Aug 27, 2012 at 9:45 am #1293401
I love my trekking poles but as my gear gets lighter they seem more and more optional.
Have any of you ditched them completely?
ALL of my gear is now 13 lbs… my pack is 8 lbs.
I need to lose about 20 lbs of weight … I suspect when I hit the trifecta that my trekking poles may not be that necessary and I can shave even more weight.
Thoughts?Aug 27, 2012 at 9:52 am #1906427
@gregwrightLocale: Northern Sierra Nevada
When I try and go ultra I still take one pole. Still use it to set up my tarp. I have on occasion left the tarp at home too when I know for sure I will not see any rain.Aug 27, 2012 at 9:53 am #1906428
@richardcullipLocale: San Diego County
My trekking poles (Gossamear Gear LT3C) also hold up my tent (GG The One) so I'm not ready to ditch them. They also come in very handy when fording rivers.Aug 27, 2012 at 10:00 am #1906433
Do you feel comfortable doing that even with the potential of freak rain? It could save your life… (hypothermia).
For 200g or so is it really worth the weight savings?
What do you do if it rains?Aug 27, 2012 at 10:10 am #1906435
Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
When I first got hiking poles I used them all the time. I still carry 1-2 poles for setting up my shelter, when crossing rivers, but they mostly live lashed on to my pack rather than in my hands. The combination of lowering my pack weight, changing the way I walk / minimalist shoes, and getting stronger removed the need for the poles except in extremely tricky terrain. Most of the time I find pole get in the way more than they help me.
–MarkAug 27, 2012 at 10:21 am #1906440
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I've tried 2 poles and I didn't like them – they occupy your hands so you can't take a picture or grab hold of a rock or tree. The 2 poles sometimes get tangled up with each other and my legs.
1 pole is sometimes good if there are a lot of river crossings, but then I can just pick up a stick.
If you don't use poles it will strengthen your legs.
If you have a leg injury maybe they'de be good. Trekking poles are just one of those things that some people like and others don't.
I can do lighter tent poles.
Makes no sense to strap trekking poles onto your pack.Aug 27, 2012 at 11:05 am #1906467
Eugene SmithBPL Member
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
I recently parted with my Tigoat AGP's, it felt weird saying goodbye after all we've been through since I adopted them a few years ago. I found that I would use the poles less and less with every trip. More often than not they became an accessory to the side of my pack during the day and would only come out in the evening to pitch my Trailstar.
On a trip back in June a friend who was accustomed to using poles travelled in without a set, I loaned him my poles for the duration of the trip and discovered how liberating it was to have my hands free to scramble, make photographs in an uninhibited manner, grab my bottles, eat some trail food without stopping to rest my poles, and also to rest my hands in my pockets on rolling sections of singletrack. Poles can be a crutch in some ways, as well as a benefit for those with leg/knee issues, especially on extended downhill sections. There are effective and ineffective ways to use them however, some folks I see need a good primer.
I run in the mountains without poles, it only made sense for me to gravitate that practice to my hiking, which is often at a brisk pace throughout the day. Poles may be a tool in the future for me, particularly a trip with potentially swift river crossings, but I'm currently enjoying one less item of gear to deal with while outdoors.Aug 27, 2012 at 11:13 am #1906471
Dena KelleyBPL Member
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
I've been using two poles but find that I often leave one lashed to my pack and use just one (usually because I'm on narrow little trails where I can use one pole effectively but trying to use two they get tangled in the brush). I may start taking just a single pole. I find it really helps me as I traverse the often rooty, narrow, rocky and muddy Alaska trails. For now, at least, I don't see not taking at least one trekking pole on my outings.Aug 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm #1906508
Luke SchmidtBPL Member
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
I don't "need" my poles but I still like them for a couple reason.
1. Body type – I have a long torso for my height and my downward pueripherial vision isn't the greatest in the world. Its hard to quantify but I feel like this makes me a tad less balanced then others.
