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Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection

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Online mule ears

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2015, 03:02:50 PM »
Get a grip folks. Trekking poles are just sticks.

You can spend a small fortune on name brands, or you can get a set on the cheap and do just as well.

Yeah, some have fancy shock absorber actions and the cheap ones mostly don't but, again, these are just sticks you use for balance in rough terrain. If you're whanging these things into the ground hard enough to require shock absorption I'd submit there's something fundamentally wrong with your technique.

Go to Walmart or some similar place and pick up a set for a few dollars.

If they're not bent in the package, they'll do you just fine on the trail.

Even an old ski pole will work, though it won't be adjustable (or maybe it will...I don't ski because it's really cold where you have to be to do that).

Remember, people used oak poles before "trek" poles became the rage. In Big Bend more than a few have picked up sotol/yucca stalks for use. Even a cut down piece of 1/2" EMT (electrical tubing) can be fashioned into a pole.

Do you want to be trendy or just have something that functions?

Okay, now I'll sit back and wait for all the reasons you should spend $100+ for a pair. No doubt these will be compelling.

Buy cheap sticks and quality beer; not the other way around.

OK presidio I will bite, sort of.  A decent pair of trekking poles are much more effective and lighter, thus less tiring than any old stick, this comes from someone who used a single stick for 25 years to start with.  If used properly with the wrist straps (many folks don't) they decrease the effort of using them and of walking than a single pole can ever do.  As to features the only firm recommendation I have is flick locks over twist locks no matter the brand, used to be that Black Diamond was the only one with them but there are others now.  I will also agree with Quatro that cork handles are probably the best choice even though I have been using the same non-cork ones for 14 years now.  I would also stay away from carbon fiber and unless you never carry them on the pack or fly with them I would also not get one piece models.  No shock absorbers, they are unnecessary.  You can find good poles on sale in lots of places.  My old Black Diamonds I got on sale and they have seen lots of hard miles.  Flicklocks!

For instance here is a set for $80 from Sierra trading with flicklocks and cork handles.  Or you could get a cheap pair to see how you like them them move up if you do.  Cheap ones will have locking mechanisms that will fail, thinner, easily bent metal and crappy grips but you can get the idea.  You might even be able to rent some from REI to test.

As to gaiters for protection from thorns etc, never use them.  I have used low gaiters some to keep crap out of the shoes though.  I am even crazy enough to wear shorts regularly in the desert.
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Offline presidio

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2015, 03:53:53 PM »
Get a grip folks. Trekking poles are just sticks.

You can spend a small fortune on name brands, or you can get a set on the cheap and do just as well.

Okay, now I'll sit back and wait for all the reasons you should spend $100+ for a pair. No doubt these will be compelling.

Buy cheap sticks and quality beer; not the other way around.

If used properly with the wrist straps (many folks don't) they decrease the effort of using them and of walking than a single pole can ever do.

I've always been intrigued by those that use two poles. Tried that once and discarded the notion. I suppose they are spiffy on developed trails but leave a lot to be desired off trail. I want one hand unencumbered to be able to do things needing a free hand. Hiking in rough country gives a lot of chances to use that free hand. I don't have to worry about the stick getting in the way or bending/breaking it if I suddenly need to recover from some upset.

I found also that using two sticks caused me to use a lot of concentration on where they were being placed. With one stick I just plant it and go. I have noticed the same thing watching others with one vs. two sticks. Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's the terrain where I tend to hike.

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As to features the only firm recommendation I have is flick locks over twist locks no matter the brand

On that point I'd agree. Same goes for tripods. Twist locks jam and are just generally difficult to operate when dust and debris intrudes. My poles are twisters but when they need replacing I will get flick locks. However, my poles have seen hard use for more than a decade. They are scratched and even a bit dented but they work fine. Without going to look (too much effort) I don't even recall what brand they are. However, they were not the cheapest, but far from the most expensive.

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Cheap ones will have locking mechanisms that will fail, thinner, easily bent metal and crappy grips but you can get the idea.

