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billski
08-18-2011, 03:30 PM
I've hiked for nearly 40 years without poles. A couple years ago I took a major head crash that landed me in the ICU. I had some balance issues, so after my escape, I bought a pair of poles. After a year of using them, I find them to be more trouble than they are help. I thought they might help with my balance and with the downhill (The "save the knees" foundation)

Not really any help at all on the way going up.

Going down, a little help, but no matter how I adjusted them, i kept banging against trees and occasionally getting them stuck on a branch or scrub. They also aren't very stealthy. They are always clicking when I hit a rock.
So then I tried one pole, it was a bit more navigable but still cumbersome.

Going through rocky areas poles actually unbalanced me even more. It's better to be in 4WD (four doggie paws) than imbalanced on two.

I put them away and have not used them since.

I suppose it might be good for wide open, maintained, earthy kind of trails, but meh...

You?

nartreb
08-18-2011, 03:47 PM
Often useful in winter, especially going up mild slopes. Gives a little boost and extra traction when the treadway is slippery. Extra useful with a heavy pack (common in winter) and heavy boots/snowshoes/skis that makes you less light on your feet than you would like to be.

In summer I used to carry one broomstick - good for water crossings and it's a reassuring weapon to have without appearing threatening. But I forgot it one day and didn't miss it: it mostly slows me down, especially on rocky descents - I spend time looking for a solid spot to plant the pole when I should just take another step and balance on my feet.

DSettahr
08-18-2011, 04:01 PM
I use them regularly (or at least I used to before I broke them), and I did definitely notice a difference. At the end of a day of hiking with poles, I feel much less exhausted than at the end of a day without them.

Hillwalker
08-18-2011, 04:05 PM
I only use them when backpacking due to the increased weight I carry at those times.

StaceyM
08-18-2011, 04:07 PM
Sorry to hear about your fall and glad you are okay!

I bought poles a few years ago after renting them for a winter hike. I'm with nartreb - they are nice for an extra boost, especially in the snow. Uphill I find my calves burn less, downhill my knees hurt less, and I'm overall not as tired after a long hike. They have also saved me a few times on what could have been bad falls.

That being said I agree they are useless on scrambles up or down (hands are much better) and lately I've been leaving them at home because I find I'm faster without them. So it's a tradeoff - less sore and slower or sore and faster. :rolleyes: I find the clicking annoying too, but I'll probably break them out again in the winter.

Tom Rankin
08-18-2011, 04:19 PM
There are techniques for using poles, and believe it or not, youtube videos on such. Check it out. I find them useful for a variety of things:


snake repellant! :eek: (More than once)
spider web repellant! (All the time!)
balance
mud depth tester
help going down
a little upper body work out
stick flicker
[something new every hike!]

I used to just carry one, but more and more I am a 2 poler.

My poles are BDs, 2 flick locks each, with the shock absorbers. This allows me to shrink them down to almost nothing or expand them to very long.

As Neil once posted a treatise on poles, I would look that up too. Short version: Longer going down, shorter going up.

Dr. Dasypodidae
08-18-2011, 04:35 PM
stick flicker

.

Definitely useful for cleaning sticks from water bars: shot, save, shot, save, shot, scorrrrre! Sometimes it is fun to dangle and flip a stick off the trail using a backhand.

Began using ski poles for "dry land training" during the off season almost 40 years ago in trying to emulate Billy Koch and the Putnam x-c ski crowd. But, I think that the new trekking poles with their shock absorption are even better. I have found them very useful for balance going up and down, but am absolutely certain that they have saved my knees and ankles from more serious deterioration. I took a few months off with the poles when left shoulder froze a few years ago, but other than that only when I have accidentally left them behind, which is nearly traumatic for me over the first few miles.

TCD
08-18-2011, 04:38 PM
(some of the time)

As stated above, I use them when carrying a heavy load. But generally only when I'm on a relatively wide, civilized trail. 90% of my hiking is off trail. Off trail, poles are just a terrible pain in the a&&, worse than useless, they slow me down badly. For stabilization I have MUCH better results grabbing or leaning on trees and rocks as I go by. Poles are more of a tripping hazard than a benefit. Plus, I like to be able to keep moving while I swat a deerfly, glance at the compass, etc., and if you are using poles you constantly have to stop and put them down to do those things.