2. Shoes – My favorite trail shoes at the moment just happen to be NB 101s. The problem is they have horrible traction in some situations. I'd switch shoes as soon as I find something as comfortable with better traction.
Given these two facts I still like my trekking poles. With better shoes I could see ditching them but there will probably always be situations where I like having them.Aug 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm #1906511
@jbmcsr1Locale: Rocky Mountains
I wish I could get rid of mine! But this dang spinal cord disease that I have has messed up my balance big time. I now really need them. They allow me to get up in the mountains and be more stable, secure and efficient.Aug 27, 2012 at 1:56 pm #1906520
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I starting using poles at the same time I returned to hiking and UL, all at the same time. I use them for my shelter, but that is just a happy coincidence. I'm sure I could find a stick when needed.
But the ease of hiking, getting up and down rock-and-root "ladders" and crossing rock-hopper streams has been turned into a ballet rather than a drunken stumble. I like being able to give myself a good boost with my arms when I run into one of those big rock steps. They are great when crossing snow patches. I use them to swat spider webs in the morning, and push nettles and wet or thorny brush out of the way. And I haven't turned an ankle since using poles.
My wife has a bad knee and found them really helpful. She didn't want to try them at first, and then I had to buy myself a pair :)
You do have to watch getting them caught between loose rocks, on "corduroy" sections of trail made of split logs, and bridges.Aug 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm #1906524
I've stopped carrying poles gradually over the past year or so. I packed them on a recent family trip where I was the pack mule and carried more than 60 lbs total pack weight (after 60 lbs, I stopped tracking it because I really didn't want to know). I was wearing light trail runners (Inov8 Roclite 295's). The poles ended up strapped to the pack for all but the 1/4 mile I used them. They weren't needed when I used them either.Aug 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm #1906536
John DonewarBPL Member
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Louisiana
They were once described to me by a 15 year old hiker as "cheating"! This was after he tried them. He now has his own set. ;-)
On top of that I use them to set up my shelter.
NewtonAug 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm #1906541
Honestly, I can't physically handle 60 lbs. After 40 or so my hips literally break down and my sides bruise and eventually I can't carry the pack any longer.
I'm not sure if this is just a problem that your body gets used to or what.
From a strength perspective its not a problem.
I once carried my 95 lb girlfriend down 1500 feet for about 3 miles when she realize there were 'ants' near the top and had a panic attack :)Aug 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm #1906543
…Aug 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm #1906547
I'm with Jason, I'd love to get rid of them but they really help my knees coming down elevation. Too many previous soccer injuries.Aug 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm #1906563
Hike much faster with them, with less chance of falling
Absolute necessity for deeper water crossings
Makes rocky boulder jumbles easier to navigate, especially rock-hopping across water
Holds shelter up
Dont always use them though. Feels kind of stupid on flat even trail tread.
Invaluable on steep uphills and downhills, which do a lot of.Aug 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm #1906567
@hhopeLocale: East Bay
"they do shift about 20% of impact away from my knees and toward my lazy arms and shoulders. Also with a pack on an incline they improve my posture, and balance, like a quadruped 4-legged animal or a hi-performance sports car taking on a corner at high speed."
Roger, you nailed it, exactly right. When I use them right I feel like a 4 legged animal, not a 2 legged person with two sticks in my hand. Proper pole length for the terrain, up, down, rolling, flat, seems to really be a big deal, I found myself dropping them bit by bit on my last trip, and certainly a fixed length pole would not have worked as well, nor a pole without straps.
I started using them recently, but always used a hiking stick, I like the balance of 2, and so does my back.
The sad thing is, they really do help your knees, but that help is best applied before the knees get weaker and damaged than after, but after they are amazingly helpful, my feeling is it's more than 20% of impact removed from knees, but I can't say for sure, it just feels like more.
