Many seasoned hikers swear by trekking poles and even regard them as an indispensable part of their gear, but whether they are a must-have item is a matter of debate. Trekking or hiking poles are essentially ski poles with handles used primarily for extra stability during a hike.
Hikers typically use trekking poles in pairs, unlike hiking sticks or staff used as single poles. In agreement with years of research and first-hand experiences, here are some reasons why hikers should use trekking poles when hiking.
Reduced Joint Stress
Do you ever experience knee pain when hiking down a steep trail? The most significant benefit of using trekking poles is their weight distribution capabilities. Trekking poles absorb some of the weight a hiker’s joints would have otherwise carried, especially on steep ascents and descents. Carry a pair of trekking poles on your next hike to take some pressure off your joints and avoid pain.
Hiking poles essentially work as an additional set of limbs that help hikers maintain balance when traversing challenging terrain. A pair of poles can come in handy when trekking across ice patches, crossing a stream of moving water, ascending or descending loose ground, and walking along narrow ridgelines. You might also use them to stay upright when moving against strong winds.
Test Water Depth
Ever heard the saying, “Never test the depth of a river with both feet?” Walking across a stream without testing its depth or ice strength can be highly hazardous. Eliminate the guesswork and enjoy safe hikes by testing water crossings using trekking poles.
Say Goodbye to Tent Poles
Owning multipurpose items is always a good idea. Trekking poles can also double as tent poles for lightweight tents, leaving room for other essential items.
Engage Your Arms
Hiking is such an intense leg workout; however, unless hikers do a lot of rock scrambling, they may leave their upper bodies out of all the action. Hiking poles force trekkers to engage their arms by moving them back and forth. This additional motion expends more energy and protects their hands from swelling as they gain elevation by promoting better blood circulation.
Trekking poles are an essential piece of gear if used appropriately. Although some hikers move faster without them, they have many benefits to offer and could potentially save your life. That said, always adjust your poles to the right length and use the proper technique to gain the most benefits.