What Are Trekking Poles and Why Should Every Hunter Have One?
Trekking poles, on the outset, may seem like a crutch-like tool designed for hikers or hunters who have some sort of physical disability, but they’re actually one of the most practical and convenient utilitarian accessories to step up your hunting or hiking game regardless of your physical condition.
More and more hunters are investing in trekking poles and appreciating the unique benefits they have to offer when used to their fullest potential.
A novice or a beginner might think a good or experienced hunter has confidence in their well-built body alone to hunt well, but it turns out that regardless of skill level, traveling for long distances on tricky terrains without trekking poles can cause you to be susceptible to a number of injuries and health issues.
Let us go over what trekking poles exactly are and what are some of the benefits you should consider in investing in one if you are skeptical to their functionality.
What Are Trekking Poles?
Aesthetically, trekking poles resemble ski poles, except the fact that they are mostly extensible in order to keep them at desired length as per the user’s preference. The main function of a trekking pole is to provide more traction and stability to the hunter or hiker so they are able to travel longer distances with increased physical comfort.
They may be around 54 inches in length, and also feature ergonomic handles and wrist straps for a stronger grip.
Why Use a Trekking Pole?
When you’re hunting, there are a number of things to consider to ensure your own safety and physical comfort. You’re carrying a large backpack, storing a variety of items such as food, first-aid kits, clothing, firearms, shelters, and most essentially, the heavy loads of meat you’ll pack out during hunting.
You’ll find yourself having to walk through a variety of paths – flat terrains, upward slopes, downward slopes, creeks, canyons, and what-not. With heavy weight on your upper back, your body will naturally bend forwards, and there will be a lot of strain especially around your knees.
Bringing a trekking pole into play reduces the strain around your knees by about 25% as per research. A trekking pole basically gives you four points of contact on the ground and distributes the weight evenly across your body.
The impact on the joints is reduced, and the back is kept in the natural 90 degree position relative to the body, guaranteeing that you’ll be able to hunt and trek for longer periods of time.
Maintaining your joint and back health is particularly important if you wish to improve your overall longevity and want to be able to hunt even after getting older.
How to Use Trekking Poles?
To properly use trekking poles, you slide your hands through the bottom of the wrist straps, and grip on the handle, which is mostly made of padding materials like cork or rubber.
Next, you adjust the length of the trekking pole by adjusting its telescopic shaft as per the ground level, and place it flat on the ground with your arm at a 90-degree angle. Repeat this with the other pole.
The trekking pole might have removable baskets, which come in handy if you’re walking through muddy or snowy terrains. If you’re walking on solid ground, it’s better to remove them.
Next, for finally using your trekking poles, you basically keep the directions of your leading foot and the pole you’re using ‘alternate’. For example, when your left foot goes forward, you push the right pole forward, and vice versa. This is what helps materialize the effect of walking with four contact points.
When to Adjust the Pole Length?
A general rule of thumb is that when you’re crossing an upward slope, you reduce the length to keep yourself level with the ground, and when you’re crossing a downward slope, you increase the length for greater stability. Make sure to lock the desired length in place by whatever lock mechanism exists in your trekking poles.
Many trekking poles have an anti-shock mechanism, which comes in handy especially on downhill climbs. On upward slopes, though, they may work against you, so make sure to lock the anti-shock system in that situation.
Various Purposes of Trekking Poles for Hunting
Now that you’ve learned why should you use trekking poles and how to use them, let us convince you even more about their practicality by going over the major benefits they have to offer. You’ll be surprised to see that they can be used in more ways than one.
1) Probing the Depth of a Pathway
Trekking poles can be really helpful for getting an idea of the depth of paths like marshes, water bodies, and so on before committing to them. This can also prove to be a great benefit especially in the case it’s dark and you’re not sure what kind of ground you’re coming across. You can just strike your trekking pole down to get an idea how deep that area is.
Another benefit is that trekking poles will provide you a lot of stability while crossing areas like marshes or creeks. The last thing you’d want is to end up tripping over and getting your knees injured – trekking poles save the day for you in that case.
