I have never hiked with trekking poles. I have always liked scrambling up things on my hands and climbing whenever necessary. I have never had knee issues or problems with extended steep downhills. Now, however, I am beginning to rethink this stance. The real question now, is to get them or not?
Disclaimer: I had been trying to find the Black Diamond Carbon Cork Alpine trekking poles for a couple of weeks. Found them on sale and pulled the trigger before I could finish writing this article.
Why would I want trekking poles if I don’t need them for stability reasons? Well, it is pretty much a proven fact that they better distribute the impact of hiking on the legs. This means that your shoulders, torso, and arms are taking some of the impact off of your knees. Whether or not you need it now, hiking should be a sustainable activity that you can do until the day you die. I think I would rather decrease the impact on my body now so that I can continue to play in the great outdoors when I am old and wrinkly. Trekking poles don’t just help with overuse injuries, but can help prevent balance related accidents. Crossing streams, hiking downhill, maintaining balance on loose terrain… Trekking poles help prevent the strains, sprains, and broken limbs that can occur in these environments. Trekking poles help prevent that initial risk, but can also be helpful in mitigating the response. It is much easier to hike on an injured limb with trekking poles than with nothing at all… They also make solid splinting material when deployed correctly.
Trekking poles also allow you to greatly minimize your shelter system. Whenever you pack a tent, you must also pack poles. Many shelter systems nowadays use trekking poles so that you are not carrying redundant gear. This means that your entire shelter system could weight under a pound… Now that is worthwhile right there.
Another relatively overlooked benefit of trekking poles is rhythm. Ever been hiking along and had absolutely no idea what you should be doing with your arms? Maybe you hook your hands into your backpack straps, put them on your hips, or just let your arms swing aimlessly at your sides… We’ve all been there. The beauty of trekking poles is that they keep your arms in rhythm with your feet, which makes you more efficient, faster, and more in sync. Totally worth it.
My new trekking poles just came in today. I can’t wait to put them to use!