Trekking Poles

I used to think that only “old” people used Trekking poles. That might still be true, although I’ve now realized that they certainly do have their purpose. I don’t use them too much, occasionally I will on long backpacks with heavy weight. Otherwise I prefer not to have them in my hands. Most times I’d rather have my hands to use freely rather than dealing with the poles. My wife however really likes not only the extra shock absorbency they provide but she also feels she can move better with 4 legs instead of two. She believes her footing is more stable and her balance is improved. Certainly in wet conditions or snow she really prefers to have them.

When it comes down to it, trekking poles really do two things for you. They provide better balance and stability and they save your knees. A lot of weight distribution can be taken off your knees and put into the poles. As I metioned, I like poles with really heavy weight on my back. I can transfer a lot of the constant downward pressue of the pack right into ground via the poles. On long trips, my knees can certainly tell the difference.

I’ve also used poles on some longer backpacks across slick rock. With all the angular edges in the slickrock, they easily “stick”. I’d have to say that the sticks allow you to pretty much walk in auto-pilot mode. Having those poles to throw out to either side can be a nice thing. However, as soon as the terrain becomes steep the poles are no longer of use. That’s why we both have purchased telescoping poles. That way we can easily stash them on our packs. She doesn’t mind the pole-stashing process. I’d rather not deal with it :-)

  • When looking to purchase a set of trekking poles, be on the lookout for the following:
  • Are the poles one piece or telescoping? Again, we really like the ability to stash them when not in use. For this reason I’d advise against the one piece variety.
  • What are the poles made of? Are they aluminum or carbon fiber? We have both varieties. I managed to partially bend my aluminum pair. Both of our carbon fibers have withstood many trips. I’d recommend going with a carbon fiber model.
  • Are the poles anti-shock? I didn’t think there was much difference between “standard poles” without anti-shock and those with that feature. If you get the chance, try both variations and you’ll soon understand that the anti-shock really does work and not only will the pole take less of a beating, so will your joints.

What kind of locking mechanism is there on the pole? There are a few different varieties out there. Probably my favorite is from Leki. They have a screw type extension, which seems to hold really well. My wife prefers her pair which has a flick lock, which is kind of like a clamp that holds each section in place. It’s easy to adjust but I’ve seen her snag that clamp a couple of times and have the pole collapse as a result.

What kind of grip does the pole have? There’s a few different variations out there. Foam, rubber and cork. I prefer rubber. I like gear that can take a beating and I feel the rubber stands up well. My wife prefers foam as it’s softer to the touch.

Probably the last thing to consider is price. Personally I would look for models between $70-120. Anything cheaper than $70 and I doubt it’s going to hold up. Anything more expensive than $120 and it’s overkill.

Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles

Komperdell Vibra + Titanal Powerlock Gerlinde Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Carbon Trekking Poles

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