View Full Version : Hiking Poles Yay or Nay

05-04-2003, 21:28
without taking cost into consideration, what is the general consensus on the "ski style" hiking poles, are they worth their weight if you're expecting alot of elevation change and "strenuous" hiking?

05-04-2003, 21:44
Not only do they help you in hiking but take stress off of your knees in the downhills and are beneficial in stream crossing and also serve as my tent poles.

05-04-2003, 22:59
Agree with Happy. They can also save your butt on some nasty stuff up in the Whites and Maine.

Downside, used wooden stick from GA-NJ and saw 8 bears. Leki's from NJ-ME and saw zero bears. Coincidence?

05-05-2003, 00:51
I wouldn't be able to hike with my bad knees if it weren't for Leki poles. They can be noisy. Some people will tell you that they don't like the face that deface rocks causing environmental damage.

05-05-2003, 00:54
Try the last part again. Some people will tell that they don't like the fact that they deface rocks, causing environmental damage.

05-05-2003, 02:54
I did my whole hike with rubber tips glued on the ends of the poles. They were quieter, worked great, and didn't scratch one dadgum rock.

05-05-2003, 07:22
I suspect that the majority of thru-hikers use poles, including ultra lighters. Must be a good reason.

05-05-2003, 09:21
I started at Springer mountain on March 1ST, 15th and April 1ST and hiked a couple of days with thru-hikers to get to know some of them to follow on trail journals. Of the four hikers without poles three of them have purchased them since, according to their journals.

05-05-2003, 09:33
ahh, well, I'm no through hiker (yet) , only planning a 50 mile section hike ( Nolichucky to US19E) for later this summer. Would you still reccomend them?

05-05-2003, 09:58
I would recommend them... hands down... They will save you from many a fall, save you knees to hike another day, and I read somewhere they take a few pounds of pressure off your back.

05-05-2003, 15:37
I'm waiting until I'm old and broken down before I use poles. I like having my hands free while hiking. You know, for when I need to scratch. Lots of hikers use them. Brian Robinson certainly does. Defintiely a majority uses them. Perhaps there is some good reason. Maybe not. Try walking normally before buying something to help you with a problem you might not have.

05-05-2003, 16:56
I'm a convert after 30 years as a biped. I bought a pair of the nice Leki's with the angled grip last summer. I wasn't sure about them after a 12-mile shakedown hike on relatively level trail, but after 85 miles in central Virginia I got used to them and felt awkward when I wasn't using them. They were especially nice for pushing uphill and providing a little extra balance. I learned to avoid using them while crossing rock-beds, since the tungsten tips simply skittered over the rock. While the rubber tips worked better on rock, they got in the way while chugging up hills.

So now I've joined the legions of quadrapeds, even though I've never had a problem with my knees (knock on wood).

05-06-2003, 11:12
Most people don't use poles. Check out the National Geographic magazine. When is the last time you saw a Sherpa or a Bushman carrying around something like that? A woman in the Andes would look rather silly with a jar on her head, potatoes on her back and ski poles in her hands. Most people have been into bipedalism for 200,000 generations.

05-06-2003, 11:15
I find them great on hills (up but mostly down) and a few rocky areas. They really start to bother me on flatter surfaces. I just end up holding both of them in one hand when on level ground.

05-06-2003, 12:43
Not only do they help you in hiking but take stress off of your knees in the downhills and are beneficial in stream crossing and also serve as my tent poles.


I also use the carbide tips. My personal feeling are that the white marks on rocks are not destroying the world. Afterall, a path has ben cut through the forest and entire structures erected along its course. When I see 6-inch gutters from the poles I may stop using them :p Think of them as white markers on the trees

Oh yeah, I also enjoy pushing my fat-mofo-behind up the hills :D

05-06-2003, 12:59
When I said that a majority of hikers use them, I should perhaps have said: "A majority of hikers in the US use them." Or, perhaps, "A majority of AT hikers use them." I didn't think it was necessary to rule out inhabitants of Nepal, where the per capita income is something like $250. I only saw tourons in Nepal with trekking poles. No locals used them. For that matter, locals acting as porters usually wore old chinese athletic shoes as they hauled four packs up a hill, so that groups of lazy Australians wouldn't have to carry a pack for their strenuous 4 mile hike.

