Backpacking with Trekking Poles?
If you are not backpacking with trekking poles you are doing it wrong.
We’re not even joking (well, kind of; backpacking without trekking poles is better than not backpacking at all). If you need help being convinced, here are 5 reasons you should be using trekking poles when you’re backpacking.
1. You're Hiking in "4-Wheel Drive"
Hiking with trekking poles gives you that extra horsepower when you’re climbing up a mountain. Not unlike feeling like an animal with 4 legs, the extra power is there when you need it so you’re able to go up that last mountain pass with extra power and the extra traction that hiking poles give you.
Instead of putting all the weight & strain on your knees & legs, some of it can be transferred to your arms. This ultimately makes it easier for you to move without tiring so quickly on those steep inclines!
2. Weight Savings
It might seem counter-intuitive that bringing along extra equipment like trekking poles will actually save you weight, but besides the fact that using poles will help take pressure off your back, there are some serious weight savings in using a trekking pole tent over a traditional free-standing one.
Free standing tents typically require you to bring heavier tent poles, a tent body, a rain fly, and a ground cloth or footprint. On the flip side, trekking pole tents use the poles you’ve been hiking with to keep the tent pitched (by the way, we are working on selling our own trekking pole tent design in the near future.)
All you’ve got to worry about carrying in your backpack is the lightweight tent body and a few stakes!
This goes without saying, but having extra points of contact on the ground can help give you a feeling of stability and confidence as you hike. You can use your trekking poles to aid you in crossing a river, or to help vault yourself across a small stream or puddle so you don’t have to get your socks wet.
Oftentimes trails are uneven and rocky, so having trekking poles helps reduce the risk of tripping and doing a faceplant into the dirt! They’re also nice to lean on during a quick standing break.
It’s wild out there, and in many situations, you can use your trekking poles to protect yourself from angry badgers, snakes, or possibly other hikers. That’s not the only kind of protection you get from the trekking poles, though. The number one reason you want to use trekking poles is for our next point: injury prevention.
5. Injury Prevention
We’ve already covered the extra traction and the added points of contact that trekking poles give you. Certainly, the added stability will help prevent rolled ankles and broken bones when traversing through rocky or uneven terrain. But poles also help you prevent repetitive strain injuries.
Like mentioned before, the strain on your knees can be lifted by trekking poles, giving you extra stamina. Having additional touchpoints on the ground helps to spread out the weight of the load you are backpacking with, and distributes some of the strain you would otherwise feel in your knees. You can not only cover more miles, but you can do so without your legs & knees tiring so quickly.
What To Look For In Trekking Poles
There’s one quality you NEED to look out for when you’re making a purchase: Get a strong pair of trekking poles at the lightest weight you can. Read reviews and check the specs to make the right decision. Some poles are ultralight, but may bend or break easily! You’ll want poles that you can rely on to help you keep your footing and prevent injury. Taking some time to do your research is well worth the effort.
Our recommendation? Komperdell is our chosen brand of poles here at OV. We’ve tested them in the field for miles and miles and we cannot be more impressed with them. Their strength to weight ratio is better than anything else we’ve yet seen!
If you’re a Live Ultralight member, you get a great discount on what we believe are the best poles in the business (join here if you haven't already.)
Around here, anyone who wasn’t using trekking poles before has become a true believer through valuable experience. We hope that by reading this article, you’ve found valuable information to help make your backpacking trips less tiresome, safer, & more enjoyable than ever.
Have questions or comments about trekking poles? Comment below!