Author Topic: What is the point of those silly hiking/walking sticks?  (Read 49977 times)

Offline kwayne4588

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Re: What is the point of those silly hiking/walking sticks?
« Reply #60 on: August 29, 2013, 07:51:59 PM »
I have heard that they can help keep your hands from swelling while hiking.

Offline Crazy Fox

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Re: What is the point of those silly hiking/walking sticks?
« Reply #61 on: August 30, 2013, 08:52:39 AM »
I have heard that they can help keep your hands from swelling while hiking.

Yeah, maybe since your arm won't be dangling at your side all day.

Offline BradliusMaximus

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Re: What is the point of those silly hiking/walking sticks?
« Reply #62 on: August 30, 2013, 09:09:32 AM »
Lol. Texas sounds scary. Is it better t have one or 2 sticks. in other words I am cheap and want to buy one stick.

Well I know the OP of this thread already bought poles, but for anyone else wondering about it I wanted to just throw in my take. 

I don't have a whole lot that I can contribute to this thread that has not already been said, but I will at least add one more voice to the list of those that would not hike without them (at least not any hike with a decent amount of distance/elevation change anyway). 

And I would definitely recommend using 2 and not 1!  For me personally, using just 1 doesn't seem to help a whole lot.  Using 2 at a time is a lot easier to get into a rhythm with.  Basically the rhythm works by having the pole in your right hand contact the ground and begin supporting your weight just before your left foot hits the ground.  They basically simulate how a dog walks.  Watch a quadraped walk and you will see that whatever front foot is on the ground; the opposite back foot is paired with it.  Aides in speed and stability too.  And for me, they help save some energy in my legs when going uphill and help take a little bit of pressure off your back, but they are SUPER helpful going down.  They help out my knees so much! 

I go backpacking a few times each year out on the AT (Appalachian trail) in VA and WVa and I can tell you that they cut out any sort of knee pain by at least half but probably more.  And probably more importantly, I have never gotten a sprained ankle since I started using them, like not even 1.  I trip and lose footing ALL.THE.TIME. but I never experience anything more than a brief "ouch!" because you almost instantly transfer your weight from your legs to your arms in the event of a slip, so it doesn't result in any injury.   

One thing I will caution you on though, I get the whole not wanting to spend a lot of money on gear thing, but I wouldn't skimp on a pack, boots, and poles.  You want high quality stuff with these 3 items because skimping on these can result in injuries, blisters, and/or muscle pain/soreness.  Get a good pair that will last.

*Edited out a spelling error.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 09:20:47 AM by BradliusMaximus »

Offline GrizzlyAdams

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Re: What is the point of those silly hiking/walking sticks?
« Reply #63 on: August 30, 2013, 05:52:50 PM »
My wife and I hike all over the White Mountains of NH and never go without them. 

1. They are excellent for steep descents to prevent you from falling as you get your footing on wet rocks, tree roots, and loose rockets. 

2. They also will save tons of wear-and-tear on your knees on the descents as well.

3. Great for knocking down spider webs that are across the less used trails.

GA

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: What is the point of those silly hiking/walking sticks?
« Reply #64 on: August 31, 2013, 03:03:13 AM »
My wife and I hike all over the White Mountains of NH and never go without them. 

1. They are excellent for steep descents to prevent you from falling as you get your footing on wet rocks, tree roots, and loose rockets. 

2. They also will save tons of wear-and-tear on your knees on the descents as well.

3. Great for knocking down spider webs that are across the less used trails.

GA

Exactly why my wife and I use them.  Plus, they are helpful when crossing snowfields and slippery or fast moving streams.

I used to think they were silly accessories, but as I got older and the knees would get painful on long descents I wised up.  I can really lessen the shock to my knees a LOT with the trekking poles.  My wife laughed at me using them until I lent her mine and she loved them.  I really like the Black Diamond ergo cork handle ones.  My wife got the same but in carbon fiber. Very sturdy, compact, solid and fast  latching, reference marks for lengths, basket and carbide tip.

No way I needed these when I was 16-40 yrs old, except on snowfield or stream traverses.  But especially after 50 they are most welcome.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: What is the point of those silly hiking/walking sticks?
« Reply #65 on: September 03, 2013, 01:44:33 PM »
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Lol. Texas sounds scary. Is it better t have one or 2 sticks. in other words I am cheap and want to buy one stick.

My good friend hiked 800 miles on the AT last summer — and only took ONE of his two trekking poles. His muscular problems that he's had since proved my point in telling him to take both and to not be as concerned about micro-managing your backpack weight. He was even cutting the "un-necessary" straps off his pack to shed ounces…

Having two poles keeps your balance in check.

