The more you hike the greater the chance that you’ll meet characters who will tell you that hiking and trekking poles are for sissies.
Before you go BraveHeart on your joints, take a moment and think about what this conversation would look like if you had it with your knees or ankles.
You should absolutely use trekking poles on serious hikes. Full stop.
Let’s get into the reasons why…
- You have hands. And if you are a serious hiker or trekker you should use them to minimize the chances of injury and to hike faster (if that is your thing).
- As I said, if they could talk your knees and ankles would thank you for it. Maybe it’s not such a big deal for you now, but if you doubt it, let’s talk again in 20, 30 or 40 years. The evidence – a comprehensive study from 1999 in the Journal of Sports Medicine found that these poles reduce the compressive knee stress by 24-25 %.
- If you are getting bored of what I’m saying here, think of me the next time you come across a thick thorny shrub and you have to push through it using just your hands. I bet you’ll wish you had a hiking pole then.
- Nothing beats the help of a pole when you come across a slippery surface or a roaring river. It’s simple physics – 2 additional points of pressure equals better stability and a more comfortable hike.
- They might end up being your only defense against the dangerous “beauties” of the wildlife. You can drive away a wild dog or even defend yourself if needed. If an extreme situation occurs (like coming across a bear) and you determine that nothing else worked and you are about to be attacked, your chances of actually being attacked significantly decrease if you look bigger and more dangerous. Wielding your hiking pole can do just that, make you look big and scary.
- Improvisation – your hiking pole combined with your emergency foil cover can make a much needed shade or rain protector. I can think of at least dozen ways I improvised and used my pole over the years. When you get into the mindset of a true hiker some things can become pretty much anything else if needed. It’s like a Harry Potter wand, only way cooler.
The only drawback of using a pole on a hike is that you’ll be using more energy but you’ll more than make up for it in the speed and less stress on your joints.
So, to sum up, any serious hiker will tell you that using a pole on a serious and risky hike is not for sissies but not using one is for (forgive me if I’m being too blunt) fools.