Words by Mydee Lasquite
Trekking poles are standard equipment for the determined individual taking their strides to a whole new level. A pair of reliable poles have proven to be strategic, operational and convenient for hikers, trekkers, backpackers, and snowshoers, because of its functional ability to provide support, safety, and stability during hiking trips.
In a recent post, we shared the top reasons why investing in a pair of trekking poles is essential for any individual wanting to explore the outdoors. Key takeaways are as follows:
An old, yet still relevant study from The Journal Sports Medicine, trekking poles can reduce compressive force on the knees by up to 25%. This means that it displaces an enormous amount of weight from your lower body to your poles during treacherous climbs. They effectively help distribute energy to your body which significantly improves overall hiking endurance.
Now that you have an understanding of the importance of trekking poles, your next stop is understanding features as a guide to buying the most suitable trekking poles for your next adventure.
These are your primary trekking poles. They provide a similar level of balance and support just like but without the anti-shock feature.
These poles come with built-in springs that absorb the shock as you go downhill. Anti-shock poles are recommended for trekkers or hikers suffering from weak or damaged ankles, hips or knees.
To the experienced hiker or trekker, they refer to this as the Grip. The shape and feel of grip vary by manufacturer. Some consider portability, others comfort. The material used for the handle design should provide comfort to your hands. Commonly used materials:
This comes standard with trekking poles. Mainly to secure your trekking poles from slipping or getting out of your hand. Some poles come with adjustable straps. The friction from constant contact can contribute to chaffing; it best to find padded or lined straps for better comfort.
The shaft is the body of the walking pole. The material used in your trekking pole dictates its price in the market.
The most common types of locking down your trekking poles:
The basket at the bottom of your pole is designed to prevent your trekking poles from sinking too deep into the ground, which usually happens when you encounter soft mud or snow. Wider baskets are ideal for winter trekking.
Opt for trekking poles with removable baskets, because they can be used for both winter and summer activities.
Pole tips are for extra protection. They provide traction and control on most surfaces.
We have discussed the essential features to look for in trekking poles. Below are additional considerations in picking the most suitable pole for your outdoor adventure.
Lighter is better because it’s easier to carry around. However, we cannot discount the added safety and comfort of heavier materials especially if we require extra strength and more durable pole for longer, tedious treks.
Anyone who has experience in backpacking, climbing, and mountaineering will focus on this feature, mainly because, it is easier to carry around.
In a separate blog, we mentioned a few things that make trekking poles useful when exploring the outdoors. Here, we refer to versatility as the ability of your trekking poles to adapt to what your activity requires. Shorter poles are more comfortable to carry around when climbing, because they are easy to breakdown. Anti-shock poles are great for well-traveled trails. Make sure that your poles are manufactured to withstand the test of weather, nature and your physical requirements.
The best trekking pole does not come from the expensive brands, but from the brands that combine all the essential elements of a useful, functional and reliable trekking pole. Experienced trekkers and climbers understand that functionality, safety, and comfort come together in finding a reliable trekking pole.
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Taking care of your physical health is obvious when it comes to outdoor activities; if you’re injured, there is a set limit to how much you can physically do (and a much lower limit for how much you should do.)
Though we don’t always pay attention to them, mental health and emotional health are equally as important. Pay attention to the voice inside your head that is telling you to come down. You will not summit today. That is OK.
I’ve made the choice to dedicate my life to my passion, and that doesn’t come without sacrifice. There are more days than not that not having a wife, a family or an established career can eat away at me. I experience a lot of loneliness because of my choices. I’m 45 years old, and there are days I wonder if I’ll ever have a different response to the questions people ask me. Sitting on a mountain top, tent flap open, sun going down, a majestic aura all around me fills me with inconceivable joy, but it also has its moments of aching solitude.