Hiking has surged in popularity among Americans in recent years.
It is now the fourth most common outdoor activity. Only running, fishing and biking are more popular. Have you ever wondered why hiking is so popular?
It could be because it doesn't require much to get started. Just grab a pair of boots and put one foot in front of the other, right?
Well, that doesn't mean there isn't any helpful equipment which can improve your hiking experience. Many hikers use trekking sticks.
Check out below for the pros and cons of using trekking poles to help you decide whether you need a pair for your next hike.
Ready? Let's go!
The Pros of Using Trekking Poles
There are several benefits of using trekking poles. Here are just a few examples of how walking poles/sticks can improve your experience.
1. Relieve the Weight of Your Backpack
Your backpack can really weigh you down during your hike. Remember, your backpack shouldn't weigh more than one-fifth of your body weight.
When you have your backpack full of snacks, water, and essentials, it can become quite heavy. This is especially demanding on your knees and back during tough times during the hike.
Trekking poles can relieve some of the weight. You'll be more stable with some extra support from a couple of sticks.
2. Support Across Slippery Rocks
Does your hike include the challenge of getting over a stream? This can be especially dangerous during wet and wintry conditions.
Slippery rocks can cause you to fall and injure yourself. You can use the trekking poles to anchor your body when you cross the water.
The poles can also be used to check the depth of the stream. You don't want to underestimate the depth of a patch of water.
3. Protect Yourself Against Wild Animals
Bear attacks are extremely rare. And yet, if you're hiking in bear country, you need to consider how best to defend yourself if the worse happens.
You'll be thankful you brought your trekking poles with you on your hike when you're confronted with a wild animal.
4. Push Through Plants
Not every hiking route is marked clearly. Occasionally, you'll find that you need to push through overgrown plants.
Some of these plants may even cause you harm, such as nettles or poison ivy. You can simply bat away the plants on your way through.
5. Going Downhill
You may be absolutely fine without trekking poles on your way up the mountain.
However, when you're descending from the top, you're putting a lot of pressure on your knees. This is particularly important if you already have weak or injured knees.
6. Achieve a Full Body Workout
Even though hiking is extremely good for keeping a healthy lifestyle, it's not enough on its own. You need to strengthen your arms as well as your leg muscles.
When you're moving forward and backward with your trekking poles, you're giving your arms a workout at the same time.
The Cons of Using Trekking Poles
There are also reasons why you don't need to use trekking poles. Here are a few reasons why the use of trekking poles isn't perfect.
1. You Always Need to Carry Them
If you decide to take trekking poles on your hike, you need to keep them with you throughout the duration of the adventure.
Sure, you can always attach them to your backpack. But that extra weight can be a nuisance.
2. Catch on Plants and Trees
When you're bushwhacking the trekking poles can get caught on plants and trees. This can damage the plants with the steel tips at the end of the poles.
It can also cause you to stop and untangle the poles from the plant. This can really slow you down if you cannot put them away.
3. Increased Arm Energy Required
If you have tired legs, then trekking poles can absolutely help you out. However, if your whole body is exhausted, they may not help out.
The extra workout on your arms may not necessarily be positive for many hikers. You could simply be exhausted in your arms as much as your legs.
4. They are Over the Top
Some people say that hiking poles are actually "over the top."
You're just going for a walk after all. And yet, this is probably uttered by people who don't go hiking much themselves.
5. No Free Hands
Do you want to grab a drink of water while you continue to make your way up the mountain? Are you eager to browse the map to make sure you're trekking in the right direction?
It can be annoying if you don't have free hands because you need to hold your trekking poles. But you can always place them down for a few moments.
6. A New Technique to Learn
For many hikers, the beauty of hiking is that it doesn't require much of a learning curve. As long as you can walk and you're fit and healthy, you can get started.
And yet, when you grab hold of a couple of trekking poles, you may not know how to operate them right. That's why it's especially important to learn the technique.
Why Use Trekking Poles on Your Next Hike?
Trekking poles can really improve your hiking experience. And yet, it's important to consider the pros and cons of using trekking poles.
While you may not always want to use trekking poles during your hike, attaching a pair of sticks to your bag is always a wise choice for hikers.
Do you want to discover more about our range of trekking poles? Check out our products on our website.