Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Poles or No Poles

This set of hiking poles is mismatched. The paint is worn off, the tips are worn down.
They're a simple brand, but have seen many miles and adventures. They still contract and stay tight when extended. That's what matters to me.

For tarp supports, balance and testing for depth of water they are pretty handy.
Some hikers use only one. I tried that on the Colorado Trail. For 40 days, 468 miles, over passes and grassy valleys, I used just one hiking pole. I found myself switching hands, cause the one without a pole didn't really feel comfortable, and the blood pooled when allowed to just hang naturally.

I find hiking poles also help excavate "cat holes" instead of bringing a trowel. They can keep aggressive dogs at bay, useful when road walking into town.

Many of us have good upper body strength which becomes available to the hiker when poles are utilized. Cross country skier are very comfortable with poles and the action is second nature.

I personally don't care for the "shock absorbing" type. The clicking noise goes against my stealth nature. When extra noise is needed in bear country, I don't carry bells; I bungie a pint pot lid to the strap which automatically makes sufficient sound.

The wooden staff is useful on trails near home. Not contractable, they are hard to pack when traveling by plane. A non adjustable pole is more difficult to use for various tarp structures. Wooden staffs also weigh more than the aluminum conterpart.

However, a specially carved, decorated wooden staff makes a great souvineer.

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