Love My Trekking Poles

by Nancy on June 29, 2012

A little dirty after a 12-mile hike along Avalanche Creek in western Colorado but still standing thanks to my hiking poles.

To beat the heat this summer Alan and I have taken to hiking in our wonderful Colorado Rockies. Being “of a certain age,” we’ve both had issues with hips, knees and ankles and find going downhill pretty jolting on these joints. A few weeks ago on a steep downhill section of trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, not only did I fall on my butt from skidding I also developed pain in my toes where they jammed against the front of my boot. Sure enough, when I got home and took my shoes off I found one of my toenails was black and blue.

In the interest of self preservation (and toe vanity) I decided to research trekking poles. You know, those poles you see people use and think “those must only be for old people,” and “what softies.” I ended up buying the REI Traverse Powerlock Trekking Poles and after one weekend of use Alan and I are completely sold. Here are some things we found:

Advantages of Trekking Poles

  • They reduce overall fatigue. One of the things Alan and I both noticed was that we tripped less ¬†towards the end of our hikes. Generally as I got tired I realized I was not picking my feet up as much, meaning I was catching my foot on rocks in the trail more often. I am happy to have help avoiding a face plant.
  • Going up is easier because the pole bears part of the load of pulling yourself up.
  • Going down is easier on your joints because the pole absorbs part of the impact of the downward step. This also keeps your foot from sliding and jamming your toes into the front of the boot.
  • Your hands don’t get all swollen. Have you gone on a long hike and noticed your hands look like sausages at the end and your rings are killing your because your finger is puffy? ¬†Holding the poles keeps your hands at a 90 degree angle to your body and eliminates the swelling.
  • Keeps you from squishing the snake that runs underneath your foot…yes, this happened to me.
  • You can wave your poles in the air to appear larger if you happen to meet a bear or mountain lion. On one of our hikes we saw a bear, ambling in a boulder field. Fortunately it was far enough away for us to enjoy watching without worry and it was a thrill to see a bear where it belongs, at 10,000 feet in the mountains and not wandering through Joan’s backyard.

If you are a research geek and want to read more try these links:


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

sherry July 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I’ve read that you also burn more calories using poles when you hike. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that when you use a trekking pole, your oxygen demands and heart rate increase. An increase in heart rate leads to an increase in the number of calories burned. ACSM cites that when you use walking poles, you have the potential of burning between 22 percent and 46 percent more calories.

Mary@Fit and Fed July 27, 2012 at 8:48 am

Pretty much everyone I see who is at/beyond a certain age seems to use trekking poles for mountain hiking. They are a great help for the knees. Doesn’t seem like your toes should be hitting the front of your boots that badly, though, without the poles, maybe the boots are a bit too big.
Mary@Fit and Fed´s last blog post ..King Salmon with Red Quinoa and Peach Cherry Compote

lori July 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm

See, I should read your blog more regularly. We just got back from hiking in Utah (Zion and Bryce) and we really could have used some trekking poles. Everyone was using them and they were highly recommended for certain hikes that we considered. Thanks for your review, we’re getting some!
lori´s last blog post ..Meh

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