Imagine yourself hiking one of the most beautiful trails you’ve ever experienced. You reach the summit, complete with a raging waterfall. It’s like something out of a fairy tale. You can’t wait to hike back down through all of the green that surrounds you. But what’s that ache in your knee? On the decent, each step getting more and more painful. “I guess this will be the last time I hike a mountain” you think to yourself. Actually, this is exactly what I thought to myself once upon a time. It turns out, I only needed a little support. I needed trekking poles!
Trekking poles saved my knees and have allowed me the amazing opportunity to be outside. Not only that, poles are extremely versatile and can be used a number of ways.
1.Knee relief (duh). Trekking poles help relieve some of the pressure and impact on both your knees and ankles. As you place the pole forward of the opposite leg, you can relieve pressure up to 20%! That’s a lot when you’re descending thousands of feet! The relief on your lower body can actually increase your stamina, making it easier to trek more miles and higher elevation gains. And what Mountain Chick doesn’t want more miles and elevation? ;)
2.Balance. We’ve all been there. We approach a creek crossing that is usually dry but today happens to be a flowing river of water. The only place to do a dry crossing is a small log, that honestly looks more like a tree branch. You try to balance, but can you make it and keep yourself from getting wet? Well, with trekking poles, you don’t have to worry so much about taking those unexpected cool water swims. Using poles will give you 4 points of contact, essentially giving you 2 extra legs! They also work great for testing out rocks and/or logs to make sure they are sturdy before putting your entire weight on them.
3.Backcountry tools. I have too many stories I can tell about being out on a single track trail with friends, coming across overgrown brush and not having it bother me at all. When everyone else had to use their legs and legs to bushwhack, I simply used my poles! Trekking poles can also work as a support for bivy tents as well as a splint! Please note that you will need additional supplies to create both the bivy tent and splint.
4.Full body workout. My favorite part about using trekking poles is that my lower body isn’t the only part of me getting in a workout anymore. Using poles helps work out your upper body as well. Your arms are constantly moving, helping to support your lower body! Not only does this give your upper body a workout, it keeps your hands from swelling up in the heat and circulation flowing through your entire body! Before using poles, my face would swell and turn red like a cherry tomato, but using the poles has kept my body moving and actually reminds me to keep a steady breath on the trails.
Whether you decide to try out trekking poles because, like me, your knees hurt, or for any of the other reasons listed above...just do it. Try them. Borrow some from a friend. Pick some up for $20 at Wal-Mart. Just get them in your hands and use them on the trail. I promise, they will change your life!
Do you use trekking poles? Tell us your favorite benefit of using them in the comments below! Never used them before and are going to give them a try? Let us know what you think!
Hike safe and see you on the trails!
Dani is the Founder of Mountain Chicks and the primary author of the Mtn Chicks Blog. Here you'll find outdoor tips, travel experiences, gear reviews and more.