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Topic: trekking pole, can I get away with this?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:01 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

To start off, I'm an aspiring newbie.  I'm in the planning stages of taking my first backpacking trip(s) in July to the winds in Wyoming.  

Everything I've read in preparation is telling me that I need a trekking pole.  Being ignorant and cheap, I've found an old aluminum cross country skiing pole in my garage that was left by a previous tenant that I'm wanting to use.  The main reason for this is that I'm new to this.  I don't even know if I'm going to like backpacking enough to go again.  I'd hate to spend good money on an expensive pole that I may end up using once (though everything tells me that I won't).

Can/should I use an old ski pole as a trekking pole?
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Practice hike?
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Not sure about your question, but wanted to tell you to check Craigslist for that type of stuff.


I've gotten some good stuff for cheap from people who weren't as smart as you and actually bought everything up front.  :laugh:


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You can get a pair of aluminum trekking poles at Walmart for under $20. They're fine and will give you a sense of whether you like poles or not.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I guess my question is, is there really a difference between a ski pole and a trekking pole designed for backpacking....at least to an unassuming guy who doesn't yet have a taste for expensive gear?
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(SWest @ Apr. 29 2013, 10:10 pm)
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Not sure about your question, but wanted to tell you to check Craigslist for that type of stuff.


I've gotten some good stuff for cheap from people who weren't as smart as you and actually bought everything up front.  :laugh:

I've had my eyes pealed on cl.  As a matter of fact, I've found some pretty good deals there....little camp shovel, nice gregory backpack, thermarest neoair pad, decent tent, stove, and aluminum pots/pans.  All together, it's cost me 180 dollars, and an old aluminum extension latter that I don't use anymore.  Gotta love bartering!  So far though, no poles
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hekeim @ Apr. 29 2013, 8:22 pm)
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I guess my question is, is there really a difference between a ski pole and a trekking pole designed for backpacking....

Yes. Most trekking poles have a length adjustment and good ones have "shock absorbers". I have a pair of high end (read: expensive) poles BUT I've been using TPs (bring on the scatological humor) for years and know what I like in poles.

Having said that, I have an old pair of slightly shortened ski poles stashed in my truck for spur of the moment hikes or to loan out.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks Montana.  That's what I needed to hear.  The next question is....how should a pole fit?  What length is appropriate?  Should a pole go to my waist?  Belly button? Chin?
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There is no consensus on pole height but elbow height is a good start.
For people that can be bothered (like me) adjusting the poles to the terrain (longer going down ,shorter going  up) is important , many don't do that.
An advantage of collapsible poles is when stored or if used to prop up a shelter.
As suggested above you could go around the local park with them and see how they work for you.
Yes, someone will ask you about snow conditions...
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Most folks adjust the poles so the forearm is parallel to the ground when using the pole.  That means on uphills, it is a bit shorter than on downhills.  Of course, not many actually change the lengths unless there is a long stretch of constant up or down.

Using 2 poles is much like using the handrails on a set of stairs.  Pulling yourself uphill, and bracing the knees on the down.  

I would spring the $ for the cheap set to get a real idea if you like using them.  


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 10:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I prefer just a hair below my elbows.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 11:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Montanalonewolf @ Apr. 29 2013, 10:30 pm)
QUOTE
Yes. Most trekking poles have a length adjustment and good ones have "shock absorbers".

Yes, the length adjustment comes in handy - slightly longer for downhill, shorter for the ups.

IMHO, the shock absorber models are not as "good" as those without ...the squeaky addition of a spring is worthless.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 29 2013, 11:53 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I used to hike without any poles or hiking stick, so just about anything could work.

I am not sure they "save" one's knees, but they sure help with balance, and any strain, from trying to keep one's balance.

But now that my knees hurt , i do take them most of the time.  I use adjustable ski poles.  In fact Black Diamond markets some of their poles for both, just change the baskets, though I don't even do that.

Ski poles tend to be strong, because they are made to hold up in falls etc.  While some ultra lite trekking poles snap pretty easily.  But since you are using ski poles you should be good to go.  I think your only problem might be the way the poles are held in a position.  Black Diamond flintlock works very well, allot of others tend to slide with much pressure.  I think other makes have finally come up with clamps that work.  I wonder if that is why someone might have left the pole behind?