I could see not liking them if you tend to hike pretty flat or rolling terrain, but we don't have much of that where I go, so that's not an issue.
there's also some interesting stuff I noted on my last trip with how your arms move, or rather, don't move, when using them, compared to the normal walking gait.
I am starting to suspect that growing up cross country skiing taught my body something about stride with poles that might not be as easy to do as one might think, I know when I get into the stride, my body recognizes it right away as something totally natural and correct. And when I go fast downhill the four legged thing, or crab, however you think of it, is very cool, faster with less traction on shoes, especially relevant with trail runners and their more slippery soles, not as deeply lugged, that is.
Now to get a tent that uses trekking poles to set it up, since I know I'll never go without them if I can help it.Aug 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm #1906577
Mike MBPL Member
my wife recently took a little vacation where we did several day hikes into mountain lakes, the first day we both forgot our trekking poles at the truck, I almost went back to get them, but bagged the idea
hiking into the lake I can say I didn't miss them too much, coming out I missed them (as did my wife)
they also get used in our shelter (albeit the could be replaced w/ a dedicated pole) and as mentioned above come in really handy when fording streams
like Eugene- I don't use them when running in the same mountains, so I know I can do w/o them; but at this juncture I'll keep them :)
incidentally I do see them used by some folks in different mountainous ultras (when allowed by rules); also Greg used them in our Spring R2R2R outingAug 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm #1906588
Stephen BarberBPL Member
Actually I added the poles as I decreased my carry weight. I've used a hiking stick for decades, and in moving to a tarp instead of a tent, I also added the trekking poles and dropped the stick.
At my age, with my decrepit body, I'm not about to let them go!Aug 27, 2012 at 7:13 pm #1906675
@gregwrightLocale: Northern Sierra Nevada
my bivy is good for in a light rain for an hour or two. for a freak storm it is just that and I would have to hunker down under some trees. it's never been a problem and like I said I only ditch the tarp under certain conditions.Aug 27, 2012 at 11:23 pm #1906745
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
I've tried trekking poles and I find them annoying. I like having full use of my hands. Plus I look more casual without them.Aug 28, 2012 at 6:56 am #1906788
@flriderLocale: The Southeast
As I've dropped pack weight, I've actually gone over to using trekking poles rather than the other way 'round. Mostly because my pack weight reduction (and especially my search for Ultralight base weights) has been driven by my goal of "faster, safer, harder terrain". My first trip to the mountains, I carried a pair. My second trip, the same.
However, on flat ground, I find that they're not needed. I don't seem to get the blood pool in my hands that some do, and there are very few stream crossings down here in FL where I usually hike. Those that there are, are usually very shallow and have sandy bottoms rather than rocky ones.
I've carried up to ~40 lbs for seventeen-plus miles before without poles and wasn't too tired on the flat. I've also carried ~30 lbs for seventeen-plus miles with poles and was flat exhausted in the mountains. For me, it's not the use of poles (though they help immensely), but the elevation gain that makes a difference. If there's going to be significant (more than a couple hundred feet) elevation gain, I'm bringing 'em.Aug 28, 2012 at 9:59 am #1906852
Tyler JohnsonBPL Member
@riemanniaLocale: Northeast Georgia
I haven't decided whether or not trekking poles are truly integral to hiking for me or not, aside from in special situations (as others have mentioned, water crossings, etc.). When hiking with my dog, I don't take trekking poles. (Just over a year old, he can be a handful if he spots another dog or other animal down the trail, so I like to have him on a leash in hand at all times for now.) As a consequence, like Eugene, I have found I appreciate easy access to snacks and water bottles whilst hiking. However, the other weekend when hiking with my dog and friend in Nantahala, I found when my friend led, I had trouble keeping up. Unsure if that has to do with our relative fitness levels or the fact that he had poles and I didn't.Aug 28, 2012 at 10:13 am #1906854
No, they are an integral part of my shelter system and he conditions I trek in.
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