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mudhead
03-28-2007, 11:25
OK. So I am not an early adopter. Found a pair of old style Chacos in my size. Never thought I would get fired up about sandals, but I stand corrected. I will try them on trail at some point. I should have dropped the extra $50 five years ago... This leads to my question. Maybe those damn noisy hiking poles have some merit. Will try those cheap $20 jobs to see.

What sort of terrain should I test these on to get the hang of it?

What height should I set these things at?

How far/long would be a fair test, in case I am initially disgusted?

How do I quiet them?

Thanks.

rafe
03-28-2007, 11:42
OK. So I am not an early adopter. Found a pair of old style Chacos in my size. Never thought I would get fired up about sandals, but I stand corrected. I will try them on trail at some point. I should have dropped the extra $50 five years ago... This leads to my question. Maybe those damn noisy hiking poles have some merit. Will try those cheap $20 jobs to see.

What sort of terrain should I test these on to get the hang of it?

I find them least useful on extremely steep terrain (either ascent or descent) or on flat, level ground. Most useful when the footing is rough or uneven, or boggy.


What height should I set these things at?Your forearms should be roughly horizontal with the poles in normal position in front of you.


How far/long would be a fair test, in case I am initially disgusted?Your call. Maybe you'll like 'em. ;)

Outlaw
03-28-2007, 12:15
I find them least useful on extremely steep terrain (either ascent or descent) or on flat, level ground. Most useful when the footing is rough or uneven, or boggy.

I respectfully disagree with TT. I find using poles extremely helpful to "attack" a steep grade. I use my poles to help, for lack of a better description, "pull me upwards." Think along the lines of cross-country skiing.
I also find going down steep grades that poles help with stablizing your footing, take weight off my knees and also assist me with balancing both myself and my pack on loose scree that often is encountered on downward slopes. However, I often just hold both poles in one hand by the middle of the shafts or strap to my pack when walking on flat, level ground.

My recommendation is to NOT get the shock absorbing type. The noise over time can drive you nuts.

As TT suggested, the poles should be adjusted so that your forearms are parallel with the ground, e.g. your forearms and poles form a roughly 90* angle to one another.

I found that I quickly adapted to using poles and won't hike without them.

rafe
03-28-2007, 13:35
My point with the steep ascents and descents... in both cases I want my hands free, and on the descent, if it's sufficiently steep, I face into the hill and lower myself down. (Think Lehigh Gap, descending to the river.) It's a slow but cautious approach. Maybe it's just me.

Outlaw
03-28-2007, 14:33
My point with the steep ascents and descents... in both cases I want my hands free, and on the descent, if it's sufficiently steep, I face into the hill and lower myself down. (Think Lehigh Gap, descending to the river.) It's a slow but cautious approach. Maybe it's just me.

The only ascents that I have encountered where there wasn't any benefit from my poles were either nearly vertical paths or extremely steep, but "walkable" rock faces. I concede that, even though I'm not over 50... yet, there have been some occasions where I descend without the use of poles, facing into the slope as you described. This technique works especially well when carrying a large pack on very steep terrain. But, the typically encountered vertical incline or descent, I have found poles to be most helpful. Kinda makes me feel like I have a 4-wheel drive system.:)

rafe
03-28-2007, 14:55
I agree -- ascents/descents where the poles aren't used are fairly rare, except maybe in the Whites. Also, on perfectly flat, level ground, I just don't bother with 'em. Overall, I use my poles most of the time.

Moon Monster
03-28-2007, 16:28
How do I quiet them?


Look for rubber pieces that can be fit over the metal tip. Major makes (like Leki and Komperdell) sell these. Cheap sets may not.

1Pint
03-28-2007, 17:32
How far/long would be a fair test, in case I am initially disgusted?



I haven't yet fallen in love with my hiking poles. They seem to be only slightly more useful than they are an annoying hassle. When I tested them on hikes in my area, none of the terrain was steep enough so I just didn't get what everyone was waxing on about. After a short jaunt near the NOC in January and then earlier this month a weekend on the AT in SNP when the trail was icy, I'm leaning in favor of taking them on my thru. But I still don't like them. And I'm still not completely convinced. I won't be surprised if I send them home from the trail.

