/ Walking poles, love them or hate them?
Just wondering when and why people use em', are they worth the extra faff??
I love them, they really are't much faff and they basically just give you two more points of support and balance. Particularly useful to help knees, saving small slips and crossing streams, but basically great on everything but flat easy ground. I feel like I am skiing without poles if I am in the mountains without them now.
I'd advise against twist lock, go for a flick lock design for less faff and better durability.
They're good. More so on long walks with big ascents. Will help with the knees/hips. Good on tricky terrain.
Started using Mountain King Trail Blaze for bigger mountain runs as well to help with training and they're the b*ll*x.
Get a decent pair. Leki's or similar and they'll last ages.
Third option: I need them!
I've started using them recently and they are very handy although there are certain steeper ascents where they seem to get in the way.
Use them all the time. Black Diamond something or other with flick locks. Cheap enough, lightweight, packs down small for the side of your rucksack and perfect for walk ins and even better for coming down hills saving your knees.
Also a fantastic aid for crossing rivers, using as a pole for a tarp and I've strapped one on my mates leg when he fractured his shin on a boulder field.
I don't leave home without them. I'm more stable with poles due to the wider base of support, which means I can move quicker on the walk-ins/outs. Particularly in deep snow or icy paths. In an Alpine setting, on scree, or rubble-covered Karakoram glaciers for example, with a heavy pack they are indispensable. Hardly any faff as far as I can see.
only saved them for baltoro-type approaches for years, then this year got em out for a 35kg/900m gain/8km gear dump and have just stuck with them.
have got BDs with both flick and squeeze lock.
the squeeze lock is the single stupidest thing BD has ever released, its only that i use the poles shortened to waist height that i havent changed/hurled them.
Use them all the time for all the reasons others on here have given but especially because they take a huge amount of stress off your knees especially when coming downhill. Not sure they're much use in deep powder though and I ought to add the (hopefully) obvious caveat that you can't self arrest with them either!
I don't use them nowadays owing to minimalist weight principles but I can't deny they are a serious help in river crossings and also negotiating boggy ground - they help you keep pressure off the puddles and limit the duration of each footfall, all of which adds up to dry feet!!
What they all said. Invaluable. BD flicklock for me.
I actually have a pair, the BD spire oval squeeze/flick lock type jobbies, same as ice.solo has, have never used them.
Seen enough praise to convice me to pack them for tomorrow. Keep an eye on the for sale/wanted forum tomorrow, there might be a pair of walking poles going cheap ;)
Come to think, I started out with just one pole but I upgraded to two after a day out in the Mamores when I found that just one pole was more of a hindrance than a help in negotiating an awkward boulder field on the walk out. One of the other guys in the party had two poles and was waltzing his way through the tricky terrain with them. IMO only you need two poles for anything more than a gentle stroll.
It's surprising what a difference it can make adjusting the length according to the ground you're on (simply put: slightly shorter for uphill, longer for downhill). That's another reason why flicklock is preferable: it's much less likely than twistlock to jam when you want to adjust it in the field.
I figured I was pretty likely to consider walking poles too heavy, and never take them anywhere, so I got a light pair. Turns out one pole can take my entire body weight so they seem strong enough.
Both knees have their own issues, poles make a big difference.
Once walked for a long, long time, was awake for 36h. Had no knee issues before or after, but for the last 15km I honestly was expecting my knee to dislocate on downhill sections, it was wobbling all over the place...Seems those stabilizer muscles were had it. Without a walking pole then I'd have been screwed.
> I don't use them nowadays owing to minimalist weight principles but I can't deny they are a serious help in river crossings and also negotiating boggy ground - they help you keep pressure off the puddles and limit the duration of each footfall, all of which adds up to dry feet!!
Why do your minimalist principles prevent you from using something that you admit are good?
They are definately better for your knees but I use to hate them flapping about on my pack when climbing. I've now got a four section set that go in my pack and use them all the time.
Hate them, the modern menace that, apparently, no OAP can be without to wander through the woods of a summer's day. I was once confronted by a coachload of Japanese tourists swarming down the PYG track all armed to the teeth with these clicking monstrosities... enough to make your blood run cold!
But people like gadgets, it's not a question that is debatable.
> Hate them, the modern menace
Modern? I think walking sticks and shepherd's crooks go back a bit. The startling thing is how people pay £50+ for what is essentially something all dogs manage to find for free!
