If you are like me, you never heard of trekking poles while growing up hunting in the Midwest. It wasn’t until I arrived in Alaska for the first time in the early 1990’s that I heard of mountain hunters using trekking poles. I thought it was dumb to drag two metal poles up a mountain. Now, I don’t leave home without them. After using them religiously on all types of hunts in Alaska, I have learned that they are often the MVP of all my hunting gear. Here is why you should own a pair.
Trekking poles lower the impact on joints. This is a fact. Trekking poles help you redistribute some of your weight onto your upper body; therefore, your hips, knees and ankles don’t have to take the brunt of ground impact. Poles are invaluable when moving down steep inclines. They also help on level ground if the surface is extremely hard.
Trekking poles help you balance. How many times do you see a dog or a horse trip and fall? Not very often. Four points-of-contact with the ground beats two points-of-contact every time. In fact, I learned right away that using poles helped me save tons of energy by reducing the muscle strain used to balance on steep or uneven terrain. They are like miracle sticks when it comes to endurance over uneven ground.
Trekking poles make you safer. Poles are awesome for probing soft ground, snow and ice. If you have something that is immediately available to probe your potential foot placement your path becomes a lot safer. Another use of poles for safety can include fending off animals or simply pinning sticker bushes out of your way. Another practical use for poles is for splints in the event of a serious injury.
Trekking poles can give you rhythm. When covering distances on relatively flat ground, trekking poles can aid you in setting a better pace. Since your arms are being used, it is easier to swing your arms in rhythm and provide a more productive body cadence.
Trekking poles can be used for other tasks. One of the most obvious uses for trekking poles by backpackers that like to shave weight is for tent poles. You can really shave ounces by leaving tent poles at home. You can also poke a fire; pull down out of reach branches for hanging clothes or lights on. I have used my poles as clothes lines and to dry boots with. I have also used my poles to knock off snow and rain water from the sides and top of my tent without even getting out of my sleeping bag.
If you hunt or hike any type of terrain other than flat, you will be a trekking pole convert. Don’t believe me though, try some yourself.