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Thread: Trekking poles, use or use not?

  1. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    southern nh
    I just got back from a bushwack of Barren in BSP, probably the toughest 3k on the New England list, and 3 out of the 4 of us on trip used them the entire way. Only the youngest member of our group didn't use them.

  2. #17
    Senior Member Pete_Hickey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Hull, Quebec. Avatar: Wanna come out and play?

    When I get older...

    Although I mentioned that I don't usually use poles, I think that when I reach middle age, I might start using them. It seems to be a theme in this thread.
    There's no place like

  3. #18
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2005
    Sandy, Utah
    I use them... I like them..I believe they help me with my cadence, balance, and are defnately a help on the downhills, although I think on the downhill its a false sense of security..I seem to move faster downhill with them...which is likely dangerous.

    I have also just recently noticed their advantage on the uphills..though at the end of the day my arms are more tired when using for uphill plodding...

    they do make a TON of racket though...I DON'T LIKE THAT..


  4. #19
    Senior Member Danielle's Avatar
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    Dec 2003
    The Big K!; Home: Topsham, ME
    Snowman and I both starting using poles about 4 years ago on our hikes, day and overnight. He had various knee issues and they've really helped relieve the stress on them for him. I don't have knee issues (knock on wood) but do like having the poles to give me some extra balance (I'm notoriously klutzy!), help crossing streams, propel me up the hills and take the stress off my knees on the downhill. I do admit that it took me a while to get used to using them, but now it's just habit to hike with them, and it feels odd to go out without them. I use the straps too. I'd definitely put in a vote for using them

  5. #20
    Senior Member Toe Cozy's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    Springfield, Springfield!. Avatar: Spruce Peak Kimchi

    For poking slow hikers

    I use poles mainly for poking my husband when he slows down too much and wants to take too many breaks.

    Otherwise, they help me be less worried about downhills when I've broken my knee(s) like Pete said. On day hikes less than 7-8 miles I often don't bring them if I'm not having active knee problems. I hate the noise they make. I feel much freer without them in my hands. They get in the way big time on scrambles. But for big downhill steps I find that planting the poles in front of me and lowering myself down is an easy way to move more efficiently (in my mind).

    I use the straps on some terrain so that I don't have to use a death grip on the handles. You can use the straps to your advantage not just as leashes around your wrists. But on the down hill I never use the straps.

    But like I said originally, it's all just a cover for being able to poke my husband if he gets too slow. (kidding)

  6. #21
    Senior Member Paradox's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Holderness, NH, Avatar: Pine Marten on Mt Field
    I never used poles until this season. Now I use them all the time, both ascending and descending. My knees recover after a long hike much faster and don't seem as bad the day after. I don't like having my hands encumbered and don't use them when traversing flat areas. IMHO they have just got to be safer on the descent. They allow you to lean forward, and plant something weight bearing ahead of you before you actually try to step into it. I never use the straps, and have considered cutting them off. I lost the rubber tips fairly early on and have not missed them.

    Also my dogs never seem to lose their balance, so 4 legs have gotta be better than 2.
    Last edited by Paradox; 06-26-2006 at 08:41 AM.
    WNH4K:48/48, SLAT50:50/50, NEHH:100/100, NE115:115/115,
    TW72:60/72, WADK46: 18/46, 52WAV:16/52, Cat35:9/35(39)

  7. #22
    Member Wanderer1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Western N.Y.
    I use them for backpacking and sometimes day hiking. A few years ago while I was hiking the Colorado Trail I discovered other benefits than just the knees. I had used them daily on my hike. One day after picking up a food drop I had a 5 mile road walk out of town. Thinking it would be an easy walk, I strapped my poles to my pack. After just two miles my shoulders ached and my back was cramping. At first I just thought it was the extra weight but I also seemed to be dragging. So I stopped and decided to use the poles. My pace quickened and the pain in my shoulders and back went away. My therory is by using the poles I was moving my shoulders thus shifting the shoulder straps do different muscle locations instead of them just hanging in one place. They helped to shift the load around. It made all the difference. I also have noticed after a long day that my hands don't swell like they do if I don't use them. Again I'm sure due to the improved circulation due to the arm movement. Sometimes they are a pain but most the time they eliminate it.

