There is no difference between hiking sticks and hiking staffs – they are long, wooden limbs that are carried while hiking. They are used for many purposes, primarily to aid in hiking up and down trails. A hiking pole is a new, hi-tech gadget that looks like a ski pole, but it is loaded with features and is available at a wide range of prices. Let’s see what is a hiking stick for.
Balance and stability can be improved with hiking sticks.
Using trekking poles will become second nature once you get over the initial awkwardness of learning how to use them. It is much easier to balance and more stable if you have four points of contact on the ground.
In addition to uneven terrain, steep ascents or descents, water crossings, and treks over loose rocks, wet trails, and snow, hiking sticks can also be used in wet conditions.
In addition to reducing fatigue and reducing joint impact, hiking poles can also help prevent injury.
Backroads trip leaders in Alaska always recommend trekking poles to their guests, regardless of their fitness level or age. A few hikes include ascents over wet rocks, mud, and snow of more than 3,500 feet. By using trekking poles in these kinds of conditions, you can use your core and upper body to lift yourself over obstacles. To counter the gravitational pull on tired legs on the way down, rest your weight on your poles.
- Increase Endurance – When you use poles, you take some of the work off your legs and put it on your arms. As a result, you can hike for a longer period of time because the work is spread out.
- Climb Hills Better – It is more beneficial to use poles on steeper slopes. There is a significant reduction in the work your legs do.
- Better Balance – You can navigate rough or loose ground more safely with outriggers on a canoe.
- Reduce Knee Stress – You may experience less knee pain if you are carrying a lighter load on your legs. It is also important to visit a doctor if you have knee problems.
- Increased Workload – With poles, you are able to exercise more muscles, but you are also doing more work. The legs may not be as tired as the rest of your body, but you’ll have to work harder all over.
- Poor Technique – Your poles won’t accomplish any of their benefits unless you use them correctly, and they will just be a hassle.
When I was a kid, it was natural to pick up a stick and throw it at my brother or hit him with it. I started hiking with my dad with hiking sticks. When you find one that feels just right, you hang onto it and start using it to get up steeper stretches. Getting hiking sticks from the path is what I still do today.
When I’m on a multi-day hike, I usually find a stick and start carving on it whenever I have a resting point. You can see some of my carvings on this page. They are from boy scout camping trips and youth group camping trips. It’s fun, keeps me out of trouble, and gives the kids something to talk about. Not to mention that I actually use hiking sticks as a hiking aid.
How to fix hiking sticks
The following are some of the uses for hiking sticks:
- Keep your hands elevated so they don’t swell
- When climbing steep trails, you will need an extra lift
- When descending steep trails, extra support is needed
- Maintaining your balance – crossing boulder fields, crossing streams, narrow ledges, slippery mud (but watch out that you don’t break it between big rocks).
- Tent pole replacement
- The trail ahead of you is littered with spider webs that need to be knocked down
- The protection you need against snakes, dogs, and other annoyances
- You can reach things dropped in water, lift bear bags, throw Frisbees in trees, and help companions across streams and logs with a longer reach
- Leaning aid for resting
- Tie on a bandanna and wave for help
- Make a noise when you hike by tapping it on rocks
- Cameras, GPSs, and compass can be steadied with a monopod
- Branches, rocks, and pine cones can be knocked off the trail with this trail tool
Buying or choosing a wild hiking stick should consider these features:
- You can rest your chin or lean on it at about shoulder height
- So it will support your weight if it is straight and not gnarly or crooked
- Despite being thin, it is sturdy, so it does not weigh too much
- It can be whittled because it has few knots or cracks
Best practices and how to use them on a trail
- You can plant poles in an alternate pattern to your steps. Give it some time. (Step left; plant right.) You won’t even notice this after a few hikes.
- As you ascend a gradual slope, you should place pole points slightly behind you to assist you in pushing yourself forward.
- It is beneficial to shorten poles when the terrain gets steeper on the way up.
- Longer poles can be beneficial when going down steep terrain. The distance you have to travel is reduced as a result.
- Stowing poles should be done with caution to avoid sharp ends snagging on trees, rocks, or hiking companions. When storing or carrying a pole, always shorten it back to its most compact size.
- Always keep your pole tips in mind when walking in front of people.
A good set of hiking poles can offer numerous benefits, including increased stability and reduced fatigue, regardless of how much hiking you’ve done. When Hard Roads guides are hiking, the hiking stick is a must-have tool!
How to adjust: proper fit
1. Remember your number.
a. There are numbers on the telescopic sections of almost every trekking pole in the industry. When adjusted to that number, those numbers represent the total pole length.
b. When you know your number, you can easily pick up a trekking pole and set it up to fit you perfectly.
2. How do you find your number?
a. If your pole is planted firmly on flat ground, it should be long enough to create a 90-degree angle between your fist, elbow, and shoulder.
b. You can start at any number (115 is a good place to start), and then find the number that best suits your height. Make sure all sections have the same number. You can work your way down in 5 cm increments if 115 cm is too long. You should start with the higher numbers if you are tall.
3. Use the strap properly.
a. Using the strap correctly and incorrectly is important. It is less comfortable if you do it wrong.
b. Wrap the strap around your hand’s backside, not around your wrist’s underside, when you are using a strap. Instead of grabbing the grip down through the strap, put your hand up through it. Your hand should be nicely wrapped around the strap.
Frequently asked questions
Do hiking sticks really help?
Walking poles have been shown to reduce stress on the feet, legs, knees and back by distributing the load across the whole body more evenly, especially when carrying a heavy pack.
Why do you hike with a stick?
If your hike requires crossing a stream, trekking poles are helpful. Having two poles to anchor your way across a series of slippery rocks is very useful. I usually carry trekking poles in my pack even if I don’t use them on my hike.
How do you hike with hiking sticks?
If your trekking poles are improperly adjusted, your arms, shoulders, back, and neck can suffer. It is best to adjust the length so that your arm bends 90 degrees at the elbow when you hold the pole with the tip on the ground near your foot. This will be a good length for most hiking trips.