We often begin our days on the trail by offering guests to borrow trekking poles. Why would you want poles, you ask? You’ve been hiking for longer than you remember, and you never needed them before. Why start now?
As an early guide in the Canadian Rockies, my mentor looked directly into my awestruck eyes and shared this pearl of wisdom, “If you want to hike for the rest of your life, then you need to take poles with you every single day.” This meant a lot coming from him. He’s an incredible mountain guide, still pushing it hard when many his age have hung up their boots and retired to lawn-bowling.
I wasn’t a hard sell. After already a decade spent hiking all over the world, I realized the importance of added stability and support. Hiking staffs or trekking poles are easily accessible pieces of equipment to help ease our joints through-out a long day.
The other major system in our body we need to think about is our spine. We have this natural built in system for shock absorption including our discs, vertebrae and spinal segments. This fantastic mechanism for shock absorption may work wonderfully, UNTIL we add a backpack to it! Extra weight means added compression. Trekking poles will help to re-distribute some of those extra pounds when our spine becomes tired.
I am not a believer in suffering, and I don’t like watching guests suffer unnecessarily. If you have bad vision or suffer from a concussion, please consider poles. You're making things hard for yourself if you don’t use them.
Everything that you see as life, everything that you see as yourself, is beautiful only when it is in balance
Types of Poles
If you're new to using a pole, all the different types may seem overwhelming – so let’s narrow it down.
Materials – Metal or composite is the biggest choice here and quite a simple one. Buy one you can afford, and which is not too heavy. The less weight you're swinging around many times a day, the better. (Or if you kick it old school and cool - you can always find a sturdy tree branch.)
An adjustable pole for hiking is fantastic. It will mean you have more options as we move through different terrain.
I’m a big fan of a quick lock system as opposed to one that screws tight or loose. The quick lock system is more field manageable and seems to have less problems.
Foldable and Collapsible options are out there. Make sure you can pack it in your suitcase and bring it to the Canadian Rockies!