Rhody Bill
05-06-2003, 20:32
Probably wouldn't have made it without them. Used properly you also save your legs on the ups and level also. Some of the scratches on the rocks , I suspect, are from winter crampon use instead of poles.

Lone Wolf
05-06-2003, 20:38
Never used them. Never will. Leki is taking advantage of hikers with the outrageous prices they get for their sticks.

05-07-2003, 02:02
Helps to find them on sale. Was lucky enough to snag makalu ultralite Ti's for $60 a while back. That is much easier to digest than $140.

rei-outlet was where I found mine.

05-07-2003, 09:54
I think wallyworld sells single poles for $14.

Regarding Leki. IMO, the cost is worth it. While the initial purchase may seem expensive, they out-right replace worn out, or broken, parts/poles for free.

I've used my set ($109 from backcountrygear) twice. Planted my fat ass on one and bent it slightly. Used it for the rest of trip. Emailed Leki when I got home to ask if I could buy a new "lower third". I was told to send in my address and they would send me a new section. Arrived in 5 days. No cost.

05-15-2003, 16:59
In the old days we used to pick up a stick and use it as a hiking stick. Did that just last week in the Ramapo Mts (Well, that is what the map said). So if cost is a factor pick up two sticks...or just use one. It is nice to have a stick of some sort for the comfort it gives when a snake is in the path. BTW I picked up a pair of poles at Campmor for about $19.00 a few years back. Anyone ever seen poles at a Garage Sale?

05-15-2003, 20:21
If you have had knee surgery or bad knees - get poles! the poles will save your knees on the steep descents. thats where you will hurt them. I bought an inexpensive pair and I wont go without them. make sure you use the rubber tips to leave no trace.

05-16-2003, 06:08
Haven't seen poles at a yard sale but a few years back I found a used pair at an REI attic sale.. they had been returned because the lower section on one had been bent. I paid 15.00 for them, put them in a vise and slowly bent the section back.. I hiked with them for two years until my son took them on a trip to Wyoming where he completely destroyed them... Got another pair and use them routinely..... now, for the oddest use for hiking poles... I teach at a college and could never find a pointer for use with projections.... I carried one of my poles to class and used it as a pointer.... worked pretty well and students woke up when I extended the pole and started waving it about.....

any other odd uses. . .

05-22-2003, 08:59
I did not see anything on telescoping vs. solid poles. Is there a preference out there?

05-22-2003, 09:15
ALSO, can someone speak up about "spring loaded" poles Vs. "fixed poles?"

Blue Jay
05-22-2003, 10:25
In my humble opinion, spring loaded poles are a gimick that serves no useful purpose, other than making the pole break easier.

05-22-2003, 10:25
I had spring-loaded poles, and personally, I thought the springs were a gimmick. If the springs did me any good I was unaware of it, but I WAS aware of the extra noise and no doubt it also added to the weight.

I really liked having poles, but if I were to purchase new ones, they'd wouldn't have springs but WOULD telescope.

05-22-2003, 10:51
Telescoping vs. fixed is mainly a convenience for putting them in a car or duffle bag. Also great if you want to attach the poles to your pack for awhile. And lets people of different sizes share the same poles. Come to think of it, maybe the manufactures do that so they don't have to make 15 different pole sizes. And having adjustable length poles lets you vary the length of your poles in varying terraine. I think it's worth it, but old ski poles in fixed length can do the job also..

Shock-absorbers in poles: I found them most useful at downhill ski areas where the snow is so hard--packed that I'd jar my arms with every pole plant. Switching to shock-absorbing poles eliminated that jarring feeling. I have Komperdel poles with very stiff springs, so you don't notice the poles' springiness, but they do reduce impacts.

05-22-2003, 12:25
Telescoping poles are also great if you plan to use them for a tarp setup. In theory you want the poles longer going downhill than uphill so everyone needs multiple size poles in theory. In regards to the springs I know you can lock them so you don't have the springs "on" on most models of poles. I bet you could even completely remove the spring if you are worried about the weight.

05-22-2003, 12:38
Telescoping vs. Fixed
Telescoping! Better yet 3-section only.
2 section poles don't compact enough to fit well on my pack when I'm not carrying them. I've never seen a pair of non-telescoping poles on the trail. The advantage of telescoping poles while hiking is adjustablity. ie. make them shorter for up hill - longer for down hill - vary size between poles on the contoured trails where the trail slopes from one side to the other.

