Hiking poles may provide a great deal of stability and comfort, whether you’re hiking across the nation or just out for a brief weekend stroll. Although they aren’t strictly necessary, many hikers and backpackers like to use hiking poles for several reasons.
In this article, we will answer the question, “Do hiking poles help?”, including what to consider before purchasing a set of your own.
What Are Hiking Poles?
Hiking poles are exactly what they sound like – long, collapsible poles that provide extra stability and support while hiking. They typically have some type of grip on the handle, and many also have a strap that goes around your wrist to keep them from getting lost if you drop them. Some models also have shock absorption to help reduce stress on your joints.
Why Use Hiking Poles?
People use hiking poles even if they aren’t required for a few reasons. The first is steadiness. Hiking poles may assist relieve joint tension and give additional support to those with mobility difficulties or past injuries. Hiking poles may also help you stay balanced on uneven or slippery terrain.
Hiking poles may also help you hike quicker and with less effort. Hiking poles relieve leg fatigue by giving additional support and stability, allowing you to concentrate on moving ahead. Using hiking poles may also help you better distribute your backpack’s weight, making hiking up hills and long distances easier.
Do Hiking Poles Help?
There is no definitive answer to this question – it depends on your individual needs and preferences. However, if you are considering using hiking poles, we would suggest considering a few things before making your purchase.
Advantages Of Hiking Poles
Reduce Stress On Your Joints
Walking with hiking poles reduces the impact on your joints, which is particularly beneficial on steep ascents and descents. During a steep downhill hike, have you ever had knee pain? You may alleviate knee discomfort by utilizing hiking poles to reduce the strain on your joints.
Make Use Of Your Arms
Hiking paths are a part of my daily routine. You may not be using your arms at all if your trek does not entail rock scrambles or bushwhacking. Walking poles are a great way to work your arms while also reducing the risk of hand edema.
As you rise, dangling your arms at your sides may cause your fingers, hands, and wrists to bulge due to inadequate circulation. By using hiking poles to pump your arms up and keep them elevated, you may improve circulation and reduce swelling.
Maintains A Sense Of Equilibrium
The only thing better than two legs is having four! Four-legged creature. Stability is increased by using hiking poles as an additional set of limbs.
The use of poles may assist you to maintain your balance while traversing quickly flowing water, traversing snowfields and ice patches, hiking along narrow ridgelines, and when traveling up or downhill on loose terrains like sand or scree. Hiking poles have also been a lifesaver for us in the face of strong winds.
Maintains A Steady Pace
It’s easier to maintain a decent hiking pace when you use hiking poles to assist you to walk in a synchronized fashion (foot, pole, foot, pole). We’ve found that hiking with hiking poles speeds up our pace, and the monotonous action is calming and peaceful.
Ice Strength And Water Depth Can Be Measured
Many times it is difficult to tell how deep or thick the ice on frozen rivers and creeks is. It’s easy to overestimate the dangers of a hike without the aid of hiking poles.
Tent Pegs May Be Left At Home
Some ultralight tents do away with tent poles and instead use hiking poles to support the structure. This is a great example of a multi-purpose item. ZPacks Duplex and Triplex, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, and Tarptent Stratospire 2 are some of the best hiking pole tents.
Wild Animals May Be Deterred
In the wilderness, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your surroundings. Avoid approaching animals in the dark or invading their area in any way. Even if we try to avoid it, animal interactions are occasionally unavoidable.
Banging your poles together or against trees and rocks might frighten away huge animals like bears if you find yourself too close for comfort. You may also make yourself look bigger by waving hiking poles over your head, which can deter animals from approaching you.
Hiking Poles May Help You Hitch Into Town
While on the path or in town, we always have our hiking poles in our hands. The poles let cars know that you’re a hiker in a hurry, which has resulted in a faster pick-up in our experience.
Disadvantages Of Hiking Poles
Inconvenient To Carry Along
The primary disadvantage is the need for hiking poles in certain scenarios. Hand-to-hand climbing or depending on ropes may be inconvenient if you have to frequently remove and replace your hiking poles. Hiking poles might get in the way of a photo opportunity when you don’t want to be holding them.
Some hikers choose to just use their poles on the steepest inclines and declines of the course. As a result, they must carry their poles about in their packs, for the time being, adding to their overall weight.
Your Energy Consumption Has Increased
Hiking poles are often considered to be more exhausting than walking without them. Despite the lack of research, some people believe this is a good idea. It’s our opinion that a little additional arm training isn’t always a bad thing, and if the stress-reduction advantages of hiking poles are a good match for you, the extra energy invested is likely worth it.
A nice hiking/backpacking outfit may cost a lot of money to put together. The expense of hiking poles might be difficult to justify for novice hikers or those on a tight budget since they are not an essential piece of equipment.
Hiking poles may cost as little as $60 or as much as $200, depending on the model. We suggest the Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles if you’re seeking a sturdy set of inexpensive poles.
Many hiking poles have carbide points that penetrate rocks, causing unattractive scratches, gouges, and chips. Even if you’re driving through beautiful granite formations, this might be a turn-off for others.
What To Consider Before Buying
It might be difficult to tell the difference between the various hiking poles on the market, especially when you’re just getting started. To help you narrow down your options, here are some suggestions.
Carbon fiber is a fiber-reinforced material that is both lightweight and durable. Those who want to go light and who prefer to keep their poles hidden until they face more difficult terrain often choose carbon fiber poles. Despite its strength, carbon fiber is less resistant to wear and tear than aluminum.
Aluminum is a strong, lightweight metal that can survive a great deal of usage and damage without losing any of its properties. Aluminum poles over carbon fiber poles are preferable since they are more dependable and less expensive.
For pole grips, we believe cork is the ideal material. It’s soft, resilient, and porous, allowing perspiration to evaporate off your hands and preventing blisters, making it ideal for outdoor activities. There is just one significant disadvantage to using cork as a grip material, and that is that it is more costly.
Foam is a good choice for a grip since it’s soft and less expensive than other materials. Unlike cork or rubber, it will decompose more quickly, although it is still rather robust.
Rubber grips are the most long-lasting and least expensive, but they also have the least pleasant feel. They are more prone to develop blisters on your hands if your hands get sweaty and make it difficult to hold them.
Hiking poles with the greatest flexibility, such as telescoping models, are ideal for people who often change the height of their hiking sticks to suit the terrain. If you want to use your trekking poles as tent poles, this is also helpful.
The most compact and lightest kind of hiking pole is the tri-folding one. An internal tension wire and a push-button locking mechanism keep the three components together.
For the most part, we don’t advocate fixed-height hiking poles since they’re difficult to put away when they’re not in use. Ski poles, on the other hand, tend to have a fixed design. The two types of poles are held at different heights and have distinct forms for their respective activities, thus it is not advocated to use ski poles for hiking.
To fully enjoy the benefits of hiking with hiking poles, you must select a suitable size. Tall poles might cause you to slouch forward, causing shoulder aches. Prevent utilizing poles that are too short to avoid back strain. While gripping your poles at the sides, keep your elbows straight. That means increased comfort and productivity.