I’m not a long time user of trekking poles. I tried using one in the Lake District a few years ago without much success. My disappointment was more down to bad technique then anything else. You wouldn’t think it necessary to lookup instructions on how to use a stick, but it is. Firstly I was only using one pole, and it didn’t have a proper wrist trap, so I ended up falling over a number of times and prematurely dismissing them as pointless.
So why have I changed my mind and given them another go?
Well I’ve just bought a bigger camera bag (a Tamrac Anvil 27 – more to come on that) and I was worried the extra weight would be impractical to carry around all day. I knew an upcoming trip to Norfolk would probably involve an 8 mile walk along a shingle beach so I was keen to see if trekking poles would make it any easier – and they did!
The first key point is to use two poles not one, it makes it far easier to spread the weight evenly. Another key point is to buy ones with wrist straps that help spread the load between your hands and wrist, my previous pole didn’t.
Trekking poles work by taking some of the weight off your legs and knees, reducing fatigue. My camera bag and tripod can weigh up to 15kg on some trips, so staying fresh and focussed on taking photos and not an aching back or legs is important.
Over flat ground always point the poles behind you, this aids forward momentum. You can’t dawdle with trekking poles, once you find your rhythm it feels like you’re walking faster than you would normally – not a bad thing if you’ve got a few miles to cover.
Check out this Youtube video explaining how to use them.
Black Diamond Trail Pro shock
I went for the Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock trekking poles, which are a popular brand of trekking pole. I liked the shock absorber in the handle (some say they don’t make a difference), but this was one feature in my previous pole I’d wanted to keep as it’s ideal (I think) for softening the blow of trekking across rocky ground. The FlickLock mechanism for adjusting the length of the poles is also way better than the twist type that was on my previous pole.
I was a little concerned the description of the poles on Amazon changed to ‘Women’s Trail Pro shock walking pole’ when I added them to my basket! not sure why, but I bought them anyway.
There’s a time and place for trekking poles. If it’s a short walk with a light bag then I won’t bother. But if I’m doing my usual trick of carrying everything but the kitchen sink, then I’ll definitely use them. It means I can stop out longer and go further in the ongoing hunt for that perfect photo.