Walking Poles

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Walking Poles

Postby Hughmac » Sun 04 Jul, 2021 8:00 pm

Curious to hear other walkers approach to the use of walking poles. I guess I'm old school, but personally I use a single hardwood pole the same height as my chin. This seems to offer the ideal length to brace myself on downhill walks, while also helping to push up hills. Also handy for holding back anti-social vegetation, and for shaking water off wet vegetation on track. Have also been known to use it to beat back vegetation overgrowing a track. Tried using two poles briefly, but actually found it quite uncomfortable, and would just end up trailing one while I used the other. I also find it much more practical to have a free hand to negotiate some obstacles. Also tried a collapsible pole at one point, but it did just that when I needed it most, so it only travels with me now as a second pole for stream crossings, where I do find it very useful. Your thoughts?
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby CraigVIC » Sun 04 Jul, 2021 8:54 pm

I'd be most interested to hear from anyone who constantly changes their pole use to match the walking. Otherwise, I think once you decide on a style and stick to it for a while it becomes self justifying. Ie, I did a lot of walking where I thought one pole was helpful and now often/always carry a pole even when it clearly isn't necessary because it now 'feels right'
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Dave95 » Thu 08 Jul, 2021 11:25 pm

I hadn't heard of poles until I joined a bushwalking club several years ago. Another person who was joining at the same time raised the matter and that led me to read up on the subject and to end up buying a pair. It took me quite a while to become used to walking with them, but now it's "second nature" and use them regularly. I think that it is presumptuous to judge how comfortable one will be walking with two poles by trying them out only briefly. My poles are collapsible and have twist locks. The locking mechanisms of poles vary in their effectiveness and there is a skill in using some types of mechanisms. I wore out some sections by being too heavy-handed initially in tightening the twist locks. I prefer light poles and the poles I use are amongst the lightest available, but hey are nevertheless very strong and I have never had one bend or break.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Xplora » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 8:03 am

The only time I use two poles is when I am in the snow and on skis or snowshoes. One pole for steeps (and slipperies) to help the old knees and give aid to a big step up but often it is tucked away. An advantage of poles when walking is less swelling in your hands. Poles can be dangerous or get in the way so it all depends on the terrain for me so you could say I vary my use. In the early days I carved a wooden walking pole and it was also about chin height. A young bloke in Katoomba (surrounded by his mates) thought he was funny and told me I could be arrested for carrying that stick as a weapon. I responded, 'Only if I hit you with it'. He shut up and his mates laughed hard.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby ChrisJHC » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 8:27 am

I started using poles a few years ago and find them invaluable for going up and down steep hills.
Really help with aging knees - particularly going downhill.

Also good when on muddy tracks for balance.

I prefer not to use them on flat or meandering tracks.

It takes me about a minute to put them away in the loops of my pack and about the same to redeploy them.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Joynz » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 8:42 am

I use Pacerpoles. They aren’t super lightweight but, due to the ergonomic design of the handgrips, it makes no difference and you don’t feel the weight at all.

With Pacerpoles, you ‘push off’ with the poles behind you when going uphill - rather than ‘pulling yourself up’ with poles placed in front of your body (as people do with traditional poles).

I adjust the length when going up or down hill.

I started using them about three years ago to combat sore knees. Now I also use them to support my tent.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Lamont » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 10:05 am

Like cooking shows on the telly, walk sticks are something which I don't have the bandwidth to get for most walking. I just like to have my hands free. I do carry one for my tent and in case of an injury perhaps to help me limp along. Because I carry one I will use it sometimes going down hill if it's slippery, but just because I have it. Good for sword fighting with my daughter too.
I liked (and respected) what Zapruda said once (I think it was he) about them being like four wheel drive- so one day I may just jump in and force myself to go from AM to FM.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby tom_brennan » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 11:21 am

It depends a lot on the sort of country you're walking in. We mostly walk off track in fairly scrubby terrain, or with scrambling, and walking poles just get in the way.

I've been on several club trips where people spent a lot of time and effort fighting with their poles. Either they would have them strapped to their packs, and the tops would get caught in vines or overhanging branches. Or they would have them in their hand, but every time they needed two hands for scrambling, they'd need to pass their poles.

I took one pole to Central Australia recently, and it was useful. But the terrain there is open, and there's plenty of spinifex, so the pole can be very handy for balance on loose slopes.

I also made sure that the poles (which I bought for that trip) fit inside my pack. So if I do decide to take one on a local trip, I'm not going to be fighting with it if the terrain doesn't suit!
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby GPSGuided » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 1:29 pm

The best value for me with a (one) pole on walks is the balance it provides - 3 points of ground contact. It just gives more confidence on steep descents and on slippery surfaces or water crossings, hence speedier walks. On flat tracks, it’s an extra push from upper body.


