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    • After doing countless hikes ranging from 3-20 miles I’ve come across so many hikers that use them and seem very fond of them, which got me to thinking if I’m missing out on something. So far I haven’t found a need, but there have been some sections on the rocky trails where I felt that having an extra support could save my ankles.

      Would love to hear from someone who’ve had a real experience with trekking poles. Are they worth getting and when do you find them being useful?

    • A while back I wrote this in a conversation about climbing Mt. Whitney:

      I’ve always been extremely opposed to trekking poles. I see the as a hazard to others, because the hikers I see use them are often ignorant and hog the trails. They’re extra weight. Why waist energy in your arms and shoulders catching weight your legs are designed for?

      If we’re doing this nest week, we’re talking more than a mile up and down, near-marathon distances, extreme temps, a ledgy, stair-like granite trail, and my joints are older than last time I was up there. I find the idea of using trekking poles more appealing. I would only use them specifically for the last few miles of the descent to take a few pounds of my knees. Have you ever used them?

      I ended up forgetting them at home, and still have never used trekking poles. I need to plan another long hike where I can try them. I'm mainly interested in them to preserve my joints as I get older.

    • Chris MacAskill

      There is a trail runner I admire and sometimes see at Rancho, David Roche. It's pretty amazing to see him run because if it's really steep like the PG&E trail and he's going long like this 16-mile random workout, his pace slows all the way down to 6:08, although he's running 4-somethings downhill and 5-somethings on the flats. By virtue of winning the Way Too Cool 50K, he qualified for a trail run competition in Italy.

      You would think guys like that wouldn't benefit from poles. But a whole lot of the top
      Euro trail runners use them, all except Killian Jornet, perhaps the greatest of them. So it was strange to see Roche line up in Italy with so many other pole-wielding runners who looked like hikers to me. But he got thoroughly crushed by them, 96th place.

      And at this year's prestigious UTMB 100 miler around Mt. Blanc in the Alps, most of them had poles except Jornet and even he got beat, first time ever I think, by a guy with poles. They seem to believe they can offload some of the work of hill climbs to their upper bodies, like cross-country skiers.

    • I've never used them but a number of years back I did some reading about them. My hypothesis was that they don't help but the research showed pretty clear evidence that they make people faster. I can't recall if this is true for people of all speeds.

    • I have never used them. But this thread is making me reconsider. I would consider using them esp for downhill trail running.

      I believe we often don't realize what the top hikers, runners, skiers, etc., do to get in peak performance or race shape. For example, Kenyans are often seen running in bare feet and minimal running shoes during training and then during marathon races they wear high heel-to-toe ratio shoes. If you studied running and "shoe engineering" you would understand that this makes absolutely no sense. But Kenyans are on record saying they wear heavier shoes in races because it gives them a chance to shift from heel running to forefoot running which helps them maintain energy and speed, and the extra cushion reduces ground reaction stress. All that adds up to a faster race.

      I believe the poles are worth trying. They can definitely help you. And after a certain age who cares about the cool factor ;-).

    • I've got Black Diamond folding poles - they're super light and I've used them in Mountain adventures before. I found them useful on my R2R2R run a few years ago. I've never used them in races but apparently they're popular in European trail running scene because the trails are generally bit more steeper than here. Feel free to borrow / try out mine though.

    • I can totally see how they'll be usefull for R2R2R. It is one hell of a day (literally) and anything that can save you energy and save your legs counts! I'd love to borrow them from you or perhaps tag along on a long trek where I can check them out.

    • I've got a few plans coming together in the summer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP - I'll keep you in the loop. And yes, please let me know when you want to borrow them and try them out for a couple of months.

    • R2R2R!!! I'm doing Rim to Rim to River in May because we somehow got a room at the lodge to spend the night. The whole thing just seems insane.

      What plans are coming together for Sequoia and Kings?

    • This won't be relevant to younger and more fit trail runners and hikers. I'm an older, not-super-athletic person who likes to hike, and I do use them sometimes. My legs aren't that strong, so on very steep uphills or stepping up on rocks they give me a little extra boost; they help my poor old creaky knees and quads on long, steep downhills. They also help me on rocky or steep downhills where my balance is not always as good as I wish; they provide a little extra security.

      I don't use them all the time. When I'm with the dogs, I can't carry them, obviously. And on a casual local hike I don't usually take them. But on a long hike in the mountains I put them in the side pockets of my day pack. The carbon-fiber ones weigh almost nothing, so I don't even know they are there, but can take them out when needed.

    • Yes, I loved it. We did it in November just before they turn the water off. It was a nice long training run :) I don't seem to have a TR for it, but if I find it, I'll post here.

      For Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP, there's a few ideas I have:
      - Last year we did partial HST (OAB to Hamilton Lake) but this year I want to do the entire thing in one push and maybe camp one night in the middle. Here's a TR:
      - I also did Mt. Agassiz from South Lake (near Bishop) and want to explore a few peaks there in the Palisades region. See TR:
      - Finally, I'm planning Rae Lakes loop towards the end of June:

      I'll try to add some more backcountry stuff :)

    • I'll see if I can get Vilen to join on some of the upcoming trips. If you love the backcountry, come on out with us!

      Francois...he's a beast! He smashed it! I'll watch the video again because why not :) I'd be happy to do the JMT in 7 days one day! :)

    • YES! Try trekking poles for hiking, especially backpacking. I call it 4WD. Much more stable and smooth. Extremely helpful on the downhills. Can make a huge difference on the knees. Get ones that collapse so you can put on your pack if the trail is really smooth, but have them ready to go on the more technical sections. They make a really big difference if you are carrying the weight of a backpack. I wont backpack without them. Your knees will be thankful and you can go longer.

    • Day packing - no need for poles.
      Overnight backpacking - I always take the poles.
      Post ACL reconstruction, the poles have saved my tired knees after long days and big descents. Not only that, but they really help me keep my balance and save my back when I'm carrying a heavily loaded backpack.

    • Okay, you’ve convinced me. In two weeks I have a rim-to-rim-to-river 40-mile day in the Grand Canyon and I will take poles. I think my legs are gonna be seriously worked after that and then I have to hike out the next day.

    • I loved them. The Grand Canyon trails are full of big steps and for each one going up I planted both poles and gave a big push with my upper body so the big steps didn't work my quads so much. I could tell the whole way that the poles were taking weight off my feet, knees, hips, and quads. 40 miles with a pack in a day, 10,500' of gain on a rough trail, and I still felt great by the end.