Trekking poles are wonderful aids for hikers. I see them more and more often when I am hiking and I use them myself. Trekking poles allow you more safety and stability on uneven terrain. They also take some of the stress off of your joints.
First, let me talk a little about trekking poles. They are made of lightweight aluminum or carbon fiber. They have a hand grip which is designed to fit the palm of your hand. They are adjustable length poles, usually in three sections that you can change to match your height. Your forearm should be at a ninety degree angle to the ground when your hand is on the grip. They have a rubber tipped point on the end which is usually made of carbide or steel. Most poles have hand straps on the grips which are good for stability.
What do they do?
Trekking poles give you better stability on all types of terrain. It’s like having four legs. I find them particularly helpful when I am crossing a stream and have to step from rock to rock. They definitely give you better balance.
If you are on a trail where there is loose, crumbly rock, litter or leaves, they can help you maintain your footing. Whether you are out camping, or on a birding walk, you will find the poles a great help.
Will they help my achy knees?Trekking poles can greatly reduce the stress on your legs and knees. This is particularly true when you are going downhill. You may think downhill would be easier, but it puts a tremendous strain on your legs. Some poles have a spring loaded anti shock feature, that can be activated when you face a long downhill stretch.
When you are going uphill, the poles help to thrust you forward and transfer some of your weight to your shoulders. If you have a long uphill, you can shorten the poles a few inches to make them more comfortable and effective. The straps should come between your palm and your hand grip. They also take some of your weight when you are pushing uphill.
When you are on level surfaces, the poles help you to establish a rhythm to your stride. If you’re in an area where you can’t see clearly if you’re stepping on a solid surface, you can use your pole to poke the ground surface.
Whether you are on a long or a short hike, you will find that trekking poles are an important part of your hiking gear. So give yourself a break and try out some trekking poles.