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  1. #1
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    Default Do you really need trekking poles?

    They seem like they would be cumbersome to me, but I have not yet hiked a long distance.

  2. #2
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    I'm interested in this answer too because I've never used them.

  3. #3

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    On descents, I find them essential for helping to take some stress off of the knees, and they really give you extra oomph on the flats or up hills. If I am day hiking I don't have to have them, but carrying any substantial weight I do not hike without them.


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  4. #4
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    They are useful under a number of scenarios.

    They are especially useful the older you are.

    Almost all ultra-light tents utilize them.

    I use them mostly on the uphill until it gets too steep. I use them mostly on the downhill to telegraph a foot plant, much like mogul skiing. I use them on the flats to sweep away cobwebs in the green tunnel and poison ivy stands on the edge of the trail. I use them to part giant milkweeds and thornbushes in front of me.

    Mine weigh 7oz. each. and i don't count them in my pack weight....

  5. #5

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    Personally, yes for 2 reasons:

    1- my tent requires them to be set up
    2- they make hiking easier, especially on downhill and rocky sections.

    They are also great for spider web removal

  6. #6
    In the shadows AfterParty's Avatar
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    They can also help you keep posture not sloutching with the weight of your pack.
    Hiking the AT is “pointless.” What life is not “pointless”? Is it not pointless to work paycheck to paycheck just to conform?.....I want to make my life less ordinary. AWOL

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareBear View Post
    They are useful under a number of scenarios.

    They are especially useful the older you are.

    Almost all ultra-light tents utilize them.

    I use them mostly on the uphill until it gets too steep. I use them mostly on the downhill to telegraph a foot plant, much like mogul skiing. I use them on the flats to sweep away cobwebs in the green tunnel and poison ivy stands on the edge of the trail. I use them to part giant milkweeds and thornbushes in front of me.

    Mine weigh 7oz. each. and i don't count them in my pack weight....
    That's why I am questioning whether I need them. My tent does not require the trekking poles. I can pick up a big stick for chasing away cobwebs and thornbrushes. My only concern is balance. Maybe they would help with that?

  8. #8

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    Need? Not really.
    Even for tents using them you can make custom poles that are lighter.

    Are they beneficial is probably what you mean.
    The answer is yes.

    Not everyone uses them.
    But....the vast majority of thru hikers do, and that says something. (kennebec ferry man confirms this)

    Takes load off knees on downhill is the biggest benefit
    With a bit of tendonitis, you might be able to keep hiking with them, and not be able to without.
    Crossing streams they are great (not really needed on AT south of maine). A necessity in deeper flowing water.
    maintaining balance over boulders they are great. This happens often.
    You will generally hike faster with them I believe, because they they reduce risk of falling on uneven terrain
    Mine have saved my butt innumerable times. Also hold up tarp.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 11-27-2016 at 17:19.

  9. #9
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    Grab a cheap set and try them out. Some swear by them (like me) and some say they're just something else to carry. I personally like them for everything (uphills, downhills, and the occasional balancing act over rocks and logs crossing rivers, etc...). Uphills I get a little extra boost from my upper body when the legs just aren't quite up to the task and down hills it really takes a lot off the knees and helps control my "bouncing". Plus they're something to lean on 1/2 way up that grueling uphill. I also had to use one to fend off an angry grouse that just gave birth right on the trail. Luckily her hissing and wide spread wings had me running down the trail after I passed her and I didn't have to really "use" them for any defense. haha I honestly don't know if I would have made it as far as I did without them, they helped me that much. But others are a lot stronger (better) hikers than I am so you might not need 'em. I'd suggest try a cheap set and set out for a few days and see what you think.
    - Trail name: Thumper

  10. #10

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    Purely subjective. Some backpackers like to have both hands free. Others use only one pole to keep one hand free to eat snacks or operate a camera or most importantly to use hand pruners to clear briars and brush out of their faces.

    Modern day poles with titanium tips are wonderful for balance especially when carrying a heavy pack both up or down, Two poles also take 30% of stress off the knees? Some statistic I remember.

    Oh and a hiking pole or poles are vital for tricky creek crossings with a heavy pack. Also use my single hiking pole to dig catholes for the inevitable Fecal Deposits. A hiking pole also punches a deep hole in forest litter or ground duff whereby a used wad of toilet paper can be deeply stuffed 10 inches down in the ground using the pole tip.