All true. However, I have given a couple of sets of very inexpensive poles to two folks that had none. Theirs are functioning fine. That said, usually you get the quality you pay for. But, these are very simple devices. While there certainly are material/component reasons why one pole costs more than another, they all are hollow tubes and more alike in base quality than not and a large part of the price difference is in the decal on the side, not the physical being.
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Offline South Texas Gal

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2015, 05:49:24 PM »
I have to say this was an interesting debate and provided very valid points of view. Thank you gentlemen.  :icon_lol: 
Nature in its infinite beauty can be very unforgiving..

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Online mule ears

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2015, 09:03:08 PM »

I've always been intrigued by those that use two poles. Tried that once and discarded the notion. I suppose they are spiffy on developed trails but leave a lot to be desired off trail. I want one hand unencumbered to be able to do things needing a free hand. Hiking in rough country gives a lot of chances to use that free hand. I don't have to worry about the stick getting in the way or bending/breaking it if I suddenly need to recover from some upset.

I found also that using two sticks caused me to use a lot of concentration on where they were being placed. With one stick I just plant it and go. I have noticed the same thing watching others with one vs. two sticks. Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's the terrain where I tend to hike.


All folks different and/or not enough time to get used to new things.  To each their own.  I would hazard to say that you are not hiking any more difficult terrain than me or many other cross country/off trail walkers that use two poles regularly with grace, ease and skill.  Maybe it is just my advanced age.   :icon_wink:
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Offline Quatro

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2015, 09:32:00 PM »
I have to say this was an interesting debate and provided very valid points of view. Thank you gentlemen.  :icon_lol:

If you thought this was interesting, just wait until you ask about carrying a tent and a bear canister while backpacking.
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Offline Robert

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2015, 10:31:39 PM »
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All folks different and/or not enough time to get used to new things.  To each their own.  I would hazard to say that you are not hiking any more difficult terrain than me or many other cross country/off trail walkers that use two poles regularly with grace, ease and skill.  Maybe it is just my advanced age.   :icon_wink:

I was thinking the same thing. I've used hiking poles for 20 years and don't thing twice about it. As most of you know, I go cross country for a good portion of my hiking. Not once have I missed having a free hand to save me from an upset. That's because if I were to fall I would immediately drop the poles (just like in skiing)without thinking. Walking with two poles is very natural to me and I rarely have to spend any effort concentrating where to place them. Its no big deal.

Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2015, 11:12:29 PM »
Well, for one thing, finding a stick of exactly the right height and shape is not usually the case right when one gets to trailhead, nor will they have the straps attached which make them a hundredfold more useful; and of course cutting or breaking one off is a no-no.
That being said, I've used trekking poles for over 30 years now. An old pair of Leki twist type; last year they got too damn likely to collapse in mid stride, so replaced them with a pair of Black Diamond. First thing i noticed was how much lighter they are!

Others above have noted that many don't "use" them to their greatest advantage. You don't need to grab on to the handle with a death grip; instead stick your hand from below up through the strap/loop, then lightly wrap your fingers around the grip. Your weight actually rests on the straps. This technique also keeps your hand pretty much free for emergency grabbing/clutching if you need them to. Poles are also a huge aid when crossing streams, although that's not too much of an issue in Big Bend. I don't always use two, but I always carry two when backpacking and use at least one; the other attached to my pack. It just depends on my load, the terrain, the price of tea in China; whatever makes me feel comfortable that day.

I've noticed that since i turned 50 my joints hurt less when I hike with them, even without carrying a pack.

Poles are also an invaluable tool for things like setting up shelters, looking under rocks, and I once had to open a can of Spaghettio-s (don't ask) in the Rocky Mountains with one.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2015, 08:23:29 PM by austin gorpchomper »

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2015, 07:31:33 AM »
I find trekking poles extremely useful.  I like to compare it to the difference of having a 4 wheel drive vehicle over 2 wheel drive.  It takes a lot of strain off my knees when I'm carrying a heavy pack.

