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Are trekking poles worth it?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the answer to the question are trekking poles worth it? is a resounding yes. Or a resounding no. It depends on how loud the avatars on online message boards and social media are!

One key problem with using trekking poles for backpacking is that they are just another piece of gear to shop for, purchase, maintain, and carry. They were seldom used a few decades ago, and now they represent a $75 million US market. Since we are primarily a consumer advocacy organization, we have to be honest and let you know that if you don’t use trekking poles for hiking and backpacking, you’re¬†probably not going to fall down.

However, we do believe there are some use cases where trekking poles offer significant benefits, and we’ll talk about those use cases in this Member Q&A.

We’re also going to explore the physiological energetics of using trekking poles, their biomechanical benefits, how to size trekking poles (i.e., how tall should trekking poles be), trekking pole design features, methods for carrying trekking poles on your backpack, and more.

1. Keynote: Trekking Pole Design, Use, and Applications (~40 minutes, by Ryan Jordan)

  • physiological energetics: what is the metabolic cost of using trekking poles?
  • biomechanics: do trekking poles mitigate the effects of overuse injuries for walking and running?
  • trekking pole design features: which features matter, and which features don’t?
  • how to size trekking poles (i.e., how tall should trekking poles be)
  • how to use trekking poles
  • how to avoid having to use trekking poles at all!

2. Trekking Pole Q&A (~20 minutes)

  • Trekking pole benefits after injury for fine-motor skills and balance?
  • Does using trekking poles compromise your natural balance and put you at risk for instability on terrain where you can’t use them?
  • Do trekking poles help distribute forces throughout your body (and specifically to your upper body) to reduce stress on lower body joints?
  • What are the primary benefit for poles for young, fit hikers?
  • Can trekking poles alleviate numb hands and fingers?
  • How important are adjustable poles for trekking pole supported tent?
  • Are Z-poles (folding carbon) poles good enough for a high route?
  • Can upper body strength + trekking poles assist propulsion uphill?
  • What about hiking staffs vs. trekking poles?
  • Are carbon fiber poles worth the cost?

About the Event & Access Info

Live Event Info: Trekking Pole Design, Use, and Applications (Member Q&A) – Friday, February 25, 2022 6:00 PM US Mountain Standard Time (MST)

Backpacking Light Q&A Sessions are Hour-Long Members-Only Live Events – they are recorded and the recorded session will be made available below after the live event has ended.

To access the live or recorded (video) version of this event, a printable slide deck for note-taking, and the related resources/downloads, you must be logged in with an active Basic, Premium or Unlimited Membership.

Become a Member Today to Access the Live & Recorded Versions of this Event

Members-Only: Watch the Recorded Video & Access Additional Resources

  • Download the Slide Deck (PDF)

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