Hiking Poles

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fricknaley
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Hiking Poles

Post by fricknaley » Jan 18 2009 10:19 am

Sooner or later I need to start looking into these, so I'd like your advice HAZ. Who here uses them, what kind and what do you think?
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PaleoRob
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by PaleoRob » Jan 18 2009 10:52 am

A single hiking pole from WalMart is what I use!
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by Jim_H » Jan 18 2009 11:03 am

The closest thing that comes to a hiking poles that I use is my trusty Ice Ax, and only then on steep slopes. I hope I never have to use poles.
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by Sredfield » Jan 18 2009 12:33 pm

I used to carry a broomstick and scorned these fancy high tech gadgets until right before my second knee surgery, now I don't leave the TH without them. Mine are Leki with adjustable spring tension, rubber handles and collapsible. The carbide tips hold up very well in the desert but in the hard granite of the Wind River Mtns, they do break so a spare pair is a good idea. Most long distance hikers I encounter use poles.
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Al_HikesAZ
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Jan 18 2009 1:35 pm

I stayed away from hiking poles until a few years ago. : rambo : Then I did a hike that I called a 5 icepack hike. I had icepacks on my ankles, knees and lower back after the hike. :stretch: I bought hiking poles the next day and I've never had this problem since. The poles take the jarring out of hiking downhill. On a serious downhill hike, I take both poles. On a flat hike I typically take one pole. I think the poles slow me down. I don't know if it's psychological or because I'm more careful when hiking with poles. Poles are worth their weight in gold coming down a scree slope or crossing a stream, especially a fast moving stream where you are trying to stay dry.

I use Black Diamond poles for most hikes and some backpacks because of the quick change system. You can shorten or lengthen a pole while hiking without stopping. If the hike has lots of up and down, this is the pole.

If a backpack is all down and then all up (or vice versa), I have Leki poles. I use Leki poles for Grand Canyon backpacking. The twist change mechanism is a little more klutzy. But I had a situation with my Black Diamond poles where I had my backpack on and ended up with all my (substantial) weight on one pole and I felt it collapsing slowly under my weight. 8-[ I lost confidence in these Black Diamond poles at that point for serious GC backpacking. It is slower adjusting the Leki poles, but when adjusted they hold the adjustment. If I'm hiking with others, I don't want to slow them down anymore than I already do, and I don't want to fall too far behind because I'm constantly making adjustments to the Leki poles.

Coming down from Flatiron, hiking poles aren't usable and can be a real bother. Hking poles can be adjusted very short and strapped to your backpack when not needed.

A hiking buddy of mine, who is living on a military pension, bought old ski poles at an estate sale in Sun City for 25cents each, cut them down and put a 22caliber casing on them as a tip. Works fine for him for most hikes.
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by snakemarks » Jan 18 2009 2:13 pm

I was skeptical at first, but once I tried them, I was hooked! I'm on my second pair of Black Diamonds. The first pair is still good (even though I've been very hard on them); I just upgraded to spoil myself. I now use Black Diamond Spire Eliptical, which I would highly recommend.

True, there are many situations where you will not need them, and in fact, they would be a nuisance (collapse them and strap them to the back of your pack). But, for the other times, they are invaluable... uphill and downhill on steeper slopes they will save you (saved me from a very bad fall once - always keep them out in front of you) and for creek crossings they are priceless (I could never have even stepped into Fossil Creek without them). They are also handy for parting the sea of cat claw and other nasties or could serve as a weapon against ?

I used to think they were only for the elderly or inferm, but I never hit the trail without them, now. Borrow a pair and see for yourself. Happy shopping!
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by ssk44 » Jan 18 2009 2:18 pm

I don't use a walking staff or trekking poles, however I will carry a lightweight wood push-broom handle on hikes during warmer times of the year for the sole purpose of flushing out rattle snakes in front of me. Particularly valuable for off-trail hiking. I can buy them at a hardware store for about $5.00 bucks. If I loose it, it's really no big deal. I can just go out and buy another one.
Last edited by ssk44 on Jan 18 2009 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by PaleoRob » Jan 18 2009 2:51 pm

Al_HikesAZ wrote:A hiking buddy of mine, who is living on a military pension, bought old ski poles at an estate sale in Sun City for 25cents each, cut them down and put a 22caliber casing on them as a tip. Works fine for him for most hikes.
I've talked to a couple folks that use this method and are very happy with it as well.
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by big_load » Jan 18 2009 3:26 pm

I use trekking poles nearly all the time. They allowed me to get out safe after a nasty knee injury, and they still help keep me going with less pain. They're great for stream crossings and have helped me escape countless twisted ankles. They're handy for snowshoeing, too.