About the only time the trekking poles get in my way is when I'm doing some heavy scrambling/climbing over big rocks.  For example, I tried using trekking poles while hiking up Camelback Mtn in Phoenix.  They just got in the way for most of that hike.

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Offline steelfrog

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2015, 08:34:38 AM »
I went up Camelback this summer and found them helpful even there.  I don't use them in true scrambling--class 3/4 low 5; there they can be a hindrance.  Which is why the foldable BD flick lock Z series are so great; they fold up very short.

I think it's clear Presidio is trolling because his opinion on that is so stridently stated and the picture he showed of the grass showed him using--a hiking pole!

But I'll bite--there was a time as recent as 4-5 years ago that I ignorantly held the opinion that poles were dumb and I'd never use them etc.  More than one hiking partner had suggested poles and I would automatically say no.  Then once Lance and I were doing a particularly dumb thing--driving all day from Dallas to Crestone, CO (after working half a day) get to Willow Lake TH at midnight--start hiking!  Me without poles, him with--and I had my pack plus another pack swinging around my neck--don't ask why, I don't even remember now.  Anyway, at one point as I was struggling up a steep section he asks for like the 100th time if I want to use a pole and I said yes, hoping it would help--and it did!

Poles obviously help on ups and downs.  Anyone who has ever used the handrail on a staircase (up or down) knows this.  I believe they even help cross country--the rougher it is, the more they help; with balance and everything.  No worries about stumbling because you have the poles.  In bushwhacks they work great to help clear cats claw etc in front of you.  I often use them as mini long jump poles to help me jump things.  Steep ups and steep downs are where they are really helpful.  I use them just like the rails of a staircase.

There is a learning curve.  But I've used them to go down from the top of CG in 20 minutes, down Grand Canyon in an hour and a half; down Lost Mine Trail in 35 minutes; did the entire Litir Mesa loop in New Mexico in 4 hours.  No way I could do those without poles.  For me now that I know how to use them, not using them would be unthinkably dumb.

Having said that, I go hiking all the time with the kids, and if they want to use them or not, that's up to them.  They usually take one, but I don't make them or even try to make them take one; purely a matter of personal preference.  If they don't take one, there's no worry that they are going to leave it at a rest stop, which is nice...

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Offline presidio

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2015, 10:17:35 AM »
I think it's clear Presidio is trolling because his opinion on that is so stridently stated and the picture he showed of the grass showed him using--a hiking pole!

Trolling? Not hardly.

Strident? Not even close.  :eusa_naughty:

I just expressed an opinion about spending a lot of money on a set and how I use them (it).

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the picture he showed of the grass showed him using--a hiking pole!

That picture of the pole is not of me...I took the photo. I wonder how you were able to determine who was in the photo?

That said, nowhere have I claimed I don't use a pole. To the contrary...but I only use a single pole for the reasons I gave.

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Offline kevint

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2015, 10:28:36 AM »
Poles obviously help on ups and downs.  Anyone who has ever used the handrail on a staircase (up or down) knows this.  I believe they even help cross country--the rougher it is, the more they help; with balance and everything.  No worries about stumbling because you have the poles.  In bushwhacks they work great to help clear cats claw etc in front of you.  I often use them as mini long jump poles to help me jump things.  Steep ups and steep downs are where they are really helpful.  I use them just like the rails of a staircase.

I  don't know if everyone would consider it obvious but it is definitely true.  As someone who is not very fit, it is very clear to me that hiking poles extend your capability on ascents and descents. I especially appreciate them when I have a larger step up or down.  That's when they function exactly as Steel says, as handrails.  Going up a significant step, I place one foot and both polls on the step and use them to assist as I bring the other foot up.  Going down a step, I place both poles on the lower step and allow my arms to slow my downward movement a little.  If you are carry a lot of weight (either in your pack or in body weight) softening that blow a few thousand times adds up to much happier knees and legs that don't get sloppy so soon.
 
