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Thread: Trekking poles, use or use not?

  1. #61
    Senior Member jjo's Avatar
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    I use all the time except on flat terrain. They help with stability and take pressure off the knees. Its a little like 4 legs IMHO

  2. #62
    Senior Member Zer0-G's Avatar
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    I hate using poles....no wait, I love using poles. I'm so confused...

    Actually, I use very light, very thin and short poles (for my size).

    I always have them with me. I usually (always) use them on the uphill treks. Based on that, I had my poles cut short 110 cm. They are one piece, non retractable single section poles. A person my size would probably use , if you go by the book, 120 to 125 cm poles.

    I never ever use them going down hill. I feel much more confident and much less awkward not using them on the down hill. Having had both knees surgically repaired it took quite a while to strengthen the muscles around my knees to be able to do that. With poles, going downhill I feel really awkward and out of balance. I like to have my hands free when descending. I have more balance and confidence.

    Being that my poles are very thin, short and light (6 oz for the pair) I simply slide them up under my pack shoulder strap and push them close to my side. I hardly notice that they are there and they are handy for when I need them. I can get them out and use them in one or two seconds.

    When I am on "level" land and I am in a hurry, I will use them almost exactly like a cross country skier. I literally push myself along. The tips of my poles never come more than a foot close to my body from behind. I totally relax my arms and practically let them hang straight down when they are going back. I keep it as close to a regular walking arm swinging motion as possible. I never raise my arms more then 4 or 5 inches from being parallel with my body.

    You would be surprised to notice how your shoulders appreciate this type of relaxation on a long walk. Using what is known as the standard walking stick posture, I find my upper and middle trapezius muscles carry a lot of stress due to the constant lifting of my arms with poles to a right angle to the ground (when bent at the elbow, forearms parallel to the ground).. When I let my arms swing naturally holding the poles way down low I still get the benefit of the poles straightening up my back and relieving stress on the knees while propelling me forward (as opposed to pushing me up and back). As I said, very similar action to a cross country skier. That is one of the reasons I use such a short pole. It is probably more of a result of having shorter poles. Let's say a great discovered benefit.

    In the winter snowy and Icy conditions, I depend on the poles (I use more standard 3 section poles, but still at 110 cm.) going down hill. For obvious reasons.

    Well? I think they are obvious reasons.

    Therefore they rarely make it up under my shoulder strap. Sometimes they make it to the shoulder strap, just not as often.

    Zer0-G
    "As I was walking - I saw a sign there
    And the sign read - No tresspassin'
    But on the other side - it didn't say nuthin'
    Now that side was made for you and me!"
    - Woody Guthrie -

  3. #63
    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zer0-G
    You would be surprised to notice how your shoulders appreciate this type of relaxation on a long walk. Using what is known as the standard walking stick posture, I find my upper and middle trapezius muscles carry a lot of stress due to the constant lifting of my arms with poles to a right angle to the ground (when bent at the elbow, forearms parallel to the ground).
    Zer0-G
    Related to that statement, I often see people whose poles are adjusted way too long. They have to elevate their shoulder girdle uneccessarily every step of the way. That leads to a sore neck and upper back, hypertrophied and overstimulated trap muscles and potentially, tendinitis of the rotator cuff.


    I use poles all the time, including bushwhacks. They are well worth whatever hassles they bring to the hike.

  4. #64
    Senior Member Rick's Avatar
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    A group of older backpackers in my circle were using the trekking poles in the early 90's. I had seen fellwalkers use them in the UK before then, but really thought they were for the feeble and looked kinda out of place with a backpack/daypack.

    I then had reconstructive Knee surgery in early '94 and got 3 section collapsible pole (under the avice from my Phys therapist) that I used for about 2 years. While on a BP trip in '96, a fellow BPer recommended I try 2 poles while hiking up a long steep grade and gave me one of hers. I was hooked after that. 2 poles for me - Call me a woose if you want, but I think they really help - especially older folks (I now fall resplendantly into that bracket).
    I am hard on poles and have been through about 5 pairs since then. In terms of ease of operation and section life, I find Leki to be the best, followed by Komperdell and then Advance Base Camp (ABC might also be under Life Link).

    In all fairness, I have never tried Black Diamond, and they might even be better due to that flicklock mechanism.
    Rick

  5. #65
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zer0-G
    Actually, I use very light, very thin and short poles (for my size).

    I always have them with me. I usually (always) use them on the uphill treks. Based on that, I had my poles cut short 110 cm. They are one piece, non retractable single section poles. A person my size would probably use , if you go by the book, 120 to 125 cm poles.

    I never ever use them going down hill. I feel much more confident and much less awkward not using them on the down hill. Having had both knees surgically repaired it took quite a while to strengthen the muscles around my knees to be able to do that. With poles, going downhill I feel really awkward and out of balance. I like to have my hands free when descending. I have more balance and confidence.
    Your poles may be too short for effective use on the downhills (you need to be able to plant them down the hill ahead of you). I adjust my pole length to match what I am doing--shortest uphill, medium on the level, and longest on the downhills. If on an extended traverse, I might even use different lengths. And , of course, there are times when I am better off without them so I either hang them on an arm (short sections) or stow them on my pack (longer sections).

