Some people might argue that these are not needed, but I think trekking poles are a must for any long distance backpacker. Hopefully this article helps to convince you the same. Whether you are a weekend hiker or a long distance backpacker, having a good set of trekking poles will help to ensure you are stable and distribute the force of your pack’s weight more evenly while hiking.
When exploring deep in the forest you are likely to encounter obstacles or dangers on the trail. Your trekking poles come in handy in tackling these sticky situations. When you run into a water crossing on your trail the poles can help to stabilize your balancing on rocks or assist in maintaining your balance in strong currents. If you happen to have a run in with any wildlife, you can use your trekking poles to make noise and wave around in the air. Making yourself appear bigger and louder can potentially scare away any predators.
“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves-in finding themselves.”
For the ultralight backpackers out there, you can purchase super lightweight tents that utilize your trekking poles to hold the structure up. This will lower your pack weight tremendously because you no longer have to carry tent poles in your kit. This can be an exceptional loss in weight if your choose to purchase carbon fiber models.
Stability is a huge factor when you are hiking long distances. Over time your ankles and knees can become weak from the weight of your pack and the rugged rocks and dirt below your boots. Trekking poles, when worn and used properly, will distribute the weight through your arms and down the pole. Making it easier to climb steep inclines or even when descending a summit. It is as if you can apply half or more of the pressure excerpted onto your knees to your poles, helping you to hike much further and maintain your energy throughout the day.
“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
Frank A. Clark
Trekking poles come in many different shapes and sizes. You can pick up a set for as little as $65 from most major retailers, although the higher-end poles will cost in excess of $100. The prices are based on material and features. Some poles are aluminum and other alloys while the nicer, lighter versions are made from carbon fiber. Another price point for trekking poles is the collapsed size. On your higher-end poles you will notice that they collapse down to a much smaller size than cheaper models allowing you to more easily store your poles when not in use or when at the lodge.
One of the only downsides I have found is that when I first started using my trekking poles I started to form blisters on my hands from the wear of straps that would rub hard from all the weight. These blisters turned into calluses over time and no longer serve as an issue, however the process was uncomfortable and can make you question whether you are doing it right. I ensure you that you are.
With so many pros and very little cons, I believe it is very easy to see why it is a must to bring trekking poles with you the next time you are hiking or backpacking.
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