Sunday, May 25, 2014

Benefits of Hiking Poles

A staff I made from a broomstick -- smoothly varnished, just the right size, and marked in inches to check depths of water -- served me for years of hiking until I joined a hiking group and got teased about it, like, did I ride it on Halloween. Many of them had store-bought hiking poles--pairs, like ski poles, one for each hand. I bought cheap ones to see how they worked for me. One broke the first day. I repaired and reinforced them with electrical tape and have now used them for half a year. Advantages of hiking poles:
1. They offer a mild upper-body workout.
2. Their rubber tips or spring-loaded shocks and rubber tops reduce stress on the hands and wrists.
3. I can hike farther.
4. While climbing steep hills or descending rocky pathways I feel much more balanced and secure.
5. Increased confidence and stability when I step over obstacles such as fallen trees, or vault across puddles or creeks.
6. They weigh less than my solid wooden staff (like bikes, the more expensive they are the lighter they can be).
7. The wrist straps mean that you don't have to clutch them for dear life.
8. Especially when going downhill they save wear on the knees.
9. One can serve as a monopod for a camera.
10. They telescope; their length is adjustable.
11. Good for poking around the forest floor.

1. You can't carry anything else in your hands, so must buy or at least bring along a holster, fanny pack, or backpack.
2. You must tug the straps off and lay the poles down to take photos or swig water, and a couple of times when I laid them down or propped them against a tree I almost lost them, even though I chose red ones to make that less likely. I have also tripped on them, and had them fall into a clump of poison ivy.
3. They must be stored in the car.
4. If you don't use them in the approved fashion you get lectured on the trail.
5. They are just one more thing to buy.
6. They make you look and maybe feel a little old; they're used mostly by over-40s.
7. Useless, even burdensome, on ice or in mud. But then again, why are you hiking on ice or in mud?

I like them very much; I simply feel more secure.

1 comment:

Buford Nature said...

Timely. Just this past weekend while teetering around on moss-draped talus I realized that hiking poles might be for me. After all, I AM over 40!