    Pete's Poles Page includes some comments on setting the length depending on what you are doing: http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/poles.htm

    Doug

  6. #66
    Senior Member Zer0-G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul
    Your poles may be too short for effective use on the downhills (you need to be able to plant them down the hill ahead of you). I adjust my pole length to match what I am doing--shortest uphill, medium on the level, and longest on the downhills. If on an extended traverse, I might even use different lengths. And , of course, there are times when I am better off without them so I either hang them on an arm (short sections) or stow them on my pack (longer sections).

    Pete's Poles Page includes some comments on setting the length depending on what you are doing: http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/poles.htm

    Doug
    Yup. They are too short for downhills, because I had them cut that way. I prefer not to use the poles going down hill. I am much more comfortable going downhill without the poles.

    I used to use poles for downhills. The three section type, set longer to 120 or 125 cm. But over time, I stopped using them on downhills altogether.

    There may be many extenuating circumstances and realities for me that come into play here if I felt like explaining and justifying. Worthy of another thread, I'm sure.


    I practice ultralightweight backpacking. (I gave up preaching about it when I went itno gear rehab...hee hee) i.e. My typical three season backpack weight is 21 to 23 pounds. This past weekend, my total packweight was 22 pounds. That included 3 liters of water, a bear canister with 3 pounds of food inside. As a result, I believe I probably have less of a dependancy on poles in general.

    By the way, at the trailhead, I opted for leaving the bear can in the car (Seward range) which further lightened my load.

    Basically, I'm just more comfortable without poles on downhills.

    It's just my experience. That's all.

    Zer0-G
    "As I was walking - I saw a sign there
    And the sign read - No tresspassin'
    But on the other side - it didn't say nuthin'
    Now that side was made for you and me!"
    - Woody Guthrie -

  7. #67
    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    I have a question. Is BD the only pole with the flicklock mechanism? I find the screwhome mechanism often freezes up on me in winter (even if they are bone dry at the TH) and am in the process of getting new poles anyway.

  8. #68
    Senior Member Pete_Hickey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil
    Related to that statement, I often see people whose poles are adjusted way too long.
    Depends on what you want from them. When I used to train for skiing, the long poles worked muscles that shorter ones don't.
    I find the screwhome mechanism often freezes up on me in winter
    And if they do ever freeze up at 30 below, don't try to thaw them in your mouth. It is almost as bad as eating a popsicle at 30 below, but looks funnier.
    There's no place like 127.0.0.1

  9. #69
    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete_Hickey
    Depends on what you want from them. When I used to train for skiing, the long poles worked muscles that shorter ones don't.
    And if they do ever freeze up at 30 below, don't try to thaw them in your mouth. It is almost as bad as eating a popsicle at 30 below, but looks funnier.
    Yeah, long poles angled back like in x-c skiing is OK. In fact you can really propell yourself along. What I usually see though are arms reaching for the sky to pole plant on flats and especially on uphills.

    At 30 below I usually thaw my poles by shoving them down my pants.

  10. #70
    Senior Member Pete_Hickey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil
    .....long poles ....

    At 30 below I usually thaw my poles by shoving them down my pants.
    Yeah. You want short poles for that.
    There's no place like 127.0.0.1

  11. #71
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil
    I have a question. Is BD the only pole with the flicklock mechanism? I find the screwhome mechanism often freezes up on me in winter (even if they are bone dry at the TH) and am in the process of getting new poles anyway.
    Yes, I think BD developed the mechanism. At least I've never it on any other brand of pole.

    A bit of caution on the flicklock mechanism - the external screw compressing the mechanism to the shaft can vibrate loose riding around in the trunk of your car. Replacing them is relatively easy via BD directly, but means they're out of service waiting for replacement mechanisms.

  12. #72
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil
    I have a question. Is BD the only pole with the flicklock mechanism? I find the screwhome mechanism often freezes up on me in winter (even if they are bone dry at the TH) and am in the process of getting new poles anyway.
    FlickLock is a tradename, presumably of BD.

    Try a tiny dab of silicone grease on the threads of the screw/expansion nut. (Just don't get any on the outside of the expansion nut.) Makes my poles much easier to tighten adequately and loosen (in both summer and winter).

    Doug

  13. #73
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zer0-G
    Yup. They are too short for downhills, because I had them cut that way. I prefer not to use the poles going down hill. I am much more comfortable going downhill without the poles.

    I used to use poles for downhills. The three section type, set longer to 120 or 125 cm. But over time, I stopped using them on downhills altogether.
    OK. IMO, anyone seriously interested in poles should learn good technique with full-size adjustables. Then one can make an informed choice on how/whether to use them (and, of course, any modifications to the poles).

    It sounds as if you have done this--it wasn't clear to me that you had checked out longer poles before shortening them.

    Doug

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