Why should you use hiking poles.
Tacky, useless, cumbersome, conformity, fad, unnatural, for old … Many adjectives and excuses from those who do not use little or poorly hiking poles. I thought the same … until I put myself in Iceland during a trek on Eyjafjallajökull. Some postpone their use as they postpone a visit to the dentist. Preferring pain prevention thereof and care … until the day that includes using hiking sticks can go faster, farther, longer. And those who think that it is only for tourists to the mountain, I invite you to follow me in my solitary walks :)
1 Reduced effort on your joints, especially your knees
This may seem insignificant little view for a short distance but increase the differences in height and length of the trek and believe me, you will immediately feel the difference in the distribution of different and more homogeneous weight. The joints are under less stress. When I turn the challenge of Mont Blanc alone in less than a week this summer (5,5j). I woke up the morning of the fourth day with a horrible knee pain to the point that I thought I was abandoned. In the end, I was able to continue referring mainly muscular effort on sticks and by using it as a crutch. Note that the ideal solution would have been to stop hiking at this point but I wanted to prove to myself that the mind is stronger than the physical. I forced, I finished and I got the following over a month of stopping any physical activity. (little clever, lesson learned. You tell me, is like a hike with too heavy to learn by suffering the benefits of light hiking bag.)
2 Smoothes the difficult terrain
Clearly, it is easier to overcome obstacles like rocks (not requiring climbing) as the Gr20. Crossing small streams and also becomes easy.
3 A greater balance and gain stability
You have 2 points more support. With your feet, that gives us four stable support. One could almost compete with goats. On slippery surfaces, or sometimes I slipped because of mud and small stones rolling, I was very happy to catch me using my sticks. If you also want to go on a run downhill, the stability provided by the poles will be a big advantage.
4 A supply of power and speed
We walk faster with sticks because they also work the upper body. Uphill, you can enjoy the thrust of his arms that improve the traction. In case your climb rate is already high, it helps keep longer. If you are a fan of Nordic walking, you know that it increases your average walking speed on flat or flat wrong. In the mountains, it’s the same. Efforts are better distributed. Race (with backpack), they allow fast reflexes on stable support positions with the upper body when changing paths without hindering the movement of the legs and without much loss of speed
5 A walking comfort
Your walking posture is more natural, less bent (if you hold your sticks well). They should be at waist height, your elbow 90 degrees when you are standing. In fact you should not walk bent as Nepalese porters with you if you have sticks. A real benefit for your back and spine.
6 Improves walking pace
When the terrain is hilly, a different pace of walking on the climbs and descents are adopted. People often cling their bag uphill, bending forward. Downhill on the small slippery rock, is expected to slip at any moment, a little on that bright. With sticks, unless the ground is very steep, the pace of walking with 4 support on the ground is much more uniform. You can keep a steady walking pace over time. Without making totally ignore the ground, one can almost disconnected follow a rhythm of a metronome. It is also one of my favorite running sensations. When I let my mind do other occupations and I swallow without fail for many kilometers.
7 To reduces muscle fatigue
Not only will your legs are not the only ones to work (since the upper body is involved), but the weight supported at every step is slightly lower. This may seem insignificant for a short distance but since we are talking about multi-day treks, it will have a big impact on your overall fitness.
8 Can save in critical condition
Gain stability on slopes or downhill is actually a plus. It feels more secure and our actions are more natural. Similarly, the sticks can be used to gauge the strength of a passage, the depth of the snow. Is also possible (if string) to take a partner for a short distance.
9 Trekking poles are multi-purpose
They have been my crutch, to eliminate humidity ferns droplets, they can be used to make a tarp shelter to repel wildlife. As the Emei Shan where I had bamboo hiking :)
Despite many advantages mentioned above, we must keep in mind that the use of hiking poles can cause inconvenience
The grip sticks. The technique of handling sticks is very simple and requires little practice but you have to learn the right things from the start.
The adjustment field. Whether uphill or downhill, as well as some difficult passages or they will have to hang up the hiking poles must be adapted to the terrain
Environmental and noise pollution. The intensive use of hiking poles can damage the fragile vegetation, rocks, soil, etc. It’s a bit like mountain biking. It is a means of transport but green product damage. Furthermore, the use of hiking poles without rubber tip produces a characteristic sound that can be in the long run, more than tiresome. So that everyone can enjoy the tranquility of our trails, use bits.
Difficult to handle especially in dense undergrowth
Dimensions of hands: yeah, not always easy to read a map with sticks or access binoculars unless his hands in the straps (called straps) and we pass that we did a little attention.
The price. This is an additional investment. I do not hide it. However, the benefits of long-term use are much larger compared to the cost. At worst, you can manufacture wooden sticks in place if buying a quality product and durable you off.
One or two sticks: is it worth it to have one, the weight, the ride comfort? For me, the question does not arise. Even on flat ground, I always prefer to enjoy 2 additional support rather than one. In addition, a single stick will take you to adopt an asymmetric market that force you to change from time to time labor.
Conclusion: Hiking sticks are indispensable to me. Try hiking poles is to adopt! They are not a fad for “tourist mountain.” They are a modern adaptation of traditional practices (pilgrims, shepherds, etc). Before that we used, we now takes two. Use the argument of “fashion” for not using would prefer the wooden clogs shoes modern rides (which, for some, are very flashy effect) by what is trendy. Walking sticks, once we have learned to use them, are excellent tools for walking. Health gain, power, speed … But if you prefer the risk of micro-traumas, muscle fatigue that sooner or later you will be disabling, you may feel that you can do without. But I’ll talk about it when you wait quietly in the downhill (or uphill), with painful knees)