Trekking Poles for idiots....

TBossHSauce

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Is it just me or am I the only one who feels like a complete idiot training with trekking poles? I'm a pretty athletic guy and coordinated. But I find myself tripping over these damn things, missing steps, screwing up my cadence etc...

My buddy and I are getting ready for separate hunts...he to Alaska...me to chase elk in New Mexico. Our workouts vary as he is a crossfit fiend and I am a gym goer. However, we try to mix in some pack training a couple of times a week together. Unfortunately we are flatlanders with elevation hovering around 300ft. What we lack in elevation we make up for in temperature and humidity. The Texas summers here can be unforgiving. This morning it was 84 degrees and 90% humidity at 6 am...but I digress.

Our pack training currently consists of the local high school stadium. We go up and down each set of stairs and throw in an extra lap or two for good measure. Typical distance is about 1.75-2 miles covered with around 80lbs on our backs.

We both are trying to make ourselves LEARN to use our trekking poles. They are so damn akward! We are like two monkeys F'ing a football with these things. I sure hope they pay off in the long run though.

On a serious note, I believe our cadence is much faster than a hunting situation will be and don't think we will have problems with using them. However, stadium stairs make for an awkward hike with trekking poles....
 

bsnedeker

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I think you hit the nail on hte head with your last paragraph:

1. Hunting cadence you will be taking your time.
2. Stadium stairs require some degree of precision when using poles. When you are out in the field you don't have to think about where the tip of the pole is landing, you just move it forward.

I think you will find them incredibly helpful when you get out on the mountain: Going uphill, downhill, and over deadfalls they make a WORLD of difference!
 

Vaultman

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Poles are the way to go if hills are involved. Don't get to hung up on 'the training is awkward' thing.
 

*zap*

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Trail ruck this evening in flat Kansas, been wet and it was very muddy. One spot goes down a steep grade about 100 yards and the trail is a rut worn in the dirt, thick brush/trees on either side and it was after sunset so the trail was really the option unless I wanted to stop to put my headlamp on. 4" of water running down the mud rut.....it was like a water park slide...

With my poles it was no problem....:)

I always take poles.
 

Sleeperls

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Used mine a bit, and amazed at how much they help.

I still havnt figured out why they need shocks
 

MTSabo

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I couldnt imagine not having them in difficult terrain with a heavy pack
 

Randle

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As stated mountain pace will be different. Just be aware brush ,deadfalls , tall grass, etc. Will add a different challenge. some of that stuff just reaches out and grabs them out of my hands. Haha
 

HuntWyld

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This might not be what you want to hear but if They aren’t working for you then ditch them. I know that they are very popular right now and a lot of people love them but it’s still a personal preference so why force yourself to use something that feels awkward and unnatural. Every year I hunt in some of the steepest, rockiest terrain I’ve ever seen elk traverse, we’re often times accompanied by mountain goats and big horn sheep. Some of the exposed faces we cross, footing is essential as a slip could mean an airlift out of the wilderness. With that said most of us don’t use poles and probably never will. Not saying that there is anything wrong with ski poles but don’t believe that they are necessary to be a successful back country hunter.
 

RyanC

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Feb 7, 2013
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I rarely do training hikes with my trekking poles unless it is 10+ miler in steep terrain. Trekking poles are helpful when fatigued, packing heavy loads, and in steep terrain, or crossing water as they provide some extra points of contact for balance. I don't think you "need" to train with them, especially on stadium stairs. Reserve them for when you kill that elk and are humping him out of the bottom.....you'll be glad you have them and you'll figure out really quick how to best use them. My .02
 

Spencer Lillywhite

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FWIW I've been using them on my lightly weighted (~20 lb) trail runs with more than 1500 ft vertical. Trying to quickly cover steep and rocky terrain can be a little treacherous so I use them just for safety. Going down that steep stuff is really nice having that extra point of contact.
 

CoffeeGoat

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Apr 18, 2019
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I hunt in the Colorado and what I've found I prefer to do with the poles is only use them when the pack is heavy. That means when I'm packing in my gear to & from base camp, or packing out an animal. I'll collapse them down and stash them in my pack so that when I'm actively hunting they don't get in the way. Even on rough terrain I like to have my hands free, and I've missed opportunities where holding on to the poles meant I couldn't quickly get into firing position without dropping them and spooking the animal (super frustrating). Depending on the terrain I'll keep one out for use as a monopod if I need it for a longer shot, but generally I try to avoid carrying much weight when I'm actively hunting and so I don't need the extra stability they provide.
 

tac83

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Trekking poles make a big difference when you're covering altitude off trail. Giving yourself an extra stability point is huge when the ground is uneven or could be rutted out from game and you don't see it. You're moving pretty slow at that point if you're packing out meat or heavy packs the poles help.
 

