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Four legs are better than two & our process of evolution has given us the blessing (or curse) of walking up right. The years I have spent trudging up steep talus slopes or hiking down from the Enchantments has made me realize, even at my young age, that I only have one set of knees & I should take care of them. For that sole reason, I have become a huge advocate for trekking poles. Trekking poles are definitely more affordable than a knee replacement and they provide balance when carrying a heavy pack.
At Second Ascent we carry a wide range of 2-section, 3-section & collapsible z-poles for every outdoor discipline; skiing, snowshoeing & backpacking.
In the ole days (or on cheaper poles) companies would typically allow the pole to twist to lock the sections into place. This cheap solution allows the pole to collapse when you least expect. Black Diamond makes plastic & metal FlickLocks, which provide a secure and confident lockdown on the pole sections. The ability to disassemble and allow for sufficient cleaning & drying plays a huge role in the longevity in your equipment.
Aluminum vs. Carbon.
Most folks have the idea that carbon is lighter than aluminum, which is true in some cases. But when comparing the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Pole (475 grams per pair) vs. the Trail Ergo Cork Pole (510 grams per pair) there's only a difference of 17.5 grams per pole difference, which shouldn't make or break your day. Just like riding a carbon fiber bike vs an aluminum bike over cobblestones, the real advantage of a carbon to a aluminum pole is it's ability to absorb shock when striking hard surfaces.
It's important to get a grip you like. You will, after all, be holding these in your hands for hours & hours. The main styles available range from rubber grips, dual density foam & cork. Cork is definitely the most comfortable but tends to be a little pricier. The biggest myth with cork is that many people fear getting the cork handles wet giving way to deterioration. Remember your parents' bottle of Barolo that's been laying down for 20 years? Dual-density foam is a great option if you don't want to pay for cork. It is soft & transfers hand sweat efficiently. Rubber is grippy and is a good option if you're trying to stay on budget.
Trekking poles typically come in two sizes. Within those sizes there is a range of adjustability. When buying your poles, be sure to pull them out of the package to find what fits you the best. Ideally your elbow should be a little greater than 90 degrees. It's nice to have a little bit of size adjustability both ways...shorter if you're going up really steep terrain, or longer if you're coming down hill.
Improper use of the wrist leash.
Proper way to use the wrist leash. This allows you to rest your wrist on the leash itself without having to death grip your poles.
For the latest trekking pole or other gear technology be sure to stop in to Second Ascent or shop online. We are always happy to help get you the gear you need to stay safe, comfortable & happy out in the backcountry.
Till next time