Lately, whenever I go hiking I always find myself grabbing my trekking poles, regardless of whether I am hiking 1 mile or 20 miles. It doesn't matter if I am ascending one hundred feet or descending several thousand, they have become an essential part of my outdoor gear I never leave home without. They are simply a part of my kit nowadays, ready at a moments notice, and I don't see leaving them behind anytime soon. That being said, here are some pros and cons for you to consider when thinking about using trekking poles on your adventures on the trail or in the backcountry.
1. Impact Reduction
Trekking poles can help to take some of the pressure off of your hips and knees while on the trail. This is especially true when ascending or descending. The poles provide additional leverage when gaining elevation by providing something to lean on when moving uphill. Conversely, they provide added relief when descending by giving you something to lean on when moving downhill to take pressure off of your knees. In turn, this allows you to go farther because your body is less tired and beat up from the wear and tear you put on it.
By providing more points of contact with the ground, trekking poles enable you to traverse more difficult portions of a trail with increased stability or through areas that can prove challenging to one's balance. Some examples of this include when crossing a log over a stream, walking along a ridge or other areas where maintaining your balance can be more difficult.
3. Increased Traction
In slick, snowy or loose terrain trekking poles can provide additional grip and traction to the ground in order to provide even better balance and stability on the trail and not slow down your progress.
When necessary, trekking poles can provide ways to move branches, foliage and more out of your way when they block or grow over the trail. Moreover, in emergency situations the poles can even be used as splints for broken or damaged limbs or even as defensive weapons to ward off animals in dangerous circumstances.
5. Maintain Pacing/Speed Increase
Trekking poles can help provide a more rhythmic movement as you proceed on the trail. This provides a more consistent pace which can in many cases be quicker and more efficient over the duration of your hike than traveling without them.
Trekking poles do have some added weight to them, just like anything you add to your pack's load. But today even inexpensive poles will not weigh you down more than an extra pound or two. If weight is a major concern, you can opt for carbon fiber poles. This type of material will noticeably decrease the weight of the trekking poles, making them a pound or less in many cases for the pair. This innovation in design makes the added weight minimal in the grand scheme of things compared to the potential benefits.
2. Energy Consumption
Using trekking poles does require regular and sustained arm movement, which does mean that you are consuming more energy than opting to travel without them. Personally, I find this added consumption to be negligible and find the benefits provided by the pole in maintaining pacing and added impact reduction to negate this added energy consumption over the span of my adventure.
3. Environmental Impact
Depending on the type of poles you purchase, an argument can be made that if the tips of one's poles are metal and uncovered, then they could cause some damage to foliage on the trail's surface or fringes. However, most poles come with rubberized or plastic tips that reduce the impact the poles create on the trail and surrounding greenery.
When not using the poles, you have to have somewhere to put them. This is especially true if you are hiking with a camera and need your hands to capture an image. In most cases this means stopping to put your poles aside, let them awkwardly dangle, or attaching them to the side of your pack. Though some backpacks, like those made by Osprey, provide special loops along the pack's side designed to hold your poles when not in use.
5. Flat Ground
For all intents and purposes, the majority of the benefits provided by
trekking poles are limited to when ascending and descending on the trail. Though some of the benefits like stability, traction, or maintaining pacing are applicable to flat ground, depending on trail conditions such as less uniform or slick terrain. In general however, the poles do not shine as much on flat surfaces.
Given all of these potential benefits and detriments to trekking poles, it is important to keep in mind that at the end of the day, like in most pieces of gear we all buy, it comes down to personal preference.
Do you think that trekking poles could be beneficial to you and your hiking style?
What type of terrain do you find yourself traveling on most?
Perhaps snowy terrain where it can be harder to get traction or rocky mountains where surfaces are loose and you are constantly ascending or descending. No matter where you find yourself adventuring, I recommend giving trekking poles a try on your next outing and seeing what you think. You may find they are useless to you or you may decide to never leave home again without them.
You never know until you try.
SOURCE: The Outbound Collective www.theoutbound.com/
(Sunday, July 12, 2020)
It's Sunday again, and time for the 6th edition of Adventure Weekly. During the summer months, I have always taken advantage of the longer days by setting up day hikes that explore the further regions of Ontario. However, this proves challenging for some, as they do not wish to travel that far, especially since car pooling is no longer an option. Also, due to the great distance we drive, I have generally planned for such hikes to be a greater distance, which is also challenging for some. So, in response to the request for shorter local hikes, I have set up 2 new local hikes, that will take place in the Niagara Region and are in the 7 to 10km range. They are on fairly simple terrain. If you're new to hiking, and looking to make your first attempt, then these are the hikes for you! As many of you are aware, I work at Niagara Casinos full time, but have been off work since March 15th, which is coincidentally my birthday. Quite the birthday present! All the extra time has allowed me to spend much more time on Niagara Adventure Club, and plan more events. However, they are preparing to reopen with Stage 3 of the Ontario Government's reopening plan. I have been notified that I may not be able to retain my set days off (Fridays and Saturday), during the reopening period. If this is the case, I will have to cancel or reschedule some of the events. I suspect we will reopen during the last week of July or first week of August, so please watch your email for cancellation notices. On the plus side, it will only be temporary, and as the casino slowly returns to full scale operations, and more staff is called back, my set days off (Friday and Saturday) will be granted. At that time, Niagara Adventure Club will continue on its regular bi-weekly hiking schedule. We still have space left in our upcoming backpacking trips! The Walter's Falls Backpacking Trip is perfect for intermediate or experienced backpackers. It will be a 3 day, 2 night trip at primitive camp sites. The Dyer's Bay Backpacking Trip is perfect for beginners, as it will only be 2 days and 1 night. Our campsite will offer access to showers, bathrooms and many other camp ammenities. NAC Backpacking trips are always an adventure not to be missed! Click the links above for full details! NAC Climbing Lessons are still available at over 35% off!!! If you have never tried it before, or you are a gym rat that would like to transfer to the outdoors, then you don't want to miss this deal! Bookings are available online. *discounts are valid for the 2020 season at select times and locations only! And Lastly, there are only 2 spots left on Stride and Stretch's Temagami Wilderness Retreat! Happy Hiking everyone and stay safe, Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club