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Thread: Trekking poles, use or use not?

  1. #31
    Senior Member Adk_dib's Avatar
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    when you have to jump off a 4-5 foot rock face they help a lot. instead of jumping down and smashing your feet and knees, you can easily lower yourself down.

  2. #32
    Senior Member Grumpy's Avatar
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    My first encounter with modern trekking poles came in the early 1990s, when Mrs. Grumpy, our daughter Prima Donna Grumpy and I were on a picnic walk to Marcy Dam and beyond. Just before Marcy Dam we caught up with and passed an older couple picking their way along with the new-fangled sticks. They caught up with and joined us for lunch at a picnic table on the dam pond shore.

    The two were in their 80s, and celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary (might have been 55th or something like that) and a lifetime of hiking together. Said that for them the trekking poles made the difference between being able to go back in to Marcy Dam and not being able to go.

    That was enough to sell Mrs. G and her old man on the idea. Inertia being hard to overcome, we got our sticks a few years later. It was a good move. Have used them ever since usually as singles. They save the knees, and help with balance/stability issues.

    G.

  3. #33
    Senior Member LivesToHike's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Well almost...

    I've been a fervent pole user in the winter/winter-like conditions and somewhat of a lackadasical user otherwise, except on downslopes or when I've gotten tired. I.e. when suffering the end-of-day floppy-foot syndrome.

    Admittedly, I am finding them more and more helpful in wet/slippery talus fields and open downslopes. I'm probably less enthusiastic in their application when climbing down steep, tree-lined routes, often full of roots. I'm more inclined to grab a tree as I step down. I don't use the straps, as I'm concerned with breaking or spraining a wrist if I fall, but I understand the value of using the straps, esp in winter.

    I was surprised upon grabbing at one tree on the Bridle path, I think up in the agonies, last week - it was really, really loose, probably from the likes of me grabbing at it to gain balance! ;-)
    --- Help stamp out entropy!

  4. #34
    Member SLB's Avatar
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    Always use them hiking downhill. They add an upper-body workout using them hiking uphill. Never use them bush-whacking, since they get in the way.

  5. #35
    Member Tuggy's Avatar
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    www.backpacking.net/trekpole.html#top

    This is an article about using trekking poles and how to use the wrist straps.

    I find them to be very useful. I always hike with them unless its on pavement.

  6. #36
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    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.
    If it were not for trekking poles, and x-c ski poles earlier, which I began using on hikes in the mid-70s for dry-land x-c ski training, I doubt that I would still be hiking today. I have bad ankles, so I use the poles ascending, descending, spring, summer, fall, and winter. They are great for balance in stream crossings and for vaulting over muddy sections. Compared to vibram soles, I doubt that trekking poles do much trail damage, and as Kevin Rooney notes they might even help aerate overly compacted trails. I also use my poles to flick sticks off trails, which otherwise eventually clog up water bars ("shot, save, shot, another save, another shot, scorrrrrres!").

  7. #37
    Senior Member rocksnrolls's Avatar
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    Another vote for using them from me. I find they really help with my balance, especially since I tend to rock hop whenever possible, trying to lessen trail erosion caused by my footprints. I also like how they give my arms a bit of a workout. After I got used to using them, whenever I hike without them my arms sort of hang there and I don't know what to do with them I also use them for clearing spider webs (and tent catepillar silk ) from my path, especially if on an early start or less-used trail. I always use the baskets on the ends and find they're helpful in muddy areas to lessen the depth they sink in to, make it easier to remove accumulated leaves, and help avoid sticking them into deep spaces between rocks. The baskets are also helpful in applying torque when adjusting the pole lengths. I love my poles on downhills, especially steep ones. I plant them ahead of me and then lightly jump down, saving stress on my knees and/or the need to sit on wet rocks before lowering myself down. I also usually use the straps as they really help on the uphills by lessening stress on the wrists and when I need to use my hands to grab onto something the poles can be let go of and they just hang there. Just have to use caution that you don't let them get in your way.

  8. #38
    Senior Member Roxi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy
    Just before Marcy Dam we caught up with and passed an older couple picking their way along with the new-fangled sticks. They caught up with and joined us for lunch at a picnic table on the dam pond shore.

    The two were in their 80s, and celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary (might have been 55th or something like that) and a lifetime of hiking together. Said that for them the trekking poles made the difference between being able to go back in to Marcy Dam and not being able to go.

    That was enough to sell Mrs. G and her old man on the idea. Inertia being hard to overcome, we got our sticks a few years later. It was a good move. Have used them ever since usually as singles. They save the knees, and help with balance/stability issues.

