Backpacking - About Trekking poles
Trekking poles are not needed in all situations, however I won't go anywhere without them, because you don't know when the trail will get rough. They are as important as good socks and shoes, and can save your life.
Most obviously, poles reduce the impact of hiking on knee joints and leg muscles. Arm, core muscles, stomach, back, and shoulder muscles support and relieve the leg muscles and strengthen the upper body and arms.
With arms holding the poles blood circulation is improved and the heart rate is reduced. The natural motion rhythm caused by using poles can lead to better breathing and reduce the work by your body with each step which should allow you to hike further.
I find poles are very helpful by providing balance when crossing streams, although I can usually cross a stream without them, unless it's a really difficult crossing.
However, I find trekking poles essential when hiking down or up rough rocky, steep, bouldery trails, and can help prevent injury. In my thinking this is the absolute best reason to use poles.
I fell down twice on a hike that was particularly rocky and steep, and that caused me to start thinking about buying some trekking poles.
But when I fell down on another trail a week later, and landed on one of those cacti that has very high density of needles. It took me over 3 hours to remove cactus needles from my leg, knee, arm, hand, shoulder and the back of my left leg. You have to hold the light just right, and using tweezers, pull firmly.
After you remove the needles from your body, then you have to remove them from your clothes. They stick to the fabric of blue jeans very nicely, and they're really hard to find. That was a memorable experience that I don't want to repeat.
I fell on a cactus, however some who live in areas that don't have cacti may think trekking poles are not for them. Well, what if it was a sharp rock that I fell on rather than a cactus? I might have broken a bone, or badly scraped my skin, or badly bruised my arm or leg. Worse yet, what if I was out in the middle of a wilderness, far from hospital or doctors and broke a bone in my leg and couldn't hike out? With no cell phone coverage in the wilderness, it could get bad. Even satphones can fail, or be time delayed.
Bottom line: I won't go hiking anywhere without my trekking poles. If they're needed due to trail conditions, they are in my hands. If not needed for the section of trail than I'm currently hiking, then they are in my pack ready for when the trekking poles will be needed.
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Last Update: May 10, 2015
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