I think they've got their uses - long, knee-crippling, rough, boggy descents, nasty river crossings, carrying heavy loads, recovering from injuries - so I'd be tempted to use them if I'm likely to be doing any or all of that.
On the other hand, they're an extra contrivance so if I was just going for a day walk on sensible paths I wouldn't bother.
At the moment I'm not using them at all because I've got a couple of twist-lock lekis which are sort of broken but might be fixable if I got around to trying, so I can't justify just buying some more but I also don't have any that work...
Poles are a good way to injure yourself if you're not careful. Not just the obvious tripping over them or spearing the person behind on steep ascents, but they are also prone to giving the user soft tissue injuries like golf and tennis elbow.
Having said that I use them a lot now but I've still recovering from injury. I'll probably keep using them once fully fit as they make the downhills much more tolerable.
i've got some alpkit twistlock carbon which are fine in summer but not so good in winter,
and some super light trail blaze which i've used on long distance walks. I tend yo use in
summer for descent , but in winter for approach as well (and then want them to pack small)
I'd like to get Grivel Himalaya (115) ones for winter (fold up small, bit more robust than
BD Ultras) but cant find any - anyone got some or 1 to sell ?
Been mountaineering for 48 years and never felt the need. As far as I can see they are just another "must have" piece of kit that manufacturers have persuaded people they need to buy, value being added to something that costs pennies to manufacture in China by fancy branding and advertising.
I would rather trust my own sense of balance than a questionable piece of aluminium and if my knees feel the strain it will be because I've put on weight, I expect.
Poles are ace. End of. Flick lock are ok. Twistlock are OK if you get skiing ones which lock properly. For scottish climbing walk ins, fold up ones that fit inside your pack thereby not catching on every frigging knobble they possibly can are the nuts. BD, Grivel and camp do them, although the camp ones are proper spindly. The Grivels are pretty study, and BD do alu ones and carbon ones... personally I'd stick to alu as they will get abused and trashed.
> Why do your minimalist principles prevent you from using something that you admit are good?
Indeed - the fact is if you have more support you are less likely to trip and stumble or twist your ankle so you can get away with lighter footwear, saving weight aswell as getting less knackered. I note most of the nay sayers seem to have an issue with their image rather than whether they are useful or not.
If we look back though history, long before mountaineering was done as a recreation, (and even before you started yours!), people used sticks, poles or crooks for support, aid and other such benefits. Technology has simply made it lighter, more robust (eg tips), and science has shown that as we live longer, and expect to be able to perform much later than we did in previous generations, we should/can protect/assist our joints to further this.
You may be still fit and strong, and doing what you did at 25, but I am struggling, and find my poles a real boon for all the reasons above.
To the OP, when I take groups out and the non-pole users who have given up on them make the observation, I always ask how long they perservered with them? Like all equipment, it takes a bit of practice to become accustomed to them, but once you do, you'll never feel happy without them.
Maybe it is more prudent to watch where one puts ones feet? The fact is I have seen more people fall due to actually plunging poles about than due to other reasons.
Don't get me started on the pole marks at the sides of paths which end up eroding the path wider than boots would. Boots dont rip up turf either.
Now I alternate with and without them..
I didn't say that. I said along side the paths making the paths wider. I have been up countless paths and at the side is pole holes and ripped up turf and heather.
> you'll never feel happy without them.
Ugh, if anything that puts me off the idea (and is part of the reason that I wouldn't use them consistently if I had them.)
By and large I find that, all else being equal, less gear makes a day in the hills more satisfying and so there's a certain threshold of usefulness that things have to pass before I'd consider taking them. Whether poles are over the threshold depends rather on what sort of day I'm looking at...
I make great effort not to cause paths to erode further. Usually seen when someone doesnt want to walk through a puddle so they then cut the path and everyone else does the same. I make great effort to where I put my feet and what they do. I can't say I have ever seen my boots ripping up turf on or at the sides of paths. If you are saying you haven't seen the masses of poles holes at sides of certain paths then you are either telling porkes or are blind.
While poles can be of use to some people the vast majority of people I see with poles while out walking just use them as a matter of course and deploy them the second they get out their car doors and use them all day regardless of the terrain plunging and pulling at the ground. Take a walk up The Cobbler path from Sucoth in the summer to see the massive walking pole centipede I am talking about snaking its way up from the car park to the summit.
