View Full Version : Trekking Poles

Mike Drinkuth
03-04-2003, 18:46
Never Used them before.
I understand their benefits and I want to get all the weight off my knees that I can.
What to look for in buying my first pair?
I've done some research on my own and handled several brands in all the usual stores.
Do I just figure to get what I pay for, e.g. the pricier the better?
Anybody have a brand suggestion? Remember...never used poles before. I'm 5'9", 150lbs. carry about 40lbs in my pack for 4 days so i'm not an ultralight hiker or anything.
thanks in advance!

p.s. I like the dancing banana in smiles!
not enough to click on him, but...

03-04-2003, 19:44

Try em ...I think you'll like them. Aside from the obvious benefits (balance and knee sparing) they give you something to do with your hands and arms while your hiking.

You can pay anywhere from about $60 to $130 for a pair of trekking poles. Some hikers swear by Leki's. I personally can't see paying the extra bucks for the brand name. One nice feature of the Leki line is the "PA" handles. PA stands for "Positive Angle". The handle is bent forward a certain amount so that when you plant the pole tip the shaft is ready for the next stroke.

I use a pole sold by REI (made by Komperdell). I used the same set for about 2 years and for my thru hike this year I treated myself to a new pair - same brand but the "ultra-light" model. They cost me around $90.

I look for 2 things in a trekking pole. First is a comfortable grip. I tried the less expensive models with the hard rubber grips and got hand fatigue. I prefer the dense foam grips. They are comfortable in warm and cold weather. The next thing I would suggest is a pole with built in shock absorption. A lot of poles have this feature and you activate/deactivate it by turning the lower pole section a quarter turn or so.

If I had to make a recommendation I would say go for something in the middle that meets your needs. They don't last forever, regardless of which brand you purchase.

Hope that helps ...

03-04-2003, 20:38

03-04-2003, 21:04
A comment I heard from a couple of last year's thru-hikers was that the Leki's were the easiest to get repaired/parts for when damaged on the trail. Almost everyone had them. In fact, one hiker ditched his poles and bought Leki's just for that reason.

03-04-2003, 23:10
Just a vote for Komperdells, have several hundred miled of AT use on a pair and many hikes elsewhere. Got them cheap via Sierratradingpost.com for around 50 bucks. They are bent a little bit in places and I want a new pair but its just that I want to try something new, in all honesty they would probably last another 1000miles.

03-04-2003, 23:13
Ditto to what Skeemer said, I had good results with the Leki's. At trail days the Leki folks had a trailer set up fixing poles ,also got a lower replacement at a remote outfitter in Vermont I believe it was. (Where ever the whisle stop was I forget) Anyway, I paid 130.00 and they had three settings of shock absorbtion. I found that I liked them on the stiffer shock but after about 1900 miles they would snap into a different shock mode by themselves .By the end of the trail they were wore out. But I did like the angle grip and the cork handles. Unfortunatly they do scare rocks and dig up the trail. The rubber tips dont stay on very good either. They really are good in helping on the steep down and ups. Im glad I had mine. I would carry some again. They also could make a good weapon.

03-04-2003, 23:34
I have a pair of both Komperdell & Leki non-anti shock poles and like them both. For a hiker over 40 I think the poles to give you the best chance to hike long distances without major knee injuries. I also like them because when you are tired they help your balance. Seira Trading Post often has poles for $35-50.

Papa Bear
03-05-2003, 00:15
I think from the purchase point the several brands mentioned are comperable.

But from warantee and repair Leki stands out. They usually set up at Trail Days and fix or replace things on the spot. Not that the other manufacturers don't fix their stuff, they just have less "reach" for service being smaller.

I have even heard of Leki fixing a non-leki pole at Trail days just out of good will.

Hard to beat that.

BTW: I have the shock absorbing pole (Leki Malaku I think) and it's good, but slightly noisier. The little spring in there probably takes a bit of the impact stress off of the arms.


03-05-2003, 01:03
One real good reason to support Leki is the fact that they are one of the few companies who really understand long distance hiking and go out of their way to help thru-hikers. They are not that expensive considering the competition, you can get great poles for about $80 per pair and they have a two year warranty, most other companies have a 1 year.