Antishock (springs) vs. Stiff
Before I bought my poles I borrowed a pair of high end Lekis from a friend of mine and hiked a very diverse section. I hiked for several miles before I noticed the Antishock was turned off. I turned it on and didn't notice any difference, not to say that there is no situation that it wouldn't be helpful. There may be, but I didn't see the added weight and cost for the feature.

Be careful about the cheaper poles. Before you buy adjust the poles normally and then place all of your weight on them. Do this in different ways. If they side consider a different pole. My daughter bought an inexpensive pair from REI. They collasped on a big down hill. She severely sprained her ankle. Luckly we were a mile from the road. She has to get on them really hard before she starts to hike to make sure they are not going to slip.

I use Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo

05-28-2003, 12:45
I doubt the white marks made on granit is much of a concern. However, a flat wooden bridge in NH was filled with hiker pole holes. Unnecessary. Springless poles are lighter. However, someone posted that they developed elbow soreness over a long hike, but the problem disappeared when they switched to the spring loaded type of pole. An easy way to attach your poles to your pack when not using them: put the pointed end through an iceax loop, twist it a few turns and you will only have to tie the top end. I used just to pick up dead sticks for staffs, but its hard to get them equal size, they are heavier and often break when one most needs them to stop a fall or keep balance. Using two poles has saved me from a fall more than once.

05-28-2003, 13:48

I use Leki Makalu Ultralite TI's.

They also serve double-duty as my tent poles.

Never leave home without 'em!
(They are in my truck all the time)

05-28-2003, 13:52
Don't you find that the Leki UL line tends to bend too much? I know they are supose to bend, but I was too afraid they would break when I leaned on them at a store once.

05-28-2003, 19:16
I didn't have any problems with bending of my Leki Ultralite Ti AirErgo PA poles during my 85-mile section hike last October. I was leaning on them during rest breaks and several times put all of my weight on one pole to catch myself without noticing anything.

05-29-2003, 14:22
They flex some, but I never use them to put all my weight on. I don't trust any hiking poles enough to put my safety in them. This type of thinking keeps you from meeting good 'ole father time.

My old Leki Makalu Anti-Shock poles failed me a couple times. An entire section collapsed into itself, and I ate a dirt sandwich. I also had the spring mechanism go in one.

05-30-2003, 12:58
Those marks in a flat wooden bridge in NH are likely NOT from hiking poles. NH has some of the most actively used trails in the world, especially in the Winter. Hikers in crampons and snowshoers probably account for the VAST majority of scratches you see on the rocks, also consider ice axe spikes in this same category. For a hiking pole to put a signifiant scratch in the rock requires that it slip when quite a bit of pressure is put on it.

The real erosion problem with hiking poles is on soil trailbeds.

05-30-2003, 13:03
Originally posted by icemanat95
The real erosion problem with hiking poles is on soil trailbeds. Funny you mention this. At Trail Days, the Leki folks told me that we were aerating the soil. And recanted a story about a drought stricken portion of the trail (AT I think) in which the only green grass/weeds were in the pole holes. Seemed justify the holes in thier minds.

Lone Wolf
05-30-2003, 13:11
They'll say anything to justify $140.00 sticks. Leki is overpriced and overrated.

06-03-2003, 10:52
I agree that they'll say anything to keep people buying, and I'll admit they are overpriced as all get out, but I no longer hike without them. I consider them to be rated about where they deserve to be. They aren't over-rated or under-rated, but they are overpriced.

I did my entire thru-hike carrying a Leki pole, I replaced it along the way with the other of the pair and bent one of them up pretty good descending Mt, Madison in the rain. I fell more times on that single descent than I fell during the rest of my hike, before or after.

I just had a thought though, Lone Wolf, were you hiking north on the AT in early September of 1995? I was hiking that day with a rangey multi-hiker. We had come out of Madison Springs Hut a little late in the morning trying to wait out the weather...which didn't work. I'm not certain of the name of the guy I was hiking with, but your name sounds familiar. It's been a while though.

Lone Wolf
06-03-2003, 11:05
Yup. I was hiking that year but wasn't at Madison Hut.

06-03-2003, 17:05
Originally posted by Lone Wolf
They'll say anything to justify $140.00 sticks. Leki is overpriced and overrated.

Maybe so, but their reps were the hardest working guys at Trail Days in "02 working on everybodies poles. I didn't see reps from other pole companies there. That gets my endorsement.