I'm not sure about the "longer going down" either. My wife uses poles on trail a little more than I do, and as we've gotten into a more natural "barefoot type" stride, she's found that a shorter pole is better going downhill. A long pole sets you back on your heels, which not only increases shock, it also increases the chance of "heel slipping" and falling on your butt. With the short pole, she's able to use a more natural, forward athletic stance on the downhills.

Our thoughts on this may change over time. We are 55 and 54, with one major and a few minor knee injuries behind us (not from hiking). But our knees are still "young." In 20 years, I may slow down, and use poles more.

PA Ridgerunner
08-18-2011, 05:06 PM
I love them. I have the same BD's as TFR. I highly recommend the flick locks...my first pair were not and it was maddening trying to extend and collapse them!!

I find that using poles saves lots of wear and tear on my knees, ankles, and hips on the downhills. Helps my posture on uphills (saving my back) and also transfers some of the burden to my upper body. I often will stow them on very steep stuff, or on easy, dry flat sections. But on typical Adirondack trails, with all the mud, roots, rocks, and logs, they are very helpful with balance, enabling me to maintain a more consistent pace. As Tom mentioned, they're very useful tools in other ways as well. In fact, on a recent hike with him we discussed refinements of the "Black Diamond Flick." :rolleyes:

Neil
08-18-2011, 05:32 PM
Poles are very good if you know how to use them. Most people don't seem to understand how to make them work to best advantage.

I adjust the length of mine probably 50 times on a typical hike.

Poles on a bushwhack are an impediment from hell if you ask me.

prino
08-18-2011, 05:47 PM
I always drop my Poll in the col! ;)

Ed'n Lauky
08-18-2011, 05:53 PM
When I had my Airedale Duffy I used two poles like everyone else. With that little rascal I have now I have decided that he must be kept on a leash at all times. For that reason I have gone from two poles to one pole leaving one hand free for the leash.

Since I am using just one pole, I have also decided that when there is no snow I prefer using a hardwood staff. I find that it is much sturdier than my hiking poles especially down hill. It also serves better for defense. Adding to Tom Rankin's list I would add protection from attacking dogs. The dogs running free out there are more likely to attack another dog than a person while the owner stands by admiring his dog's aggressiveness. Since I can't adjust the length, I adjust my hand on the pole moving it up and down depending on the situation.

In the winter I still use an aluminum hiking pole because I find I often need the basket to keep the pole from sinking in.

bikehikeskifish
08-18-2011, 05:53 PM
I love mine. I definitely go uphill faster using them than not.

IANABWer

Tim
(I Am Not A BushWhacker)

Maddy
08-18-2011, 05:58 PM
I like them for going up and down, also for beating the dog! ;)

freighttrain48
08-18-2011, 06:35 PM
Poles are great tools to have and I always have them with me. Being a large guy (283lbs) and shrinking, I find that they help a lot. It depends a lot on the terrain, gentle grades like you would find on say oceola or moosiluke they are not needed. Steep terrain like wildcat ridge trail from glen ellis falls they get in the way and are no help going down. I find they work best on the very rocky medium steep trails liberty springs trail comes to mind. The take a lot of pressue off my lower body and going down they greatly reduce the impact of my tree trunk legs. Water crossing they are great for as well making those long strides between rocks. I will agree that they do slow you down and I can move faster without them but I def always carry them with me

RoySwkr
08-18-2011, 06:41 PM
I don't carry poles in the summer, they seem to get in the way more than being useful. I pick up a stick for stream crossings or unfriendly dogs :-)

I carry a single ski pole in winter for balance, probing, and traction - I can warm the hand not carrying it by curling fingers.

