How to choose trekking poles

Why I don't use trekking poles on my hikes

From time to time I attack trekking poles in my articles, considering them in most cases a useless piece of equipment. Yes, in my opinion, they have spread only as a marketing product.

At the same time, I do not deny their usefulness on some mountain routes and in those cases when there are already diseases of the musculoskeletal system. But, I myself have arthrosis in my knees and constant problems associated with it, I do not use sticks. Although I go on quite long hikes. Below I will list those factors, the combination of which prevents me from making a decision about the use of "props".

I tried to use sticks, just because of a knee injury in 2006 and arthrosis that developed after inflammation of the joints. However, then he refused them. And now in every possible way I brush aside stick sponsors and test proposals.

In the past I have posted an article on how trekking poles work, when they are really useful and when they are not. You can read the article here.

Below I will give my racially correct motives for which I categorically do not use sticks.

  • I hike in small mountains and the conditions in them do not give a cumulative effect to relieve the knees.
  • Reducing the overall weight of the backpack by even one kilogram has a greater effect in reducing shock load on the joints than using trackpoles. And if you carefully approach the formation of weight and do not pretend to be an athlete, do not drive the mileage on the route, then the preservation of health generally changes into a different qualitative form.
  • Power consumption with sticks is higher. I already have an extreme energy deficit in hiking, I consider it unnecessary to aggravate it by using sticks.
  • When using sticks, the heart rate and VO2 max are higher than without them. And in the end, in the running route, this translates into greater fatigue.
  • Under load (heavy backpack) on an intersection with sticks, the speed of movement is generally lower under the same conditions than without them. Which is logical - you need to make more precise movements.
  • Trekking poles do not allow using them as a full-fledged support. They are simply not designed for this. At the same time, they do their best to provoke this.
  • On rough terrain, where there are fords (not knee-deep, but normal fords), a barrow, light rocks, steep slopes, forest jungles, rubble and in general - sticks get in the way and there is no benefit from them.
  • Trekpalki occupy the hands, completely excluding the normal grasping instinct when moving.
  • Sticks interfere with balance. In a sense, if we lose balance, then with sticks we rest against the ground (and as a full-fledged point of support, they are not sustainable), whereas without them it would be possible to just put our hand aside to maintain balance, or simply hold on to any twig or stone.
  • Any sticks break easily.
  • Sticks like to cling to elfin trees and stones on talus, making it difficult to move
  • Sticks do not save you from falling
  • Sticks have weight. Strong sticks have a considerable weight - 600 grams. Why drag it?
  • Sticks do not replace an alpenstock, which can be cut down if necessary and thrown away whenever you want.

Whenever I really need a full fulcrum, I take out my ice ax. As a rule, together with cats. If, according to the condition of the route, they are not needed, then you can walk everywhere with your feet. Sometimes on the route I cut down the alpenstock and use it, throwing it away at the first uselessness.

Thus, I believe that the real disadvantages of sticks in most cases outweigh their advantages and they are simply not needed.

Well, yes. If you don't practice before the hike, sticks will still not help.

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Several years ago, when the instructors of the Peshy-Leshy Club were just beginning to take their first tourists to the mountains, few people heard about trekking poles in the post-Soviet space. Today, walking in the mountains, you can meet groups in which every tourist has such sticks. What is the plus of trekking poles? Are they needed for mountain hikes? And most importantly, how to choose trekking poles? We will try to fully answer all of the above questions.

Benefits of using trekking poles for mountain hikes

It cannot be said that a tourist who picks up trekking poles will immediately feel all their benefits. As with any object in this category, you need to learn how to use sticks. Correctly set them up for walking, lengthen them on descents and shorten them on ascents. And not too athletic tourists, after using trekking poles, start to hurt the muscles of the arms. However, those tourists who use trekking poles for a long time speak very well of them and say that now they are not ready to go hiking without them. They also advise every beginner to take sticks to the mountains.

Using trekking poles helps to relieve the muscles and joints of the legs. This is especially true for those who have problems with knee joints. But for those who have absolutely healthy legs, we recommend using trekking poles to stay healthy. The fact is that the correct use of poles reduces the load on the legs by up to forty percent. Yes, and it is much more convenient to wade the river, overcome the "loose" or move along rocky terrain with sticks. In addition, trekking poles are also convenient in the everyday life of the camp - you can pull up an awning on them, hang things to dry or get fruit from a high branch. In simple terms, you need to take sticks to the mountains. Now let's move on to the question of how to choose trekking poles.

Choice of trekking poles for hiking in the mountains

Most often, when choosing sticks, tourists are guided by their weight. It is believed that the lighter the stick, the better. This is true only if the lightness is not provided by the lower strength of the material. A good option would be carbon poles, which are durable and lightweight material. However, connoisseurs still recommend trekking poles made of duralumin for more serious mountain hikes.

The most common type of clamp is screw, it allows you to easily adjust the length of trekking poles, although it breaks more often. There is also a "Surelock" mechanism, adjustable by a button, is also quite reliable. Lever-lock sticks are more bulky, but they can withstand frost and moisture better. And if the linkage, i.e. "Eccentric", good quality, these sticks will serve you for many years. Expressing a purely subjective opinion, we note that this is our choice.

The shape and material from which the handle of the stick is made is also a significant factor when choosing them. The most common types of materials are plastic, neoprene and cork. All of these materials are comfortable to use, however we recommend using neoprene handles. Cork inserts are also possible - this is a matter of taste and love for the environmental friendliness of the product. Most often, the characteristics of trekking poles are written "ergonomic handle", but different companies have different ideas about what it is. Try to choose the type of handle that fits your hand, but pay special attention to the elongated handles, because they allow you to grip the stick more conveniently in some moments when it is not possible (or you do not want to) adjust their height.

Be sure to take poles with an adjustable strap (lanyard). It should be elastic and wide at the places where the load is applied. The strap must be strong, because it allows us not to lose the stick. The design of the tips of the trekking poles is removable and quickly replaceable, just like their rings. Usually these elements are made of wear-resistant materials. For summer hikes, narrow rings are needed, for winter hikes, wide ones.

How to choose sticks according to your height

Before using, you need to adjust the trekking poles for height. This is easy to do. Take the sticks in your hands and put them on the floor in front of you. Your arms should be bent at the elbow at a 90 degree angle - no more, no less! Based on this, adjust the length of the sticks for your height. It should also be remembered that with a steep ascent, the length of the sticks decreases, on average, by 3-5 cm, while descending, it increases.

You need to store trekking poles in dry and clean rooms, like other tourist equipment. After the hike, you need to clean their locking mechanisms and wipe the stick with a dry cloth. This is all the care that this type of equipment requires. Usually, sticks serve five to ten trips, but it happens that a neat tourist can walk with sticks alone much more than ten trips.

We sincerely hope this article helped you understand how to choose trekking poles. You can find other articles on mountain hiking equipment in the section About tourism. We are waiting for you on the hike!

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