostel, where we met even more. Of course the talk turned to gear, and pack weight, and all that. One young, very fit couple from out West were pretty vocal about not needing poles -- they'd done plenty of hiking back home without them.

    Of course we continued south, and all those folks got dropped off at Springer, so we met them a day or two later on the trail. That young couple had changed their minds and were planning to buy poles at Neels Gap.

    So, Pros: Support for knees, especially on steep descents. Balance and fall prevention -- I can't count how many times my poles have kept me from falling down. Finally, they are my tent poles, so they do double duty.

    Cons: extra weight. Can get in the way when scrambling very steep sections. Need to learn to use them properly or they can cause some elbow problems from the grip.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  7. #7
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    If you're not a fan, just ignore everyone else, everyone has an opinion, and yours is the only one that should matter. There are plenty of folks that don't use them, prefer a single staff or just a stick, or nothing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cspan View Post
    Poles are usually extra weight unless they double as part of a shelter system such as a tarp tent. That said, they are not much extra weight, and for me, they provide valuable benefits - mostly, they alleviate knee pain on downhill sections, and they provide a means by which to stop myself from falling all the way to the ground if I stumble (and that does happen occasionally). One can also use them to bat down spider webs across the trail, move foliage aside to check for snakes, help steady someone during a creek crossing, etc.

    I find almost no cons from carrying them. Sometimes my palms get a little sore from the (cork) handles when I do a lot of downhill (one usually holds them differently downhill than up). Brand-wise, I chose LL Bean's branded Komperdell poles because I had some gift card $ to spend there, as well as their indefinite satisfaction guarantee.

    While I don't know of brands to avoid, I would say that shock absorbing poles may add extra weight without commensurate benefits.

    One last notion: poles not only alleviate knee pain, they may help prevent it. I'll tell you this, I wish I had hiked with them from the start ... perhaps I would not have the issues I do now, or maybe not as bad.

    Agree 100 percent

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    Extra weight? Yes, but it's made up for in other ways. Faster uphill and downhill (for me they don't help much on the flats), knees don't hurt nearly as much at the end of a long day, support for the tent so no tent pole needed, assistance with bear bagging when the line is biting into the tree, extra balance when crossing streams, etcetera. My wife and I started using hiking poles about 10 years ago and immediately asked ourselves why we hadn't done it years before.
    “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” –Socrates

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    There were a few days when the knees just weren't cooperating and the poles helped out tremendously on the downhills. On hard/long uphills, I could use the extra push and help from my upper body. I'm a believer that I wouldn't gotten as far as I did without them. But, I did pass quite a few (actually the passed me) without them. I think it's totally trail and error. I swear by them now, but everyone is different. To me, the weight doesn't outweigh the gains and pressure relief on the legs and knees. I use just some $20 Walmart poles and they lasted 750 miles before I pulled off trail. I'm sure there's "better" ones out there but these worked really well for me.
    - Trail name: Thumper

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    I caretake at the cabin at Upper Goose Pond 1500miles from Springer. I have observed that 90% of the thru hikers stopping at the cabin are using tracking poles.
    Grampie-N->2001

  12. #12

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    Even as a "lightweight" hiker I still use them. They are part of my tent set-up and make hiking so much easier. They are completely worth the 14oz per set to take with me. Poles for my tent are 10oz alone and don't help my hiking.

    To me, ultralight or lightweight hiking are more about what is on your back than what is in your hand!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DuneElliot View Post
    Even as a "lightweight" hiker I still use them. They are part of my tent set-up and make hiking so much easier. They are completely worth the 14oz per set to take with me. Poles for my tent are 10oz alone and don't help my hiking.

    To me, ultralight or lightweight hiking are more about what is on your back than what is in your hand!
    What kind/brand do you use?

  14. #14

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    These are relatively cheap, light and get rave reviews.

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    Get a mop or broom. Stand on a scale and check your weight. Now, handle down, hold the broom and rest it on the floor in your hand. Don't push down, just rest your hand on it. Check your weight and you'll find you've taken a couple of pounds off your weight. Yes you're carrying more weight with trekking poles but they're paying for themselves in distributing weight when you walk and providing stability.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpolk84 View Post
    Get a mop or broom. Stand on a scale and check your weight. Now, handle down, hold the broom and rest it on the floor in your hand. Don't push down, just rest your hand on it. Check your weight and you'll find you've taken a couple of pounds off your weight. Yes you're carrying more weight with trekking poles but they're paying for themselves in distributing weight when you walk and providing stability.
    Why have I never thought of this? Cool idea, I'll be breaking out the poles when I get home this evening.
    “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” –Socrates

  17. #17

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    Poles really help me keep stabilized and are especially nice when I am getting fatigued and I start stepping carelessly; I also use one pole for my tent set up. I am a Leki corklight user; their customer service has been top notch.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by tejloro View Post
    What kind/brand do you use?
    Cascade Mountain Tech. Someone linked to them above me. They were recommended by Andrew Skurka and I haven't regretted buying them once, and I bought them on his recommendation alone

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    In addition to the other advantages mentioned, they keep my hands from swelling. Gripping the poles an having your hands elevated are the key. For me it's a real problem, especially in the heat.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    In addition to the other advantages mentioned, they keep my hands from swelling. Gripping the poles an having your hands elevated are the key. For me it's a real problem, especially in the heat.
    ...especially if you use the straps properly. Nice tutorial found here:

    http://www.backpacker.com/view/photo...ely/#bp=0/img2
    " A good proofreader/editor, if they are doing their job properly, will really annoy an author!"

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