  8. #23
    Senior Member Artex's Avatar
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    May 2004
    Southern Maine
    I used them for years, but don't anymore unless I'm wearing snowshoes. Just one less thing to carry and worry about.

  9. #24
    Senior Member
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    Jun 2005
    Western CT
    I use them in the winter for sure, and on the downhill in all other seasons.I noticed when I use my poles, my hands are less likely to become swollen, I think because they slightly elevated and not hanging down by my sides while hiking.
    Genuine listening means suspending memory, desire, and judgement-and for a moment at least, existing for the other person. ~Michael Nichols

  10. #25
    Senior Member gaiagirl's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Boston, MA
    I tend to move pretty fast, and find that poles help me with my momentum. Being somewhat vertically challenged, I also find them useful on inclines as well as steep sections when descending. I also like the upper body work that they provide and find they help with my balance too, especially when crossing streams and the like. I have tried various types of poles, starting with very short (kiddie) Xcountry ski poles. Having gotten used to using them last winter, I think I put more weight on poles than I probably should at times since they don't ever collapse and they're very strong and find I just kill normal hiking poles (from cheapies to pretty expensive ones and everything in between), so I use short, cheap X-country ski poles now all the time .... Is that weird?? .... Ok, don't answer than anyone!

    In this crowded world, our sense of coexistence with wilderness life can be enforced by heights that are hard to climb. --- John Hay

  11. #26
    Senior Member JohnL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    At the end of the road
    I was thinking about this very subject yesterday while I was descending the OBP and noticed the proliferation of holes that were poked into the trailsides by hiking poles. I was wondering how much of a negative effect these holes had on trailside plants and the resulting erosion. Are people overusing them because they are an “in” piece of gear to be seen with? My belief is “Yes” but that’s just a gut feel and I don’t have any hard evidence to support that.

    I carry poles with me on hikes over 15 miles and/or if there are plenty of questionable stream crossings just in case. I also use poles when I carry a real heavy pack but I don't do much of that anymore. Otherwise I prefer to hike without them. I actually find that I maintain a better walking rhythm without them. Winters are a different ballgame and I always use them in the snow. I never use the straps, winter or summer.

    That being said, I can understand why people use them to bring relief to their knees and hips. Bad knees and hips are not necessarily an old age problem so younger hikers with orthopedic problems will find poles useful. As an older hiker who still has good knees (knock on wood), I still prefer to go without them.

    Once in a while
    You get shown the light
    In the strangest of places
    If you look at it right.
    R. Hunter

  12. #27
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Apple Valley Ohio!
    Mrs KD and I have used them for about 7 years. Very handy to have on a winter trail,particularly for stream crossings.
    We don't use the straps,as it seems like an invitation for a broken wrist if you fall.

  13. #28
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnL
    I was thinking about this very subject yesterday while I was descending the OBP and noticed the proliferation of holes that were poked into the trailsides by hiking poles. I was wondering how much of a negative effect these holes had on trailside plants and the resulting erosion.
    Observations like this (and about poles scratching rocks) are often made when the subject of poles is being discussed. Rather than a negative effect - I wonder if they have a positive effect? For example is soil compaction a problem on trails, and if so, do poles provide useful aeration?

  14. #29
    Senior Member adirobdack46r's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    South of Watertown, NY
    When my wife and I started hiking we didn't have them. Then decided to give them a try, liked them for many reasons already listed, weight off the knees, streem crossings, checking mud depth etc. After a summer of frequent chain saw use I developed a bad case of carpal tunnel. On the next hike I went on my hands were going numb from the angle the poles kept my arms in. I had to dangle an arm to get the circulation going again. A friend I had with me that day broke his hiking stick, so I let him use one of my poles, this worked out good because I could switch back and forth from one hand to the other to keep feeling in them. Now my carpal tunnel has subsided but I am used to using only one pole and I like it because it frees up a hand when the going gets tuff and I need to grab on to a rock or something. When it is too steep and need both hands the one pole is only half the weight to strap on the my pack. In winter with snowshoes I still use 2.

  15. #30
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2003

    I don't use them

    I hiked quite a number of years without them and then kept reading on 'hiking forums' how you should use them so I hiked with them for a while. Didn't like them, stopped using them and am happy. Maybe (like Pete Hickey) when I reach "middle age" I'll use them again.
    I'm just outwalkin....

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