Highly experienced backpacker Andrew Skurka has trekked more than 10,000 miles with a pair of trekking poles. "I hike nowhere without my two trekking poles," Skurka, named "Adventurer of the Year" by National Geographic Adventure magazine for 2007, writes on his backpacking website.
Trekking poles have become an essential tool for hiking and mountaineering. Drakon Outdoor Equipment was founded on this one product line.
The Top 10 Reasons to Use Trekking Poles
- Trekking poles, like ski poles, allow your arms to help push you forward and upward. Whether walking on flat ground or up steep hills, poles can help to increase your average speed.
- Poles reduce the impact on your legs, knees, ankles, and feet. This is especially true when going downhill. A 1999 study in The Journal of Sports Medicine found that trekking poles can reduce compressive force on the knees by up to 25 percent. By using trekking poles, you then pass on some of the force to your shoulders that would normally all go to your knees.
- Trekking poles can be used to deflect any backcountry obstacles. They can push away thorny bushes and swipe away spider webs that cross trails, which can help make your trip more comfortable.
- The extra two points of contact significantly increase your traction on slippery surfaces like mud, snow, and loose rock.
- Walking with poles can help you establish and maintain a consistent rhythm, which can increase your speed. This is especially true on flatter, non-technical terrain.
- Poles help you maintain balance in difficult terrain such as during river crossings, tree roots on trails, and on slippery bridges. Staying balanced in turn helps you move more safely and more easily.
- Poles can act as a probe to give you more information than you can get with you eyes. Use them to see how deep puddles are, melting snow bridges, and quicksand.
- They can help to defend against attacks from dogs, bears and other wildlife. Swing them overhead to make yourself look bigger or throw them like a spear.
- Trekking poles help to alleviate some of the weight you carry. For example, if you have a heavy pack on, and you take a short break, leaning on the poles will make you more comfortable.
- Trekking poles can be used for things other than trekking. They save the weight of bringing dedicated tent poles; pitching a shelter with trekking poles can save up to two pounds. (Trekking poles are also much stronger and more rigid than tent poles, so they're less likely to break in high winds. This help creates safer shelters.) Even if you aren’t planning to spend the night out, poles can come in handy if you find yourself needing to set up an emergency shelter.
When out on the trail, I usually get some weird looks and questions as to why I am using Ski Poles while hiking. They may look silly at first, but they really do help when out on the trail.
Through our trekking pole research, we decided to combine all the best features (materials, construction types and overall popularity) and build our own version. For the price, we have received many 5 star reviews for our carbon-fiber Drakon Sticks. Check out a pair here.