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Walking poles

Townsend

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A few years ago we carried ours onto a plane in Sydney without any problems. However we were connecting to a flight from LAX to Denver and there was no way they would let them on that flight.
 

ALH

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Slightly off topic but do users have an opinion as to whether they make a difference walking? I can see them helping on long descents but do they actually help with trudge walking? I like to have my hands free walking but if they result in less effort walking or something I'd be interested.
I’ve found them invaluable for balance on long hikes. Especially when fatigue sets in. Too much risk of a fall and sprains!
 

vetrade

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........

...........vetrade said:
and we felt more confident just using our hands on steep / rocky ascents. On steeper descents you can find yourself bending over forwards a little too much when placing the poles out in front (even if they're fully extended) - we felt more comfortable keeping our balance if we stayed more upright


My experience is the opposite. I find them ideal and a boon on steep and rocky ascents and descents. However I do not use the poles like you describe and suspect you maybe reaching too far forward with them.. My torso remains vertical and I do not reach forward. Reaching forward would actually be very dangerous on steep trails if you slipped.

Plus if using my larger backpack I might have 14-20kg on my back and bending forward would make one me very tired.

If it an especially steep section that I have to actually climb, rather than step, then the poles go on the loops for that section.
Appreciate you taking the time with your reply. You make a good case for using hiking poles based your experiences, and your video clip confirmed that I had been using mine correctly, so no problems there - plus it seems we do agree on dispensing with the poles on steep climbing sections in favour of using hands.

It doesn't seem we will agree regarding steep descents, though. People generally have their hiking poles adjusted to a comfortable length for their height and nobody wants to stop and re-adjust them on the go when the terrain is variable. For me, if the landing spot is 6 or 8 or even 10 inches below my feet that means that it's near inevitable that I need to bend forward to plant the poles so my preference is to squat slightly and use my hands to to steady myself to the sides.

Generally I much prefer to have my hands free rather than have them holding poles - much of the time when walking/trekking I have my DSLR in hand ready for whatever wildlife shots (or candid shots of Mrs V) might present themselves at short notice (the lens makes it awkward to have the camera bouncing around my neck).

FWIW, at age 65 I did manage the Path of the Gods last year virtually unscathed, sans poles, although I did save my knees by not doing the 1700-odd steps up from Positano.
 

Warks

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I’ve found them invaluable for balance on long hikes. Especially when fatigue sets in. Too much risk of a fall and sprains!
I've read or heard they can help you cover more ground faster. That is, you can increase your pace a bit without expending a lot more energy. I'm assuming that would involve using the poles to help propel yourself forward so using arm strength along with leg power. But that may all be marketing!
 

lovetravellingoz

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I've read or heard they can help you cover more ground faster. That is, you can increase your pace a bit without expending a lot more energy. I'm assuming that would involve using the poles to help propel yourself forward so using arm strength along with leg power. But that may all be marketing!

On the flat yes it can help you walk faster. I have dabbled a little purely out of curiosity.

However I walk for pleasure and am not infirm and so I do not worry about using them for flat walks.

Mine are for hikes, especially up and down hills.
 
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lovetravellingoz

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It doesn't seem we will agree regarding steep descents, though. People generally have their hiking poles adjusted to a comfortable length for their height and nobody wants to stop and re-adjust them on the go when the terrain is variable.


For me, if the landing spot is 6 or 8 or even 10 inches below my feet that means that it's near inevitable that I need to bend forward to plant the poles so my preference is to squat slightly and use my hands to to steady myself to the sides.
If people are doing that then they are using the poles incorrectly.

If you do not adjust for uphill, flat and downhill then they will be the wrong length . To be comfortable for your height the poles must be adjusted for each. Uphill they need to be shorter and downhill longer. Mine have quick release clamps and have numbers each cm so I know where to move them too, and so it is easy and only a few seconds per pole to adjust them.

With your poles too short I can see why you are stooping forward, but that is precisely why they should be longer. Longer poles means that you just reach down plant the poles and then step down. A straight spine is also going to mean that your back muscles will be worked less hard. Stooping forward with a 20kg backpack will also be quite dangerous.

It has to be exceptionally steep before I stop using my poles. For the heights you mention, poles would still be used. The greater step height would see me with two poles firmly planted and so when my body is being lowered it is being done so on two poles (arms) and one knee, rather than only one knee. My knees thank me for this. My back also thanks me for this (I did my back in my late twenties and managing it well sees it only have the occasional flare-up).

Squatting a lot would increase the cumulative strain on my knees. I am managing my knees as I want to keep walking for decades yet. The damage is only slight at present, but the wear and tear is cumulative and so by reducing the wear and tear on them now I am increasing my future quality of life.

Generally I much prefer to have my hands free rather than have them holding poles - much of the time when walking/trekking I have my DSLR in hand ready for whatever wildlife shots (or candid shots of Mrs V) might present themselves at short notice (the lens makes it awkward to have the camera bouncing around my neck).
I do understand your point and preference here. However I personally will go with improved safety and comfort during the walk. I also now use my mobile phone (image quality has vastly improved) alone for many hikes. Rare are the days now, when like my first trip to Nepal where I lugged around 2kg of camera and lenses, that I will even take my DLSR (It was film back then).

FWIW, at age 65 I did manage the Path of the Gods last year virtually unscathed, sans poles, although I did save my knees by not doing the 1700-odd steps up from Positano.
We finished the Path of the Gods walk with the steps straight down to Positano (our BnB was located almost directly below as we were about a 10/15 minute walk out of Positano). From memory it was about an hour of constant steps.

If I had of not done the stairs at the end then yes my knees too would have been much better as that was the section where we repeatedly strained our knees.

