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Thread: Hiking Poles

  1. #1
    Neil_B
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    Hiking Poles

    I had a couple of posters recommend hiking poles to me. Here are photos from their trial run, err, hike two weeks ago. It was a short two miles on the Timothy Trail in Lower Providence:





    These are basic poles from Target. I'm not sure I'm using them correctly. However, they certainly gave my upper body more of a workout than I expected.


  2. #2
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    Poles are GREAT! My husband introduced me to them when I moved to Sweden.

    As for correct use, the proper length is measured by having your upper arm vertical and when gripping the pole your forearm is 90 degrees angle from the upper. I haven't noticed any negative effects when my pole length went down thanks to the telescoping not holding correctly. When you walk with them the opposite pole moves with each foot. Right foot/left pole, left foot/right pole.

    We (me, husband and husky) just got back from a 2 hour walk over a snow covered, very hilly hiking path. The poles were a life saver. And as you pointed out, they give you a good work out through the shoulders, arm, upper back and chest. Also kept me from skidding down a few hills on my butt, or worse, rolling.

    If I can't cycle, I try to pole walk as much as I can.

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    ahh... I didn't expect to see a post like this here, but yay

    I just purchased some trekking poles from www.Steepandcheap.com
    got a nice set of Black Diamond trails for $35. I've not used them (actually had to get some rubber tips from a local sports store (also a LBS).

    A friend of mine has been doing some serious walking with these and has is right at the 100lb loss mark. He's doing awesome. Inspired me to start with these also. I'm primarily going to be using them in town (hence the rubber tips) and well... i'm used to the comments I get when on bike, so I figure getting comments while walking only makes perfect sense. =)
    at least I'll be able to understand them somewhat now!

    Also, as for using them correctly, use Google. There's alot of help out there on them. And I think it's Leki's site that has some good video.

  4. #4
    Me and the cat... Pamestique's Avatar
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    I actually have a really nice pair that costs quite a bit but before I got those I used an old pair of ski poles...

    I generally use the poles when I am doing steep consistant climbing. For me it's not so much an upper body workout (which of course it is) but a way to save my knees. It's amazing how using poles takes the weight off the knees.

    Historian - beautiful area to climb but dang it looks cold!!!!
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  5. #5
    surfrider
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    I also use them while hiking in the mountains in Southern California and the Sierra Nevada Mtns. There benefit on uphills is dubious, but they excel on downhills; not their shock-absorbing value, but the way they allow you to balance better so your knees/joints/muscles aren't having to involuntarily adjust to the downhills and the variations in a trails terrain.

  6. #6
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I've read an awful lot about hiking and backpacking. And I've read over and over that you should rush right out and buy these things, or carry a Moses-type staff or whatever. In fact, in all my hiking, I don't know if I EVER saw anyone more than two miles from a trailhead with this kind of stuff. Where I was hiking in Colorado, all trails lead uphill. Those things are just two more pounds of crap to tote up the mountain. If it's smooth, you walk up, no problem. If it's like stairs, you walk up, no problem. When you get in to talus slopes and the like, you need your hands, and don't want to be carrying stuff in them. I've seen more ice axes carried than trekking poles.

    I did find ski poles to come in handy while snowshoeing, but that's quite a different activity. And even there, while snowshoeing on well-packed level snow, it was easier and faster to just carry the poles horizontally in one's hands than to actually use them. In deeper snow and side slopes, they became a lot handier.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pamestique View Post
    I actually have a really nice pair that costs quite a bit but before I got those I used an old pair of ski poles...

    I generally use the poles when I am doing steep consistant climbing. For me it's not so much an upper body workout (which of course it is) but a way to save my knees. It's amazing how using poles takes the weight off the knees.
    Ooh, yeah. I forgot to mention about the knee benefit. I have a bad back and knees and the poles help loads with both. When I was seeing a PT, she even told me flat out that pole walking was better for me than normal walking, though even normal walking was good.

    I've also found that I can go longer, farther and much faster without my knees and back screaming which is always good.

    Another good thing is that here in Sweden, the poles are so common. They are everywhere. Elderly people going along in the center of downtown. Younger, strong fit people who look more like they should be jogging, zipping along the foot/cycle paths as well as on nature trails or hiking. I don't think I've made a full day here without seeing less than 10 'pole walkers' since I moved here.

  8. #8
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    ...in all my hiking, I don't know if I EVER saw anyone more than two miles from a trailhead with this kind of stuff...
    I see them quite a bit here in California (yes, a heck of a lot further than a couple of miles from a trailhead) and I've used them a heck of a lot further than a couple of miles from a treailhead. I use one pole and it makes a huge difference on ascents/descents. I messed up a knee in a fall skiing moguls in the late '70s and using a hiking pole has allowed me to keep up with my teenaged boys on the trail.

  9. #9
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    In fact, in all my hiking, I don't know if I EVER saw anyone more than two miles from a trailhead with this kind of stuff. Where I was hiking in Colorado, all trails lead uphill. Those things are just two more pounds of crap to tote up the mountain. If it's smooth, you walk up, no problem.
    You clearly have not tried good trekking poles. For backpacking, they are a huge benefit. Allowing your upper body to stabilize the load lessens the work that your hips and upper glutes need to do. This makes a significant difference during longer climbs (legs are not nearly as tired). For going downhill, the poles really help with minimizing impact (knees / ankles). For flat areas, they can help when footing is not ideal. I did a 7 day trek in the Olympic mountains with good poles and was able to keep up with friends who were in better shape than I was (they were the ones needing the rest breaks). My Dad got some for through hiking the AT and tested them on one of his training climbs. With poles, he did it in 36 minutes, without poles (the day before) he did the climb in 48 minutes. As I said, a HUGE difference.

    There is definitely a stigma in the US about carrying them (unlike Europe). Those people are just ignorant and don't know what they are missing. Yes, if you are mountaineering then use an ice axe. If you are backpacking or even doing some serious hiking try out the trekking poles. For flat pavement, they work well as a workout aid.

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