The thing is, you can pretty much try out the concept by picking up 2 sticks off the ground for free — and then invest in the $$ poles when you have the $$ or feel they are worthwhile.

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Here's the Poncho Tarp from GoLite.

I've used mine with some paracord to create shelters, and to string along paracord between trees to make a rain canopy over my hammock — using the trekking poles and more paracord to lift the corners higher off the ground, giving me a larger field of view while laying in the hammock. 2 trekking poles, some paracord, and a tarp makes a shelter if you don't mind insects crawling on you while you sleep!

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When I was out hiking on the PCT last summer I did not see a single person without them! There were young and old, male and female, super in shape and just kind of ambling people out there.

My first experience WANTING them was when I went hiking with this group with people I could otherwise keep up with, on some harsher terrain than we normally hiked. Watching some of the people who brought poles putting half an hour on the rest of the group (and having half an hour longer to relax at rest stops) was enough reason for me to want them. They really speed you up through the woods.

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Most of the time I'll only mess with them if I'm crossing water, to probe the bottom. I might pick some up and give them the old college try one of these days.

Just make sure to use the wrist straps PROPERLY. I see so many people just half-assed wrap them around their wrists having no idea that the straps actually DO SOMETHING OTHER than keep your pole with you when you fall.

Used properly you hardly have to keep a grip on the poles themselves. They should be wrapped in such a way that when you open your hand completely and put all your weight on the poles, the straps keep your hands right up against the grips. Not having to grip them with much strength makes a huge difference at the end of the day.

I also hike with cycling gloves all the time. I use them on my canoe, hiking poles, and bicycles because blisters really SUCK compared to sweaty hands. The gloves help your grip, prevent blisters, give you a terry cloth to wipe sweat (certain gloves), and other benefits. I pretty much keep a pair in my backpack all the time.

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I realize I'm reviving a dead post here, but I have an interest in this topic so I thought I'd give you my experience.

I prefer to use a single wooden stick (aka "hiking staff")  rather than two skinny metal ones (aka "trekking poles"). While having 2 trekking poles allows you to better utilize your upper body and provides great stability, I like having one hand free while hiking (grab water/snacks, check my GPS, grip a rock for stability, etc.).

Also, a hiking staff is usually more adaptable. Since it doesn't have a built in grip, you can grip any part of it with almost equal comfort. If you are descending steep terrain, you can hold on to the very top of the staff to ease your descent. If you are ascending, you don't need to reach way up to the top of the staff, you can grab the middle to pull yourself up. With trekking poles you are limited to the existing position of the grip, which is perhaps only an issue in undulating terrain, but worthy of consideration.

For short hikes I don't mind using a single staff. It is more convenient, and the one I use is just a pretty solid, straight stick I picked up off the ground several years ago and kept since it worked well. They even MAKE thicker single-pole hiking staffs that they sell alongside trekking poles at REI etc.

However, I won't take a single pole on any hike of significant length, carrying a backpack, challenging terrain, or hiking with people who are faster than me.

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One thing I will caution you on though, I get the whole not wanting to spend a lot of money on gear thing, but I wouldn't skimp on a pack, boots, and poles.  You want high quality stuff with these 3 items because skimping on these can result in injuries, blisters, and/or muscle pain/soreness.  Get a good pair that will last.

No TWIST-LOCK poles. They tend to collapse on you over time, especially on rough terrain. I will never own twist lock trekking poles from here out once mine have rendered themselves useless (or earlier). WATERPROOF boots are a seriously good thing, because once your feet are done YOU are done (even if the rest of you is fine). A pair of TEVA sandals (with the 3 straps) are also essential for stream crossings and relaxing at camp allowing your feet to dry out.

As for backpacks — the higher up the weight is distributed, the more comfortable it will be. My military rucksack (the FIELD PACK LARGE / PATROL PACK) does not sit high enough regardless of how it is adjusted and I know that the "trail" oriented backpacks all distribute the weight higher on the body than the mil-spec packs seem to do.

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Plus, they are helpful when crossing snowfields and slippery or fast moving streams.

YES THEY DO. Waist high fast moving water is really tough as it is, but when you can lean against the current placing your poles in to lean against as you move sideways across, you can cross streams that you'd otherwise need the "buddy system" to cross safely.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: What is the point of those silly hiking/walking sticks?
« Reply #66 on: September 03, 2013, 01:46:47 PM »
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Most of the time I'll only mess with them if I'm crossing water, to probe the bottom. I might pick some up and give them the old college try one of these days.

I've used them in snow to discover holes in the rocks and uneven surfaces that saved my ankles from being beat to crap more than they normally get when hiking uneven hiking trails in the winter without snowshoes.