After having a collapsible pole collapse under my weight, I use a single-length pole and choke up if necessary.

woodsman642004
08-18-2011, 06:51 PM
I hiked my first round of 48 without poles. In March I backpacked the first 30 miles of the AT in Georgia with my daughter (who is hiking the AT hoping to finish sometime in Sept - go Pacemaker!!! - she's currently in MA) I used poles and found them extremely helpful, especially with the extra pack weight. I've since used them on day hikes and found like others have mentioned, that they are useful on some terrain and a hinderance on others. More of a pita on steep rocky terrain. I'll continue to use them though. I think they've helped lessen my knee pain especially on the downhills and I like the extra boost I can get on the uphills. It's also nice to get the upper body engaged in the whole hiking experience . . .:)

JohnL
08-18-2011, 08:08 PM
Rarely if ever use them in the summer though I do carry them on longer (15+ mi) hikes just in case. Winter use is mainly for balance management though I've been known to use them as an assist on a good crank uphill. I never, ever use the straps except to hang them up. Too dangerous on fast descents.

JohnL

brianW
08-18-2011, 08:56 PM
Bought mine after a hike with my oldest of girl on my back. she shifted all of a sudden and i almost wiped out in a not so good spot. Three daughters later and many miles I have had no serious spills. Lucky for me I do not have them on my back anymore, sadly (or should I say, scared poop-list) I now have the oldest learning to drive.

dug
08-18-2011, 09:18 PM
I only use them when backpacking. Too many trails require scrambling and I find them just in the way.

mirabela
08-18-2011, 09:26 PM
Almost everywhere except intense bushwhacking or sustained steep scrambling. Even in the latter situation I'll often just lash them to my pack. They have saved my knees *so* much abuse.

Mike P.
08-18-2011, 09:40 PM
would have picked most of the time had it been an option. I'll leave them in the car for trips many of you wouldn't even count as a trip. (Summer, less than 4 miles, less than 1500 feet of gain.)

They help with the uphill, as I get older the downhill advantage has become more important.

The Unstrung Harp
08-18-2011, 09:48 PM
I use them almost all the time. No shock absorbtion, no flick lock. Cheapo Leki Enzians. They were around $40 I think.

My pole-less hiking buddies always start complaining about their knees before I do on the downhills. ;) Actually my knees so far have really been a-okay. Even coming down Falling Waters Trail from Franconia Ridge, etc - fine. I keep waiting for them to start being upset at all the abuse but nothing yet.

I definitely like the fact that they take some weight off the leg/hip joints foremost, and the slight use of upper body is good too. I do use them for balance, water crossings, and as a safety thing - who hasn't used their poles to take weight off a rolled ankle, etc for a few mintues? :o I like to think that in the case of a real injury, having poles would make it a bit easier to move than if poleless.

DougPaul
08-18-2011, 10:41 PM
I find them to be useful on moderate uphills and downhills--if it gets steep enough that I need to use my hands, I put them away. They don't make much difference on level ground unless my legs are really tired.

I adjust the length as needed to match the current situation.

They are also useful in delicate balance situations like stream crossings, bog bridges, etc.

Another use is to push brush out of the way (particularly good for sticker bushes...).

I remove the (small trekking) baskets because they catch in the underbrush. However, this may reduce the floatation in mud.


Peter Clinch has posted a very good set of instructions: http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/poles.htm

Doug

IndianChris
08-19-2011, 05:26 AM
There are techniques for using poles, and believe it or not, youtube videos on such. Check it out. I find them useful for a variety of things:


snake repellant! :eek: (More than once)
spider web repellant! (All the time!)
balance
mud depth tester
help going down
a little upper body work out
stick flicker
[something new every hike!]

I used to just carry one, but more and more I am a 2 poler.

My poles are BDs, 2 flick locks each, with the shock absorbers. This allows me to shrink them down to almost nothing or expand them to very long.

As Neil once posted a treatise on poles, I would look that up too. Short version: Longer going down, shorter going up.

...stick flicker...hilarious!
And don't forget "Nettle whacker!"

Fourfingers
08-19-2011, 06:54 AM
My wife had a TBI 20 years ago has had balance issues ever since. A few years ago a hiker our age on Moosilauke convinced my wife to get poles and it saved her hiking. I've found them to be very helpful on rocky downhills - Liberty Springs Trail for instance, less helpful on rooty downhills (Mahoosuc Arm) where there are always trees or roots to grab. Two weeks ago they were a real impediment in Mahoosuc Notch because I had brought my fixed length poles and couldn't adjust them to tie them to the pack. They are also an impediment on bushwhacks, as stated earlier.