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Re: Walking Poles

Postby north-north-west » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 2:59 pm

Years ago I tried two poles. Didn't work. Too much messing about when getting the camera out, too much trouble off-track, just not worth the bother. So now I use a single pole, walking stick style (wrist tendonitis means I can't use the "official" technique) when carrying a full pack (and occasionally on daywalks to assist with measuring mud/snow depth and consistency). Best of both worlds; still get the assistance for the creaky old knees on those steep descents and on water crossings, with limited faffing about in scrub or other tricky areas.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby johnw » Fri 09 Jul, 2021 3:34 pm

In the past I've always preferred only one pole (and only on some walks). If I can get away without a pole at all, I will.
But I have a surgically repaired, dodgy left knee that has deteriorated in recent times (surgeon has now recommended a new one).
Thankfully it's not too bad at present after cortisone injection and I've recently gone back to running a few kms.
That said I also recently I bought a Dan Durston X Mid-1 tent that needs two trekking poles for support.
So the last walk with full pack/tent I did I used two poles and found that I really needed them on the steep descents involved.
Even going steeply uphill was more difficult than in the past with the knee issue.
So it will be two poles in future for any overnight walks, due the tent needing them, but compounded by my knee problem.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Orion » Sat 10 Jul, 2021 4:59 am

For me the value of poles varies with terrain, amount of vegetation, pack weight, and the state of my knees. Depending on how those things add up I use one pole, two poles, or no poles. I used to just find a nice stick in the woods and make it into a pole. But that's not always easy or even possible in some places. Nowadays I have lightweight, adjustable ones that fold up into a tiny size for carrying when unwanted. For some tents they act as supports as well.

I have briefly experimented with three poles but so far that hasn't worked out that well.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Hughmac » Sun 11 Jul, 2021 4:57 pm

Funny how often dodgy knees are mentioned here - certainly one of my considerations as well.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby JohnnoMcJohnno » Wed 14 Jul, 2021 7:55 am

Lamont wrote:Like cooking shows on the telly, walk sticks are something which I don't have the bandwidth to get for most walking. I just like to have my hands free. I do carry one for my tent and in case of an injury perhaps to help me limp along. Because I carry one I will use it sometimes going down hill if it's slippery, but just because I have it. Good for sword fighting with my daughter too.
I liked (and respected) what Zapruda said once (I think it was he) about them being like four wheel drive- so one day I may just jump in and force myself to go from AM to FM.


Hadn't thought about sword fighting, although with my daughter the best strategy is ambush and run away. Otherwise, yes I just take one pole for the tent. Rarely use it to walk with, and when I do it's usually prodding ahead in long grass looking for rocks, holes or snakes. Or crossing creeks and rivers. A stick would do just as well but the pole is convenient.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Biggles » Wed 14 Jul, 2021 12:18 pm

Conventional wisdom for the length of poles follows that your relaxed arm is a neat 'L' shape that your hand reaches the grip of the pole comfortably, neither higher nor lower than your elbow. A pole, or poles, plural, in their multisection, adjustable form are frequently lengthened and shortened according to the terrain being traversed. This is perhaps why variable length/multisection poles are preferred over old-school fixed wooden or cane poles. The penalty though is the obscene cost, which many technical multisection poles costing well over $300 a pair (I have broken a pair in 2009, so that was $240 gone...). On my walks I carry my photo gear on my back, a CF tripod in left hand and one walking pole for additional stabilisation when crossing creeks and rivers and ascending/descending drops. If I find myself in need of additional stabilisation, I use the tripod (also adjustable of course) as a makeshift staff, and its spiked feed replicate the similar tips on my LEKI pole.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Dave95 » Thu 15 Jul, 2021 10:30 pm

The claim that many technical poles multi-section poles cost well over $300 a pair gives the wrong impression. Most decent poles cost around $200 a pair or a little more. Some good quality poles that can be purchased for less than $100 a pair. In fact, it is hard to find poles that cost much more than $250 a pair. Perhaps it will be claimed that anything that costs less than $300 can't be classed as a "technical" pole. However, what I'm referring to are the poles that most experienced bushwalkers who use poles actually purchase.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Biggles » Fri 16 Jul, 2021 2:56 pm

Dave95 wrote:The claim that many technical poles multi-section poles cost well over $300 a pair gives the wrong impression. Most decent poles cost around $200 a pair or a little more. Some good quality poles that can be purchased for less than $100 a pair. In fact, it is hard to find poles that cost much more than $250 a pair. Perhaps it will be claimed that anything that costs less than $300 can't be classed as a "technical" pole. However, what I'm referring to are the poles that most experienced bushwalkers who use poles actually purchase.



A wrong impression??
Qué?
No, not at all.
Individuals are free to spend as much or as little on poles as they wish, as far as possible making a valid match between the trekking poles they are interested in and the type of service they will see. The OP prefers a straight wooden pole reaching up to his chin — sometimes called "Shepherd's staff" overseas; not my thing, but hey, it floats his boat, so...