    G.
    You may have just sold me Grumpy. Up until last week I have not had any knee issues and didn't think about using hiking poles. I hate carrying anything extra (chocolate doesn't count!), but after ascending South Twin 4 times in two days from 3 different sides, my right knee was very painful doing any up and down movements. I've laid off it for 5 days now, and while it's better, it still has twinges of pain.

    I went to EMS today and looked at 4 different models of their Leki poles: the regular Makalu and Makalu Tour models were $99 pair, the Super Makalus were $139 pair (and seemed a little heavier), and the Ultralight Makalus were $149 pair. With the 20% 0ff sale and my $25 gift card I can get a pair for much less, but which one is least likely to have problems/break? Any recommendations? Thanks!

    Roxi
    Nature is proof that magic still exists.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by SLB
    Always use them hiking downhill. They add an upper-body workout using them hiking uphill. Never use them bush-whacking, since they get in the way.
    As I said in my post about using them on Barren, three of us on the trip used them extensively, on one of the most difficult bushwacks there is, none of us thought that they got in the way!
    Last edited by dms; 06-26-2006 at 05:58 PM.

  10. #40
    Senior Member Roxi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carole
    Maybe (like Pete Hickey) when I reach "middle age" I'll use them again.
    The funny thing about "middle age" is that the closer you get to it, the further it moves away.
    Nature is proof that magic still exists.

  11. #41
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxi
    Any recommendations? Thanks!
    I've been using Leki poles for a number of years. I'm happy with them.

    Not up on the lastest models, but my opinion on features:
    * 3 section better than 2 section--stows better.
    * shock absorbers are a waste of money (I have mine turned off.) Proper use of the straps takes care of the shocks and the shock absorbers (springs) make the poles imprecise.
    * I prefer straight grips over angled
    * I have cork grips--fine. Rubber? Probably ok too.
    * Al vs Ti? Al is ok by me.

    Others may disagree...

    Doug

  12. #42
    Senior Member Jeff-B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adk_dib
    when you have to jump off a 4-5 foot rock face they help a lot. instead of jumping down and smashing your feet and knees, you can easily lower yourself down.
    I agree! Descents like this are tricky on the old knees with such a full impact.
    For years, I always had a single stick I would find in a river somewhere then used for descent only on the big drops....like going down Airline, where 4-5 ft drops come regularly over a 2 mile section.

    Several years ago I got a single Komperdell pole with big rounded ball head and with anti-shock device.
    I don't use the strap as I need to switch hands quickly from one "problem" to the next. I have also needed to eject the pole for quick hand-to-rock-grab recovery on more than a few stumbles.

    When climbing UP on steep terrain, I need hand-over-hand control. Poles are useless and slow to navigate in this case.

    So I guess the only place paired poles make sense to me is for use on open flatter trails where a fast pace can be reached.
    Which is why I don't use paired poles.

  13. #43
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff-B
    So I guess the only place paired poles make sense to me is for use on open flatter trails where a fast pace can be reached.
    Which is why I don't use paired poles.
    For me, 2 poles is a major win. The balance is much better and when one needs a strong push, one can double pole. Using the straps makes this much easier than without.

    If I need a free hand or two for a moment, I just let the poles hang by the straps. As needed, I also can hang both poles off one arm or shrink them and hang them off one arm, all without breaking stride.

    Doug

  14. #44
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    Obviously this is a subject on which people have widely differing opinions.
    Personally, I use them only on snow. Heavy pack and strictly trail hiking are two factors which would encourage their use. They are a pain in obstructed off-trail situations.

    Regarding putting weight on them, and "getting an upper body workout", I tend to think that a better approach is to stay in balance at all times, which actually means putting virtually no weight on them. This is certainly orthodoxy in the downhill skiing world: weighting the poles is a sign of being out of balance. And I think it is consistent with general principles of athletic movement.
    I also think that much stress on the knees can be avoided by being *smooth* on the downhills, not leaping down., with or without the use of poles. There are plenty of ways to save your knees without using those poles.

  15. #45
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thuja
    Regarding putting weight on them, and "getting an upper body workout", I tend to think that a better approach is to stay in balance at all times, which actually means putting virtually no weight on them. This is certainly orthodoxy in the downhill skiing world: weighting the poles is a sign of being out of balance. And I think it is consistent with general principles of athletic movement.
    A better model is the use of poles in classic XC skiing where they are most definetly used for propulsion. (In fact classic XC racing has become dominated by double poling...)

    I XC skied (classic kick-and-glide) for many years before I tried poles while hiking. The poling motions are very similar.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 06-26-2006 at 10:59 PM.

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