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View Full Version : Does hiking poles are necessary ?



Roee Dotan
03-26-2004, 08:34
I wonder if hiking poles is necessary for the AT thru hike ?

Bcoz it is hard for me to try and imagine myself walking with 2 poles are attached to my hands the whole trail..

What da ya think ?

Lone Wolf
03-26-2004, 08:37
Totally unnecessary.

chris
03-26-2004, 08:41
Not necessary for some. Very popular, though. Get a little fit (like hiking on the weekends), take it easy for the first few hundred miles, and don't push things. I saw a fair number of people in 2002 that started without poles and bought a pair at NOC after pushing too hard in GA.

Jersey Bob
03-26-2004, 11:57
at least 10 characters

walkon
03-26-2004, 12:26
For moving fast and covering miles poles are magic. they improve balance, protect knees, and are also useful for tarp rigging, fending off wild animals, crossing streams, etc... after an hour or so of usage they become extensions of your arms, basically 2 extra legs. i am not old and in very good shape and i wouldnt hike without them.
walkon

Mr. Clean
03-26-2004, 13:30
And they do help if you have bad knees, like I do, on the uphills and downhills. If your knees are okay, don't bother with them.

Doctari
03-26-2004, 13:54
Without hiking poles I average about 1.5 miles per hour.
With hiking poles I average about 2.1 miles per hour, and at the end of the day my knees do not hurt, , , , as bad.
I also need my poles (I use two) to: set up my tent, navigate stream crossings, lean against while resting, Support my pack so I can lean against it as a back rest, etc.
They also give me the feeling of 4 "wheel drive" on the steep sections.

So to me, they are very important, if not totally Vital.

But I have seen many do as well or better than me without them.

Doctari.

retread
03-27-2004, 00:50
I agree with Chris. A lot of people early in their hike were downplaying the importance of poles and bragging about not needing glorified crutches blah, blah, blah. By the time we were all at Harpers Ferry 3 of these [email protected] were hiking with them. While I'll admit they don't do much on level ground...only about a third of the A.T. is level. They definately help on the ups and downs and mine keep me upright several times when I would have otherwise fallen down. I too will never leave home without them.


Speaking of which...did anybody else keep count of how many times they fell?

FatMan
03-27-2004, 01:13
Not necessary but I will not even day hike without a pole. I never use two, but always one. I can't count how many falls I have avoided because of my pole. As mentioned above, the pole will speed you up on a rocky, or slick trail. In my opinion it is the most important piece of my first aid kit.

Big Dawg
03-27-2004, 08:46
I can't find the info now, but had learned that hiking with poles takes thousands of pounds of pressure off your legs during a days hike,,,, that, & the other positive info above are the reasons I bought my poles, & they have become 1 of the most important pieces of my gear,,,,, can't tell you how many times these poles have saved my a$$ from a fall. Most poles have straps, therefore making it easy to drop---drag poles---while using your hands for something else---like snapping a good picture, taking a drink, getting something out of your pocket, etc... They really do become extensions of your arms that feel natural. I suggest renting a pair from a hiking/snow/ski shop & try them out for a weekend hike. My guess is that you'll return the rented pair & buy your own?!!:D

Smooth03
03-27-2004, 09:55
Not a neccesity. But I won't ever hike without polls again.

As Rigg MEGA03 said, "hiking with poles is liking hiking with four wheeled-drive."

In essence, poles will protect your knees and ankles over the long stressful miles of the AT. And they will also help you go faster by keeping your center of gravity over the middle of the trail. Its a personal decision, but I think that most people who give poles a shot over a few hundred miles agree that they are a great hiking tool. Especially for long distance hikes.

Footslogger
03-27-2004, 10:55
I can think of 2 good reasons to use trekking poles on a distance hike. First and foremost is the positive effect they have on your knees. Treking poles take a significant amount of the load/impact away from the knees if used correctly on downhills. They also provide an extra source of balance.

The second reason to carry trekking (and this is a subjective advantage) is to use as a tent pole. I just happended to carry a tent on my hike last year that used trekking poles a means of support.

bailcor
03-27-2004, 11:30
In my 30's I did not use poles. Now that I am in my 60's find them necessary. All the reason above are true, they give you better balance, greater support in precarious places, and I find that going up mountains my arms are able to carry some of the load rather than hanging there in a useless state.

A little story - last year in CT. I came to a swollen stream. Two hikers, young, without poles, were talking over how they were going to get across on a very narrow log. I walked right across with my poles and waited on the other side. Both fell off and both proclaimed that they were going to get poles.

Roee Dotan
03-27-2004, 11:49
I think about going with one pole...

Is it okey or you would recommend me to go with 2 ?

Is there a big difference between 1 or 2 poles ?

Blue Jay
03-27-2004, 14:50
I think about going with one pole...

Is it okey or you would recommend me to go with 2 ?

Is there a big difference between 1 or 2 poles ?

