Hiking is an increasingly popular pastime, and one enjoyed by over 42 million Americans of all ages every year. The chance to enjoy nature and achieve or maintain a decent level of fitness, with minimal costs, is pretty irresistible. Day hikers generally carry a backpack with water, snacks, a compass, basic first aid items, sun cream or waterproofs, and often, a hiking pole.
The Benefits of Using Hiking Poles
Hiking poles are obviously useful for those who need a mobility boost, but they are also very popular amongst the fully able bodied hiking population simply because they offer so many advantages. These include: increased endurance, especially on uphill climbs; better breathing, as posture is automatically improved, and faster fat burning as your metabolic rate is boosted. Plus, they double up as useful tools that can help remove obstacles on paths or hold back thorny or dangerous bushes as you pass.
To get the most out of your hiking pole, it is vital to pick one that meets your needs. If you are not sure how to choose the best hiking poles, take a look at these key points you should consider to help you make the right purchase.
There are many types of hiking poles to choose from, and some are more suitable for particular terrains than others. Before you buy, make sure you know if you are likely to be mainly hiking on regular pathways, tackling uneven ground and steep climbs, or even taking on challenging hikes with rocks to climb up and over.
Some hiking poles are designed to be lightweight(sometimes they weigh just a few ounces), providing the obvious advantage of a reduction in arm fatigue. Always look for poles that are easily adjustable for people of different heights; ideally as the pole touches the ground your elbow will be bent at an angle of 90 degrees.
Some hiking poles can be extended when needed, then retracted and stored in your backpack when not needed. This type of pole is much more flexible than the standard type.If possible, look for poles with a twist lock, as these seem to be the most reliable when it comes to the poles expectedly opening.
Anti-Shock, or Non Anti-Shock?
It is probably wise to try both types in a store before deciding, as some people dislike the extra weight of anti-shock poles. If possible, choose poles which offer both features so you can switch between them as necessary. Weak joints or flare ups of old injuries can make a shock absorption option very attractive.
A wrist loop is a convenient add-on as it reduces the risk of dropping the pole and either losing it or having to stoop awkwardly to retrieve it again, while poles with cork handles are more comfortable to use in hot and humid atmospheres.
There may be more to buying the right hiking poles than you ever imagined, but it’s worth taking the time to get it right as the benefits will be your reward.