Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I need poles for balance issues on rough ground. They really help my bum knee on long downhills. They make uphill climbs easier. I switched from a single staff to trekking poles 10 years ago and never looked back.
I also use my trekking poles for exercise walking (also known as Nordic walking). Using the poles exercises the core muscles and turns walking into a whole body exercise! On pavement, I use rubber tips over the points.
A lot of folks prefer the flick-lock type poles. I tried them in the store and discovered I don't have enough strength in my fingers to work them. I've used the twist-lock Leki poles for years and had no problems with them (even though I often have to get help from a neighbor to open jars). I also can't use fixed length poles because the length I need to support my shelter is longer than the length I need for hiking. I also like being able to collapse the poles and tie them to my pack when I need to use my hands, and also shorten them when putting them in the car. These are, of course, "Your Mileage May Vary" situations.
If you're not sure you'll like the poles, see if you can get a pair of used ski poles of the proper length for a few bucks in a thrift shop, and try them out for a few hikes.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I've spent 4 decades kneeling on hardwood floors and roofs and cement and generally doing damage to my knees. I thought my backpacking days were rapidly coming to an end 10 years ago, when my wife developed a balance problem. We bought poles (semi-cheap Komperdells) to help her with balance and take some strain off my knees. They worked on both counts. Now we have better grade Leki and Black Diamond. I just did a very steep up and down of 47oo feet each way and I can honestly say, I had ZERO knee pain, even coming off a winter with no bicycling for the past 6 months. My wife had a little pain, as she had a bad fall on a rocky , icy river bank this winter, but did well with the winds howling on a narrow trail with lots of exposure. She readily will tell you, without the poles, she would not have made it. The poles are NOT only to be used by older folks, they would serve anyone well, unless your trail running. The side benefit of rigging shelters with them is a very happy bonus. Had I known how effective they are, I would have been using them many years ago. My wife uses the BD flick locks because they are easier for her to adjust them for up and down hill without them slipping. I like my Leki twist locks, as I have a strong grip and rarely have them slip. The only ones that have failed on us was my wife not properly tightening her Leki poles and putting sideways pressure on a section that had slipped out well beyond its intended length. Not the poles fault, just an accident. The flick locks work better for her. She also says the BD grips fit better in her hand. I like my Lekis.
My first and only pair, I bought at a thrift store for $5. They are used ski poles. I bought them to see if I liked them. I have used them for 2 years now, and like them...so much so, that I haven't replaced them. Of course, I do plan to replace them with a nicer, lighter, collapsible set. But, that isn't at the top of my list right now. I have bigger fish to fry first.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
Loc: Central Michigan
I craft all my own poles from local saplings. Beech, Hornbeam, maple and the sort. All my friends use them as well. I really appreciate them on the down hill sections the most. Plus, they are nice to poke stuff with when your really not sure what it is!
I'm thinking about buying trekking poles. What should I keep in mind when buying? Do brand or accessories matter? Can anyone tell me why you bought the poles you did?
I bought 'em so I could practice my sword fighting skills when I'm lounging around the camp.
As others mentioned, I used it to take some stress off my joints so I can be less sore or not sore at all. When I hop across small rocks while stream crossing I used them for balance as well. On flat trails I'll stash my poles on my pack, then once climb or descent starts, I whip them bad boys out! Collapsible poles are really nice feature for my use. I also like the cork handle vs. the foam. Hike your own hike!
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart
For me, they are more of a love/hate relationship. I like the help they provide on uphill and downhill grades and I also, like others here, have noticed that they speed me up a bit. On the deficit side, I don't like not having my hands free, I get annoyed when trail side brush deflects a pole in front of an advancing foot (potential face plant), they make my arthritic thumbs hurt, and sometimes I just want to walk with my hands in my pockets. Also, when I am not using them they are a pain in the tuchus to stow.
For many years I have used a single staff and only started using the walking poles this year. I have the general hang of them but still am on the learning curve.
I bought a pair of Leki Shasta poles. These are twist lock with cork composition grips and are sturdy but not particularly light.
Loc: Central Oregon
I like my trekking poles for a few reasons: it makes me feel a little more stable on uneven ground, they can serve as tent poles when you're in camp, they can serve as a whoopin stick ( I keep a collapsed trekking pole with me when I sleep), and most importantly for me, they keep my hands from swelling as I hike.
I'm on a pretty strict budget when it comes to backpacking, so when my wife and I got a target gift card for Christmas, I picked up a pair of adjustable new balance trekking poles for about $12. They've done well for me thus far
He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man. -Samuel Johnson
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