No you have to use two poles. You cannot look cool with one pole. Plus with only one pole you cannot get a false sense of security go too fast too far too soon hurt your knees and rely on medication for the rest of your hike.

steve hiker
03-27-2004, 14:54
uphill never ends
Lekis bite the dirt
knees say ahhhhh

Roee Dotan
03-27-2004, 15:38
ahahahahaha

I see you had enough of me :-)

Sorry sir.

chris
03-27-2004, 16:31
Much of the physical benefits of poles can be obtained just by a little conditioning and practice at balance. Walking down hill (and up) is an art that, if you give yourself enough time to learn it, is no more difficult on your knees that walking on flat ground. Many people do not give themselves the time to learn it, go hard, get hurt, and resort to poles. They then proclaim them to be necessary to save knees. Of course, as we age the body starts to change and perhaps they become more necessary. Also, some people want (or need) a little extra comfort in knowing that they can stab out with their poles and prevent a fall. There isn't any right or wrong choice here, as we are all different hikers. However, before spending the cash on a set of poles, try going pole-less at the start. Take it easy and pay attention to where you put your feet. There are lots of places along the trail to buy a set if you decide they really are for you.

I do not think that poles are useful at all for stream crossings, and here is why. If the river is deep and fast (say mid thigh), the poles are not heavy enough to stay planted and the current simply sweeps them away. If the stream is below the knee, then just leave your shoes on and walk across. No big deal there. If the stream is deep and slow, and you want something for balance, just pick up a log and use it. I forded a lot of big, fast streams last summer on the PCT and on none of them would poles have been useful. I've forded many, many streams in the Smokys and for none of them would poles have been useful. The AT in the Smokys is pretty dry, but get on the slopes (particularly the southern half of the park) and valleys and you'll face many, many stream fords.

Jaybird
03-27-2004, 17:01
I think about going with one pole...Is it okay or you would recommend me to go with 2 ?Is there a big difference between 1 or 2 poles ?

Roee:

if you're gonna hike with trekking poles...go fer TWO!

i used 1 trek pole for a couple years...til i limped into NOC after 7 days...rented 2 there & bought a knee brace...did 7 more days with no knee probs....previous post is correct...in that.. if you do enuff conditioning you might not need them...but, they saved me from falling down a mountain-side a few times....hehehehehehe :D

good luck!

steve hiker
03-27-2004, 17:31
Almost all thru-hikers use trekking poles. For many reasons, primarily because they save the knees. You'll get a pair too.

Blue Jay
03-27-2004, 18:13
Almost all thru-hikers use trekking poles. For many reasons, primarily because they save the knees. You'll get a pair too.

Almost all thruhikers have stomach problems. For many reasons, primarily because they like being on their knees puking. You'll get some too.
This is a ludicrous argument. You could use this same argument for bug bites, awful body odor and chafe ass.

weary
03-27-2004, 20:18
No you have to use two poles. You cannot look cool with one pole. Plus with only one pole you cannot get a false sense of security go too fast too far too soon hurt your knees and rely on medication for the rest of your hike.

I use just one pole -- wooden and home made -- but with a commercial strap for the top and a crutch tip for the bottom. I like to keep one hand free for grabbing trees, reaching for my camera, inspecting strange leaves and flowers, and, most importantly, swatting bugs.

Commercial poles with sharp pointed tips seriously increase trail erosion. Two poles double the damage. They also, as Blue Jay suggests, encourage you to hike too fast, causing falls, and probably causing as much knee damage as they prevent. Sharp tips also provide less traction on rocks -- when traction is most important, another cause for frequent falls. And finally they are noisy. They destroy the natural sounds, scare away wildlife, and provide a constant reminder of civilization, damaging the sense of wildness that some of us hike to achieve.

Weary

Blue Jay
03-27-2004, 21:58
Wooden and homemade, how seriously unfashionable. I am appalled, how can you even make it up a small hill. Unfortunately that is also what I use. But then again I am old, have done 6,000 miles and my knees never hurt. I know that is impossible. Hiking Scientists have studied me for decades and Leki has tried to silence me with hit men.

steve hiker
03-27-2004, 23:33
Almost all thruhikers have stomach problems. For many reasons, primarily because they like being on their knees puking. You'll get some too.
Almost all birds have brains. For the same reason, blue jays have birdbrains. Blue Jay has a birdbrain too.

Blue Jay
03-28-2004, 09:12
I would make a horse joke, but then I realized this isn't the second grade.

weirdfrog
03-28-2004, 18:39
Aww, c'mon! This is funny!

Make the horse joke!:jump :banana :clap

lol...

weirdfrog
03-28-2004, 18:42
..wait one...how DO you make a horse joke?...

...well, first you have to teach it to talk.....
:-? :jump

Tom For Short
03-28-2004, 22:01
Poles my not be necessary but I wouldn't go on an extended trip without them.I'm a bit older than many on the trail and I know that poles saved my knees and were a major factor in my 2000 mile hike last year. I did manage to fall several times and to break one pole twice. It seemed to me that most hikers used them. Good luck. Tom for Short 03

bobgessner57
03-28-2004, 22:49
Ever watch our cousins at the zoo? They will often travel on all four limbs when in a hurry or up and down inclines.

