View Poll Results: About poles: have you

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  • Always used them

    82 68.91%
  • Never used them

    14 11.76%
  • Recently started using them (Why?)

    18 15.13%
  • Recently stopped using them (Why? Any knee pain?)

    5 4.20%
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Thread: A Poll about Poles

  1. #1
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    New Hampshire

    A Poll about Poles

    In this thread , timmus wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by timmus
    I did a big hike last week (24,5 miles, 5 4K's, with a 18 Lbs pack), and right after leaving trailhead, I realized that I left my poles at home ! And you know what ? I didn't care, because I don't need them anymore. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Even more strange is the fact that I run downhill on the trails, I jump and bang on each step down. Maybe -maybe- that is where the answer is.
    I myself hiked without poles as I started the NH 48. After some of the more punishing downhills (Dicey Mills, for example) my knees were pretty sore. I bought into the pole theory and things were better for the short hikes which followed, and the one longer loop (Falling Waters, LH, Lincoln, Lafayette, OBP). Then, the petello-femoral pain and diagnosis.

    So, timmus' note got me thinking... Which is the cure and which is the disease? Did my sudden use of poles make my knees weaker / lazier? If I didn't use them, would I be better off?

    In this thread and poll, I am specifically interested in

    people who have switched to poles
    people who have abandoned poles
    people who have never used them

    as it pertains to knee pain.
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Here and there Avatar: Ice Ice Baby...
    I like my poles, but I use them. Sounds dopey, but I've seen people with poles just carrying/dragging them. I've had knee pain, but it's been from lateral motion, like when you get off balance, not linear motion, so I've found poles help there. On the way up I can employ my upper body and on the flats and down hill I use them like ski poles, to set my next step/jump. I may try a long staff as I had some fun coming down Jackson after the Flags event with our long flag pole - I'd step or jump, grip and slide down it on the decent.
    But whatever, I never used them when I was younger.
    Dead Last > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start


  3. #3
    Senior Member Jason Berard's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    N. Thetford, VT Avatar: Cabot, winter 2011
    I never used poles until about 5 years ago. I started having pain in my left knee on steep descents like liberty springs, or coming off carter dome, towards the notch, so I decided to see if poles would help, and I don't have knee pain any more! .

  4. #4
    Senior Member Quietman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Peterborough, NH
    I wish I had $20 for every time I passed someone going downhill on uneven terain and was told, wow that's a good idea, wish I had a pair. Sometimes I get frisky and run downhill and carry them, but I always take them. The main reason that I started using them is that most of my hikes/walks are exercise based and making my upper body and arms do some of the work helps me keep those 6 pack abs.

    I still forget them sometimes, but haven't noticed any difference in knee pain. My guess is that pole use dosen't create weakness, any more than high top boots create ankle weakness.
    Last edited by Quietman; 12-21-2006 at 10:27 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Out of control
    Always use them in the Summer and when I don't have to go lightweight. Only sometimes in winter I don't really bother with them because I'm just going simpler and speedier.

    My best memories of having poles was running down the Tuckerman Ravine trail skipping on the rocks and using my poles to vault over rocks and those big ditches that cross the trail - super fun!

    Make sure you use the strap correctly, though, I see tons of people who just loop their wrist around it.

  6. #6
    Senior Member bubba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    H: Allegany County, NY A: The Brothers
    I've used them for a long time and think they help in lowing phyiscal impact on the joints. There is a big difference in using two poles - so I'm assuming your pole about poles assumes the use of two (although not all do this).

    I have neglected to take poles on a few outings in the past year or two. Surprisingly I didn't miss them as much as I thought I might. On the other hand, I was purposefully more careful coming down.

    They can also help in with speed. Hiking with a full pack is easier because they help you balance yourself. I think I go faster on crappy wet trails like "some" in the ADK's. You can hop around much easier. That said, using poles on the downhill is probably slower.

    Note to readers of youth... I used to run off mountiains. It WILL catch up to you... eventually!!
    You only live once... but, if you do it right, once is enough!
    animus non integritatem sed facinus cupit
    "The heart wills not purity but adventure" (R J Waller, A Thousand Country Miles)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Raymond's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    My gut is telling me no... but my gut is also very hungry.
    When I first started hiking, I would look for any decent stick at the trailhead or along the trail that I could use as a staff for that one hike. I remember using a found stick to help push myself up the Spellman Trail on Monadnock and then, somewhere during the descent while ambling along, it suddenly crumbled in half. Yikes. Lucky thing I wasn't putting any weight on it then. A few years later I bought a nice walnut one from Early Winters. I stopped using it for several years when I wasn't hiking much anyway. It's been in retirement lo these many years except that one time in 2002 when I got it out to accompany me on my 46th Adirondack High Peak (because I'd used it on my first High Peak 19 years earlier).

    I received a beautiful wooden stick from a friend 11 years ago for my birthday and I used it three days later and I've used it on every hike since, except for strolls around home on roads.

