10 Reasons to use Hiking Poles
Some folks don't bother with hiking poles, I happen to think they are essential to any hiking or backpacking adventure.
Here's why I say that:
Stability on uneven, rocky, slippery surfaces is crucial. Does anyone like falling over? Of course not. Hiking poles help you maintain upright stability.
Reduces the stress on knees and joints. OK, for the very young, (that's anyone under 30) this isn't such an important issue, but if you're 30 or better, you want to give your joints all the care you can.
Hike faster and easier. Using hiking poles redistributes much of the work from your feet, ankles and knees. This has been shown to help you walk faster.
Hiking to help lose weight, and generally strengthen your heart? Yeah, hiking poles will help you do that. By about 20%.
Keeps bears, coyotes and mountain lions away. Remember, we're walking through their homes and it's a good idea to announce yourself. Occasionally banging your poles together will let them know something which is not prey is coming by or alert them so they can move off.
Rigging up temporary shelters. Have you seen how many videos are on YouTube showing you how to make a shelter using hiking poles? Hundreds of them. A simple tarp and two hiking poles can be used in a huge variety of ways to create a practical and perhaps life-saving shelter.
Overgrown trail? Hiking poles! I don't know how many times I've used my poles to push brambles, branches, spiderwebs, etc., out of my way hiking.
Checking the snowpack for stability and depth. Even in late spring and early summer we still have snow packs around here. It looks like a stable surface, but often times it's a layer of ice over a post-holing drop.
Distribute that pack weight a little more. Especially on longer outings when you're carrying +30 pounds in your pack. Your hiking poles will help you spread that weight across your arms.
Ultra-hikers can leave their tent poles at home. There are several ultra-light tents that you can do this with, ZPacks Duplex, Triplex, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 and the Tarptent Stratospire 2.