Lone Wolf
06-03-2003, 17:38
For the price of those things they oughta be workin their asses off. If the poles are so good why all the repairs?

06-03-2003, 19:40
The "repairs" on mine were replacing pole segments that appeared fine but actually the metal was separating from several hundred miles of use. They also cleaned the poles making them easy to take apart by removing all the built up crud that can be expected after heavy use, replaced the plastic locks and tips for free even though they are expected to wear out after much use (tips and baskets cost over $15 bucks a pair). I know many thrus who have regretted the purchase of komperdell due to bent poles and none who complained about their lekis. They are simply the best treking poes made and they do stand by their product. They even fixed a pair of Komperdells for a friend of mine. I think she will remember that if she ever buys new poles.

Blue Jay
06-04-2003, 10:10
I have a pair of EMS, made by Komperdell, poles that I got very cheap (returned to a store). I have used them for thousands of miles. Beat back dogs and miles of stinging neetles. Fell on them countless times. Both Leki and Komperdell are not made for thruhikes. They both eventually break. Leki just has a bigger advertizing and repair budget so they can over price them. Just my opinion, which you must take with a grain of salt, as I would only use a broom stick (better dog protection) if I didn't need the telescoping for my tarp.

06-05-2003, 20:58
FACT: Hiking with trekking poles and using them correctly puts less strain on your knees and ankles...so I use them.

And yes they put holes in the trail, are loud and expensive!!!

Rhody Bill
06-08-2003, 21:03
Komperdell will repair or replace your broken poles, they're just hard to locate...you have to go through their distributor who I believe is Equinox Ltd. ( I can't find the number right now, maybe someone else has it). In '00 they replaced two lower sections that I wore out and a middle section that I bent . They also sold me some new tips and baskets rather cheap. You can also get rubber tips from Sierra trading post.

06-12-2003, 11:36
I recently broke my leg on the Pinhoti trial in Al. My Doc (a hiker) said if I have been used poles the chance of breaking my leg would have been less.

06-12-2003, 15:56
Originally posted by longj2544
I recently broke my leg on the Pinhoti trial in Al. My Doc (a hiker) said if I have been used poles the chance of breaking my leg would have been less.


06-12-2003, 16:14
Poles are great for hiking. I've used everything from old walking sticks to fallen limbs I've picked up along the way after wishing that I had brough hiking poles. But my best has been some home made walking sticks made from alum tubing and bycycle handle bar grips and rubber furniture feet for the ends. They have served me well for over 10 years. Indeed, hiking poles are well worth having in any terrain.

David S.
06-12-2003, 18:17
I have very flat feet that really effect my ability to do more than 15 miles in a day. Then I bought poles...cheap but well made by Black Diamand. I had to slowly learn how to use them. I really felt dorky at first but know I won't hike without them. I can hike 16 miles in a day up and down and still be able to go again the next day. I wasn't able to do this before. They sure make the knees feel better when having to take large steps down where your catching all your weight on one leg. With poles you can ease down in one gracefull move. I would highly recommend poles to anyone...especially if you have flat feet, bad knees or ankles. David S.

09-01-2003, 23:08
Best hiking invention ever, whatever the brand. Knee saver, bear swatter (hope I never have to test that one), dog whapper, tent pole etc. Especially the knee saver. 5 million steps with a full pack over hill and dale is a lot of knee stress, take every advantage I say, and live to 90 with knees that still work....I used to be one the guys that said "Poles? What a rip off!" No mas....

Sand Crab
09-05-2003, 01:20
I'm a novice (actually less than a novice since my first trip will begin in two weeks) who has bad knees. I'm convinced that poles are worth using. But, I'm not convinced that expensive poles are necessary. While at Wal-Mart the other day, I looked at an adjustable aluminum extension pole used for extending paint rollers or squeegees. I tightened them and placed quite a bit of downward weight on them without any give. I also put some sideways pressure against them and they seemed sturdy. Anyone tried using something like these (weight, reliability, etc)? I haven't seen the Leki's everyone talks about, but the price sure puts me off.

09-05-2003, 07:26
I'm looking for a good pair of ski poles at a garage sale. I figure a pair will run not more than ten bucks. Super glue a rubber tip on the end and voila..........

09-08-2003, 23:52
I Like the way Lilred thinks......