For posers? Absolutely not.
They are especially useful on steep downhill sections where they save
considerable weight on the knees. They help on ascents by spreading effort
amongst more muscles. "4 wheel drive" if you like! They aid
balance, especially when crossing streams. Don't forget you will be carrying
a rucksack so you are heavier and more unbalanced and have more weight
to balance than when "solo".
In 1981 a Dr. G. Neureuther published a
report demonstrating that trekking poles reduced up to 13 tons of load on
the lower body while trekking on the level in an hour. The figure became 28
tons while walking uphill and 34 tons downhill (averages were based on
Walking (or treking) poles provide more of a
general workout improving overall fitness.
It is however important to adopt
the correct technique. Softly "plonking" them here and there is a waste of
time. You need to practice - left stick forward/down as right leg is
used and vice versa. It takes a little getting used to but it is actually a
fairly natural movement once you get going. You also need to apply effort
to the poles to take some of the load off your legs.
Some have hidden screw threads
in the handle on to which you can fix a camera and use as a "unipod"
for steadier images. Some have a small compass in the handle but to be
honest these are too small to be of much practical use.
To be effective, you need two.
One is of very limited value and could cause you to walk unevenly causing
Avoid the ones with the
traditional "walking stick " handle. You should use with
arms bent more or less at right-angles, not lean on them as for a walking
stick which will make your shoulders ache.
You should adjust the length -
shorter for ascents, longer for descents and even of different lengths if
traversing a slope (shorter up slope, longer down slope), to maintain that
Having said all this, if your
budget is tight and you have no particular weakness in your legs/knees etc,
save acquisition of these for a later date (Christmas present?).
Poles do require some
maintenance otherwise they can seize. Never put away wet and preferably
separate the sections to allow to dry thoroughly. A small amount of
lubricant such as WD40 worked well into the tubes by pushing the inner
sections back and forth will help avoid seizure.
Do not undo too far, otherwise
the part which grips the pole inside will become unscrewed and detached and
will be difficult to retrieve.
There are some downsides to
using poles. If hands are busy holding poles, it becomes awkward to read a
map at the same time or use a compass or GPS navigator. You also need to
take care not to spear anyone else with them.
All information on
this site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect
of any damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.