Trekking poles---worth the hassle?

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Trekking poles---worth the hassle?

Postby AngelaSue » Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:32 pm

As a newbie hiker with hips full of bursitis (I know this sounds like lunacy), I need to know if it is worth my while to get a hiking pole to help take a little burden off my aging bones. I'm 44 and have always been in really good shape, so this is ultra-depressing for me and I am going ANYWAY! Any orthopods or hikers with experience with poles out there to advise?

Also, don't want to spend a fortune, but wonder if the el-cheap-o version I saw in Target would be a waste of time. I have a family of 5 heading to the mountains of Glacier and wonder if these "sticks" would just get in our way mostly. Thanks for your help!

P.S. My 13 year old son carved a walking stick for his dad for Father's Day---very sweet, but about 10 lbs. heavy!
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Postby Kathy » Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:53 pm

First of all, Welcome to the Page!! Second, it does NOT sound like lunacy!....I have found it's amazing what I'll do for the things I love.

Now then, as to your question.....I, personally, do not have poles - but I do know those I've talked to that have them, swear by them! I'm sure there are plenty of folks out here that will be able to speak to that from experience.

As for not wanting to spend a fortune, have you thought about renting them for this trip? That way, you can try them out first without making the big money outlay to invest in them. I'm pretty sure REI rents them...there may be other places as well. As for getting in the way, I do know that most if not all of them are telescopic and will collapse down.

Enjoy your trip!!!

PS....VERY cool your son carving his Dad a walking stick!!! (but yeah, 10 pounds! - ya probably don't want to bring that with, eh? :lol: )
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Postby missguinness » Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:58 am

AngelaSue, welcome to the page. You will find people have varying opinions about hiking poles. Here is a page where it was discussed There was a whole discussion about hiking poles on
http://glacierparkchat.com/chat/viewtopic.php?t=750
IMO hiking poles are invaluable. They help save you knees and quads while giving your arms a good workout. If you are looking at purchasing poles, be careful and put some pressure down on them. See if they collapse easily. If they do, DON"T BUY THEM. Kathy suggestion of renting them is a good idea. Go out enjoy the park, take your time! Remember it is not a race, but a place to soak in the sights and sounds!
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Postby Heff936 » Mon Jul 09, 2007 5:49 am

Hi AngelaSue. IMO trekking poles are not just worth the hassle, but essential hiking gear. They help you get a rhythm during long ascents, reduce the pounding on your joints on descent and help you stay on your feet when you catch a toe on a rock or root. I think they are more important for backpacking than dayhiking, but they help in either case.
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Postby Hockey Ref » Mon Jul 09, 2007 6:11 am

I agree with Heff -- trekking poles are extremely valuable. In additoin to all the uses Heff mentioned, you also can use them to stablize yourself when crossing streams and such. As for expense, I got a decent pair on eBay for about half of what I would have paid retail. Check there.
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Postby llholmes1948 » Mon Jul 09, 2007 7:34 am

I notice that there has also been a discussion of trekking poles in this link:

http://glacierparkchat.com/chat/viewtop ... ight=poles

I think some of the poles mentioned (the Black Diamond Ascents) are no longer being made but I may be wrong.

I have never used poles but I got the impression on my last visits to Glacier that they would be quite handy for stability on downhill trial sections. I would like to hear some more opinions on the question of one pole versus two. It seems to me that most of the people I see on trails with poles (not counting those with wooden poles with little bells on them) have one pole and not two so there seem to be quite a few one-pole fans.

Have any of you tried two poles and switched to one or vice versa and if so, why?

I guess for day hikes I would lean toward one pole since I am more interested in the stability factor and am not really motivated by the thought of getting an upper body workout by using two poles. Perhaps that is erroneous thinking.

In using two poles, I have two fears:
1. I would get clumsy and trip over the poles.
2. I would get clumsy and accidently stab one of my hiking companions or some other, more innocent, hiker passing on the trail

Any place to rent poles around Glacier? If so, is the rental fee so high, it just makes better sense to buy them?

I suppose if I bought two poles and decided I only want to use one, I could give the other one to my wife.

I really know nothing about these poles so I appreciate all the comments on them.

Thanks,
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Postby smokies_hiker » Mon Jul 09, 2007 8:42 am

From the National Parks board, here's a tad more about poles/sticks down into this thread a ways:

http://nationalparkschat.com/phpBB/view ... king+poles

If you're 20-something and indestructible, don't bother. Otherwise, you maybe don't need to spend a lot of money at first, but there's probably a good reason those goats don't go bounding around on just two legs...
Paraphrasing John Lennon: Life is what happens while you're planning on going hiking.
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Postby Hockey Ref » Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:13 am

Have any of you tried two poles and switched to one or vice versa and if so, why?


I used one pole on one trip to Glacier and found that it was helpful. However, on my two most recent trips, I switched to two poles and found them to be even better. When going uphill, you can use both to help push you upward, and they provide additional stability when going downhill. I also have banged them together to help make additional noise when hiking through dense forest or underbrush where bears might be present.

