After years of thinking trekking poles were ridiculous, I found myself seriously struggling on a 500 mile trek across France and Spain. Later I would discover I had a dislocated knee cap and a fractured bone in my foot, but at the time all I knew was that walking HURT.
A lot of people seeing my struggling recommended trekking poles, but it took a young, handsome guy from Canada to convince me. He was a cross-country ski racer and said it felt weird to cover distance without them.
That conversation triggered my analytical brain to do a lot of research and eventually a visit to a sporting goods store in Pamplona. That was 5 years ago and I still use the same pair almost every day on the trail.
I’ve come to appreciate them for many uses and since this is a common topic of debate, I’ll share my secrets with you. I’m also writing a note at the end on how to use them properly, efficiently, and have more fun using them.
1. Love Your Knees
As mentioned above, I started using poles as a last-ditch effort when my knees were failing me. Poles help the knees for a couple of reasons. First and most simply, they carry the weight of your arms so your legs don’t have to. This is only true if you’re using them the way they’re designed to be used (more on that at the bottom), but if you think about it your arms are probably about 10% of your body weight which is significant.
2. Staying Upright
I mean this two ways – the first is obvious…