If you like spending time hiking or backpacking in the outdoors, you have probably noticed that a lot of people are using walking poles nowadays. This is actually not just some trend that everyone blindly follows. There are a lot of benefits to using walking poles. They help you move across all kinds of terrain much quicker, they provide additional support, and significantly reduce the amount of effort required which means you can cover more distance during your walks.
When you use them correctly, walking poles can help you maintain a faster pace which leads to additional health benefits. By increasing your pace you will increase your hearth rate and oxygen intake, but you won’t feel like you are spending that much energy. Walking poles don’t actually reduce the amount of energy you use, but they help in distributing the workload across different muscles which means it’s not just your legs doing all the work.
Additionally, walking poles offer more support and stability on rough and uneven terrain. You get two points of extra contact with the ground and you take each step with more confidence. This is especially noticeable when you are feeling fatigue when you are nearing the end of your walk.
Another benefit of using walking poles is that they help improve your posture, especially when you are carrying heavy loads. When you are carrying a backpack or going uphill, you tend to slump forward and this shifts your center of gravity making you more unstable and increasing your chances of slipping and stumbling. Poles help you keep your body in an upright position and also use your hands to push yourself up the trail with ease.
When you are out shopping for walking poles, make sure you consider features like adjustable length, shock absorption, weight, wrist straps, baskets, durable tips and so on. As far as the materials are concerned, pay attention to the three main components of the pole: the shaft, the grip, and the tip. Since the shaft of the pole is the main thing that determines the weight, it is mostly made out of aluminum or carbon fiber.
Aluminum is, of course, the more durable and economical choice, but is is also a bit heavier and it can bend under high stress. Carbon fiber, on the other hand is much lighter, good at reducing vibration and it is more expensive. The grip material is usually made from cork, foam, or rubber. Cork is moisture resistant, decreases vibration and conforms to the shape of your palms. Foam is the softest of all three and is ideal for sweaty hands. And rubber is best for insulating your hands from the cold, but it is more likely to blister sweaty hands in warm weather. And finally, you can choose between carbide or steel tips for more traction even on ice, or you can go for rubber tips which are perfect for sensitive areas where you want to reduce impact to the ground or when you are hiking on asphalt and other hard surfaces.