Hiking the Trail – Hiking Poles, Good or Bad?

There is some debate over the usefulness of hiking poles. Do they actually help you, or are they just added weight and something to keep track of? For those who like hiking poles the debate goes a step further, do you use one pole or is two better? Each of these is personal preferences, but there are some advantages to hiking poles you may want to consider.

Qualities of a Good Hiking Pole

Unless you are purchasing a walking stick for show, or for a short day hike, there are certain characteristics you will want to consider. Certain options and features make a difference in selecting the proper pole for your needs.

  • Weight, as with any gear for hiking weight is always a consideration regardless if it goes in your pack, or in your hand.
  • Easily adjustable to different heights.
  • Comfortable grip.
  • Sturdy – you use these for support and balance and they need to be up to the task.

Advantages of Using a Hiking Pole

There are several advantages to carrying a hiking pole, or two. These advantages change depending on the type of hiking you are doing. Will you be on snow, extremely rocky terrain, crossing wide streams? In each of these hiking poles can be very helpful.

Balance – one of the best reasons to carry a hiking pole is to maintain your balance. A stumble or fall on the trail can be serious and anything which helps prevent or protect you from this threat is worth considering.

Joint Protection – the use of anti-shock hiking poles when hiking downhill has been shown to reduce the impact on your knees and other joints.

Prevent Muscle Fatigue – Using hiking poles will take some of the strain off your back and transfer it to your shoulders and arms.

Double as Tent Poles – A number of the ultra-light tents no longer come with tent poles. Instead, you use your hiking poles as tent poles. With this application, you are carrying no extra weight and you gain hiking poles att he same time, a win-win situation.

Top Brands of Hiking Poles

There are several companies which make fine quality hiking poles. The key will be to select the model which has the features and options you desire and which best fits your needs. The drawback to all of these is the cost. A good hiking pole is expensive and if you decide to use dual poles for added comfort and balance, the cost will obviously be doubled. A good hiking pole can cost $100 with the top of the line going for as much as $200 or more.

  • Black Diamond
  • Levi
  • Komperdell
  • Nordic