Unless you're a total klutz :D I would think you shouldn't have to worry about tripping over your poles or stabbing another hiker with them.

Try borowing a pair from someone and trying them out before you go to Glacier. I've even used ski poles in place of trekking poles.
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Postby gypsyjack » Mon Jul 09, 2007 11:50 am

I agree with everyone else...the poles are essential. Two poles, not just one. They are most useful for coming *down* the steep slopes. Makes it much easier on your knees.
I bought collapsible poles from Target a few years back, and they work fine. Best hiking investment ever. Well, not the best. The hiking boots from REI were the best hiking investment. I'm 56, and my knees and ankles need all the support they can get! (too many years of long-distance running on asphalt and concrete). Before using the collapsible poles, I used a wooden hiking stick...really, a staff (it's handy to have them long when you're only using one stick). But using two collasible poles works best....and they travel nicely (dunno about taking them on a plane though....I always take the train).
Now, I think the Target ones are fine, but I have to admit that I've been looking very closely at some hiking poles at REI. I say get a pair on sale at Targets, and then you might figure out what features you like and don't like.
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Postby Smokehiker » Mon Jul 09, 2007 1:30 pm

Until 4 year ago I was an avid "one pole" user. A trip to the Winds with two poles made a believer out of me.
The poles are mentioned several times for their assistance with stability. What I like about them most is at the end of the day I am not as fatigued on a difficult hike as I would have been without the poles.
They go on my trips just as my sleeping bag and stove. Essential equipment.

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Postby Hockey Ref » Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:45 pm

What I like about them most is at the end of the day I am not as fatigued on a difficult hike as I would have been without the poles.


And if you do get tired, you can always just lean on the poles to take a breather! :D
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Postby dpratt » Mon Jul 09, 2007 3:34 pm

I've backpacked with trekking poles and without. Since I first tried them (in my 20's by the way Smokies_Hiker :lol: ), I've never gone without while 'packing, particularly to save my clicking and clacking knees. For light dayhiking, I may skip them; however if there are long, steep ascents/descents, I'll bring them with. As someone mentioned earlier, they easily collapse and can be lashed to your pack.

I have always been amazed at how less fatigued I will be at the end of the day when using them. I've never tripped on them or stabbed anyone (accidentally anyway). They also double as supports to turn a tent vestibule into a covered porch if you have the right setup.

Be leary of discount store models, although I wouldn't rule them out. As mentioned, test their ability to handle a load without collapsing in on themselves. I've heard bad things about poles sold by Wal-Mart, but I have no direct experience with them. REI offers several models that are of good value. I own two pair. One pair is about 10 years old and still going strong. The second is new this year with more bells and whistles (made from lightweight carbon and they have shock absorbers). The carbon is awesome and they are very light. I'm not convinced yet that the shocks offer much value, but they need more trail time before the jury can make a verdict.

Either way you choose, enjoy Glacier and welcome to the board.
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Postby dorf » Mon Jul 09, 2007 5:27 pm

Sierra Trading post always has deals on hikin' sticks...

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/d/314_Trekking-Poles.html
So many mountains, so little time.
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Postby ND » Mon Jul 09, 2007 5:39 pm

This has been a great discussion. I have been thinking about poles myself. I was looking at the walking sticks at Target for about $16 a pop. I did notice that at least one of them wasn't tightening down properly. The rest were OK though.

I have also wrestled with the idea of carrying extra stuff with me while day hiking. I think I carry too much already. However, I have noticed that ascents and downhills have went better even when I have used an old broken branch found along the trail as a crude pole.

I may try one of those Target trekking poles this year. Only one for now and the Target brand because I'm cheap. :lol:
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Postby AngelaSue » Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:05 pm

All you mountain maniacs rock! (Well, "stick" in this case). A great discussion about trekking poles, and I think you asked all the other questions that came to mind. Considering I always pick up a "just right" stick straight from nature when I'm hiking with my kids here at home (and yes, we have some small hills here in central Iowa), it only makes sense to move up to something a little more substantial and collapsable for a real trip through the mountains.

I'm glad to have the suggestions to try some cheap ones out first or give Ebay a look-see or even go the rental route. I'll check with suppliers or back country guides for possibilities.

And while I am thinking of it, my youngest is an avid skier and would also be pretty used to poles. I think if we could strap them on our packs when we don't want them, they would be hardly noticeable since they are so light-weight.

Hockey Ref, you had some good ideas---maybe we should all begin thinking of multiple uses for these collapsible sticks. How about for stirring your "boil in bag" meals? Tent supports were mentioned. Maybe gettin' way down in your hiking boot when there is an itch that just won't go away? I'm thinking these would prove invaluable in herding the children up and down the slopes (or maybe the husband). I think I'd prefer banging these together to bells, whistles, or singing---especially if you knew how my family sings. Well, this is getting goofy, but I appreciate everyone putting together a great board on the topic. Thanks!
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