1. Steve Netherby
    Steve Netherby October 26, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Good one, Ray. Agree with all you said. As Camping Editor of Field & Stream for many years, a big part of my job was backpacking. And for years I trained people for and led them on dayhikes of Mt. Whitney. But, like you, I never thought the sticks were for me: I liked my “natural arm swing,” and felt they would just slow me down. But my son-in-law talked me into trying them on my last Mt. Whitney dayhike and I learned to love them. In addition to all your points, they made the hiking more fun. And I would have died a hundred times during my solo John Muir Trail through-hike this summer had they not saved me from falls; there’s a reason most animals in the wild have four legs. I endorse your glove recommendation as well: didn’t wear them for the first three days of my JMT hike and the end of each of my thumbs split open from, I guess, sun exposure; after that, despite my belatedly donning gloves, it was torture to button buttons and zip zippers.

    1. Ray
      Ray October 27, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Thanks, Steve! I love the “there’s a reason most animals in the wild have four legs” comment. So true. Incidently, I’m seeing the story of your hike all over the internet. Congratulations!

  2. John Ladd
    John Ladd October 27, 2012 at 3:39 am

    The absolute best thing about trekking poles (IMHO, of course) is that by eliminating concerns about a stumble, your eyes don’t have to stay focused on the track of the trail immediately ahead of you. When your eyes are free to roam, you are much more likely to see that wonderful little toad, Clark’s Nutcracker or black bear, and to enjoy everything around you. With trekking poles, I find my eyes glance occasionally at the trail ahead to see if there’s a significant obstruction, but mostly my eyes stay up. Without poles, my eyes are mostly on the trail with the occasional glance at the view.

    1. Ray
      Ray October 27, 2012 at 8:09 am

      I agree completely, John! I found another way to accomplish the same thing: hike with a slower companion and put him or her up front. When my wife and I hike together, she always leads. That allows me to look around much more, since her natural tendencies to slow down, move left or right, of lift her foot to avoid something telegraphs to me the nature of the obstacles ahead.

  3. Kelly Fitzgerald
    Kelly Fitzgerald October 31, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Thanks for the informative article Ray. I will be in the market for new trekking poles next year and will check out Jayah’s book. I have used one trekking pole on my hikes for years and now want to try using two. Happy hiking!

    1. Ray
      Ray October 31, 2012 at 6:54 am

      Thanks for the comment, Kelly. Believe it or not, I’ve been told that COSTCO, of all places, has good, inexpensive ones. I’m not a member, but if you are, you might want to check them out.

  4. Robyn
    Robyn September 5, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Wholeheartedly agree.
    I’ve hiked farther than I’d intended and been caught in the dark and a headlamp only illuminates what’s in front of you, not your feet! So tired my legs were like silly putty and each step shot pain into my knee.

    I’ve been on a narrow strip of rocky ground with a vertical drop to infinity and twisted an ankle or misjudged the stability of a rock with a 25lb pack assisting gravity, thank you God for poles!

    Even if you only carry them in your pack, Saving your bacon once in 1000 hikes in sufficient reason to invest.

  5. Injuries While Hiking
    Injuries While Hiking June 24, 2014 at 3:31 am

    […] of the other half of the injuries were caused by falls—again, no surprise. Trekking poles, used correctly, will go a long way to prevent those. I have lost count of the number of falls my […]

  6. Sean
    Sean July 30, 2015 at 5:48 am

    Trekking poles are nice if you’re using tarps/tarptents to help create the poles in your shelter. You can also find I think they’re Leki’s that have a camera adapter on the handle that you can install for a monopod, and some brilliant chap created an ultralight full camera tripod that uses your two hiking poles as part of the tripod/bipod.


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