Saturday, 4 July 2015

Are hiking poles a useful tool or just a passing fad?

Hiking poles, also know as trekking poles have been gaining in popularity over the past decade. In fact, it’s becoming rare these days to hike without seeing them. Are they worth the investment? Or are they just a passing fad? We think they’re here to stay.

Here are 10 ways hiking poles can improve your mountain travels:

1. Tap into your arm power

Your arms are no slouches; they can contribute a lot to your ambulatory travel efforts. By involving your arms, you can take 5 kg of body weight off your feet on flat terrain, up to 8 kg going up or downhill.

2. Save your joints

Hiking can do a number on your ankles, knees, and hips in terms of stress. Hiking poles can reduce the compressive force on the joints of your lower extremity by as much as 25%.

3. Flick away pests

Jungly wet willows, sticky spider webs, a spruce branch thoughtlessly discharged by the hiker in front of you, over-friendly dogs with an affinity for crotch-sniffing – there are a lot of things that can invade your personal space out there. Your hiking poles are an effective deflector for an array of assaults.

4. Rock a faster rhythm

When your arms are actively in the game, you’re more able to find an efficient rhythm – which can increase your speed.

5. Stay connected

Every wonder why your dog seems more nimble and able to recover from slips than you? It’s ‘cause they have two extra points of contact on the ground. Hiking poles act as your front legs, helping you be more stable on your two human feet.

6. Hands up for better circulation

Hiking hard ups your circulation, sometimes causing blood to pool in hands hanging (relatively) limply at your sides. Hiking poles force them upwards relieving that hot, pumped feeling many hikers experience in their hands.

7. Lighten up on your shoes

Because hiking poles reduce your relative weight and lessen the impact on your joints, you can often get away with lighter footwear.

8. Skip wet feet

With an extra point or two on the ground, trekking poles can help eliminate slips, translating to less splashy creek crossings.

9. Travel off-piste less pissed off

Hiking poles can help your balance in rougher terrain. They can also be used as probes to help you assess the stability of your next step.

10. Burn a few

Hiking with poles can increase the amount of calories you burn by up to 20%, possibly more if you are hiking in very steep terrain. While you’ll need to consider this for long hikes by planning more calories to compensate, it’s a definite plus for those who are looking to shed a few pounds or gain aerobic fitness.

Are there any disadvantages?

Not really, but, as with pretty well everything else in the world, nothing is perfect. Here are a few tips to avoid the few minor drawbacks of hiking with poles.
  • Since they are essentially sticks with sharp(ish) ends, maintaining an awareness of who’s within poking rage will help contribute to trail peace
  • Don’t forget that there are cases, such as scrambling up something super-steep, where your hands may be more useful than poles
  • Some critics claim that poles damage trails. We disagree. A trail is a trail; practice good trail etiquette and you’ll do no harm

Which poles are for you?

There are a lot of choices out there. Gravity Gear offers a range of Black Diamond trekking poles for an assortment of activities and users.Here’s the scoop on what’s what and who’s who to help you choose the best option for you:

4 Season:

  • Alpine Carbon Cork: Carbon fiber construction, natural cork grips, FlickLock adjustability - a premium 4 season pole
  • Ultra Mountain Carbon: Lightweight carbon fiber construction combined with the Z design to pack up small and neat
  • Trail Pro Shock: FlickLock versatility combined with the comfort of a shock absorber, dual-density grips and padded wrist straps


  • Distance Carbon Z: Z design, lightweight carbon fiber construction - great for fast-packers, and ultra or adventure athletes
  • Distance Carbon FLZ: Z design, lightweight carbon fiber construction, FlickLock adjustability – highly adaptable for long hikes and mountain adventures


  • Trail Trek: An affordable all-around hiking pole
  • Distance Z: The most affordable of the Z design poles – great for day-hikers, trail runners or backpackers
  • Distance FLZ: Add FlickLock adjustability to the Z design’s fast deployment and you have a great set of poles that are perfect for long hikes, steep approaches, or trails with sketchy creek crossings

Come on in and check them out for yourself!

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