 
They're also great, as Steel say,s on rough or uneven ground.  After hiking awhile with trekking poles, if I suddenly stop using them, I initially feel very unsteady on rough ground.
 
I don't have any specific recommendation on make or model but I'll share some thoughts from my experience.  I have a pair of Leki's that I bought off of REI Outlet 7 years ago.  Buying closeouts of the prior year's model enabled me to offset the price of the higher quality poles.  I bought a set for me and a set for my wife.  We bought them to use on the Mist Trail in Yosemite.  My wife was not too thrilled about looking like a "gear person" but graciously humored me and used the poles.  After that hike she won't set out without them.  On our descent, we met numerous younger and fitter hikers on their way up jokingly offering to buy our poles.

# sections:  Our have 3 sections and just fit in our luggage.  For maximum strength, you should adjust each section when you shorten or lengthen.  This is kind of a pain so I would suggest the fewer sections the better.  If you never plan to take them on an airplane, I'd go for 1 or 2 sections.  2 sections will still allow the ability to shorten or lengthen based on terrain.  If I were choosing poles that are not adjustable, I'd buy them a few inches longer.
 
adjustment mechanism:  The twist locks on our Lekis worked well until recently.  Leki recommends taking the poles apart and cleaning them after each trip.  I rarely do--maybe I should start.  I think that after 7 years, I'll just give them a good cleaning, replace the expanders and adjust.  I don't find the twist locks as convenient as I'd like though so I'd definitely give a good look at other options.
 
tips:  The carbide tips on my Leki poles are amazing.  They really get a bite on rocks and are not very picky about the type of rock or the angle of the pole to the surface.  The tip is concave so you have sort of a circular blade that can bite the rock.  They are just starting to show some wear. I understand they are replaceable so I might update mine.
 
use:  I use the "up through the strap" method which basically eliminates gripping the pole.  My hand loosely holds and directs the pole but can quickly switch to breaking a fall or holding on to some other support.  I usually just let the pole dangle if I'm only letting go for a short time.  I'd also recommend looking at some the videos on pole use.  I believe there might be some on the Leki website.  I see a lot of people who are just carrying their poles, "walking" them along the ground as they go.  Even on level ground, I use my poles to help push me forward.  Going uphill, I let them help with the climb.  Going downhill, I let them steady.  Bottom line is, if I'm using the poles, I expect them to be doing some work, not just going along for the ride.
 
Unfortunately, whether I'm carrying a pack or not, I'm carrying a lot of weight.  For me the trekking poles are a no brainer but like others, before I got them I considered them gear for people that had too much money.
 
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Offline RichardM

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2015, 01:25:44 PM »
And for anyone not sure what the "up through the strap" grip is, here's a picture from the skiing world. Using this grip allows you to put your weight on the strap and not have to maintain a strong grip on the handle. If/when you drop the pole, the strap then keeps the pole attached to your wrist.



If you stick your hand straight through the strap to grasp the handle (sorry, no pic), then the strap is going over your thumb and it's fairly awkward to use the strap to support any weight. If you drop the pole, it doesn't really go anywhere. That means that if you fall and are trying to put your hand down, the pole will more or less still be in your hand. That may or may not be a bad thing. In skiing, this has resulted in untold "skier's thumb" injuries, where the pole stops and your hand doesn't, leaving the strap to pull on the thumb. I learned that the hard way on my first ski trip. Only took a month or two for my thumb to feel normal again.

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Offline steelfrog

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2015, 03:52:50 PM »
I did a search for trekking poles reasons for using; many of what you find are things by people--selling trekking poles!  But I found this from sectiohiker.com which is pretty well-reasoned.  This explains why a stick or log isn't as good as a good UL pole; but there are certainly pros and cons:

"Iím a big fan of trekking poles for hiking because they help reduce the strain on my knees when I walk downhill, they improve my balance when Iím hiking over rough ground or crossing streams, and they are useful for establishing a good walking rhythm when synchronized with your arms. But thereís no such thing as a free lunch and before you run out an buy a pair of hiking poles, itís important to understand the pros and cons of using them and how to use them properly for the greatest benefit.