As far as damaging the trail...they don't do much. Are we to stop using tent stakes cause they make holes in the ground? I think shelters are more of an eyesore than tiny holes in the trail. I would say the only drawback is the damn noise, but not enough for me to stop using them. Also good for fording rivers, smacking wild dogs, playing wiffle ball in camp, setting up tarps, leaning on and they keep your hands in a more natural position.

03-05-2003, 01:40
hey, those small holes are aerating the soil, the earth worms are thanking us....funny,last hike unicoi to neals 14 miles of snow and ice and i never fell, twice since then on the girlfriends driveway...soon i will look mighty weird to the neighbors hauling the trash to the road with my poles in hand.

03-05-2003, 02:00
I have recently decided that my "hiking poles" are truly my "coordination sticks"!!!! I guess it is because I first started backpacking w/ a pair of Leki's. I am prone to being clumsy and my poles really help out. Also, I pace myself better with them. I do hate the noise, but once I am in my "zone" I hardly even notice. As far as brand, start cheap and see if they work for you.


Blue Jay
03-05-2003, 09:02
In order to keep the rubber tips on you have to clean and dry the ends with alcohol and use alot of epoxy. Fill the rubber tip and let it gush out when you put it on. I hate the tink, tink noise without them. I use cheap EMS poles without the spring thing that always wears out even on expensive Leki's. But if you like the spring, Leki's last the longest and they do appear to be a good company. I mainly use mine to beat back the dogs and stinging nettles. I have even used them cross country skiing, fallen on them many times, and they are still straight.

03-05-2003, 10:28
I vote for Lekis with cor-tek grips - super maklus if they still call them that. I echo that Leki stands by their product. At Traildays they replaced everything in my poles except the top section cause they had been pretty worn (we were to the Shenendoahs by then). They replaced parts in my wifes poles too. As unpopular as they are becoming, I still like metal tips best. I bought the rubber ones and never really liked them. Seemed like they were always slipping on something.

03-05-2003, 10:57
I second the comments from Footslogger and Presto.

I tried out the high-end Leki Super Makalu PA titanium XYZ#$@42 model, with the angled cork grips and without rubber tips. I did a quick 12-mile shakedown hike over relatively flat trail (not much else here in southeast Michigan) and wasn't convinced they were worth the trouble. Plus, my hands kept getting sweaty and the rubber tips didn't seem to do much on anything except solid rock.

I decided to bring them along on a week-long hike in central Virginia anyway, thinking that I could chuck them by the side of a road we would return home by if I didn't like them. After two solid days of hiking, I was converted (even though I don't have problems with my knees). While I'd rather not use them while walking on flat terrain, they became indispensable on the uphills, downhills and rough, uneven terrain (unless the trail bed was solid rock, in which case the poles skitter over the rock, mark them up, scare away any wildlife with the racket, and generally don't provide any stability insurance at all). We'll see how the handles work in hot muggy weather, but they worked well for a former biped.

03-05-2003, 11:45
Once I starting using poles I would never be without them for all the reasons mentioned above. I NEVER take the rubber tips off of the poles except to use the poles for setup of my Nomad lite tent. When I replace them in the morning I just bang them a couple of times on a rock and have never lost one. Mine are not Leki, but if I had to replace them I would buy nothing but Leki due to the reasons stated above.

Wander Yonder
03-05-2003, 16:10
My Leki's prevented two bad falls down a mountain when I was on the Pinhoti a couple of days ago. My balance isn't that great, and I wouldn't dare try hiking without them.

As far as their damaging the earth, I have read a lot about how Vibram clad feet pack and impact the earth adversely. Maybe the holes from the pole tips help counteract that? :D

Who knows for sure. All I know if I would be hiking in city parks instead of mountains if I couldn't have my poles!

03-05-2003, 21:46
Ray Jardine dismisses poles "In actual fact the poles add to the toal stress, because of the weight. Lets say, that each pole weights 16 ounces. Two pounds lifted from the ground between each of 2,000 steps equals two tons of unfavorable stress that the poles add - per mile to your body".

So all you ultra lite hikers if you believe in Ray and use his advise you should not bring poles. Maybe some of the engineer types can comment on the math; what is missing in the statement is the benefits of hikking poles to take stress off the knee's.

Got the quote from Backpacker light web side on a article entitled Beyond Backpacking: Under the Microscope.

