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If you love to hike and enjoy spending time outdoors, having the right equipment can make a world of difference in terms of how enjoyable your adventures are. For instance, trekking poles can be a valuable asset whether you are going for a casual day hike or a backcountry adventure. Known primarily for their ability to provide additional support, these poles can also serve a number of different functions. Here are some of the many reasons why you may want to consider investing in a pair for your next hiking trip:
1. Improved Stability. The first and most obvious benefit of using these poles while hiking is that they provide extra stability. Think of it this way: by providing two additional points of contact with the ground; they almost act like a second set of legs. If you have ever watched a four-legged animal such as a mountain goat move across rugged terrain, it quickly becomes clear just how beneficial it can be to have four legs rather than two legs. The stability that comes from having more contact with the ground can help keep you from slipping and falling on the steep or rugged ground.
2. Reduced Joint Pressure. Hiking can be hard on your joints. This is particularly true when you are traveling downhill. Each footfall can put a tremendous amount of pressure on your ankles, knees, and hip joints. Over the course of the day, you may find that your knees or other joints start to hurt really from all of the excess pressure. Trekking poles can help eliminate this problem by absorbing some of the pressure that would otherwise affect your joints. This, in turn, can keep you from feeling knee pain or other associated joint pain at the end of the day. If you want, you can even look for a set of poles with built-in shock absorption. These poles are equipped with tiny springs that help absorb the shock of hitting the ground. This makes them extremely comfortable and effective to use.
3. Handy In An Emergency. Unfortunately, injuries sometimes happen on the trail. If you severely injure your leg, ankle, or any other body part, you can use your poles as a makeshift splint. This can provide support and stabilization for your injured leg, making it easier for you to find your way back to civilization so that you can get the help that you need. They also make great crutches in an emergency. Because they support much of your body weight, they can allow you to hobble along even if one of your legs or ankles is injured.
4. An Essential Safety Tool. You can also use them to perform other safety checks such as testing to see how deep water is or checking to make sure that a sheet of ice is thick enough before you step out onto it. As you can well imagine, this can keep you from winding up in potentially dangerous situations, helping to ensure that you make it back safely from your trip.
5. Helpful For Clearing The Way. If you are hiking on a trail that has a lot of branches or vegetation hanging in the way, you can use the poles to push the vegetation out of the way so that you have a clear path to walk through. Not only can this make walking a lot easier but it can also help you avoid getting scratched by prickly shrubs or affected by plants such as nettles or poison ivy.
6. Useful For Erecting A Shelter. Carrying a tent with you while you hike may not always be practical. After all, tents tend to be bulky and heavy. You can travel much lighter by using your trekking poles as makeshift tent posts. Then, all you have to do is pack a tarp and some string along with you to put together an effective shelter that will protect you from any rain or inclement weather.
When shopping for a set of poles, there are several different things that you need to keep in mind. First, you should make sure that the poles that you buy are adjustable. That way, you can set them to whatever height you need. You may find that you need different heights depending on the terrain that you are walking on. For instance, if you are walking downhill, you may need to make them longer than if you are walking uphill. Having the ability to quickly and easily adjust the length of the poles can make them far more versatile out on the trail. If possible, try them out in person so that you can see how long it takes to adjust them. Ideally, it should only take a few minutes to lengthen or shorten them.
You should also make sure that the grips fit comfortably in your hands. In general, trekking poles are designed to be unisex. However, there are women-specific models on the market that have shorter heights and smaller hand grips. If you have small hands or are petite, these smaller poles can be a better option than standard poles.
The best way to know for sure which poles you should buy is to spend some time visiting sporting goods stores so that you can try them out in person. Being able to feel what the different grips feel like and to test whether or not the poles are the right height can allow you to determine whether or not they will work for your needs. In the long run, this will help ensure that they perform as expected once you get them out on the trail and start using them in real life.
Trekking poles are some of the best pieces of equipment that you can invest in if you enjoy hiking. They can provide countless benefits regardless of whether you are a casual hiker or a seasoned pro. By investing in a set of these poles, you can make all of your outdoor adventures far more enjoyable.