Not sold on the benefits of trekking poles for hiking and backpacking? Improved efficiency, increased safety, and less wear and tear on joints are just a few of the reasons trekking poles almost always find their way onto gear lists.
Here’s a list of the top 10 reasons why you should consider them for your next hike.
1. Better Stability
Hikers commonly encounter different terrain. And the Northeast is home to notoriously harsh terrain. No matter the season, hikers can encounter conditions ranging from snow to bare rock to mud, not to mention roots and wet rocks. Trekking poles allow for two additional points of contact with the ground, greatly increasing stability and traction.
2. Reduced Impact on Your Body
Long descents can be hard on your knees and ankles. Trekking poles shift some of the burden on your joints onto a person's shoulders and arms, reducing the pounding your lower body takes, especially when going downhill. Trekking poles can reduce compressive force on knees as much as 25%. Hiking poles
also aid with stability on steep sections or large drops.
3. Increased Balance
Trekking poles help you maintain balance in difficult terrain such as river crossings, slippery brides, icy walkways, and tree roots on trails. Staying balanced helps you move more safely and easily while walking.
4. Get a Full-Body Workout
It’s obvious that backpacking guarantees a lower body workout. But, what about biceps, triceps, and forearms? Well, poles allow your arms to join in on the action. Ascents and descents are like a day at the gym for the upper body while flats engage the core.
5. Hike Faster & Further
Since walking sticks incorporate your arms and shoulders as part of the hiking motion, you’re able to use more muscle to propel yourself uphill and to control your descent. This results in an increase in speed, without an increase in leg soreness. They also help you establish and maintain a consistent rhythm, which can increase your speed, especially on flatter, non-technical terrain.
6. Cross Rivers, Snowfields & Tough Terrain
We’ve said it a few times, but poles provide balance. They also act as a third and fourth point of contract, and friction in snow or wedged between rocks for river crossings.
7. Give Yourself a Boost
Trekking poles allow your arms to help push you forward and upward. You can establish a consistent rhythm when hiking which in turn can increase your speed.
8. Support for Shelters
Poles can be used for things other than hiking. For example, they save the weight of bringing dedicated tent poles; pitching a shelter with hiking poles can save up to two pounds. As a matter of fact, many of today’s ultralight backpacking tents are packaged without traditional tent poles. Instead, they require trekking poles to properly support the shelter.
Trekking poles tend to be much stronger and more rigid than tent poles, so they are less likely to break and will help create a safer shelter.
9. First Aid Essential
Believe it or not, there are a number of emergency situations where trekking poles can come in handy. In the case of a broken bones or sprained joints, they can be used as a splint. They even act as additional support assistance if you roll your ankle or hurt your knee and need to make it back to your car from the hike.
10. Carry More Weight
The weight in your pack is better distributed throughout your body when using hiking poles. This will allow you to comfortably and safely carry additional pounds. Whether you’re schlepping extra weight for a friend, have a smaller torso, or hauling additional days of food on a thru-hike, poles will 100% balance the load.
If you're finally sold on the benefits and want to give hiking poles a try, check out our customer favorite, lightweight Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles. Each pole weights about 7.6 ounces making them super convenient and light to bring along on any hike.