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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by Dschur » Jan 18 2009 6:21 pm

I have two that I have started using especially in the grand canyon. Since I am short in the legs the steps on the trails I found myself pushing off my leg to get up the steps in the canyon. And when there is ice it helps too. Also when I don't use them my hands swell up from hanging them down and so have found that with the poles it keep the swelling down. We just did Fossil Springs trail today and took them and made a difference on the slopes there too. (Didn't go to the dam) They are Tracks and are the telescoping type like a tent pole and work fine (the top also unthread to show a camera mount on it so works as a monopod as well)
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by Jeffshadows » Jan 18 2009 7:08 pm

I'm with Hodlof on this one, but Nick and I have discussed this in the past. There is definitely an unspoken image of "sissy-ness" associated with trekking pole usage, but concern with those kinds of things subsided for me after I entered the realm of adulthood. Instead, my concern is the possibility that I would be robbing myself of exercise or endurance training in some way. All of the professional journals that had articles seemed to indicate that there is a definite benefit when it comes to impact on knees when on descent. One study found a possibility of back injury due to leaning into the poles and throwing one's center of gravity out-of-whack on ascent.

All told, some of us hike 18-20 miles in a day with elevation gains above 4,000' at times. Coming back down off of one of these hikes on a steep descent, the poles might actually be a real safety feature. I just can't shake the image of the woman I ran into years back on Esperero who was chugging her way into Bird Canyon despite looking like she was about to go into cardiac arrest with her poles clanging and swinging in an obnoxious and ridiculous fashion as she came. I don't think anyone wants to be "that person."
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by Davis2001r6 » Jan 18 2009 8:25 pm

Sissy or not I have no problem bringing poles. Especially on longer hikes with steep terrain, they power you up hill and save your knee's downhill. I've broke some UL Rei carbon poles, my Leki Super Makula's have lasted me a few years. Forget them one time heading for the Cactus to Clouds hike and bought some walmart poles for $14, they have worked for a few trips but can be hard to get to lock now.

Occasionally you can find the Leki's on sale for like $79, get the the ones with the handles that are angled forward, you wouldn't think it would make much of a difference but it does.

Sure there are some super light poles or carbon poles, golf club shaft homemade poles. But mine go through a lot of abuse In several cases I thought they would have snapped in half. Once again I think you get what you pay for.

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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by Jeffshadows » Jan 18 2009 8:37 pm

The Lekis are pretty good?
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by big_load » Jan 18 2009 8:44 pm

I've always used Lekis but if I were buying today, I would go for Black Diamond. The flick-lock mechanism is easier to use in the cold and some people find that it holds better. A big consideration for me is folded length. They have to fit nicely in my pack or luggage for air travel.

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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by nonot » Jan 18 2009 8:48 pm

I use the walmart cheapies to shove the bushes and catclaw out of the way to make passage through the thorns, to beat the crap out of bushes and dead-poky things to clear the trail, and...occasionally, to help me hike by pushing myself along, mainly on the uphills.

I bought them after I had trouble with my knees on 15+ mile dayhikes on rocky/bouldery terrain and haven't had any pain since. After i had them I discovered the side-effect that they reduced the cuts to my body by probably 75%. Plus, when hiking down rivers and canyons, they're worth carrying when you slip on the algae covered rock and they prevent you splitting your skull open.

If you are as rough on your gear as me, buy the walmart ones, but if you treat your stuff with respect, buy something better.
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big_load
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by big_load » Jan 18 2009 9:19 pm

nonot wrote:After i had them I discovered the side-effect that they reduced the cuts to my body by probably 75%.
Yeah, they're great for working through brush.

