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Trekking Poles Can Make Your Summer Adventure More Enjoyable!


At CMH Summer Adventures we have been awarding our Alpinists a set of trekking poles from Black Diamond  for a few years now.  The guests are ecstatic with them. Not being a trekking pole user myself, I decided to go to the source to find out the advantages of using them.  I contacted Alan Adams from Black Diamond and here’s where our conversation went: 
CMH Summer Adventures
JC: Alan, I’ve heard seasoned hikers say again and again that they’d never leave home without their trekking poles.  What advantages do they offer?
AA: Jane, the biggest advantage is saving one’s knees.  Oddly, everyone thinks this is just for older folks, but I fully disagree.  I’m only 29 and I use poles.  That means that my knees will be going long and strong for many years to come.  Preventative behavior is worth it in my opinion.   I won’t go on any mountain adventure without them.  

Trekking poles vs. ski poles are a great upgrade as they have much nicer grips and handles along with trekking specific narrow baskets instead of the wider powder baskets used on ski poles.  Some of our higher end poles even have shocks in them like a mountain bike fork.  Finally, trekking poles offer more adjustment points (2 vs. 1) for length, which also gives you the ability to collapse the pole to strap onto your pack or carry in your travel bag when they aren’t needed.

There are tons of other advantages as well.  For crossing a stream, you have another point of balance.  When navigating tricky rocky terrain, you can descend small drop off’s much easier by moving your weight on/off the poles as needed.  Numerous other random uses as well. . .splint for an injury, a great device to hit your hiking partner when they get annoying, grizzly bear prodding device, etc. . .the list is endless. . .
JC: I’m one of those hikers that is happy to go uphill or across meadows for most of the day.  My knees hate the downhills!  Would a set of poles help me to love the decent?
AA: Yes, they would help a great deal.  Find a great 2 hour loop and do it one day with trekking poles and another day without.  I guarantee you’ll be a convert after a test like that.  With a good set of trekking poles I can place nearly half my weight on the poles on the downhills.  Plus, you get into this zen like state of mind when you are making your way down a rocky downhill. 

For any skier who batters their knees all winter, trekking poles are a must.  Climbers with huge loads of gear in their packs also reap the benefits on the approach and trek out from their epic slogs.
JC: I think I could have used them on the Inca Trail then!  There’s a pretty wide range in price and quality.  What features should I look for in a good set of poles?
AA; Our poles range from $75 to $140 in the US.  At the lower price points, you will typically get an aluminum pole with a basic strap/grip system.  For around $100-$120, you can get shocks in the handles, nicer straps (typically nubuk), better molded grips with an ergonomic bend on certain models, and cork handles on a few select models as well.  At the top of the lineup, the tubing switches to carbon fiber, which is typically lighter and stiffer.  Our top model, the Alpine Carbon Cork, gets a full 3 piece carbon shaft and an elegant cork handle that wears in wonderfully over time.  Anyone that is a fly fisherman will really appreciate the feel of a worn in cork handle.

Looking for a place to use your trekking poles this summer?  Consider a Summer Adventure at CMH's Bobbie Burns Lodge.  A full immersion into Canada's Rocky Mountains awaits you!  Contact our Heli-Hiking experts for more information at 1.800.661.0252.


Three Comments: 
I bought a set of Leki aluminum trekking poles from REI about 3 yrs ago. The first time out, I fell onto a pole when the tip slipped off a rock. The aluminum snapped in two. REI was very good about letting me upgrade to a Black Diamond carbon fiber model for only about $20 more.  
Then, after my wife struggled with the twist locks on her LEKI poles, I bought her a pair of Black Diamonds that have the cam locks like mine. They are much easier to secure. 
you will also find that you will use shorter poles going up hill and then lengthen them coming down. 
Our poles are just like our AMEX cards... never leave home without them!
Posted @ Thursday, March 18, 2010 12:46 PM by Lyn Felton
Couldn't agree more. Black Diamonds are the best. I'm a recent convert and my knees held up waaaaaay better on the downhills.
Posted @ Friday, March 19, 2010 4:51 PM by Paul Partlo
I've couldn't believe the difference when I switched to using poles. I've now converted most of my family! So far happy with my collapsing poles, but haven't had the chance to try out a Black Diamond version yet. Can't wait!
Posted @ Monday, March 22, 2010 1:52 PM by CdnJake
I've been using Leki Ultralite Ti Ergometric Antishock trekking poles for the last 4 years. I have had some problems with the twist lock system on a couple of occassions but it's a result of my not cleaning the poles according to Leki's instructions and not replacing worn expanders. I found that the locks do not slip if I clean the poles properly and replace the expanders every couple of years. These poles have served me well in dirt, mud, rocks, sand, water, hail, sleet and snow. I can't imagine hiking without them. I recently bought a pair of Leki Carbonlite Aergon Antishock trekking poles that weigh only 13.2 ounces for the pair. They are super light and a joy to use but time will tell if the carbon poles will hold up as well as my old titanium alloy poles. For those that don't pay much attention to the weight of poles, compare the difference that a few ounces make. After years of using the Leki Ultralite and Carbonlite poles I find the Black Diamonds to be on the heavy side. Just my opinion. I'm a firm believer in the Leki antishock system. They absorb most of the shock of planting the pole, especially on rock, and relieve the stress in my wrists. The new Leki antishock system is call Soft Antishock Lite. This new system resolves the pogo stick effect that some people complain about.
Posted @ Friday, April 02, 2010 2:44 PM by Wayne
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