  11. #11
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    I pooh poohed them until I tried them. Wont hike without them. Saved me from falling countless times. I've tripped over them a couple times, sometimes they get stuck in roots or rocks, but that is minor compared to the falls they saved me from.

  12. #12
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    "Need" is tough to quantify. From what I've seen, the vast majority of hikers use them now. Thru hikers, weekenders, peakbaggers, dayhikers, all the same. Possible without poles? Of course. But why not try them out before dismissing the idea?

    In super-steep terrain you may have to stash one or both poles in order to get a free hand or two. On road walks or other very flat terrain they're a wash. For the vast majority of AT terrain -- somewhere between these extremes -- they're very useful.

  13. #13
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    My standard observation is that I am up on Katahdin every year and generally there are thru hikers finishing up their hikes. Many still have poles, my theory is they would have discarded them at some point if they didn't feel they were worth carrying.

    My other observation is that many women have a tougher time getting used to poles as they tend to have less upper body strength. Those who keep with them quickly get used to them but the initial transition takes a bit longer.

  14. #14

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    you don't NEED them. You don't NEED a lot of things you will find others bringing. You don't NEED a GPS, map, or even a guidebook really. But your hike would likely be better having at least a guidebook. If used properly hiking poles can be a great asset. They can help you go faster on level and uphill terrain and help keep your knees from getting abused on downhills. You don't NEED a stove as some have shown but personally I can't imagine eating most of what is consumed on the trail by others (poptarts, suzy Q's, cinnabons, sandwiches, ramen, pizza, etc).

    So try out some hiking poles. REI has a great return policy. Buy a set there. If you don't like it, return them. But before you hike with them watch a video or two about properly using them. I used to think they were a big waste but now I love them.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  15. #15
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    At 56 years old, YES!

    1 - its 4 wheel drive vs ??
    2 - lightweight tents typically use hiking poles for setup

    The AT is no trail, hiking poles have saved me from a lot of falls in 2000 miles

  16. #16
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    Trekking poles are not essential for everyone. Buying expensive trekking poles is not necessarily essential. Trekking poles are not essential to everyones kit, hiking approach, balance, optimal conservation of energy expenditure, establishing rhythm, reducing force off the body - knees, ankles, feet, legs, back, etc -, protecting knees(regardless of age!), traction, or reducing kit wt(in fact using trekking poles can add wt to a kit!). Much of what trekking poles help with can be done with zero financial cost by using a stick.

    http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/a/1108...Trekking-Poles

    Despite the article listing ten potential positives or reasons to consider for trekking poles they are not essential tools as the article states.

    Not pro or anti trekking pole use just saying you might want to consider the objectives often promoting store bought trekking poles can be accomplished in other ways without relying on gear or buying something.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Del Q View Post
    At 56 years old, YES!

    1 - its 4 wheel drive vs ??
    2 - lightweight tents typically use hiking poles for setup

    The AT is no trail, hiking poles have saved me from a lot of falls in 2000 miles
    Going down Blood Mountain into Neels Gap without poles convinced me to try poles. A fall there would be brutal. They make falls less likely and take stress off the knees on steep descents. I'm 46 but in college I would bounce right down a place like Blood Moutnain with absolutely no chance of falling and would have had no interest in hiking poles back then. And at that age a fall would have been a minor incident. As you get older the ground just hurts more. I did feel clumsy for the first few hikes with poles and I still don't like not having the hands free. The next strategy might be to collapse them and attach to the pack when on relatively easy ascents and descents. They double as tent poles so they can't stay home.

  18. #18

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    Would you rather be a top heavy biped that occasionally falls, or a four legged beast which can arrest a sudden rapid descent off the mountain?

  19. #19
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    Many times I've used my trekking pole to find the submerged rock in a large mudhole so I can step across without getting my feet wet.

    I've been on plenty of bog bridges and wondered how deep the muck is. Only way to find out is to step off the bridge ... or stick the pole down in the muck.

    Haven't had to do this yet, but on deep stream crossings, best advice is to maintain three points of contact at all times. Impossible without poles.

    If you have any joint issues, you will LOVE your trekking poles. My hips, knees, ankles, feet, and toes are grateful.

  20. #20
    Wanna-be hiker trash
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    It's personal preference, but I love mine. They've saved my arse from many a fall and keep my knees from getting destroyed. I wouldn't give mine up if you paid me.

    They can seem a little clunky at firdt and It does take some time to get used to using them, but after a while it becomes second nature. So don't just try them once and think that you don't like them.
    Last edited by Sarcasm the elf; 11-27-2016 at 20:57.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

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