Vaultman

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And super helpful when crossing a creek. Better than getting your hands all wet from stabilizing, or whole body from a slip.
 

colonel00

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It's kinda funny. If you concentrate on the poles, it will mess you up. Just like if you concentrate on how your arms are swinging, you get all funky. Walk 100 yards at a normal pace and then do it again while concentrating on how your arms are swinging. Well, now you can't because it'll be in your head.

Anyway, trekking poles are a great tool but like any tool, it doesn't mean you need it all the time. However, when you do need that certain tool, it will be invaluable.

Sometimes I'll just drag the poles or tuck them under an arm or just stow them when you don't need them. When actively hunting, lash them to your pack. It's when you are on uncertain footing, steep incline/decline. or water crossings as many have said that they are awesome.

Also, as I have aged, my knees are my weakest link. Sure, I can be out of shape but I can make it up a hill eventually. It's coming down an incline that will start with fatigue, graduate to jelly legs and eventually be on the verge of potential damage as I just can't support the strains without assistance sometimes. I like to say "going uphill shows how out of shape I am, coming down shows how old and worn out I am"
 

Desert_Dweller

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If you’re a gym goer, maybe try wearing a pack or extra weight on the stair climbers. They can get your heart rate going and kind of simulate a mountain.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

GotDraw?

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Opinion or Science? Pick which is important to you. I'll take science, which has also proven over time with my experience...

"A study done in 1999, published in the Journal of Sports Medicine showed that trekking poles are able to reduced pressure on your knees by up to 25 percent."

and an excerpt from another report:

"...When hiking uphill at significant grade, under significant load (approximately 47% grade and +40% bodyweight extra LOAD) trekking poles increase efficiency by approximately 10% and decrease perceived effort by 20%..."


If you are hunting in steep terrain, trekking poles are the bomb, both uphill and downhill.

Anyone that tells you differently either doesn't know how to properly use them or thinks they're for pussies and can't bring themselves to use them because they are too manly. Trekking poles will make you a faster ascender on steep trails, a faster descender on steep declines, they will save your leg muscles and knee joints and stabilize you if you start to lose you balance. The only time I don't use them is if I'm in a lot of underbrush and they are in the way.

If you are leaving the strap dangling and are using your hands to "grip" the handle, then you are using them completely incorrectly and inefficiently. You must use the strap as the handle. Your thumb and forefinger barely grip the top of handle and act as a pivot point as the pole swings out away from you when you move it forward to plant it, the bottom fingers almost never grip the pole.

Here are two links that give somewhat of a perspective on how to use them:

  1. Video: How to use trekking poles (Old , poor quality video, but better than nothing. NOTE- her hand straps are kept too long)
  2. Article on How to use Trekking Poles (This guy has proper strap length)

Here's are three research reports on it:

  1. Trekking Pole Study- North Umbria University
  2. Mountain Tactical Research Report
  3. Outdoor Gear Lab report
Plays your cards, takes your chances...
I always bring my trekking poles and use them.

Best,

JL
 

Jimss

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Mar 6, 2015
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Some great comments on this post! Trekking poles work incredible on super steep, rough terrain...especially with loaded pack! The only downside is metal poles are SUPER noisy and critters can hear you clanking them on rocks from miles away! I rarely use them while hunting. If I did I would definitely tape something to the tips and possibly even the sides to keep the noise level down.

Another word of advice when on steep slopes is to have one pole adjusted longer than the other. If you think about it your downhill pole likely has a longer span and that's usually where I plant the pole and place my weight. You can switch poles from one hand to the other. Obviously this it's tougher to do this if you are constantly changing downhill sides....but works great if you are on the same side of a hill for any length of time.

Another thing I make certain to do when going down super steep, nasty stuff is to place my hand through the strap handle (as mentioned above). I cinch the loop so when I plant my pole I have additional support on the pole......kind of hard to explain but it really takes a lot of pressure off your knees and places all that force on the pole. I do the same thing when planting a pole while downhill skiing.

As Vaultman mentioned above, trekking poles are great for creek/river crossings!

I learned a lot hunting sheep and mtn goats in Alaska....they are pretty much a necessity there. There is definitely a trick to using them....and I keep learning new tricks as I go. I would definitely take a look at the videos mentioned above as well as possibly other youtube videos.
 

trophyhill

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Tijeras NM
I use mine when I scout, when packing camp in and out, and packing meat out. Never used them working out
 
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