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Using Trekking Poles (AKA Hiking Sticks)

I use hiking sticks almost every time I hike. I know…you’ll hear people call them “ski poles” and make dumb comments sometimes, but they literally take tons of weight off your knees for each mile you hike. And if you use them to lower yourself, in lieu taking the pounding for every big step down the trail, they can also take a load of pressure off your back too. 

For the unparalleled stability they provide, most hikers and backpackers are much better off using them; although they do take a little time to get used to. On the first couple of hikes you can trip over them until you get your rhythm, so make sure to acclimate yourself to using hiking sticks before you take on any serious hike.

My first trekking poles were four foot tall, 1 inch square, wooden grading stakes. I sanded them a little and then added a bicycle handle grip on the top of each. Then I added a lag bolt on the bottom to protect from wear.

They have all kinds of trekking poles nowadays, the majority being light weight hollow aluminum. Some can collapse down to about 24 inches for traveling and many include a little shock absorber inside to keep from jarring your bones when hiking downhill. See your outdoor retailer to decide which style might suit you best.

If you try a pair and learn to use them I think you’ll find them an indispensible part of your hiking gear, especially for fording streams and general backpacking excursions.

Hike Smart & Have Fun

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