They do feel like a faff while you are getting used to them, but pretty soon become indispensable, especially if your knees are like mine!
I'd reiterate what has been said about the BD flicklocks being by far the best option, especially in winter. I'd also recommend cutting off the wrist loops (they're only going to break your wrist) and storing them inside your rucksack when you shorten them to climb. This stops them getting clogged with ice which can make re-lengthening difficult.
I like fast and they make me go faster.....
I started to use them when I saw how fast one particular user was and just thought how great that was. Buy the most expensive though - cheap ones don't work.
Well in that context, you could say the same about walking with an ice axe couldn't you?
Agreed, but a bit drastic if you also use the same poles for ski touring.
> Well in that context, you could say the same about walking with an ice axe couldn't you?
No. Ice Axes help you climb terrain that you wouldnt normally be able to climb with your physiology in those conditions. Murdering the impossible so to speak.
Walking up a hill is not unatural to us as thrutching up icy grooves on a far flung high altitude buttress or 50 degree slope of neve.
The spike holes help the side of the paths giving them drainage, everyone know's that.
> No. Ice Axes help you climb terrain that you wouldnt normally be able to climb with your physiology in those conditions. Murdering the impossible so to speak.
> Walking up a hill is not unatural to us as thrutching up icy grooves on a far flung high altitude buttress or 50 degree slope of neve.
I'm not talking about climbing with an ice axe, I'm talking about walking with one. I and many of my friends use poles far more for walking up and downhill in winter than we do with our "walking axe" .
I've frequently shortened my poles and used them to climb lower grade gullies enabling me to do exactly the same thing as you do with an ice axe on that grade.
As just about everyone else has said, poles are great. They make going uphill less tiring, help your knees on descents and are brilliant for river crossings.
If you're leaving bags at the base of the route then they can help you relocate them. If you're taking bags on the route then I admit having to carry them can be a bit of a pest.
I'm not sure they'd enable you to self-arrest in the event of a slip?
Walking poles can allow you to complete walk-ins more quicker (or more efficiently) by spreading the workload over more muscle groups.
Having discussed walking pole use with several Guides and Aspirant Guides, this advantage in speed and efficiency across the ground has been a recurring comment.
The ability to potentially knock 10 minutes off the walk-in to routes high on the Ben seems to me a very powerful motivation. Also, somewhat counter-intuitively, when viewed in that context, walking poles are then a powerful tool in supporting a 'fast and light' approach rather than detracting from it.
No, but I wouldn't climb something if I thought that was going to be the case.
Besides, just because you have an axe, doesn't mean you can self arrest.
Depends on the kind of walking for me. Big pack, rough ground or fresh snow, strong winds - definitely useful. Small pack, reasonable ground, fell shoes - no thanks.....
But they do seem compulsory gear for the streets of Keswick, alongside full body Goretex cover. I usually feel rather underdressed when I've come straight off the fell.
Sorry Denni, you said that they would "allow you to do exactly the same thing as you would with an ice-axe at that grade". They don't.
Two sides to this. I have talked to a guy who lost most of his fingers through gripping poles throughout a wild Himalayan retreat but that won't be what most Brits are concerned about.
Komperdel used to say that using 2 poles properly saved 21% compared to the energy expended w/o poles. That's a large margin and I can believe it. Uphill you're like a 4x4 car spreading the load to 4 points. Downhill you need less effort and less attention to stay on your feet and make good progress. Lets remember that tired downhill homegoers at the end of the day have a large proportion of mountain accidents.In reply to baileyswalk:
Maybe didn't make myself clear, sorry. I meant a lower grade gully, plodding up it sinking my poles in, the same I would as with an axe and as for self arrest, I know you can't self arrest, or can you?, with a pole but thems the calculated risks :)
I love them. They turn you into a 4 legged creature which takes a lot of strain off the knees.
On the other hand, Women's Fitness and similar publications suggest using poles in order to *increase* the number of calories you burn whilst walking. I've never worked out which is the thruth.....
Started using them again last year and they are brilliant, saved my arthritic ankles and knees and has allowed me to do long multi dayers that I thought were going to be beyond me because of pain. They can make you super agile on descents.
First time was on an extended trek in India a decade ago and I hated them.
