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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hiking Tips: Four Legs are Better than Two

They say that two heads are better than one when trying to think things through in a difficult situation.
Similarly, many experienced hikers make the case for four legs being better than two while hiking and carrying a heavy backpack. The extra legs that they are referring to are trekking poles.
Devotees of these high-tech collapsible aluminum sticks with ski-pole-like grips and wrist straps tout their benefits vehemently.

Here are some of the benefits that they cite:
1. Trekking poles increase your stability while hiking on uneven terrain.
2. The increased stability that they provide can help prevent falls and associated injury.

3. The increased stability can help you prevent ankle sprains.
4. The increased stability can help you prevent knee sprains.
5. The increased stability can help you prevent sore hips.
6. The increased stability can help you appreciate the scenery about you by taking your mind off the prevention of sprained ankles and knees and sore hips.
7. Trekking poles can help you traverse difficult terrain, especially in difficult situations like low light.
8.  Trekking poles can help you up steep slopes.
9. They can also help you down steep slopes while aiding in the prevention of the joint pain so often associated with it.
10. They can take 10 to 15 pounds of weight off your back and legs by distributing it partially to your arms.
11. They can be useful in such balancing acts as rock hopping across streams.
12. Trekking poles can help reduce back pain by improving your posture despite the weight of your heavily-loaded pack.
13. They help take stress off of your feet.
14. These handy gadgets help reduce fatigue.
15.  Trekking poles can increase your hiking speed by improving your pacing.
16. They can allow you to hike longer distances as a result of the increased speed and reduced pain and fatigue.
17. Facing an aggressive animal like a mountain lion, you can use trekking poles to make yourself look bigger by raising them over your head.
18. You can use trekking poles as defensive weapons against aggressive wildlife.
I’m sure that there are other benefits of trekking poles that could be added to this list. Hopefully those that I have provided here will help you in making a decision about whether or not you want to give them a try.  
     By Richard Davidian, Ph.D.
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