But, since I took up using them several years back at about age 60, I've become convinced that they are keeping my knees in better shape, especially when backpacking.

Roxi
08-19-2011, 07:11 AM
I didn't use poles until a knee injury occurred in 2006. I found using poles very helpful as my knees recovered. I now find having one pole helpful during some water crossings, but rarely use them for anything else until winter when both poles come in handy again while snow shoeing.

duane
08-19-2011, 09:01 AM
I have used poles all the time since I turned 50. My knees don't seem to hurt as much when I use them.

marty
08-19-2011, 09:04 AM
There are techniques for using poles, and believe it or not, youtube videos on such. Check it out. I find them useful for a variety of things:


snake repellant! :eek: (More than once)
spider web repellant! (All the time!)
balance
mud depth tester
help going down
a little upper body work out
stick flicker
[something new every hike!]


Good stuff Tom. I also find them very handy for banging on rocks so that hikers in front of me know I am there. Hate to scare anyone.:)

I am generally a two pole hiker. I use only one pole for bushwhacking (other hand to hold compass, GPS or grab tree) and have been experimenting using one pole only this year on three season trail hikes. Haven't decided whether I prefer one pole or two yet. Still experimenting.

I will always use two poles on winter hikes. They have prevented me from falling into several spruce traps and they allow me to snowshoe ski downhill without falling.

Marty

erugs
08-19-2011, 09:37 AM
Like Mike P, I would have checked "most of the time" as I prefer using them but have on occasion forget to transfer them from my car to a friend's if we are carpooling. For one thing, I'm a little off-balance (but I didn't admit that to a guide who was taking us up the Grand Tetons and I wanted to use them until we got to the Lower Saddle). :D For another, I went to a talk on hiking about eight years ago and the speaker sited research that showed they gave more of a whole body workout, while using less energy on the legs. They are also good for flicking branches off the trail. It's a skill that is enhanced with practice. :rolleyes:

I sometimes get annoyed with the clicking sound and don't like it when I've lost the rubber tips that quiet them down. (However, I've found almost as many as I've lost and now have a backup collection.)

I've got two types: the standard straight pole, and two of the cane-handled type. I like the cane shape when my wrists are sore due to symptom of Lyme. Right now I can use only one as my whole left arm hurts.

Kevin Rooney
08-19-2011, 09:50 AM
Currently the sum of the responses is 164.91% ...

No 4 7.02%
Some of the time 23 40.35%
All of the time 23 40.35%
Depends on trail conditions 17 29.82%
Uphill 6 10.53%
Downhill 9 15.79%
On the steeps 5 8.77%
On the flats 3 5.26%
On the rocks (not booze!) 4 7.02%
164.91%

RoySwkr
08-19-2011, 10:12 AM
Currently the sum of the responses is 164.91% ...

You are allowed to check multiple boxes

Someone who checked "All of the time" might also feel they need to check the last 5 too

billski
08-19-2011, 10:20 AM
You are allowed to check multiple boxes

Someone who checked "All of the time" might also feel they need to check the last 5 too

By design and intent. Don't try to add up to 100%. Treat each category individually.

Elizabeth
08-19-2011, 10:21 AM
I checked "some of the time" and also specified which times.

Having collapsable poles, so you can attach them to your pack when not in use is key. The upper body work-out is nice. Help w/balance and knees definitely an issue w/age. :( Unfortunately, age can also bring forgetfulness with it, and leaving the poles behind by mistake can be a bummer.

The little rubber covers you can get to attach to the ends work well in non-icy/snowy conditions. They dampen the noise and reduce the soil erosion effects. I also attempt to place the pole tips mostly on rock surfaces to keep from tearing up the terrain.

Kevin Rooney
08-19-2011, 11:10 AM
By design and intent. Don't try to add up to 100%. Treat each category individually.

What am I missing?

Are you saying you designed the poll so that someone can answer "No, I don't use poles" and also "Yes, all the time"?

Not to seem overly argumentative, but if the above is correct, isn't this poll a waste of time?

