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Trekking Poles And Walking Sticks

Are walking sticks longer than trekking poles? What about hiking staffs and hiking sticks? Whatever you call them, and whatever their differences, they are supposed to help your knees more than anything. This they do very well, at least when you're going downhill.

What else are they good for? They help you keep your balance. You can use them as defense against wild animals as well. I use a walking stick to rest my head on from time to time, and I also use it as a monopod for steadying the camera.

Do You Need Trekking Poles?

What if you don't have knee problems, and you are hiking on level ground? Then maybe there is no point to using trekking poles. They can be just more things to carry.

Do they save energy? They take weight off your joints, but logic says you'll expend more energy by carrying them. I use a walking stick at times, when my knees insist, and it's fun to poke at things, but it's not a necessity. For what it's worth, Ray Jardine, the "father" of ultralight backpacking, doesn't recommend trekking poles.

If you decide to use them, consider the incredible Bozeman Mountain Works Stix Xls Trekking Poles. They're made of a high-strength carbon fiber and weigh 2.7 ounces each! That's is half the weight of the nearest competition.

Walking Sticks and Other Options

I often cut dead sticks and use them until I lose them. I always lose my walking stick - a good reason not to buy the expensive ones. If I do still have it at the end of the trail, I leave it for the next hiker. Hand-cut walking sticks are heavier than high-tech trekking poles, but you can just leave them behind when you get tired of them.

You can use bamboo to make good light hiking staffs. It's stronger than it looks, so use a piece that's only about 3/4" thick. I bought cheap decorative bamboo at Pier One Imports, and cut it to size. You can glue some soft scrap leather on for a comfortable handgrip.

Finally, ski poles work as trekking poles. It's best if you remove the baskets, especially if you're hiking in wooded areas where they may catch on something.

Steve Gillman is a long-time backpacker, and advocate of lightweight backpacking. His advice and stories can be found at http://www.TheUltralightBackpackingSite.com

In The News:

IS 'decimated' and down to last mile of territory - Pence
Sat, 16 Feb 2019 10:50:00 +0000
The Islamic State caliphate has been "decimated" and the last mile of IS-controlled territory in Syria is being captured by American-backed forces, says US vice president Mike Pence.

'I don't trust anyone': The British women who married IS jihadis
Fri, 15 Feb 2019 17:28:00 +0000
Reema Iqbal is talking to us from behind the plastic sheeting which marks the tented area which is now her home in Roj camp in northeast Syria.

Militants using civilians as shields delay capture of final IS enclave
Fri, 15 Feb 2019 16:14:00 +0000
Hundreds of civilians still living in Islamic State's final enclave have emerged and are being used as human shields - forcing US-backed troops to delay capturing the village.

Mourners visit Emiliano Sala's coffin ahead of cremation
Sat, 16 Feb 2019 15:23:00 +0000
Mourners have been paying their final respects to Emiliano Sala at a memorial service in Santa Fe.

Nigeria postpones presidential election at last minute
Sat, 16 Feb 2019 03:16:00 +0000
Nigeria's presidential election has been postponed just hours before polls were due to open.



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