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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by Hoffmaster » Jan 18 2009 9:41 pm

big_load wrote:I've always used Lekis but if I were buying today, I would go for Black Diamond. The flick-lock mechanism is easier to use in the cold and some people find that it holds better. A big consideration for me is folded length. They have to fit nicely in my pack or luggage for air travel.
My wife has a pair of these and has had exactly the opposite experience. They collapse without warning all of time. But I have a pair of Lekis that have a broken twist mechanism. I've been using them years for years like that. So I guess they all have design flaws, so you just take your chances really.

I remember being skeptical about trekking poles before I used them. My first trip with them was Hellsgate to Tonto Creek. After the first mile or so I got used to them and I can't imagine going on a long hike without them... unless the hike is flat. Poles make climbing hills feel easier, and they make descending steep loose slopes a lot more secure. Plus, studies have shown that using trekking poles burns more calories, even though it is perceived as less effort. Bonus!

I never felt like a "sissy" when using trekking poles. I've been on plenty of hikes, especially in the Grand Canyon, where I felt that a person would be an idiot for not using trekking poles.
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by rushthezeppelin » Jan 18 2009 10:31 pm

PageRob wrote:A single hiking pole from WalMart is what I use!
This is a good idea to find out if you like poles or not. Only 15 bucks for a set that's adjustable (the adjusters haven't started slipping on me yet). If you end up not liking poles you're only out 15 bucks. If you really like em and have the money then you can get a nice expensive lightweight set. That said I don't really mind the extra weight of the wally world poles and they even come with a nifty compass on top (word to the wise don't throw the poles down ledges handle side first unless you want to loose a compass : P). They have lasted me for almost half a year now and have saved my ass from certain doom on a few occasions. Now whether or not you like them I would HIGHLY suggest taking at least one anyway if you plan on making your way up and down very steep scree or if you're say switchbacking up a VERY steep mountainside with a 6" wide trail that has 1' of frozen snow on it (just did that today......I'm buying crampons very soon ><). It's nice to know you have that much extra stability in situations like that.

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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by snakemarks » Jan 19 2009 1:07 am

Jeff MacE wrote: Instead, my concern is the possibility that I would be robbing myself of exercise or endurance training in some way.
Even though it seems like it doesn't take much effort, you would be surprised at how much exercise your upper body gets with normal use of poles on an incline as opposed to mostly just being along for the ride. And, considering how much stronger your legs are than your arms or shoulders, giving the latter something to do once in a while really doesn't take much away from the work out your legs are getting. I almost think it 'adds' more exercise, but you would have to try it yourself to appreciate the difference.
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Re: Hiking Poles

Post by Jeffshadows » Jan 19 2009 8:32 am

snakemarks wrote:
Jeff MacE wrote: Instead, my concern is the possibility that I would be robbing myself of exercise or endurance training in some way.
Even though it seems like it doesn't take much effort, you would be surprised at how much exercise your upper body gets with normal use of poles on an incline as opposed to mostly just being along for the ride. And, considering how much stronger your legs are than your arms or shoulders, giving the latter something to do once in a while really doesn't take much away from the work out your legs are getting. I almost think it 'adds' more exercise, but you would have to try it yourself to appreciate the difference.
I found a study that seems to agree with what Matt said with regard to this point, as well. The results found there was a larger oxygen demand with pole usage, the logical conclusion being that you somehow work harder over the same terrain with poles in hand. My guess would be this has something to do with the fact that you are transferring some of the effort to your arms, which would require more energy to do the same work than your legs. It's interesting, really.

I can say that, on more than one occasion, I've rolled an ankle so badly that many people would have sat down and waited for SAR. I had a near-dislocation once that I just wrapped in duct tape and ambled on through the agony that increased as the swelling grew. Every time this happens it's on the descent and almost always when the descent is very steep and rocky. I can envision poles having prevented all of these incidents...maybe even acting like a crutch if it happened, anyway. :D
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