Feb 19, 2010 at 6:28 am #1255461
I still haven't gotten into the concept of trekking poles…which may just be heresy around here!
I can see for tricky down hills and what not. I'm sure I'm in the minority.
The problem is that they've become so integrated into shelter and other systems…not just your tent pole anymore..could be a camera mount or even a fishing rod!
Carrying a separate pole just for your shelter seems like a waste, i'm sure we can agree on that. Having the dual function is always a plus.
I almost remember at one time Ti Goat making a trekking staff.
Is there such an option out there these days?
I'm also considering the merits of carrying a folding saw for off trail hiking. Doubles as means to acquire your tent pole and wood for a small fire.(when the environment permits).
Thoughts?Feb 19, 2010 at 7:14 am #1575797
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
Luxury Lite makes a hiking staff called the Big Survival Stik. http://www.luxurylite.com- It is aluminum and carbon fiber, and breaks down into segments. One segment has the aluminum tubing sharpened, and this can be mounted on the point of the staff for use as a spear! It was reviewed here on BPL a while ago, including live-action video in spear mode, and referred to in jest as a "trail defense system".
I have one, actually- I bought it before I went UL when I was still trying to figure out my personal hiking style. I still carry it when hiking with my wife and daughter for two reasons: 1) They slow me down, anyway, so no worries about making mileage, and 2) the staff seems more useful than would a trek pole for fending off coyotes or catamounts should one decide to have a go at my little girl.
Most people acknowledge that trek poles do have uses for trekking. If you use the Nordic walking technique (which most people do incorrectly) they can help you make better mileage, but unless you are really into that then, yes, IMHO they really only have utility for keeping your balance on unstable terrain, saving your knees on long downhills, etc. Many people don't consider them worth the bother. I have found that I do like them, but mostly because I like scrambling rather than hiking maintained trails.Feb 19, 2010 at 7:33 am #1575803
Woa…that's serious business…
thanks for the thorough review…and the added insight regarding the nordic-style application of using trekking poles
at first i thought you were joking about the spear 'mode'
a bit pricey for me. I also wish it was adjustable not in pieces.
maybe i'll have to start looking for someone who 'lost' one of their trekking poles and wants to sell the remaining member…hmm…Feb 19, 2010 at 7:35 am #1575806
@bmaaskeLocale: Southwest USA
The biggest advantage I find in trekking poles is that they greatly reduce the stress on my joints, particularly my knees. As already mentioned, if you are on fairly even ground the Nordic technique also can enable you to walk faster than normal and distribute the work between your upper and lower body.
When walking on fairly flat ground or uphill the poles are always angled behind me. On downhills they are out in front taking a load off my knees and feet. There are times that my triceps and pecs get more sore than my feet and legs! I feel that I get a much better workout when using trek poles.
One mistake that many people make is not using the wrist straps correctly. Your hand should enter the wrist strap from the bottom and grip the strap between your palm and the handle. This allows you to keep a pretty light grasp on the handle and allow your wrist to take most of the abuse. It really saves your hands!
I've tried a single staff versus two poles and there is just no comparison if you are truly using the trek poles properly. The fact that I now use my trek poles as tent or tarp poles is just a side benefit. I would carry them no matter what.Feb 19, 2010 at 7:43 am #1575811
@junctionLocale: Atlanta, GA
Seriously. That video had me cracking up.
"If your attacker is getting away… SPEAR MODE!!!" LULZFeb 19, 2010 at 8:40 am #1575836
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
All my life I have hiked with a single staff. I have an old Tracks brand staff and a lighter collapsable staff. I use them when doing day hikes. And for a shelter like the Wild Oasis, only one pole is needed. For tarps I was using a staff and a light sectional carbon pole for the other end.
I asked a similar question a while back and no one really provided me with a convincing arguement to their value over a staff or no staff, for enhancing my walking. Yes there are situations when two poles are helpful, but is it worth carrying them the other 99% of the time (other than their utility as tent poles – especially in the desert where no natural poles may be available?
