A topic that has divided hikers for years, the controversial hiking poles. Some people are for and some are against but is that all there is to it? We weigh up the pros and cons and let you make your decision for yourself. Are hiking poles really worth it?
Is there any evidence that hiking poles help?
In 1981, a study by Dr. G. Neurether was published detailing specific advantages hiking poles created for their users. The study proves the poles reduced the strain on the opposite leg by 20%.Then when walking on flat, even ground reduced the strain of the entire body weight carried by the legs by 5 kilos with each step.
When walking at an inclined position, this weight was further reduced by 8 kilos. This study shows the strain of tons of weight could be saved by an individual on any walk.
Alright, we’ve had enough of the boring stuff and now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.
Pros and Cons of Hiking Poles
- Reduces the impact and stress on knee joints and leg muscles
- Incorporates the use of the arm and shoulder muscles to reduce stress on the lower limbs
- When hiking poles are used correctly with the “hand over heart method” the heart rate is reduced and the blood circulation increased
- Walking with hiking poles encourages a steady walking rhythm. This creates a sustained regular breathing pattern and leads to an increase in stamina
- Helps to maintain posture
- Acts to propel the body forward
- Helps with balance
- Extra equipment to carry
- Tripping hazard
- Gripping leads to tension in arms, hands and shoulders
- Potential development of dependency
- Trail damage
- Increases the overall energy your body needs to use
- Doesn’t make the stress of walking on the body disappear, just redistributes it
- Your hands are only available to do one thing
- There is no benefit without proper technique
Ultimately, it is your choice which way you lean towards and we are hopeful that you will consider this the next time you decide to head out for a hike – are the poles worth it?