Probably both, since it is likely you are making the classic mistake of confusing power output and energy efficiency.
It is perfectly possible that increasing your power output (i.e. burning more calories per hour) and decreasing you energy consumption (i.e. less calories per km) can both occur when using poles.
This is a consequence of the fact I highlight in my previous post that you can generally use poles to increase the speed at which you move over terrain. If you do that, then you will almost certainly burn more calories in an hour of walking - however you will also have walked further.
> Two sides to this. I have talked to a guy who lost most of his fingers through gripping poles throughout a wild Himalayan retreat but that won't be what most Brits are concerned about.
Anyone any experience on poles helping with a bad back. Ascending i'm fine but descending i start having problems. Can poles help alleviate this?
I don't get the speeding up descent thing. I find when descending I sometimes jog down as it's easier to balance. Even when I walk down, I find that without poles you have your hands free to balance yourself. Poles slow down my descents.
River crossings are another matter, I like a pole for that,
I once fractured my skull and broke my nose with a pole. I was going downhill, slipped on a wet rock and my pole got jammed between 2 rocks and I faceplanted the end. Messy end to the day
> On the other hand, Women's Fitness and similar publications suggest using poles in order to *increase* the number of calories you burn whilst walking. I've never worked out which is the thruth.....
I'd say that the improvement in stability will encourage you to go faster.
How can any manufacturer claim the poles save you energy? You've still got to raise your mass x number of feet from car park to summit and back again and even if it is true that poles share some of the effort with your arms, you still have to expend the same energy. More in fact because you have to carry the small extra weight of the poles.
Losing a few pounds of body weight would be much more beneficial and certainly cheaper.
> How can any manufacturer claim the poles save you energy?
I'd guess that its the 'perception' of using less energy as your legs would feel fresher/less tired with using them.
Having said that i can remember how knackered my arms were 1st time i used mine on a big walk, so maybe your right.
Can't stand them, I have good knees though. I unscientifically imagine that my body's natural balance benefits by not cheating it out of a job.
> How can any manufacturer claim the poles save you energy? You've still got to raise your mass x number of feet from car park to summit.
> I don't get the speeding up descent thing. I find when descending I sometimes jog down as it's easier to balance.
I agree. Perhaps for a naturally slow and timid descender with poor balance poles might give the confidence to go faster, but I find that at my natural downhill pace (a jog or verging on a jog), simply doesn't allow time for useful pole pacement. The only time I would use them is when a very slow pace is dictated by altitude, deep snow or exhaustion.
On that basis, I'd consider carrying a pair per group as a backup; but as personal equipment they're not my cup of tea.
I remember it took a while to get the hang of them - actually one incident springs to mind where I got so annoyed I almost through them off a mountain in Scotland lol.
I can get by without them but once you have a system for them, they don't hinder so why not.
Do not buy a cheap pair, my first pair cost £15 and lasted just a couple of trips. Next I brought Black Diamonds best ones at about £75 a pair, they have been used and abused summer and winter, UK and abroad for at least 10 years now and they are still going strong
Think of a spider scuttling down the mountain side; plenty of opportunities for superhuman spins and vaults at speed. Of course on scree fields no chance.
Con: agree they won't stop you on hard snow or ice. French practice is to use one pole for balance with an axe in the other hand ready for use.
I also saw them as the mark of the nancy wimp for many years. Now 44, after 30 years of triathlon, climbing, military wear and tear, I am still fit but knees less stable (cartilage wear?), generally more injury prone.
Tried twist lock but they drove me mad in winter, froze. Flip lock are ace and I use them more and more, especially when carrying a decent load.
Another use is marking your snow cave!
Like any new bit of kit it takes some use to get the best out of them, setting length to suit ground. There are times when its better to do without (incl moving onto steeper winter ground when an axe becomes more appropriate, some boulderfields).
These poles were originally designed for Nordic walking; they can protect your knees and ankles if used for extra speed and power. If you use them for balance you will lose, or fail to develop, strength and flexibility in your knees and ankles.
I despair when I see hordes of novice and experienced walkers tottering unsteadily on flailing poles. There is an urgent need for guidance (from retailers and publications) on appropriate use of these appliances, or I fear we will soon have a generation of hillwalkers with weak and inflexible joints.