So I bought a pair of GG LT4s to experiment with, figuring that if I did not like them, they would be easy to sell in Gear Swap.
I have been using them for a year now. They are super light. And I am still not convinced they help me that much when hiking… actually I think sometimes they slow me down. But I have gotten used to them, and automatically grab them for all overnight trips. So overall, I guess I like trekking poles. It is not something I think about that much anymore. One thing I will say about the LT4s, they never colapse when hiking like both my staffs do occassionally.
REI does sell a couple collapsable staffs and Tracks has a website. Also there was a thread going a while back where people were selling single "orphan" trekking poles.Feb 19, 2010 at 9:00 am #1575846
I not only use my poles for saving my knees on downhills, I use them to help me up steep uphills as well, bringing much more of my upper body into the climb.
On even terrain I 'carry' them parallel to the ground, swinging them with my gait. And they've saved me a few times on icy terrain when I wasn't wearing traction devices.
In summer I often hammock camp, still take the trekking poles. I realize they're not for everyone, but they've proven their use to me. And +1 on the GG LT4s!Feb 19, 2010 at 10:24 am #1575884
I can't say i'm committed one way or another yet, but the thoughtful insight from both sides of the fence has given me some good material to consider.Feb 19, 2010 at 10:29 am #1575885
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Hmmm. Maybe that wasn't worded so well.
Anyway, in his photos at least he seems to prefer a walking staff to hiking poles. It might be worth to send him an email and see what his thoughts are on the matter.Feb 19, 2010 at 10:51 am #1575895
thanks again!Feb 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm #1575923
@davidlutzLocale: Bay Area
I've found that, in addition to the other benefits of trekking poles, I like how they help me get into a "rhythm" while walking…..but a staff is definitely way more cool!Feb 19, 2010 at 12:14 pm #1575934
If I could get a staff like Gandalf's, I'd lose my trekking poles!
Until then, I find the poles more useful, and much lighter, than a staff.Feb 19, 2010 at 1:59 pm #1575984
i like trekking poles, as they have saved me from slipping and falling a few times, along with taking the load off knees.
Though, one time I was climbing over large boulders in a dry riverbed and lost my balance. I fell backwards onto my pack (thankfully) in a round depression between rocks. I fell in such a way that my trekking poles were pinned underneath me, with my hands firmly locked into the wrist strap. I literally could not move. I had to have my girlfriend pull me out. (Okay, I could have eventually wiggled out of them, but I pinned myself down pretty good!)Feb 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm #1576465
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
The Big Survival Stik's length isn't adjustable, thats true, but the wrist strap height IS. In fact the Prusik knot strap works just as well as advertised- adjustments on the fly are easily accomplished without even breaking stride. Otherwise it is just an aluminum and carbonfiber pole- no "handle" per se, so no need for adjustable length, really. You can also buy additional segments to make it longer, if you prefer. And the spear-point doubles as a potty trowel- just clean it well to keep grit out of the joint.
But it is indeed wicked expensive. And not terribly light, except in comparison with traditional wood staves. :o)
I should also add that the Big Survival Stik (with one extra pole segment) is the PERFECT length to be the center-pole on an MLD Supermid. I just slip an empty Tylenol bottle over the top end so the exposed aluminum edge doesn't cut the fabric. It is CERTAINLY strong and stiff enough for the job. YMMV with other 'mids.
For the record I'm not a Luxury Lite fanboy or anything- in fact I rarely use mine. I'm just trying to pass on what little I know about hiking staves, since you asked. You could certainly do much worse than the Luxury Lite product.
I'm not a fan of the raw aluminum point on it, though. I keep a blob of Shoe-Goo on it, which I'll replace if it ever wears out.Feb 20, 2010 at 4:35 pm #1576484
Good point. I'd missed the review. James Bond goes into the backcountry.
