Trekking poles are a hiking accessory that helps hikers with their stability and rhythm while adjusting to different terrain. Typically sold as a pair, these hike accessories can help tone muscle groups in your arms while used in tandem and provide core support while walking. These are different than regular walking sticks because of the way they can provide propulsion, which is why you see cross-country skiers using them all of the time.
Trekking poles are not meant to hold up full body weight, rather, they are intended to support the body’s stability during movement. Similar to the mechanics found in a stair set’s railing, trek poles are a “lean-to” tool for mobility. These can be great for balancing while overcoming technical obstacles.
Looking to gain a leaner physique by using trekking poles? Great news! The Cooper Institute showed that Nordic walking increased energy expenditure and oxygen consumption by about 20% compared to walking without poles.
What is Nordic walking? It’s the act of walking cross-country with the aid of long poles. –Oxford
What Are Trekking Poles Made Out Of?
Trekking poles are usually made out of two primary materials, aluminum and carbon fiber. Where both are lightweight, the latter is the lightest. However, carbon fiber is known to crack when exposed to rough use, whereas aluminum is much more resilient. As an ultralight enthusiast, I’d go with the carbon fiber. For a more budget friendly pack out, aluminum would be the way to go.
Some hikers actually dislike using carbon fiber because it’s known to break. If you go the carbon fiber route be prepared to take good care of your poles. Many of todays hiking bags and backpacking setups have straps included to hold your trek poles.
How To Size Your Trekking Poles
You should hold your arm outward to a 90 degree angle, and, with palm facing to the ground, the mid-handle of your trekking pole should reach your hand.
There are trekking poles available on the market that are adjustable and some that are collapsible as well. It’s worth mentioning that the collapsible ones help not to snag tree branches when they’re stowed and not in use.
The History Of Trekking Poles
The use of trekking poles dates to cross-country Scandinavian skiing. Also known as “Nordic skiing”. Skiers would utilize these poles to launch themselves forward, over expansive ski runs, and over passes.
Trekking Pole Attachments
There are multiple attachments available but here I’ll list a few examples:
Mud baskets: designed for mud, beaches, sand and very grassy trails.
Snow baskets: designed specifically for soft ground textures such as snow or very light meadow grass.
Rubber Tips: are able to be used on any terrain, and provide a better “grip”-like traction while hiking.
Should You Invest In Trekking Poles?
I think trekking poles are just as important as any other piece of gear in your pack. That being said, it was also the last piece of gear I worried about getting. That probably isn’t the safest advice, but at the time I felt pretty confident with my stability and reaction while on trails. Once you start hiking with trekking poles, you’ll notice a big difference. They’re not for everyone, but everyone should at least give them a try. A good pair will set you back about $100-$200 depending on what brand and what material you choose. Well worth the price when you take your safety into consideration.
This post was written by Evan