So, I guess I'd say do some 20 miles or so on steep and uneven surfaces because that's where they are supposed to be so invaluable. If you're still not convinced, skip them.
:cool:

saimyoji
03-28-2007, 19:05
I bought a pair of wallyworld hiking poles...used them a few times....no benefit that couldn't be accomplished by strengthening my leg muscles. They were more trouble than they were worth, though they did take a load off my legs.;)

mudhead
03-28-2007, 19:16
Thanks for the advice.

Seems odd... I figured they would be most helpful on gentle terrain, when you want to make tracks. Least helpful?

Seems like on rough terrain up or down, one would want to watch where their feet are going to go next.

Horizontal forearm, about 20miles, will give it a whirl after the next time I get to cruise the big city.

I can see where they would be really handy on a bog log, but we still don't have too much water showing yet. (But the robins and the grackels are here!)

J5man
03-28-2007, 19:39
Another question for the group. I am relatively new to this. I have only done day hikes. I recently got a hiking pole from Target (Eddie Bauer) for about $15. I have enjoyed using it as it has helped with steeper inclines. I am going to do a segment of the AT later and will use two poles. Question: how much "better" are the $100 sticks vs my cheapies. And what is the major advantage? At what point does one invest in the Leki's?

Chomp09
03-28-2007, 20:16
I had a pair of cheap LL Bean hiking poles that bent in half the first weekend trip I took them on. Just carried around a useless piece of metal for the entire trip...

My advice, use them a few times on shorter trips, day hikes, one nighters. If you like them, it's worth investing in a pair that will hold up to some abuse.

HIKER7s
03-28-2007, 20:41
In my experience, I came to them late, about 8 years ago. I use them most o the time. Can also say I carry them alot too. I find so much now with newbies, they have to have them???? For going on 10 mile towpath hikes???

The groups I take out that are new, I tell them to get the 10.00 wall mart deals to find out if they like them. Get used to them, if you use them, then invest in the ones that'll take the beating.

I can tell you I have probably saved an ankle break or two by using these things. I do agree they lend a hand in powering those ups...and slowing down the steep downs.

essential IMHO

Outlaw
03-29-2007, 08:56
Another question for the group. I am relatively new to this. I have only done day hikes. I recently got a hiking pole from Target (Eddie Bauer) for about $15. I have enjoyed using it as it has helped with steeper inclines. I am going to do a segment of the AT later and will use two poles. Question: how much "better" are the $100 sticks vs my cheapies. And what is the major advantage? At what point does one invest in the Leki's?

You could just as easily get away with an old pair of ski poles.

But to answer your question, the advantages of $100+ poles vs. cheaper ones really deal with (1) the locking mechanism for the pole sections (some poles are two-sections, most are three-sections), (2) the weight (to some degree), (3) the strength of the pole itself, e.g. some of the cheaper ones use a thinner wall design in their tubing and therefore cannot hold/handle as much weight. As someone already stated, you don't want to be walking around the woods schlepping a broken set of poles. That being said, I personally do not recommend shock absorbing poles. First, they are more expensive, second, the added noise from the spring mechanism will keep away bears from a distance of 3 miles (Read: slight exageration) but the noise personally drives me bonkers!, third, another mechanical device to break, fourth, really do not serve any purpose. As I already said, you could just as easily get away with an old pair of ski poles... sure, the length can't be adjusted, but how often do people adjust their poles anyway? Me, rarely (usually just going down steep grades).

rafe
03-29-2007, 09:04
... how often do people adjust their poles anyway?

It's not so much for "adjustment" as for stowage, for situations where the poles are not appropriate -- eg., in town, on roadwalks or other long flat stretches, when hitching or on a bus, etc.

HIKER7s
03-29-2007, 10:35
It's not so much for "adjustment" as for stowage, for situations where the poles are not appropriate -- eg., in town, on roadwalks or other long flat stretches, when hitching or on a bus, etc.


Thats factor itself is why its so nice they collaspe. To me, they are easier to carry on your back if you have quick straps for them at the side of your pack.

Outlaw
03-29-2007, 10:54
It's not so much for "adjustment" as for stowage, for situations where the poles are not appropriate -- eg., in town, on roadwalks or other long flat stretches, when hitching or on a bus, etc.

I concur with your answer. But the questions asked were, "'how much better' are the $100 sticks vs my cheapies. And what is the major advantage?"