Much of the rest of the walk was relatively flattish where you swing the leg rather than step up or down continually, as you are essentially going along the coast on a path that goes up and down a bit, but not that much compared to the steps. And after having also walked down the many steps the day prior from the top of Capri to the port the two longish steep descents on consecutive days sans poles left me with sore knees. I have walked with poles both before and after that for longer descents (and ascents), and with a heavier pack, over repeated days and had no problems at all re soreness.

For myself there is no doubt, walking poles do make a huge difference to the state of my knee. Overall my body pulls also up much better and also at the end of the day I will feel less tired. But as with all things in life it is individual choice as to what is the best trade-off for oneself.

I also find walking down steps/ steep terrain strains my knees more than going up.
 
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vetrade

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Clearly you have firm opinions, but I don't need to be lectured to any further
 
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DElliott

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Used hiking poles last month on our trek to Everest Base Camp - great support for those steep ups and downs , especially the rocky steps . They were my "crutch" for want of a better way of saying it !
 

drron

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I use mine for balance as I have a peripheral neuropathy and spinal canal stenosis which certainly affect my balance.
I also shorten or lengthen the pole when going up or down.really is very easy just turn it one way to loosen,change length then turn back to tighten.Second nature for me as well.I also appreciate not bending my back.
When in South Georgia the poles were also effective against sea lions or seals that decided to charge.
 

lovetravellingoz

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I use mine for balance as I have a peripheral neuropathy and spinal canal stenosis which certainly affect my balance.
I also shorten or lengthen the pole when going up or down.really is very easy just turn it one way to loosen,change length then turn back to tighten.Second nature for me as well.I also appreciate not bending my back.
When in South Georgia the poles were also effective against sea lions or seals that decided to charge.
I have not had sea-lions, but have found them useful for dogs, snakes, swooping birds and a bull (I was on a hike in the Cotswolds and he was an unwelcome surprise!).
 
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lovetravellingoz

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Clearly you have firm opinions, but I don't need to be lectured to any further because I am not a doofus.
I am sorry that you have taken offense as my advice was only well intended, but advocating that people should not adjust their walking poles for going up and down steep paths is simply not how the they should be used. You may not be a doofus , but you are advocating incorrect usage of walking poles.

Leaning forward on steep descents is also an unsafe practice. If that pole/s you have out in front of you slips, and they do, then falling forwards down a steep path is the likely result with injury quite possible.

This is a public forum with many that are reading this thread besides you and I, and I have only sought to provide information, and the logic behind it, on what is generally regarded as good practice. Apart from being a life-long hiker I also spent 7 years training and certifying people on a range of adventurous outdoor activities.

Others can decide what techniques they wish to use. I only hope that I have provided some background information so that readers can make their own informed decision.
 

vetrade

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Lovetravellingoz, since you persist, I suggest you read your own posts and perhaps take your hands off the keyboard for a while to engage in some introspection. The reality is that how one chooses to use their hiking poles is, by and large, inconsequential compared to most things and anyone reading this thread is quite at liberty to ignore or adopt whatever opinions they choose.

Firstly, in response to me stating my opinion on the use of hiking poles, based on my personal experience, you followed up with a particularly long post about their use (as you are quite entitled to do) which was, in part, contrary to my own.

I then, quite graciously I would say, said in reply:

“Appreciate you taking the time with your reply. You make a good case for using hiking poles based your experiences, and your video clip confirmed that I had been using mine correctly, so no problems there……….”

Rather than leave it at that, you then moved from being helpful mode to simply being boorish by posting another rambling and repetitive post explaining, at great length, how I should use the poles, how to adjust them for uphill or downhill etc. etc, yada, yada, yada as if you were lecturing a simpleton child.

As well, you blatantly misrepresented what I wrote by also stating: “…. advocating that people should not adjust their walking poles for going up and down steep paths is simply not how they should be used”, and “Leaning forward on steep descents is also an unsafe practice”.

What I did actually write was this “People generally have their hiking poles adjusted to a comfortable length for their height and nobody wants to stop and re-adjust them on the go when the terrain is variable. For me, if the landing spot is 6 or 8 or even 10 inches below my feet that means that it's near inevitable that I need to bend forward to plant the poles so my preference is to squat slightly and use my hands to steady myself to the sides”. (Surely that made it obvious that, on descents, I prefer not to use poles and I also avoid leaning forward)

As if your boorishness knows no bounds, you also made some gratuitous “mine’s bigger than yours” comments suggesting your walk of the Path of the Gods was more arduous than mine and that taking a DSLR on my walks was so “last year” because you have swapped years ago to using an iPhone. Who cares?

I wouldn’t care if you spent 7 years certifying Neil Armstrong to walk on the moon and you may be the world’s greatest hiker ever but there’s a big difference between being helpful and just being annoying and self indulgent.
 

lovetravellingoz

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As if your boorishness knows no bounds, you also made some gratuitous “mine’s bigger than yours” comments suggesting your walk of the Path of the Gods was more arduous than mine
Why would you even take it that way? The context was about strain on the knees when hiking and not on boasting about walking prowess.

I would have thought it to be a fact that from what you wrote that you saved your knees by not doing the steep section, and I then replied back in that I in doing the 1700 steps had developed sore knees. The two statements have a logical connection and mine was a comment about the damage to knees, rather than on comparing appendages.

Admitting my need to now use a walking aid I would have thought would be the opposite of boasting.

If I avoid walking steep sections my knees are fine.

If I use walking poles on steep sections my knees are fine.

If I don't use walking poles on repeated days on steep sections, I get sore knees.

Others don't have my dodgey knees. My wife is sans-sore knees at all times. But she does have a sure-footedness problem that I do not (yet) have.
 
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