Why trekking poles are a must have for serious hikers
Trekking poles or hiking poles, no matter how you call them, chances are if you’ve ever been to the mountain, you’ve seen people using them. People that are just starting to go on hiking trips or first time hikers usually think – “those are for old people” or things of that sort. The truth is that if you have hiked for more than 3 hours at a time or you’ve climbed hills with a more than 20% incline you probably looked around to get find a wooden stick to help yourself. This is because having a 3rd point of contact with the ground will help you ease off the stress that’s been put on your legs the whole time. There are a few major reasons why having trekking poles is a must for your next hiking trip no matter your age.
Trekking poles might literally save your knees
When you’re hiking the trail or climbing a steeper hill, there’s just a whole lot of pressure on your knees at all times. This pressure is obviously bigger when you’re climbing, but it’s there even on small uphill trails. Longer hiking trips, especially ones with a lot of uphill and downhill walking can be really stressful on your knees and a lot of people have injured themselves by pushing themselves too much. Long hiking trips mean that you’ll probably have a pretty heavy backpack along the way, which is just an additional stress to your already stressed knees. As knees are pretty much the shock-absorber of your body, they’ll be bearing all the weight and absorbing the force of you and your backpack being pulled by the forces of gravity down. If you have a pair of hiking poles though, all of this force is spread out across your knees and your arms as well. Having 4 points of contact with the ground instead of 2 is obviously a great advantage for keeping your balance as well. With the help of your arms and a pair of rugged hiking poles, there isn’t anything that can stop you enjoying the views and not worrying about pain and damage to your knees. Sparing your knees in the short term might not seem like much, especially if you’re young, but as the years go by, those long trekking adventures and all their miles start building up, which can result in unpleasant pain, which could even make you give up your favorite outdoor activity. A study has shown that the stress reduction of your knees can be as high as 25%, which like earlierly mentioned will do wonders in the long run.
Hiking poles keep your whole body in shape
You have all seen those funny machines at the gym that simulate running. Well have you noticed that there are two poles that you hold on to, while “running” on them. The reason why this machine exists in the first place is because it works your whole body and not only your feet. There’s no natural way to make you use your hands while running and train them and that’s why these machines aren’t just a treadmill with two sticks on the side. Without getting sidetracked too much on this, the point I’m trying to make is that these machines are there because they work your upper body just as much as they work your legs, which is exactly what happens when you use trekking poles on your hiking trips. Using your arms to help yourself climb spreads the weight from your legs only, to your upper body – arms, shoulders and back muscles. We all know that doing a long hiking trip burns a whole lot of calories and is a fantastic workout, but a hiking trip which works your whole body is much better than one which only gets your legs toned up.
Trekking poles could save you from falling
You know how when you fall down face first, you always spread your arms forward. This happens because you’d face plant if you don’t and the equivalent of this action when you have trekking poles is to stick them in front of you so you don’t fall at all. If you have strong enough arms you can basically put your whole body’s weight on the trekking poles if they are tough enough to support it, which means that if you accidentally trip and your other foot isn’t going to help you prevent from falling, your arms might just do the trick (with the help of a pair of hiking poles). This will definitely save you from bruising up badly and in some instances it might help you from breaking something. If you’re walking on a narrow path, a pair of hiking poles might help you keep your balance as well, which is just an added benefit.
They are perfect for balancing
As we hinted in the last section, hiking poles are the perfect thing to keep you balanced and stay on track. You can use them not only as a point of contact, but spread them out sideways if you’re walking over a tree or a narrow wooden bridge, just like a rope-walker would. Obviously the better way to use them for balancing is to stick them in the ground and use them that way, but the rope-walking style and use of trekking poles isn’t something that you’d want to underestimate.
Use them like a machete
Well obviously not exactly like a machete, but you could use your trekking poles to get smaller branches, thorns and other unpleasant things out of your way. If you like going off the tracks and explore the mountains and deserts yourself (something that we do not recommend, especially to unexperienced hikers) there would definitely be things that will stand in your way. If you like making your own personal trails, you’ll definitely need something in order to make way for yourself and possibly your companions.
Use them like a minesweeper
When you’re exploring the outdoors you have to always expect the unexpected. Rocks that might look “rock solid” and like they haven’t moved from their place for ages, could potentially injure you badly. There are some rocks that might look like they’ll definitely move if you step on them and your hiking poles are a perfect option to test if you should step on them if it’s absolutely necessary to do so. You will get a feeling of just how much weight a certain rock can take and plan your next move accordingly.
Use them to scare animals away
Snakes, scorpions and in some instances some insects could ruin a hiking trip, that’s for sure, especially if you stumble upon a venomous creature. Use your trekking poles to “poke around” from a safe distance and make sure that there aren’t any surprises hiding in the bushes for you. Desert areas might not need you to use the trekking poles for climbing or getting downhill, but there are all kinds of creatures that might harm you or ruin a perfectly nice outdoor adventure, without any need of that happening. Use your trekking pole to prevent such cases for you and your party.