--M.
08-19-2011, 11:43 AM
Just put a piece of cardboard over the part of the screen that shows the percentages!

I have bad joints, so yes, I'm a partisan. Not so much in the Mahoosucs, either, or on the Wilderness Trail, but yes, absolutely, coming down Osseo or Adams (the worst!), and yes, going up the Twinway, TRT or 19MB.

I like 'em
==cheap (RI State Job Lot),
==adjustable (stow-able at the steeps),
==cane-length (as opposed to staff-length, like Gandalf), and
==two at a time.
In the winter, I switch to $80 Black Diamonds, with big, powder baskets. I finally bent one; it was a $13 repair and I was back in business.

They are great for getting your shoulders ready for the winter skiing season.

They've saved my knees.

Also, there are two things I keep buying over & over: poles and the Map Adventures map of the Whites. I give them out as gifts to newcomers or the momentarily needy. It's a good, cheap, karmic boost. And an excuse to visit the Wanderer.

erugs
08-19-2011, 11:59 AM
...and leaving the poles behind by mistake can be a bummer.

The little rubber covers you can get to attach to the ends work well in non-icy/snowy conditions. They dampen the noise and reduce the soil erosion effects. I also attempt to place the pole tips mostly on rock surfaces to keep from tearing up the terrain.

There have been more than a few times when I've picked up a friend's poles and carried them until they remember. Then I have the fun of presenting them!

I, too, try to keep my poles of the duff. Reminds me, though, that people have complained about hikers tramping down the trail yet poles soften the ground up.

When my tips stay on my poles long enough to wear through the bottoms, I've been known to fit a washer in there and plug it with a caulking that is flexible.

griffin
08-19-2011, 12:01 PM
I use them most of the time - going up, going down, going flat...There are definitely places where I stow them so I can use my hands, or the trail is too tight for them not to be a pain, but most other times I have them out.

Same benefits that others have noted going up and down, and I also don't get sausage fingers when I use them.

shamples
08-20-2011, 05:50 AM
It's all about personal preference. Many who use them swear by them.

That said, never have used them and don't see the need to. I can be a speedster at times rock hopping and they would just be more a hinderance most the time. Hikers who have great balance and agility and control don't need them.

I could make a case for liking to have some for maybe 1-5% of the time at certain muddy sections and water crossings, but it's just not worth it for me.

I just say NO to poles!

Stash
08-20-2011, 07:35 AM
All the time.

- Balance
- Spread the work over the whole body
- Helps maintain a walking rythm

...and is having multiple postings in pole poll that's a waste of time a waste of time? Or is that a waist of thyme? :D

forestgnome
08-20-2011, 10:17 PM
Personal preference of corse, but I can't imagine having them in my hands...I use my hands while hiking....taking picks, grabbing branches, drinking, eating, wiping sweat, etc., etc......can't imagine not having free hands.

Raven
08-21-2011, 05:15 AM
I like them in snow with a heavy pack.

I like them on descents after a long day, especially rockier routes like those in the northern Pressies.

Most of the time, I find myself simply carrying them and not using them however, and don't really care if I forget them.

They have saved me from rolling an ankle more than once when I was able to get one "stuck" as I began to stumble.

I probably haven't used them on my last 5 hikes. I don't consider them necessary gear.

NewHampshire
08-21-2011, 06:22 AM
When I started hiking I was sort of luke warm on them. Eventually I just stopped using them. Then I had a bad bout with ITB friction band syndrome. I used them while I was recovering, and I have not stopped since. I honestly don't know if they are helping from a recurrence of ITBFBS (though I haven't had one yet), but I have found they allow me to spread the workload of my climbing to my upper arms as well. Plus they help me with my stability on downhills (yeah, can be a bit of a klutz.) :)

Brian

Christa
08-21-2011, 01:41 PM
I have balance issues, so I use them all the time. When I started hiking, I had them but they stayed collapsed in my pack most of the time. But, once I was finally convinced to try them, I use them all the time now. They're great for balance, especially water crossings, bog bridges.

They can occassionally be cumbersome. As I like to say "they're useful except when they're not". They're no use on scrambles, ladder climbing, big drops where it's just easier to swing down from a tree, etc.

