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Thread: Trekking poles, use or use not?

  1. #1
    Member Bob Farrell's Avatar
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    Trekking poles, use or use not?

    I've been using trekking poles for hiking for the last 5 years. Today I used them to get up E. Osceola and Osceola. When Cotton and myself hiked up the Chimney, we put our trekking poles on our packs, and we continued to the summit without them. Heading down Osceola, I decided not to use them for the whole descent. I felt much freedom on the descent without the poles. Being able to use my hands for the descent felt much better then placing poles before heading down.

    I wanted to ask what others think about using trekking poles?

    Use or not use?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Waumbek's Avatar
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    They'll cause a temporary and reversible loss of balance but will lengthen the "shelf life" of your knees on the descent. Over 60? Any signs of arthritis, e.g., can't fully bend your knees back the way you used to? Then use 'em. Just make sure that if you take a header, you get them out of the way of your teeth and eyes. (My dentist always does his best business during the ski season.) Never use the wrist straps. I rarely use poles on the uphill, however.
    Last edited by Waumbek; 06-25-2006 at 08:09 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member pilgrim's Avatar
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    I use poles in the winter. In the summer, I use a big wooden staff, striding Gandalf-like through the forest, ready for Hobbits and Balrogs.
    "Adventuring can be for the ordinary person with ordinary qualities, such as I regard myself."
    -Edmund Hillary

  4. #4
    jade
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    I often carry, but find I do not need them....when I do use them: stream crossings, winter hiking and snowshoeing, coming down the Crawford trail at night in wet conditions! Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them....Personally, I find that they make too much of a racket and get in the way unless I really need them....
    ...jade

  5. #5
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    They can be very helpful, with or without knee problems. See Pete's Pole Page http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/poles.htm for a nice how-to. There are also times (such as terrain steep enough that you need to use your hands) when they are in the way and are best stowed on your pack (3 section poles stow much better than 2 section or fixed-length).

    The straps, if used properly, can be very helpful.

    Doug

  6. #6
    Senior Member sapblatt's Avatar
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    I love them - I read somwhere that they take 15-20 pounds of force off of your knees on every step down...that really adds up. I do find situations where I jettison them...steep pitch when climbing up and I need my hands, or a steep down (coming down Bondcliff comes to mind)...I just toss them up or down and go on to them.

    It has already been said, but I agree...never use the straps...if you need your hands you want to let go of your poles quickly to break a fall.
    - Mike

    How bad can it be?
    Bobby

  7. #7
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    I always carry them, and use the straps. For me they help propel me up the hill, and have saved many a fall, and wear 'n tear on my knees, on the descent. Occasionally when the trail is mostly flat and smooth I'll carry them in one hand. When necessary (Class 3 or better) they're collapsed and attached to my pack.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Lawn Sale's Avatar
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    I love them and use them all the time.

    I find I can travel much faster with them, and late in the day when I'm dragging you-know-what, I find they help keep me stable. I also use them to vault off stream banks, ward off man-eating spiders, and clear the poison ivy from hitting my lower legs when I run across a patch. In the dead of summer they are also used as tarp poles.

    I have a few sets from el-cheapo heavweights to aluminum to the ultralight carbon, and all have proven themselves and taken beating after beating. Only once did I wreck one (and it HAD to be a carbon )...I had my hand in the strap when I slid in the snow, snapping the pole in half, then crushing it when I landed on what was left. Now I never use the straps and leave the carbons for when there is no snow on the ground.
    Appearances are not everything, it just looks like they are.




  9. #9
    Senior Member Raymond's Avatar
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    I have a nice wooden stick an old friend made for me that Iíve been using ten years now, and Iíve had various metal poles (the rubber tip always falls off, unnoticed, the first time out) in my left hand the last four years. The only time I sling them over my shoulder(s) is when Iím on a road.

    When I just used the one, I would switch it from one hand to the other, and both arms would get tired. Using two, neither arm seems to tire. I donít know why that is.

  10. #10
    Senior Member giggy's Avatar
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    don't like using them and only use them when carrying heavy loads on the back - 40+ pounds. that being said, I am 34 and know that it is a matter of time before I start doing damage - I do beliive they do help take the weight of the knees, etc. I should use them more, but find them cumbersome.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member skibones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waumbek
    They'll cause a temporary and reversible loss of balance but will lengthen the "shelf life" of your knees on the descent. Over 60? Any signs of arthritis, e.g., can't fully bend your knees back the way you used to? Then use 'em. Just make sure that if you take a header, you get them out of the way of your teeth and eyes. (My dentist always does his best business during the ski season.) Never use the wrist straps. I rarely use poles on the uphill, however.
    I use two poles when I hike and find most of the time it's helpful.Never thought about falling on them--do I need to wear my mouth guard when hiking?
    BETTER TO WEAR OUT THAN TO RUST OUT!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    I usually just have 1, winter or summer. I like the pole for balance, testing mud depth , fending off snakes , whacking brush out of the way, etc. etc.

    But I also like to have a free hand when doing tricky spots. Of course, most poles have straps so you can dangle them while you use your hands for something else.
    Tom Rankin
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Pete_Hickey's Avatar
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    I hate 'em. But I use them whenever my knees are broken. I use them until my knees break again. NOte that my knees don't go bad from walking. It is a fall that does it.

    They are handy (or at least one is)when crossing some streams.

    Never thought about using them with a heavy pack, though.
    There's no place like 127.0.0.1

  14. #14
    Junior Member Iceman's Avatar
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    When I was younger, I didn't see the need for poles during a dayhike. I thought that they were for old people because that's who I saw using them. I did use them while packpacking with a 50 pound pack. Back in those days, I didn't mind carrying the extra weight. The poles helped with my balance and cadence. I tried using one hiking stick but didn't like it because it seemed to throw me off balance.

    Now that I'm older, I use hiking poles all the time. I also tend to lose them a lot because I was so used to hiking without them. The poles do help to slow my descent but more often than not, they get in the way when any rock scrambling needs to be done. I've tried using the straps and letting them dangle but they still get in the way. I usually throw them down ahead of me so that my hands are free.

    I've tried hiking without them and my muscles have to work so much harder to maintain my balance that I quickly become fatigued. I could do without them for less than 10 miles but for anything longer, my poles are my friends.

  15. #15
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    I use them in winter to maintain balance when it's hard to tell what's underneath the nice, smooth snow. Otherwise, I prefer walking without them.

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