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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:

Casualties after Turkish high-speed train crashes
Thu, 13 Dec 2018 04:49:00 +0000
A Turkish high speed train has crashed into an overpass and two carriages have toppled over in Ankara.

Police release image of Christmas market attack suspect
Tue, 11 Dec 2018 19:37:00 +0000
French police have released a photo of the man suspected of killing two people and leaving another brain dead at a Christmas market in Strasbourg.

Grace Millane family: 'Our world turned upside down'
Wed, 12 Dec 2018 04:10:00 +0000
The family of a murdered British backpacker have said their "whole world turned upside down" after the 22-year-old's death.

Ex-lawyer jailed for covering up Trump's 'dirty deeds'
Wed, 12 Dec 2018 15:54:00 +0000
Donald Trump's ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been jailed for three years over hush money payments to two women.

Hillary Clinton among partygoers at billionaire kids' wedding
Wed, 12 Dec 2018 20:54:00 +0000
Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and a host of Bollywood's biggest names were among guests as the daughter of India's richest man got married.



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