Cost is very subjective. I know of XC trail runners here in QLD and in VIC (my home State) using $400 to $500 CF poles that are special order items from overseas, some others off-the-shelf here in some stores. I would personally not spend $300 on poles when I have broken a pair (2009) and bought what was then my first set of LEKI multisection poles, later another set with anti-shock. I recall a member here discussed buying a pair of Mountain Designs multisection CF poles. Undeniably nice, but really, he had broken a pair previously, so is it really sensible to ignore history? Well, that's for individuals to decide, not me.

The idea that one trekking pole fits all is like saying one car size fits all. It does not.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Orion » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 3:03 am

Of course there are expensive poles but I had the same feeling, that you gave the impression that adjustable multisection poles have to be obscenely expensive. Is $250AUD obscene for a pair hiking poles? I suppose if you break them frequently it would feel that way.

These are the poles I use: https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com.a ... poles.html
They aren't the lightest or fanciest but compared to poles from 20 years ago they are pretty amazing. It took me 6 years to break one from the last set.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby GregG » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 12:48 pm

Orion wrote:
These are the poles I use: https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com.a ... -poles.htm

Thanks Orion, I had a look at this web site and was somewhat incredulous at the claims made on behalf of these poles. In particular the claim that
"Like a good adventure partner... supportive when your bonking". The web site provides no further information to support this alleged feature and I am left wondering how exactly this is achieved. Does anyone know? I wonder if this somehow infringes the truth-in- advertising rules.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Biggles » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 12:57 pm

supportive when you’re bonking

:shock: :o

And just where/how does a trekking pole come into the activity of...er...bonking? Something's up... :?

Truth in advertising?
Don't skewer Black Diamond over a beef with bonking. Go after car manufacturers, shoes, socks, glasses, pens, massage contraptions, Dyson and myriad others where truth if a little too far fetched to be believable — or achievable.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby bearded bushwalker » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 2:52 pm

Hitting the wall is also referred to as bonking.
See:
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Bonking
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Baeng72 » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 4:07 pm

I was thinking it that walking poles support frameless tents, which might be used for a tryst or bonk.
But bearded bushwalker's explanation seems more likely.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Biggles » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 5:10 pm

Baeng72 wrote:I was thinking it that walking poles support frameless tents, which might be used for a tryst or bonk.
But bearded bushwalker's explanation seems more likely.



Mmm-hmm. Pass the popcorn... :roll:
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Orion » Sat 17 Jul, 2021 5:39 pm

Yeah, bonking (also) means running out of energy. I'm not sure poles help that much with that either.

It's interesting that this language isn't on the U.S. website. By the way, the poles are a lot less expensive over here (California), about $190AUD. And they were less expensive yet again because I get a deal through my climbing gym.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby camm » Sun 18 Jul, 2021 11:56 am

The only thing that helps with bonking is an improved nutrition strategy. That said, poles are a great crutch when you've blown your quads and have 15km of downhill to the finish.

Since I started using poles in 2017 I'd never run a race with more than 3000m D+ without them. I use them on ascents, descents, and sometimes on the flats. Otherwise I just hang on to them -- one in each hand unless I'm eating. I have a set of the BD Carbon Z with about 5000km on them (they're in my profile pic, one in each hand) and I haven't managed to come close to breaking one. Proper technique is essential; I don't know if anyone in Australia is giving lessons, but you could have a look at Nordic walking videos on youtube and practise, practise, practise.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby GregG » Sun 18 Jul, 2021 12:39 pm

bearded bushwalker wrote:Hitting the wall is also referred to as bonking.
See:
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Bonking

Two nations divided by a common language.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby amyannick » Tue 20 Jul, 2021 11:52 am

Hi have used Costco walking poles for years

https://www.costco.com.au/Sports-Fitnes ... s/p/811851

For $65 and 450g, I really don't think they can be beat. They are very sturdy and mine have taken a lot of abuse. I wish the wrist straps were slightly more comfortable and ergonomic, but that's really my only complaint.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby Kott » Thu 22 Jul, 2021 11:51 am

Echoing what others have said....
poles are handy to improve balance, efficiency and support.

If its too much scrub I just carry them in my hand. I personally see the reason to just take one...I use them for my tent and also take them if I dont need them for my tent. If its just a simple overnighter and my tent dont require them, I will go without.

I have black diamond cork allys and they have been great. Costco ones seem great value too.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby climberman » Mon 26 Jul, 2021 12:26 pm

I bought a pair of these when in France a few years ago, mainly as a kind of quirky Chamonix ski souvenir, however found them fantastic for backcountry skiing and now for local walks on hills etc.

http://www.lesbatonsdalain.com/
https://www.telemark-pyrenees.com/a2-16 ... rrency=AUD
https://skimo.co/alains-batons

Fantastic bits of kit.
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Re: Walking Poles

Postby puredingo » Thu 05 Aug, 2021 7:22 am

Sticks, off the ground, every time.

At least when I lose them (and it would only be a matter of time) it's more environmentally friendly...hip pocket friendly also.
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