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Making Canes And Walking Sticks

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By Royale Leger. Trekking Poles. Published at Friday, February 22nd, 2019 - 08:10:14 AM.

In 2002, on day eight of my first-ever thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, I descended to the Nantahala Outdoor Center at mile 138 with a deflated spirit, a crushingly heavy pack, shin splints, and inflamed iliotibial bands. That afternoon, I shipped home a box of unnecessary gear, ate a cheeseburger, and traded the tree branches I’d been crutching on since day four for a new pair of Leki trekking poles. Trekking poles transfer load from legs to arms, helping to avoid injury and fatigue, and they were vital on my journey to Maine. The additional points of contact add stability on slippery or unstable surfaces, and on long trips they can even be used as tent poles with some backpacking shelters. I’ve brought a pair on every trip I’ve taken since that first Appalachian Trail journey, including expeditions that lasted months and covered thousands of miles.

Trekking poles effectively turn a two-legged animal into a four-legged one, spreading the load, improving endurance and reducing stress on the knees by up to 40%. Weighing in at only 530g for the pair, the bargain Forclaz 500 is the ideal choice for the weekend walker, with an extra-long soft foam grip, neoprene-lined wrist loops, an antishock bush and a telescopic aluminium construction.

A few years back, a friend and I were assembling a gear list to send to a couple of gentlemen joining us for an ascent of Mt. Whitney. He and I had both been up many a mountain, but the other two were inexperienced climbers, so we were taking pains to make the list exhaustive. At one point during a review, I realized we had not put hiking poles on the list. When I pointed this out to my climbing buddy, he replied: ”I guess I took that for granted. Hiking without poles is like hiking without whiskey.”

Still, these poles are inexpensive for a few reasons: The shafts vibrate, the grips are a bit rough, and the carbide tips don’t last as long as those from Black Diamond or Leki. The locks don’t slip or break and are easy to adjust, but they’re not as nice as the metal locks on the REI Flash Carbon poles. Cascade Mountain Tech sells a higher-end pair for $58, the main benefit of which is more solid-feeling shafts.


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