Busting the myths surrounding trekking poles
Talk to any of my hiking buddies and you'll learn quickly that I, an able-bodied twenty-something, once did not believe trekking poles deserved any place in my pack. These goofy looking, modern hiking staffs were for the older generations, I thought to myself, or for people getting over knee injuries. It wasn't until I heard a great bit of advice that I truly understood the merit of trekking poles.
"Dogs fall down less often than humans," I was told, "because four legs are better than two."
While this may not hold true for the bumbling chocolate lab, the overarching message stuck with me. No matter what hiking boots you have, two trekking poles can seriously take a load of your knees and give you added traction on uncertain terrain like rocky streams, or when you're crossing over ice and snow. Actually, if you're setting out on any snowshoeing adventure, don't leave the trekking poles behind. They're essential for navigating deep snow and lead to an all around better experience.
Another gripe I had was the added weight and bulk I thought poles would bring to my hiking backpack. Wrong again. Carbon fiber poles can be as light as 13 ounces per pair, and their telescopic abilities make them easy to slide closed and wear on my back like Leo the Ninja Turtle.
These poles are certainly not the hiking staffs I once pictured, and also offer anti-shock properties, a wide range of grips and different kinds of pole construction that are uniquely designed for specific types of excursions.
Next time you bring your sure-pawed canine on the trail with you, I hope you notice their confidence in every step. And then, maybe you, too, will realize that using trekking poles isn't for the weak – it's just smart hiking.