What Are Trekking Poles?

The benefits to hiking with a pair of sticks

Flickr/Hajime NAKANO

Trekking poles, sometimes known as walking poles, hiking poles or hiking sticks are often used to assist hikers on their treks.  Similar in style and shape to ski poles, this hiking gear provides necessary support to the numerous hikers who benefit from usage.

Many trekking poles are made in two or three sections to make them retractable for storage.  They often have an aluminum base and a thicker rubber or foam grip for hand support. The bottom of the sticks usually have either stoppers or pointed bottoms depending on the style and type of hike it is used for. For instance, a pointed bottom is better for digging into the ground for leverage when hiking uphill.   

Related: 7 Things You Don't Need While Backpacking

There are plenty of benefits to using trekking poles that are sure to make your hike an overall more enjoyable and positive experience.

  1. Rhythm. Even when walking on flatter surfaces, trekking poles can help you keep a constant rhythm to your walk, propelling you forward and therefore pushing you to hike more quickly.

  2. Balance. Whether you are walking up a steep portion of the trail, or walking across a tricky, uneven area, having poles on both sides of you will help you balance your way through.

  3. Deflection. As you walk through thorny bushes, or even a leaf-filled stream, you can use the trekking poles to clear a path ahead of you.

  4. Health benefits. Trekking poles are great for helping along weaker knees, or if you have a heavy pack, pushing down your pressure onto the poles will alleviate some of the weight off of your back.

  5. Setting up camp. Trekking poles have multiple uses. Use them as tent poles to set up your camp.

Grab a pair of trekking poles that are right for you at any camping gear store (or Amazon has a wide variety) and improve your trekking experience.


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