You’ve likely seen people carrying trekking poles on a hike. You may smile, say a quick hello, and pass by without a second thought. Then you start to ascend up towards the tall peak that’s beckoning you and realize how much easier it would’ve been if it was you instead that had those trekking poles. But, this somehow slips your mind the moment you reach the summit and feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
Rather than repeat this never-ending cycle, maybe it’s time to consider taking the plunge and purchasing your first set of hiking poles. Aside from their inherent benefit of getting you up steep inclines with greater ease, there are a number of other reasons why you should invest in a pair of trekking poles. Here, we will uncover 10 of those reasons.
Save Your Knees
It’s no secret that your legs take a beating each time you take a hike. You use almost every muscle in your leg when going both up and down hills. You can spare your legs some pain by simply using trekking poles. In fact, a study in The Journal of Sports Medicine found that trekking poles can reduce compressive force on the knees by up to 25 percent.
Have a Full Body Workout
Trekking poles force you to use your arm muscles, muscles that aren’t used often when hiking. Your arms help your body move forward and upward. Using trekking poles promotes a full body workout where you use both your arms, legs, and core to stay balanced. This helps with overall body conditioning for other activities you may partake in.
Increase Your Speed
Just as ski poles help you go faster down slopes, trekking poles can help increase your speed up steep ascents. With each swing, your arms push back on the ground, and propel you forward with each step. They are also lightweight, making it easier to move them.
Distribute Your Weight
Sometimes it is inevitable to avoid a hauling a heavy backpack. You may be completing a summer hike with no water source and be forced to bring 3 liters of water, strapped to your back. While traveling light is always preferred, sometimes you have to bite the bullet. This is where trekking poles can greatly assist. Trekking poles help distribute some of the weight from your legs to your arms, making heavy packs less arduous to haul.
Backcountry terrain can be unforgiving. There will be many instances where you will need to walk across rough or uneven terrain. In these instances, trekking poles can add on two extra legs—make it easier to trek over rocks, bumpy roads, tree trunks, and other obstacles that might get in the way. They also provide more stability when crossing creeks or trekking when trekking up or down loose gravel.
Trekking poles can double as a backcountry protection device in a number of instances. They can be used to help you pitch a makeshift shelter in dire circumstances. They can also help you get rid of nuisances you might encounter along the trail such as: spider webs, prickly plants, and bugs and other pests.
Tests the Terrain
There are unexpected elements you will encounter on the trail that you may not even be aware of until it’s too late. You may hit a pitch of melting snow and slip, cross a deeper section of the river and lose your balance, or even step into a pile of quicksand. Trekking poles guide you and take the fall (literally) before you do.
It isn’t likely, but there may be an instance where you encounter a dangerous animal on the trail: such as a bear or mountain lion. Trekking poles can help you make yourself look bigger by swinging them over your head. This can help deter wildlife from pursuing you further.
Keeps the Blood Flowing
Ever notice that your hands and feet swell when hiking? By using trekking poles you can avoid your hands swelling because they will constantly have blood flowing to them. Keeping your arms moving helps you avoid blood from pooling in your hands and makes it safer than keeping your hands high on your straps in case you trip.
Acts as a Crutch
Ever accidentally slipped on a trail and hurt your ankle? Then you are tasked with hobbling back to the trailhead which can make your injury even worse. A trekking pole can act as a crutch should you encounter this scenario.