My ski poles also have an alternate grip zone, for a quick change in grip (length) without having to adjust the poles.  You might also find you want one pole longer on a traverse, as the downhill side will need a longer pole.  Length, I think, should be easy to figure out from use and terrain?  Are you placing it out in front for balance (and what length do you need for that) or behind you for propulsion, or in front to help step up etc.

Some still prefer one pole or stick.  And some places you don't need them, like a level smooth place.  I think sometimes it is better to concentrate on where u are stepping, esp. if finding a place to plant a pole is difficult as well.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2013, 12:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for all the help everyone.  I'll check out the poles in my garage to see if they "fit"  If they do, I'll try them in one of the canyons that I've been doing short hikes in.  If not, I'll see if I can't find a few cheapos from wally world.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2013, 1:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I bet the ski poles work, but would steer clear of Wal-Mart, regardless. I broke the clamp on an Outdoors Design quick release pole in the store by closing it, and was later forced to buy the screwlock version on a road trip after leaving my Black Diamonds at home(my Tarptent uses trekking poles for support). They collapsed repeatedly in spite of being retightened regularly, and were more a hazard to my safety than an aid. The only good thing I can say about them is that they managed to hold my tent up through the night.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2013, 6:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Old ski poles can usually be cut down if too long. Remove grip, cut to length, replace grip.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2013, 7:38 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I grabbed a set of ski poles a few weeks ago at a flea market that were superior to my 7 yr old ski poles.

I had them in the back of my truck when my daughter and I decided to climb a local hill to see  a waterfall and hang glider take off spot.

Not a very strenuous hike but my right knee hurts.

The ski poles worked fantastic...a bit long I merely choked up on them on the way up but on the way down they were great......but don't listen to me...I use the bladder from a Box O' Joe for my pillow....


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2013, 12:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Lol, I still don't know the answer to your question OP, but I was just looking at renting a bear canister from Sport Chalet, and the line above it was for trekking poles. Totally thought of you :) Here poles would be $4 the first day and $2 each additional day. Might be worth it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2013, 7:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The other aspect is how are you getting there?

Trekking poles tend to be collapsible and so can fit in checked luggage while ski poles do not and TSA won't allow them on airliners.

So if you're driving that's a wash but if you're flying then there's an issue.

Otoh in my experience there's damn few "musts" in backpacking and trekking poles aren't any of them, nice enough on occasion but since humans aren't quadrupeds by nature there are other occasions where they are either an annoyance or downright dangerous absent some solid experience in rough country.yes I do carry some, useful for me for stream crossings, plus they double as my shelter supports. ...
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2013, 7:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My suggestion...
Don't assume that you need poles.  They definitely are not mandatory.  In the not that distant past no one used them.  If you think YOU want them, give them a try.  Don't use them because they are popular.  Use them or don't use them because you do or don't like them.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2013, 11:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

HSF makes a good point, I did buy 3 pieces poles because they are more compact than my 2 piece. They fit in some luggage my 2 piece will not, though the 2 piece do fit in a duffel etc.  One piece would of course go in a ski bag, but if you are hiking you would not be packing that.  Unfortunately the 3 piece are a bit short for some things, esp. cross country skiing uphill (in a haring bow).
The 3 piece also pack on the out side of a pack better, they don't stick up, but not that important.

"TSA won't allow then on airliners" as carry on luggage I am pretty sure is what he means?


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PostIcon Posted on: May 01 2013, 11:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes as carryon. Since they won't fit in, standard anyway, checked kuggage.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 01 2013, 1:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hekeim @ Apr. 29 2013, 7:01 pm)
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Can/should I use an old ski pole as a trekking pole?

Can you?  Absolutely!

I hiked for years with no poles at all.  I've used old branches from fallen trees.  I've hiked with just one rigid pole, and I've used matching collapsable trekking poles.  All worked fine.  A decent pair of collapsable poles are nice if you don't mind spending the dough - but not necessary.

For the Winds in July - I would be more concerned with a mosquito net and bug juice than which hiking stick I used.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 01 2013, 5:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Some of the things people have mentioned:

How am I traveling?  I'll be driving there, so packing small isn't important.

Head net/bug juice?  I already have that taken care of.  

I measured the poles, and they seem to come up just below my elbow, so they're worth a try.  I was going to take them out to some of the canyons out my front door, but we got more snow the last few days, and it's mighty slippery out there now.  I'll have to wait til it dries out before I try them out.
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