I used to shun them and their users, believing they were the reserve of OAPs, and the kind of person who bases their every decision on the Gospel according to Trail. Then I saw a video where Nick Bullock was using them, and in my mind they instantly shot up the rankings as an accoutrement of the uber-Alpinist/hard bastard.
Seriously though, I'd never bothered with them until this year when I got sick of sinking up to my nuts in snow every ten paces, and thought poles might help in some way. I've used them on every walk since, as I find they help take the strain on thigh burning ascents, and get you down the walk out path much quicker as you almost jog with the extra stability. I do agree they are a pain in the arse when trying to navigate, and I probably wouldn't bother with them if it was a summers day with a lot of scrambling, for example.
You must be fleeter of foot and haler of joint that I.
My right knee is a particularly Quisling joint and and would see me on my erse on the ScNL path were it not for poles.
They also allow me to lag less far behind my (always) fitter climbing partners.
Also if they are good enough for Greg Boswell then they are good enough for me. His speed on walk-ins/out make his actual climbing look ordinary.
Like crampons - lucky mutts!
I used them during a spell of knee trouble and got a lot of stick (oops) for doing so - but they were a great help. They are good for burn crossings.
But great pieces of gear, instantly liked them when I felt the gain in stability. Could do more miles without feeling any more tired as well, just the upper body muscles hurt the next morning instead of the legs.
yep. didn't use them in my youth tramping in bush but now my knees really need them on the downs- too many years competitive running before I saw sense (read got injured knees). Drifted away from them day walking with light packs until I twisted my knees crashing from a ski jump and have found them essential to be able to walk the second day since....ce la vie
Oh, and outside locks for winter definitely. still prefer if it is one day with little more load than a water bottle and parka lunch and trainers (erm, approach shoes) to walk without poles.
I think using shoulders more increases upper body strength also. Not a bad thing.
Erosion- we all cause it and it is our duty to minimise it. I think that can be accomplished by being sensible, regardless of poles, bike etc. Scientifically thinking, despite the trail of needle holes left by the pointy ends of poles in turf; would distributing your weight over 4 points of contact rather than two not reduce pressure therefore reduce erosion?
Needle holes might even improve infiltration of precipitation and minimise run-off?
Both of thse would need testing, or at least a thought experiment beyond my Sunday evening capability.
They weren't. Nordic Walking, or "Pole walking/Sauvakävely" was 'invented' in the late 90s by Excel, a Finnish firm that makes XC ski poles trying to find bigger markets. Nordic walking poles aren't really like poles for backpacking or mountain walking at all; they'd be too long and too weak being made of fibre glass not alloy. I bought my first three piece alu. pole second hand in Kathmandu in 1992, and a lot of central Europeans you saw trekking were using one or two poles. Leki, which is a German firm I think were the main player for many years in popularising them, although mine was Edelrid I think.
> You must be fleeter of foot and haler of joint that I.
> My right knee is a particularly Quisling joint and and would see me on my erse on the ScNL path were it not for poles.
I don't rule out using them if I ever become old and infirm!
I only really use them when ascending/descending steep or loose rocky terrain with a heavy or bulky load, aside from the benefits to the knees etc they give me extra points of contact with the ground for balance and a sense of security in case of a slip.
Also useful for prodding at shallow snow to see if there are any nasty ankle twisting holes under it!!
I use walking poles mainly in Winter, although I'd consider them if I was going to be doing a big day in Summer. From my experience they really save your knees and provide a lot of extra balance. The extra balance allows me to go faster on slippy paths and on downhills. I wouldn't be without them.
Hate them. Getting tripped up held up by someone waving them around seems to happen too often.
That's never happened to me in over 20 years of hill activity! How often is often in your case? And why are you getting close enough to people to trip up on their poles?
I forgot to say in my last post- in snowy conditions they also improve traction uphill. You do far less moonwalking and save energy.
Used the poles over the weekend with mixed results... They certainly seemed to help with my energy levels be it a placebo or not, and they certainly stopped me going over on me arse more than a few times. I did have (and expected) a few tweaks here and there around the shoulders and chest where I had been using a few muscles which obviously normally don’t get worked. However, I did come away with a sore knee which is never usually a problem. Maybe this is due to my general lack of hill fitness, the main reason for using the poles in the first place, or perhaps because I was better at 'poling' with my right hand and therefore supported my left knee better? Either way the jury is still out, I will persevere with them before I decide to take them or leave them.
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