How to Put Hiking Poles to Work for You

How to Put Hiking Poles to Work for You

Hiking poles can provide enormous benefits for anyone, whether they are used for support or as a way to tone the upper-body while walking.  Unfortunately, many people view hiking poles as a “crutch” that is reserved for older individuals or those who are unsteady on their feet.  Let's take a closer look at a few reasons why you may want to consider bringing a set along on your next trip.


Preventing Slippage

Most of us have lost our footing at one point or another.  Whether it was from stepping on a loose rock or a slippery patch of leaves, countless falls and injuries have occurred because we couldn't keep our balance.  Hiking poles help to redistribute our weight while anchoring us in place as we move over less-than-ideal terrain. 


Ascending and Descending

When we climb through inclines or need to step up over uneven terrain, especially while wearing a backpack, our center of gravity becomes displaced.  This causes us to try and compromise by leaning forward, crouching or having to take some “test steps” beforehand in order to minimize the forces that cause us to teeter in the wrong direction.  Hiking poles allow us to lean forward and gain a sure footing as we climb, and this takes a lot of the pressure off our backs and legs.  This increases efficiency, reduces fatigue and the chances of becoming injured. 

When we descend, hiking poles help to anchor us as our weight tries to propel us forward.  This allows us to enjoy greater stability while reducing the chances that we will slip, slide or lurch forward if we have a misstep.


Handy Tool

Hiking poles can prove to be useful tools in the field for a number of reasons.  You can use them to grab things that are out of reach.  They can also be used to create a barrier between you and animals or critters that you want to keep your distance from.  In an emergency, you can use your poles as supports when making an improvised shelter, and they can also assist in walking if you sprain your ankle or sustain an injury that affects your balance.  You can also use a hiking pole as an improvised spear or fishing rod if the situation presents itself as well.

These are just a few examples of dozens of practical uses that you can get from hiking poles in the field.  Bring a set with you on your next trip, and chances are that will discover all kinds of other benefits along the way as well.