My hiking stick evolution goes something like this:
– A number of ones found in the wild; some with natural twists, ones I carved, sanded and varnished.
– A number of bamboo sticks like my backpacking hero Colin Fletcher.
– A few I machined from hardwood (oak, mahogany, etc.) and adorned with various decorations.
– A pair of anti-shock trekking poles
My reaction when I first saw someone using trekking poles n a T.V, outdoor show was derision and disgust. They looked silly and effete. How could a real outdoorsman go hiking with something like that instead of a good honest wooden hiking stick?
Years later I was struggling up Mount Marcy (the highest point in New York) with my trusty wooden hiking stick. People using those awful trekking poles flew by be as if I was standing still. By the end of that week-long backpacking trip I swore to myself I would never go hiking again without a set of trekking poles.
I had a set of Leki Malaku trekking poles when we went backpacking that fall and I never looked back.
My trekking poles are easily adjustable, spring loaded, and constructed of lightweight aluminum. Hiking on a level trail they push me forward, uphill the springs actually push me upward, downhill they cushion every footfall for my aging knees. Where they really shine on rocky, uneven trails (we get a lot of that in Pennsylvania!). I am transformed from an unstable, limping biped into a speedy, stable quadruped.
But that’s not all! The poles make great adjustable supports for my tarp shelter.
NOTE: Read descriptions carefully and be sure you are getting poles that are anti-shock, not just static poles with no springs.
Darren G. says
I’ve got a pair of Black Diamond hiking poles and won’t leave home without them. They’ve been to Glacier, Yellowstone and Yosemite. They’re coming to Philmont with me this weekend.
I took some grief from my ASM’s years ago, but it’s amazing how many of them have sets now.
Sam L. says
My first hiking stick is about 6′ of Doug fir, given to me by one of our other ASMs who is a forester. Got it in ’96 or ’97. My second is a 4′ pole (a bit short) given to me by our District Chairman in ’04 or so. About 6 years ago I bought a pair of inexpensive trekking poles (and a couple years later got another inexpensive pair of spring-loaded poles). They are far superior to the hiking poles, and I use them except for OA events (no room for badges)–where I’m not hiking much. The trekkers give me much better balance, surer footing, and as you said, are easier on the knees.