Wonder if someone will come up with a bayonet attachment for BPL Stix?Feb 20, 2010 at 4:38 pm #1576485
@philipdLocale: Ontario, Canada
I started using trekking poles in 2009…specifically the GG LT4's. At the time I took the plunge primarily because I was changing up my shelter system and it just fit. I went into it hoping I would also learn to like the poles. For me….I was an instant convert and could not see hiking without them now for any distance over rough terain. The extra balance they provide, especially when things are a bit greasy or wet out is worth it to me in itself. Like mentioned by some of the others on this thread I also find I really appreciate the help in the uphills and the support on the downhills.
Now…saying that…I went from nothing to trekking poles…would I see the same benefit from a staff or single pole…perhaps…but I do know I am very pleased I took the plunge.Feb 20, 2010 at 4:50 pm #1576494Feb 23, 2010 at 1:26 pm #1577627
@red_foxLocale: South Florida
I do not use trekking poles or a staff, mostly because I do most of my hiking barefoot and that forces me to swing my arms a lot for balance. Trekking poles or a staff would most likely slow me down.
However, I will point out that one obvious advantage to using the thicker staff (such as the Luxury Lite Big Survival Stik) would be that it would make a much stronger shelter pole compared to the ultralight trekking poles mentioned (such as GG LT4s). This would be particularly true if your shelter will experience snow loads. I have not confirmed this myself, but I'm pretty sure the Big Survival Stik would do much better as a center pole in a Mid type shelter in the winter than any of the smaller diameter trekking poles.
-SidFeb 24, 2010 at 6:24 am #1577925
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
From someone living in a climate that actually gets a heavy snowfall each year. . .
I have to disagree with ST on the idea that a wood hiking staff would be stronger than a trekking pole for use with a pyramid shelter in winter.
The idea behind using a pyramid shelter in winter is that it sheds snow to reduce the chance of snow build up. In addition I've used adjustable Black Diamond trekking poles for years now with a pyramid tarp. I've never had an issue with the pole failing let alone collapsing in winter conditions with 24 inches of snow falling in a 15 hour period.
When it comes right down to it all that matters is personal preference. I personally don't think either pole is superior to the other. Just find what you like and go with it.Feb 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm #1578082
@red_foxLocale: South Florida
"I have to disagree with ST on the idea that a wood hiking staff would be stronger than a trekking pole for use with a pyramid shelter in winter." -Chad Miller
I was think more along the lines of a CF staff, not a wooden one. However, I do not know this to be true from experience, I only assumed. I will take your word for it.
-SidFeb 25, 2010 at 8:16 am #1578441
I had no idea this thread would have so many posts…I'm still not decided and am keeping an open mind at the moment. Being a good American, a super sale might make the decision for me…at least that way i can get some experience with one or the other!
Thanks to everyone…the wealth of knowledge here is great.Mar 5, 2010 at 3:56 pm #1582526
At least one Pole comes in pretty handy for setting up a tarp and this has kept me carrying at least one for the last 5-7 years, but I do it grudgingly. I have a tendency not to drink very much water unless the bottle is in my hand. Walking with a bottle in one hand seems very natural to me. So the poles are always seeming like an uncomfortable addition.
I am going without a staff or trekking poles this year.Mar 7, 2010 at 6:13 am #1583116
using poles (1 and 2), and for me when my load is under 20 lbs I just feel it is unnecessary. If the only reason people carry them is to setup their tarp it seems to me that a carbon fiber tent pole would be a better option.Mar 7, 2010 at 9:04 am #1583155
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
You may have noticed that mountain goats and bighorn sheep all come equipped with 4 legs.
+2 on GGlt4's
by George I love the idea of a bayonnette attachement; en garde!
BTW I took my poles on a sand dune hike around here the other day for the first time ever (that being in the @ 12 years or so of pole usership) needing them for balance in crossing ponds in the woods "bridged" with tree fall sticks and limbs" and discovered they are a definite advantage going uphill in sand. You avoid that little slide-back with each step which can be pretty tiring. Who Knew? BTW#2 As mentioned above HUGE advantage in log or rock hopping stream crossings!May 30, 2010 at 2:07 pm #1615248
@spirit4earthLocale: North Carolina
Fort those of you who do use trekking poles, which poles do you use and why?
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