But, for the type of hiking I normally do, they're useful at least 95% of the time and I don't hike without them anymore, even on the "easy" stuff. I've gone out on what were supposed to be easy hikes and found one or two sections where I'd have preferred to have them.

David Metsky
08-21-2011, 03:32 PM
Moderator Note
You all know the rules, no politics. Some edits and deletions made. If you have problems with what I have done, please contact me directly.

The Hikers
08-21-2011, 08:47 PM
Lately I find I just carry my poles on flat and easy terrain. They get used going up steeper areas, and going down. They are also great when crossing rivers on rocks for extra balance points. We get rid of them by putting them in the pack for rocky scrambles and climbs.
I have the Lekis with the spring loaded feature and often "leap frog" over large rocks and obstacles on the way down, saving my back which has limited flexibility.

David Metsky
08-22-2011, 08:21 AM
Moderator Note
If you have problems with what I have done, please contact me directly.

Just reiterating my previous post. If you have questions, send me a PM.

Ed'n Lauky
08-22-2011, 09:18 AM
Just reiterating my previous post. If you have questions, send me a PM.


From poles to politics how does that happen? I don't think we've ever had a Polish president have we? :p

sierra
08-22-2011, 09:40 AM
I have used poles since before poles where cool, trust me I used to get looks like I was crazy using poles in the summer. Studies have been done extensively and the data does not lie. It is aprox.30% more efficient to hike with poles verses without (no I cant qoute a study, ask doug). If you dont like them as some dont go without, but they provide much better balance and more energy for ascending. Ive used the one staff method on occasion as I make hiking sticks out of beaver sticks but that method falls short of the 2 pole method overall.

DougPaul
08-22-2011, 10:25 AM
Studies have been done extensively and the data does not lie. It is aprox.30% more efficient to hike with poles verses without (no I cant qoute a study, ask doug). If you dont like them as some dont go without, but they provide much better balance and more energy for ascending.
Sorry, don't have a study ref at hand. But I have seen lots of ridiculous claims such has how many tons of weight they have removed from your feet.

I don't know whether poles make you more efficient. (efficiency=external_work_done/calories_consumed), however I do believe they reduce fatigue. Think, for instance, of a big step up while wearing a heavy pack. This might take 90% of your max leg strength to perform without poles, but might only require 80% of your max leg strength to perform with poles. (Time a nice double-pole with the step up.) They reduce the fatigue due to the more difficult movements and allow you to keep going longer. In essence, they reduce fatigue by spreading the work out over more muscles. (Similarly, sports like XC-ski racing and rowing have the highest energy requirements because they use the whole body--a ski racer can require as much as 14K cal/day.) One could make a similar argument for downhill (hiking), although in this case it might be reducing the peak forces on the legs reduces the damage.

Doug

sierra
08-22-2011, 10:53 AM
Sorry, don't have a study ref at hand. But I have seen lots of ridiculous claims such has how many tons of weight they have removed from your feet.

I don't know whether poles make you more efficient. (efficiency=external_work_done/calories_consumed), however I do believe they reduce fatigue. Think, for instance, of a big step up while wearing a heavy pack. This might take 90% of your max leg strength to perform without poles, but might only require 80% of your max leg strength to perform with poles. (Time a nice double-pole with the step up.) They reduce the fatigue due to the more difficult movements and allow you to keep going longer. In essence, they reduce fatigue by spreading the work out over more muscles. (Similarly, sports like XC-ski racing and rowing have the highest energy requirements because they use the whole body--a ski racer can require as much as 14K cal/day.) One could make a similar argument for downhill (hiking), although in this case it might be reducing the peak forces on the legs reduces the damage.

Doug

doug, I wouldnt presume to dabate science with you, but in addition to what I have read, I base alot of my opinion on my own study, many many miles, many many peaks. Like all aspects of climbing though, to each his/her own.

dug
08-22-2011, 11:28 AM
I've seperated a shoulder before, and frankly, lugging a pole around just causes me pain if it's not necessary.