    On my first hike of Allen, September 29, 2001, I began using a metal pole in my left hand, and I've been using its descendants ever since. They don't last long.

    When I used just the one, I would sometimes have to switch it to my left hand because my right arm would get sore (my first climb of Colden comes to mind here), but when I use a pole in each hand, neither arm gets sore. Strange, eh?

  8. #8
    Senior Member MichaelJ's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    I started out always using a pair of poles, both for balance and for steep uphills, taking some of the load off my legs by using my upper body to push on the pole.

    Nowadays it's primarily about balance, and so for easier trips I'll just bring a single staff instead of the pair. For certain rock-stepping situations, especially water crossings, I wouldn't want to be without it.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Edward Abbey

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jay H's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Pittsfield, MA
    I've always had poles since i've been hiking but I don't Always use poles, I will sometimes use poles based on the terrain and the weight I'm carring, whether it's a bushwack or a trailed hike. Basically, the less I'm carrying, the flatter the terrain or the less bushwack the hike is, the less times I will carry poles. I'll sometimes even just carry one. If I'm backpacking, I'll typically bring them though but I have always owned a pair of hiking poles which I think is the point of your pole.

    As far as Poles, I like Poles as much I as I like hikers of any nationality.

    You must go and you must ramble
    Through every briar and bramble
    Till your life is in a shambles
    Maybe then you will know
    -"You Must Go" - John Hiatt

  10. #10
    Senior Member marty's Avatar
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    Apr 2004
    Boxford, MA. Avatar: I heart South Twin
    I almost always hike with two poles. Being a relatively fast hiker who is also a klutz can be a lethal combination without having poles for balance. They also give me a sense of rhythm when setting my hiking pace. The only time I don't use them are on rock scrambles where you use your hands a lot, or I might use one only for a leisurely stroll in the wild.

    They also work well if you need to whack your hiking partner if he/she is giving you a hard time. I don't think they would fend off a bear or moose, though

    Last edited by marty; 12-22-2006 at 08:04 AM.
    So when you reach the bottom line
    The only thing to do is climb
    Pick yourself up off the floor
    Anything ya want is yours

    Song: Bottom Line
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    Album: This is Big Audio Dynamite
    Year: 1985

  11. #11
    Senior Member Pete_Hickey's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Hull, Quebec. Avatar: Wanna come out and play?
    I hate using poles... well they're OK when skiing, or snowshoing in fluffy snow, but for hiking, I hate them. Several years ago, when doing the Northville Placid trail, I accidentally took a pole with me, so I had to use it the whole hundred whatever miles. It was a one piece thing, so I couldn't just fold it ant put it in my pack.

    About halfway throgh the trip, I found myself depending on it for balance. Stepping on a slippery log, and loosing my balance, I'd INSTINCTIVELY plant the pole to maintain my balance, instead of bending knees, shifting weight, etc. I did not like depending on the pole.

    However..... This year, I messed up my knees (sort of accidents), and I find that I have to use poles. I can't wait until the knees are better so I can ditch the poles.
    There's no place like

  12. #12
    Senior Member LenDawg's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Stamford, CT
    I was advised to use poles right after I started hiking regularly since I have chronic knee pains. I depend on them a lot for balance and support, but when the legs get tired on uphills, it is nice to be able to switch to upper body and take some pressure off the knees. Also, going downhill, the poles take a lot of pressure off the knees.
    Cut my pizza into ten slices instead of eight. I'm very hungry!

  13. #13
    Senior Member onestep's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    Maine, Avatar: NE3k

    "Sometimes use them"

    I just purchased a new pair. Well actually my first pair. (Thanks MEB, flick-loc's are great!)
    I seldom use poles for 3 season hiking. If I do it's usually a single.
    In the winter I use them... borrowed from Katahdin Goddess who has an LLBean E-Store collection in various stages of usefullness.

    I like the extra stability poles give me when it's slippery underfoot.
    I like the freedom no poles give me when traction isn't an issue.

    So I vote... "sometimes".


  14. #14
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    New Hampshire
    I purposely started this poll so I can inquire (using the results) at PT at 11:30 today. I'll add what I learn. I am really interested in whether the poles are a crutch, used in lieu of properly strengthening the muscles which hold the knee (cap) in place, which is apparently the cause of some (most?) knee pain...

    So, if you've stopped using poles, I would really like to here why and what the result was (must be positive else you'd have gone back, right?)

    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  15. #15
    Senior Member sapblatt's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Massachusetts Avatar: "Heads or tails?!"
    I do not feel that they are a crutch - there is an unreal amount of stress placed on the legs and feet when hiking - I believe I read that each downhill step puts 18 pounds of stress on the knees. I don't care if you are a decathlete or home run hitting steroid injecter - that is a lot of stress over a 10 plus mile hike, and even more over a lifetime of hiking. My legs (when I am in shape) are plenty strong, and I have never had any real knee issues - I think the poles are a big help and I feel naked without them.
    - Mike

    How bad can it be?

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