Pros

Reduce strain on knees during descents
Improve balance when walking across rough terrain and stream crossings
Help establish a walking rhythm
Multi-purpose item that can be used to pitch ultralight shelters
Cons

Arm motion increases amount of energy required
Leaning forward on poles reduces biomechanical efficiency of carrying a backpack
Improper reliance on straps can lead to injury on falls due to wrist entrapment
Poles can catch on trees and brush while hiking on narrow trails or bushwhacking
Steel carbide tips can be potentially damaging to rocks and fragile plants
Care must be taken when walking across scree fields to prevent poles from snapping
Energy Consumption

First off, trekking poles require more energy to hike with because they involve your upper body muscles (arms and shoulders) as well as your lower body muscles. So, while trekking poles may reduce the level of perceived exertion you experience, you are going to burn more calories if you use them.

Hiking Uphill

There are also times where trekking poles can be more of a hindrance than a help. For example, how many times have you seen someone climbing uphill who is hunched over so that their upper body is nearly parallel with the ground. Invariably, theyíre leaning over their hiking poles in an effort to offload their leg muscles while holding up their upper body and backpack with their poles.

Trekking poles provide no benefit in this situation because the weight of their upper body has been transferred away from your legs Ė which are the biggest and strongest muscles of your body Ė to the arms which are far weaker and get tired more quickly. Itís even worse if youíre wearing a backpack, because the work of holding it up is done by the arms and not the hip belt which is designed to transfer the load to your legs

When hiking up hills, itís important to stand straight and keep your torso as errect as possible so that your big leg muscles do all the work. Trekking poles can be used for balance or to help lift your torso up using your arms, but only if theyíre help close to your sides, not out front of your body.

Leaning forward actually requires even more energy because the tops of your trekking poles are pushing against you Ė so that you almost need to vault over them to get past. Thatís another reason to keep the poles by your sides. Standing up straight and taking smaller steps is the key to getting up steep hills, not leaning forward on your poles.

Conclusion

Trekking poles can be be very advantageous for hikers, paricularly because they reduce the strain and force of gravity on your lower extremities when hiking downhill. But used incorrectly on uphill climbs, they can result in increased caloric demand and perceived effort. Like any piece of hiking gear, the efficient use of trekking poles requires proper technique and an awareness of the pitfalls of incorrect usage."

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Offline fartymarty

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #28 on: January 12, 2015, 04:33:54 PM »
I use cheap poles (2), but then I'm cheap. I guess the handrail analogy is true, but I've always thought of them as two extra feet. In steep sections they work well going up or down. I would have fallen several times coming down Casa Grande or going up Huffman. I would have no doubt survived a fall on CG with only bruised ego and coccyx, but fall on the Huff and once you start to bounce and roll there isn't much to stop you. I've also used them to lower my pack a few times (with camera and binoculars I didn't want to just drop it down) when I felt more comfortable climbing down without the weight on my back. I'm not sure what is the safest way to use the straps, but I personally don't use them over my wrists. I put four fingers through but never the thumb.


If I'm going off trail hiking I always wear snake gaiters. More for sticky things and less for snakes but unless skiing or snow hiking I don't see why anyone would wear any other kind of gaiters. If they won't deflect snakes and thorns, then what are they for...just to keep burrs and trail dust out of your laces?

However, take what I say knowing (caveat lector) that I prefer an umbrella to a hat:icon_rolleyes:  :icon_eek:  :eusa_shifty:  :willynilly:

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Offline kevint

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Re: Looking for suggestions of trekking poles/leg protection
« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2015, 04:59:13 PM »
However, take what I say knowing (caveat lector) that I prefer an umbrella to a hat:roll: :shock: :eusa_shifty: :willynilly:

 
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