Just did an adventure race across the Grand Canyon (R2R2R- 48 miles in one day) and hiking poles seriously saved me. I've said this before but it is estimated that they let you go at least 1/3rd longer (if used effectively). I don't remember the source, but some of the reasoning includes: -The weight of your arms alone is at least 5% of your total body weight. So 2 arms equals 10%. If you are using poles to at least rest your arms on, you are taking that weight off of your total load on your legs. -if you actually push off on the poles (especially uphill) it takes even more load off of your legs -Poles help your arms do more balancing and steadying on rough terrain while legs do more power work. This helps to not wear out the less-used muscles in your legs -During descents, you can use poles to lower yourself thus reducing pounding on the knees and the working of the quads. -Poles are also great for stream crossings
In this particular instance, I pulled a calf and had some serious problems. I don't know how I would have finished without being able to transfer a lot of my weight to my arms through the use of the poles. That being said, it sure does give your arms and shoulders a workout that most don't get while hiking!
Many of these posts are basically saying that poles are a safety item. The only time you really need them is exactly when they shouldn't fail. Swissgear poles bend at the tips very easily. I don't like hiking on level ground with poles, but they have saved me from falls and sprained ankles. Get the best set you can!!
Loc: jersey city NJ
Nobody's mentioned the fact that the Black Diamond "flick-lock" clamp design used to telescope the pole is far, far superior to the Leki-style screw expander used by all the others.
Unfortunately, I own both.
Also, it's best to remove wrist straps when crossing talus fields. A guide gave me this tip once. Unfortunately I failed to pass it on to my friend, who took a nasty spill with a fairly heavy pack as a result.
In crossing talus, it's common, here and there, to vertically place the pole into narrow, shallow spaces between rocks as you pass along.
My friend fell forward, torquing pole in a horizontal direction, momentarily wedging it against the rocks. Her hand was thus immobilized by the wrist strap for an instant as she fell, and she was unable to use hand and arm to protect her face.
The straps are very valuable, but there are certainly times when it's best not to use them.
Loc: jersey city NJ
From FAQ on Leki Site:
“ My Expander Poles Won't Lock" [this is a statement, not a question]
› Pull the pole sections apart. › Locate the expander and hold with thumb and forefinger. › For SLS poles, turn the pole section while holding the expander, and check to make sure there is movement of the internal piece on the screw. >If you see no movement, or the expander appears to be jammed, call our Customer Service Department at 800-255-9982 x10. › For standard expanders that come off, check to make sure the screw threads are free of debris, and re-thread the expander. › Put the pole sections together, and continue to tighten the desired adjustment until resistance is met.
----- To this I'd add: >It's good to memorize these instructions, if you understand them. >Good luck with de-icing. >Black Diamond pole design is totally different, relatively trouble free & idiot-proof.