Trekking poles are becoming an essential piece of equipment on the trail. They enhance your stability and provide support on all types of terrain. The Appalachian Mountains can be rugged and severe. Having the trekking poles can help prevent injuries and give you support while hiking. It can protect your knees, ankles, feet, just generally, they help take stress off your body. Trekking poles will not decrease your overall energy expenditure since you’ll be using your arms more than you would when walking without poles. They do help distribute your energy usage in a way that can help your hiking endurance. This post will go over some of the features of trekking poles to help you decide which ones you should get.
Trekking pole features
Most trekking poles can adjust in length to enhance stability on different terrain. Generally, there should be a 90-degree angle in your elbow while holding your trekking poles. If you are going up a steep hill, you can shorten the poles a little more to help as you are climbing. If you are going down a steep hill, lengthen the poles a little more to provide more stabilization when you are stepping down. There are four types of locking mechanisms for trekking poles so you can adjust them.
-External lever lock – this is a clamp-like mechanism that is easy to adjust.
-Twist lock – This uses an expander and screw setup that is strong and durable
-Push-button lock – Poles with this locking mechanism snap into place and lock with a single pull. Press the push button to release the lock and collapse the poles.
-Combination – some poles are a combination of these listed mechanisms.
Trekking pole materials
Trekking poles can come in two different materials, either aluminum or carbon fiber. The aluminum poles are the most standard. They are more durable but tend to weigh a little more. They weigh between 18 and 22 ounces per pair but they can withstand rougher terrain without bending or breaking. Carbon fiber poles are for lightweight backpackers that are trying to cut corners. They weigh between 12 and 18 ounces but they can bend and break easier if you are not careful. Look at the terrain you will be hiking in to help determine which poles will suit your needs.
Another aspect of poles to consider are the grips, where you hold the poles. They can come in three different materials; cork, foam, and rubber. The rubber is best for winter hiking because it can insulate your hands and still absorb shock and vibration. If you are not wearing gloves and you are sweating, the rubber grips can cause chaffing. If you plan to hike in warmer climates, the cork and foam grips will be best. The cork will resist moisture while the foam absorbs it. The foam is softer to the touch but the cork can decrease vibrations and conforms to the shape of your hands.
Other key features
One great feature is the wrist straps. Most poles come with these but some do not. They go around your wrists so if you need to take out a snack, you can just let them dangle from your wrists. Carbide or steel tips are commonly used to provide traction, even on ice. Rubber tip protectors extend the life of the tips and protect your gear when poles are stowed in your pack. They are also good for use in sensitive areas to reduce impact to the ground. Angled rubber walking tips (usually sold separately) are for use on asphalt or other hard surfaces. Shock absorbing poles have internal springs that absorb shock when walking downhill. This feature can help protect weak knees and ankles. The shock absorption feature can be turned off.
Black Diamond Alpine Ergo
These poles are made of both aluminum and carbon. The top of the pole shaft is aluminum and the bottom part is carbon. The grip is made of cork. The design of this pole makes it fairly lightweight but also durable. The cork grips are comfortable and the angled, ergonomic shape allows your hands to fall naturally into place. The poles weigh 20 oz for the pair and cost $150.
These aluminum alloy trekking poles are manufactured by DAC, the
leading maker of lightweight tentpoles and tent stakes. The three
sections of this pair of trekking poles collapses down using a flip
lock mechanism. They have carbide tips and comfortable foam grips,
weighing in at a total of 16 oz and cost $169.
This aluminum pole has the best cork grip. Leki is known for their comfortable grips and the confidence-inspiring setup will be well worth the extra bucks for folks that really rely on their poles for downhill assistance. The lever lock is easy to use and adjust. These poles weigh 17.6 oz and cost $140.
The best thing to do when it comes to trekking poles is go check them out. You want to pick the right pair for you so feeling, and holding the poles helps with your decision making. Here at Mountain Crossings, we have a bunch of test drive poles you can borrow to hike up Blood Mountain. Come check them out and see how you like them!