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