Trekking poles, pros and cons

Posted by Mark Denton on

Trekking poles are a relatively new phenomenon and in a short time they have taken the outdoor community by storm. They are quickly evolving from a rare novelty to standardized trekking equipment, used by professionals and beginners alike. 


These results lead to the inevitable question: "Why?". Well, there are many reasons but here is a list of the highlights. 

  • Increased stability in rocky, steep or slippery terrain (Think of the poles as two extra legs- works well for dogs, right?)
  • Spreads the strain of walking from just your lower body to the upper body as well, reducing leg fatigue
  • Takes pressure off of your knees (Especially nice on long descents) 
  • Provides an activity that keeps your mind off the weight of your pack, thus leading to a more pleasurable outing 
  • They can also be used in a variety of shelter constructions, in addition to a guide tarp, or in ultra-light tents that save weight and bulk by utilize trekking poles as the tent poles
  • Easily shortened and packed away when their use becomes an encumbrance (Scrambling routes etc) 

There are, however, a couple downsides to using poles. These include:

  • With use of arms and legs, we believe that overall exertion will be slightly higher with the use of poles
  • They can get in the way when you want to get at your water bottle or when you really need a snack
  • They can become an encumbrance on very narrow trails, where there is not enough room to place your poles 
Despite these shortcomings we believe that trekking poles over all create a safer and more pleasurable hiking experience. Which is probably the reason they have become so popular in the outdoor community.

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