Trekking Poles: Are They Right for You?

My intention was to get to Eisenhower State Park at sunrise to test my new Leki trekking poles, but I assumed that I couldn’t access the trailhead after looking up what time the office opened that morning the night before. Turns out you can go to the park any time and make a stop by the honor box on your way in. So, I didn’t get started until too late in the morning of a very hot Texas summer day.

I had hiked a small portion of Eisenhower’s trail many times, but never covered all of the 7 miles… which became almost 8 because there’s one section where they leave you hanging on which way to go and I detoured for a refreshing swim. I tried to recall what I had seen in the video I watched about proper form when using trekking poles.  I’m used to using ski poles and that’s what they felt like, minus the snow.  Once the awkwardness diminished, I felt a shift in my whole body energy and knew I’d found the sweet spot.

They really helped me truck up hills and confidently descend.

Reasons I selected these poles:

  • Lighter than the other poles I picked up on that aisle and similar in price. Having not done much research on them, I had no idea what exactly I needed in trekking poles, so I aimed for something in the mid range price area.
  • Comfortable hand grip
  • The lucky REI Employee attending clueless me said, “these are a popular choice.”

Later I read an article that says cork prevents the poles from absorbing and later releasing the hiker stank. I had dismissed purchasing a pair thinking the grip wasn’t as comfortable as the foam ones I chose. Hm. Shoo!

  • The collapsible length isn’t too bad (25.2 in.)
  • They felt comfortable in my hands and adjusted to the right height for my body type.
  • I’ve heard they make a good weapon against bears. Well, a good deterrent. You’re supposed to wave your arms and make noise to repel them. Not sure how one would work as a sword if you’re brave or unlucky enough to get that close. Also, I like to use them to move any growth covering the trail aside so that I will either spook any snakes off or at least see them sooner to have time to react.

The locking mechanism came loose once during the hike and the pole slipped to a shorter height. It was on flat terrain thank goodness or my clumsy butt may have sprained an ankle. Not sure if the locking mechanism is faulty or if I didn’t have the screw tightened enough. I’ll give them one more chance to test it out.

It’s difficult to judge the effectiveness of these particular poles due to being my first poles ever and especially, wearing an incorrect backpack. However, I went more miles before getting fatigued than my previous hike where I barely made it 4.  I’ve finally ordered a daypack that fits well and hopefully alleviates the shoulder pain and fatigue. As soon as it arrives, I’ll need to beat 8 miles.

I recommend poles to anyone a bit clumsy like me and/or need to lessen the wear on their knees. It seems they lessened my fatigue as I was able to hike almost 8 miles instead of 4 without them. Both days were really hot and I wore the same shoes and bad pack.

Here’s a quick but informative video from REI about choosing the right trekking poles for you…