DougPaul
08-22-2011, 12:37 PM
doug, I wouldnt presume to dabate science with you, but in addition to what I have read, I base alot of my opinion on my own study, many many miles, many many peaks. Like all aspects of climbing though, to each his/her own.
I wasn't suggesting that your statement was wrong--just that I didn't know of any studies to support it.

My opinion, as well, was based upon lots of use.

Doug

sierra
08-24-2011, 04:37 PM
I wasn't suggesting that your statement was wrong--just that I didn't know of any studies to support it.

My opinion, as well, was based upon lots of use.

Doug
Just to clarify I didnt take your post that way at all, no problem. I as well felt like I should have had something concrete to refer to. Then again everything I comment on is 99% based on my own experiences and trial and error over the years, where as you seem to combine your exerience with copious amounts of data and studies, no that thats a bad thing your a smart guy doug, me I left school to hike and climb, I guess you could say the wilderness and mountains were and continue to be my school.:D

Bob Kittredge
08-24-2011, 05:10 PM
I used to carry poles mainly for downhill. Then I did Isolation without any (lost them the day before), and discovered I didn't really need them. Besides, I like to have my hands free for scrambles. Now I carry just one collapsible pole on my pack to be used for hairy stream crossings. For winter snowshoeing I use XC ski poles; they're lighter than trekking poles and don't collapse in cold weather.

Last summer I climbed the Hunt Trail on Katahdin, and my companion insisted on using his poles the whole way, including the very bouldery, scrambly middle mile. He looked to be having a very awkward time of it, but would not relinquish them.

Paradox
08-24-2011, 05:54 PM
I regard poles somewhat like seat belts. Some of the time they are restrictive. Much of the time they are really of no consideration. Occasionally, they are truely a saver of limbs. I carry mine most all of the time (unless I screw up and forget them.)

audrey
08-25-2011, 06:57 AM
I agree with the polers! I also have BD flicklocks, having had bad luck with Lekis, Komperdells, etc.
Even on "sidewalk" terrain I like them because my hands hanging at my sides tend to swell after an hour or two.
I've protected Leo from a mean Jack Russell terrier;
I can almost always recover without falling after a misstep;
I don't think they're fully responsible for my still-functional knees, but they give me confidence and good balance. They don't replace good form such as keeping the quads involved to prevent hyperextension, etc;
They help prevent jarring when I might otherwise be tempted to jump down at a steep spot;
I don't need to look for sticks to help me across a stream;
They can sometimes be useful on an open bushwhack, such as sidehilling on slick leaves or evergreen needles.

Hiking with Kat
08-25-2011, 07:04 AM
The main reason I use and love polls is because I have no depth perception. Being able to touch the rock ahead give me a very good clue as to how far I need to step down or up (more of an issue going down). I must say I trip far less now.

Stan
08-25-2011, 03:19 PM
I voted "sometimes" though not very often and usually I don't even carry one. When I do use a pole it is only one as I like the other hand free for balance, grabbing rocks or trees and just taking a sip of water or a snack. (When snowshoeing I always take a pole, but again just one.)

I do feel they are worthwhile and the times I find them useful and which help determine whether or not I carry one and when I use them are:

1) in awkward places where they would be helpful in maintaining balance,
2) on extrended steep grades where they will help take loads off the knees and feet and distribute some loads from legs to shoulders (carrying only one pole I often change hands),
3) challenging stream crossings where there is unlikely to be a wooden stick nearby, and
4) on long or demanding hikes when I expect I'll be wearing down near the end.

I have a Leki pole with a top that removes to expose a bolt compatible with the tripod hole for most cameras. Now, if I carried my camera and used it more often this feature would be much appreciated but I like it just in case ... "just in case" is a good reason to carry any pole.

Original Woody
08-27-2011, 05:29 PM
I like hiking with poles, they help me on the steep ascents and when decending. Definitely reduces the overall effort.

A lot of times when I don't need them (on flats) I'll just carry them until I do. There are times when they can become a hinderence, while scrambling or on very steep decents, and during these times I just let them dangle from my wrists by the loops.

They have probably saved me from falling a couple times.

You can rent a pair from EMS and see if you like them or not.

The Black Diamond w/ the lever lock work best for me

Good Luck and have fun figuring it out!