I always hated carrying a wooden stick. They felt clumsy and awkward in my hands. Hiking without anything in my hands always felt awkward too. I would find myself pushing on my knees on the uphill, holding my shoulder straps on the level and grabbing a trees on a steep downhill.

I finally borrowed a pair of poles from a friend and was converted in 15 minutes. They feel natural in my hands, an extension of my arm like any other good tool. They are part of my shelter, clear obstructions from the trail, encourage snakes to move on, and pick up litter I might otherwise step over.

Borrow a pair and see if they work for you.

weary
03-29-2004, 09:33
>"...I always hated carrying a wooden stick. They felt clumsy and awkward in my hands."

Wooden sticks come in all varieties. Choose carefully and they won't feel awkward and clumsy. I have several. My current favorite is one that weighs about 10 ounces. I have epoxied a 1/4-20 screw into the top to hold a Komperdell cork tip, strap and compass, and to make the stick serve as a monpod for my camera. A soft rubber crutch tip prevents wear and improves traction.

But what I like best is it serves nicely as a tool to whack off dead branches while bushwhacking new trail locations. But sometimes I carry a seven ounce version, less handy for trail clearing but light as a feather and ideal for routine hiking.

Both feel far more "natural" than the aluminum alloy and plastic grip of the lekis I experimented with one afternoon at the Cabin in East Andover. I noted in particular how the sharp Leki tips provide only marginal traction on granite boulders because at a crucial step thay catapulted me into a beaver bog.

Weary

Highlandman
03-29-2004, 12:22
I used my beloved cherry birch staff (cut from a blowdown, weighs _less_ than a Leki and is surprisingly stiff, plus I can carve all my trail history on it - and it bears the chew marks of the best dog I ever had) for years. Personally I find that I expend too much energy just balancing if I don't have at least one pole.

But Santa brought me a pair of Lekis this year. I've used them for about 40 miles so far and absolutely love them. Here's my review:

On steep to very steep inclines or declines - one pole is as good as, maybe better than two.

On stream crossings and other balancing acts - about a toss up.

On mild uphills and level - this is the way to eat up miles. You'll get the mechanics down in the first hour, and you'll find that just the weight of your arms in your natural walking motion actually provides forward thrust. Not much, but noticeable. A single pole is nice but doesn't give you as efficient mechanics.

On moderate downhills - if the Lekis weren't good for anything else they'd be worth it just for this. I've struggled with knee problems for ages, and 5% downgrade in particular has been the bane of my trail life. A pair of poles fixes that. I've learned to plant the pole at just the right moment in my stride and it takes just about all the impact off the knee. Yes, conditioning helps you let yourself down easier, but face it, at some point everyone gets fatigued and then those downhill steps get pretty harsh.

I have also found it best to adjust the wrist straps so my wrist takes all the load. A light grip with the fingers is all I need to control the placement of the pole, and reduces fatigue.

So now I use the ol' cherry birch for day hikes and ceremonial purposes, and use the Lekis when I'm going to carry weight on a long or rough trail.

-HM

tlbj6142
03-29-2004, 13:01
I have tried to give up my poles, but have found that my shoulders started to hurt quite a bit without them. Seems as though they help me walk more erect than without. Resulting in less shoulder slouch.

I have worked out most of my knee problems (lower pack wieght and take glucosamine), but I still can't figure out why I hunch my shoulders so much without poles. Once I figure that one out, I'll probably drop the poles. Though I'll end up eating quite a bit more spiderwebs without them.

flyfisher
03-29-2004, 16:13
I had never used poles until I met the AT. Now I use them and like them. What I did on my first section hike was to try both ways. I liked it better with poles.

U-BOLT
03-29-2004, 17:57
This is silly. How many long distance hikers have you seen without trekking poles?

Lone Wolf
03-29-2004, 18:22
I'm a long distance hiker and I've never used trekking poles or sticks.

Sleepy the Arab
03-29-2004, 20:01
I didn't use them on my first thru-hike. Only fell twice: once on McAfee Knob and once in Kinsman Notch.

U-BOLT
03-29-2004, 20:01
I'm a long distance hiker and I've never used trekking poles or sticks.
You are a Lone Wolf.

chris
03-30-2004, 08:37
I am a long distance hiker and I do not use trekking poles.

Jersey Bob
03-30-2004, 09:55
at least 10 characters

tlbj6142
03-30-2004, 10:21
This is silly. How many long distance hikers have you seen without trekking poles?How many long distance hikers carried 50# on their backs 15 years ago?

Just because "everyone" uses poles doesn't make them great. It could just be a fad?

Once I get some carbon fiber poles, either Gossamer's (http://www.gossamergear.com/) or Bozeman's (http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00132.html) I'll be happy. As other poles on the market are just too damn heavy.

You can also make your own carbon fiber poles from fishing pole blanks. There is a "how-to" on BackpackingLight (http://www.backpackinglight.com/).