The article takes a look at some of Ray's practices and makes a few comments on Ray's practices.

I for one think think Ray has done a lot for light weight hikking by getting us to think for lighter weight gear and try and move away from the 8 pound packs. I think his advise to use tarps and bring mininal clothing is genrally sound. I myself am a firm believer in poles.


Bandana Man
03-05-2003, 23:36
I consider statements by Ray Jardine and others as advice only, not gospel, and feel it's important to try different things but make up my own mind. For me, hiking without poles hurts my knees. When I use poles, my knees feel much better, but my arm muscles get a little sore from the workout they get. However, it's a different kind of pain. The pain in my arms with poles is just "muscle workout pain." The pain in my knees without poles is potential "end of hike pain." Maybe someone with no knee problems can follow Jardine's advise with no ill effects. I can't so the poles are an important piece of gear.

03-06-2003, 00:13
Never read Jardine's book and never will! Agree that he has created a definite awareness to backpacking light, and I have adhered to those concepts with hugh benefits. However, a lot of his examples of his concepts continue to be ill supported. You must try your gear and clothes for what works for you...we all differ....just my 2cents!

03-06-2003, 01:05
Jardine is a genious...I got no problem saying that, BUT not for his long-distance hiking methods cause he was far from the first, but when he invented "Friends". That's his greatest innovation.

I wonder if he would have invented them now...cause then again he would have to carry and haul them up big walls, and that would add to his total stress. And if he was less stressed he could probably rely on his strength more and place less protection. So then he might not need Friends??????

Also...a real nice guy even if he doesn't use poles!

03-06-2003, 07:19
You might also consider getting some inexpensive ski poles to start. They are like 15 bucks and do the same job. To size them the pole should hold your arm at a right angle to your body on a level floor.

03-06-2003, 08:42
Well, no one wants to carry more weight than necessary. So, if the majority of thru hikers, including the younger ones, carry treking poles, there must be a good reason.

Jardine and others may be out of date or out of touch. If you don't believe this, make your own survey on the trail.

03-06-2003, 09:49
One of the reasons I use poles is to avoid swelling of the hands while I hike. When I use poles, my arms and hands get enough exercise to keep the blood moving and avoid swelling. Otherwise I have to loosen my watchband 3 times in the first 2 hours. Then I have to try and hike with my hands elevated. It's a good thing I don't wear rings. Of course, reduced stress on the knees is the other big reason to use poles.

03-06-2003, 11:31
Ray didn't invent Friends. He just got the patent and all the money. He stole the idea. At least that's the rumor out there. There were other people using very similar self-made equipement from which he got the idea...

As for hiking poles, he totally missed the mark. The important thing about stress is PSI. That's pounds per square inch. If you just have two feet, all of your pounds are distributed over the smallest area between your feet and your center of gravity. That would be your knees (the weight bearing part is the socket in the miniscus, maybe 2 inches in diameter, if that. Now add in the poles. The weight (or force) is now spread out between your knees and you wrists. You can probably take about 30 lbs on your two poles (15 each). That is equivilant to reducing the stress on your knees by 30 lbs off your back. Heck, that's about twice his backpack weight.

So there you have it. To reduce the amount of stress on your legs, get poles first, THEN cut backpack weight. The poles will make a bigger difference.

Gravity Man

PS I was going somewhere math fancy with the PSI, but I just don't have the time to work it out :)

03-07-2003, 20:43
Ahhh..come on G man....wanted to see some of that fancy "math stuff"! :D
I agree with the use of poles. I mean..us old folk....and man in general....have been using STICKS forever....and they weigh a heck of a lot more than modern Treking Poles!!

03-09-2003, 19:12
Rumors may be rumors

03-11-2003, 14:37
Tranisition periods:

Generally when it is rearly cold or the temp is in the 30's or low 40's and it is raining (typical hyperthermia weather) you much keep the trunk warm and keep moving. Once you stop for more than 5-10 minutes you will bet cold.

I think the difficult periods of cold weather camping are the tranisition perios, ie geting out of the bag in the morning and starting out, and seting up camp and geting into your bag when you stop hikking.

Also probable the most important factor is judgment; when to stop before you get into trouble and get hpperthermia. When you stop hikking get into your bag within 5-10 minutes and you will be ok. Also judgment is the first thing to go when you start geting hyperthermic.