Can one get away with simple (non-collapsing) ski poles? Sure. Now does collapsible poles warrant a newbie (as J5man stated) to go out a purchase $100+ poles? probably not. Do "fixed" ski poles do the same thing as the $100+ collapsible ones? For the most part, yes (except for the obvious that they cannot collapse smaller). Does the convenience of being able to collapse one's poles for easier stowage make the $100+ investment worthwhile? For some it may; but not necessarily for others... especially, perhaps a newbie who is uncertain whether he is sold on the idea of using poles for hiking.

Old Grouse
03-29-2007, 11:45
Getting back to usage, they're a great help this time of year when encountering the occasional icy patch. Also when walking along an off-camber section, I find that planting a pole on the downhill side adds to both my safety and comfort level.

Undershaft
03-29-2007, 12:39
I hiked without poles for years before I decided to try them. I got a shock absorbing, collapsable, no name ploe from Ocean State Job Lot for $10. After one mile I turned the antishock feature off. It was useless, but I did like having the trekking pole. I then decided to try two poles. I found I liked using them very much. It gives my arms something to do other than hang useless by my sides. They help me keep my balance on certain terrains, and they have saved me from slipping and falling a number of times. They are not heavy and came with the rubber tips, which I always use. I F***ing HATE the sound of metal pole tips clacking on rocks. Drives me nuts! I've had them for a couple of years now and they have not bent or failed in any way. I just bought a second pair for $20.99 to have as backups in case I break or lose them on my HF-ME hike this summer. For twenty bucks, why not?
My couple of cents....buy cheapies and try them. If you hate them you lose very little. If you like them you gain a lot. Don't buy into the hype and drop $100+ for name brands. If your cheapies fail, so what? You can buy five new pairs for the cost of one pair of Leki's. The "arms at 90 degrees" advice is spot on. I'm 5'9" and having the poles set at 45" works perfect for me. Good Luck!

rafe
03-29-2007, 13:45
Does the convenience of being able to collapse one's poles for easier stowage make the $100+ investment worthwhile?

You can get trekking poles -- yes, simple, segmented, collapsible ones -- for well under $100. Campmor has generic Lekis for $50. That's where I got mine.

J5man
03-29-2007, 19:10
Thanks everyone! I have used one pole in the past. I am going to be in Montana in June and will hike in the Mission Mountains one or two days and the two pole usage will help a lot with the STEEP inclines. Interesting to hear about the clicking sounds of the shock absorbing poles driving you nuts, it kinda does me too. Great advice, I am going to use the cheapies for a while and then if I do get the others, I will definately get the "quiet ones"..thanks Terrapin on the scoop on the Campmor ones.

saimyoji
03-29-2007, 19:17
You can get trekking poles -- yes, simple, segmented, collapsible ones -- for well under $100. Campmor has generic Lekis for $50. That's where I got mine.


WalMart has them for $20 a pair, check them out well before you buy them though.

Grampie
03-30-2007, 12:29
First..Most thru-hikers who start without using hiking poles will finish with them. It takes a little time to get use to them.
The difference between the cheap and expensive is the better poles will out last the cheap ones. The better poles have carbide, replacible tips. The carbide tips hold real well on solid rock. Less expensive poles bend easy and will break when you try to straighten them out. I replaced my Leki tips three times during my thru. Less expensive poles do not have carbide replacible tips, so when they wear they will no longer grip on rock surfices. Collapsible poles are convient to store on your pack if you are not using them.

mudhead
04-05-2007, 08:04
WalMart has them for $20 a pair, check them out well before you buy them though.


Good advice. They have several different versions now. I had quite a time getting them to extend/collapse in the store. No way I am willing to frig with that in the woods. They were priced right!

Maybe I'll find a pair to try that are not annoying from first touch.

Mother Nature
04-05-2007, 09:45
I started with a pair of cheepie poles and found that I liked them so much I upgraded to Lekis. The thing I like about Leki is the lifetime guarantee on them.

Ski poles are useful to see if the technique of walking with hiking sticks works for you... but.. if the poles are too tall or too short for you won't have a happy hike upon which to base your decision to upgrade.

Stumpknocker has had his pair refurbished at least 6 times I think...:p Including the pole he fractured when he slipped on ice and fell off the mountain breaking his arm last year.

MN