View Poll Results: About poles: have you

119. You may not vote on this poll
  • 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

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  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
    Join Date
    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 09:27 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 Jay H's Avatar
    Join Date
    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

  8. #8
    Senior Member onestep's Avatar
    Join Date
    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".


  9. #9
    Senior Member timmus's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    St-Bruno, Qc. Avatar: At Guyot Shelter
    Ok, very sorry for the late reply, it's Christmas time after all.

    Last year the poles were essential while hiking the ADK46. I remember coming down Haystack on my *ss because of striking pain in my knees. I was using my poles with the straps (the right way), putting enough weight on them while going downhill that my triceps were getting sore as much as my legs the day after.

    Recently I did mostly bushwhacks, and hiking poles are just plain annoying in the woods, so I left them in the car more and more, until I realized that my knees were doing fine.

    My quads got much stronger in the past year, and I think that gives a break to the knees. And I notice that when I hike downhill with a slower partner, my knees hurt the day after. I believe a tension is created while taking too much time deciding where we to put the foot, and that adds a stress to the knee. Now, I'm not a specialist, I may be full of crap. This is just how it is for me, and I'm surely not a reference (I sometimes wear cotton and wool over polypro and fleece, just to give you an idea).

    I also really like to put my hands in my pockets. I like holding on the trees and rocks and not having the pole in the way. And I like the fact that I can eat while I walk. That's very cool. I just miss them on the crossings.

    Bubba, you are probably right, it's gonna come back to me one day. For now I enjoy the freedom

  10. #10
    Senior Member pks4000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Poles/knees and the ups and downs

    In the wild God made quadipeds . Start with that.
    I have been hiking /climbing on level 5 arthritic, "batterred knees" (My orthopedic doctor's term) since 1980. There are various degrees of knee problems.
    Here's 3:
    1. Mild pain from past trauma or arthritis with little or no cartilage or ligament damage.

    Use the poles to keep you balanced so you dont have to recover from a slip. Also can slow the overuse of the joint on the downhill by taking weight off your knees and putting some on your poles.

    2. Moderate pain with some damage to the stability of your knee joint.
    You'll know if your at this level because you'll carry I's (Ibrupropin)

    3. Moderate to severe knee pain with severely compromised cartelidge and littlle or no fore aft stability from one or 2 damaged ACL s.
    You must have poles for the downhill to absorb weight to take the load of your knee joint

    For what it's worth I'm at level 3 and went thru the overuse/trauma progression of steps 1 and 2.
    If your knees are truly bad you will not be able to recover from a mistep and will have to go with the fall... a crummy alternative I face on every descent.
    IMHO An even crummier alternative is to give into the pain and sit at home.

    I know this is more than you need to know but poles also have many other uses in the wild limited only by your creativity.
    Let it snow
    Climbing Stallion/BMT
    Climbing Stallion/BMT

    Whose woods these are, I think I know. His house is in the village tho. Would He not mind If I climb on, to watch His woods fill up with snow? R. Frost (paraphrased)undefined

  11. #11
    Senior Member pks4000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Evo of trekking poles

    Thought Id mention that I started using poles while hiking in 1968 as a ski race training aid during off season.
    They caused some iteresting comments for about 15 years then slowly folks started seeing the benefits and there were ski poles on the trail.
    I dont know if I started this whole hiking poles thing but I know I was the only hiker/ skier we saw doing it for years in Northern NE

    Then they came out with Trekking poles with smaller baskets for summer use. The only thing I liked about them was they collapsed and could be strapped to my pack for steeper wointer pitches.

    Then shock absorption was incorporated on "trekking poles"
    It had been used in ski poles for years but was in the grip which was spring loaded and moved slightly up and down when you planted your poles on frozen granular

    Then the Positive angle grip came out on Lekis and we (The BMTs)all went out and upgraded to the new very efficient technology.
    Let it snow
    Climbing Stallion/BMT

    Whose woods these are, I think I know. His house is in the village tho. Would He not mind If I climb on, to watch His woods fill up with snow? R. Frost (paraphrased)undefined

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Danville, VT


    For years, I never carried poles because I thought they were not worth the effort to carry them. One of my closest hiking buddies (who has also had back surgery (x2) and knee surgery came up for 3 days of hiking out in the Carter Range area. He suggested at least trying one pole while we hiked to see if I liked it. i brought one of my ski poles along. Since that hike, I refuse to go out without poles on a hike. Generally I use my ski poles, but I have a set of cheeper collapsables from Wal Mart when I travel via air.

    I am blessed to still be young and have knees that are in good condition (as is my back), so I am not necessarily using them to assist my physical condition. Rather, I find the poles to be most helpful when I take a break. The poles are great to lean upon and avoid sitting down or having something else to lean against. I find that by leaning against the pole, I give my legs a quick break and am able to shorten the amount of time that I need to rest. Of course the poles are great coming downhill as well and I can think of one or two times of places where the pole gave me that third point of contact to make a somewhat tricky move.

    Count me as a convert for sure. Since my conversation, I have led several other fellow climbers to become pole users as well.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    I always use my Leki poles, ever time I am out.
    I am 47 years old and my knees do hurt at times. The other great benefit with using poles is that you get a better all around workout because you are using your arm muscles too when you transfer weight to the poles. Its a win win for me.

  14. #14
    Member werdigo49's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Newcomb NY
    I voted "always," though of course as a child and teenager, and more recently as a trail runner (15 years ago) I didn't. I began with one pole, but in about a year switched to two. It's bemusing to hear non-users say how silly even one pole looks (like an old man needing a cane), but then they try one and decide that's OK but two still look silly ("where's the snow and your skis?" etc.)... then they try two and change their minds on that!

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