2) Using Them as Poles for Your Tent
Most shelters in the market nowadays are compatible with trekking poles, eliminating the need for you to store extra poles in your backpack specifically for a tent. This saves you a lot of weight, and of course, ensures you a more comfortable hunting journey in the long run.
3) Warding Off Wild Animals
In case you come across a bear or any other troublesome wild animal, you can actually use your trekking poles as weapons.
Some hunters recommend stretching out the two poles upward in opposite directions to give the illusion to the animal that you’re larger than you are, while others have discovered that even hurling a trekking pole at an animal does enough to scare them off. Striking your two poles to create an intimidating noise also works.
4) Pushing Obstacles Away
Think of your trekking poles as extensions to your arms. If you come across thorny bushes, branches, or any other obstacles of the like, you can use your poles to push them aside, and clear your path to cross without getting hurt.
This proves to be a huge benefit especially in the case you come across poisonous plants such as the toxic ivy, as you can safely get past them with a simple push from your trekking poles.
5) Using Them as Camera Stands
Most people cannot imagine traveling anywhere without capturing photos and videos as a keepsake. One of the quirkiest things you can do with trekking poles is to use them as selfie sticks. You can purchase an attachment called a “Stick Pic” in order to convert your trekking pole into a selfie stick.
Additionally, there are DIY ways you can use trekking poles as a monopod or a tripod.
6) Using Them as a Clothing Line
Your clothes won’t necessarily be in the best of conditions after a long day of hunting, and you might want to take them off and dry them. You can mount your trekking poles between two trees to effectively use them as a clothing line for drying your clothes.
This is particularly helpful if you plan on spending a couple of days in the backcountry and have packed multiple clothes for use.
7) Makeshift Splint or Stretcher
Trekking poles make a great supplement to your first-aid inventory, as they can be easily used to create a makeshift, DIY splint or stretcher. You can simply extend the length of the telescopic shafts of your two poles, and tie some fabric between the two in order to create a solid stretcher.
8) They’re Collapsible As Well
If there’s a flat, level path you want to run on, or any other path that is more suited to travelling with free hands, or if you simply just want to hurry, you can collapse your trekking poles and put them back in your backpack.
9)Pack out a Rack
Antler racks can be awkward to carry. Each one is different in weight and shape. Carrying them over the shoulders is uncomfortable, especially if walking a long distance. For more stability and weight distribution, use the trekking poles.
10)Glassing Stick and Shooting Bipod
I’ve glassed binos and shot off of my trekking poles when I didn’t have a mount available. Configuring them into an “x” and stabilizing with a free hand works surprisingly well if time is available for setting up.
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Trekking Poles
If you find the benefits listed in this article regarding the use of trekking poles convincing enough, stick around and have a look at our top 5 picks for the best trekking poles you may consider investing in.
Ultimately, the pair of trekking poles you choose to buy depends on how much you wish to hunt, where do you plan on hunting, and your individual preferences. We’ve listed the top 5 trekking poles below based on the following benchmarks:
a) Quality of Materials
1) Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles:
Black Diamond is one of the most prominent companies specializing in hunting, climbing, skiing and hiking equipment, based in Australia.
Enter their Trail Ergo-Cork Trekking Poles, which uses aluminum in the shafts and features an ergonomic handle made of high-quality cork, ensuring you’re able to grip on the handle comfortably even while sweating.
One of the best features of the Ergo Cork is the innovative “15-degree corrective angle” which automatically optimizes your grip on the handle. They also feature snow baskets to ensure you can tread through difficult terrains easily.
2) Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles:
Selling a variety of quality trekking poles and other products of the sort, and that too on the more inexpensive side, the Ultra Strong trekking poles by Montem stand exactly true to their name. Their strength and durability comes from the use of Aluminum 7075, which is surprisingly, the same alloy used for building airplanes.
Despite the excellent quality, they also come with a lifetime warranty, which is definitely a plus. Apart from that, they feature an ergonomic handle covered with PVA foam for padding, and weigh only 9.6 ounches per pole. They are also collapsible, and 24 to 53 inches in length.
3) Leki Women’s Micro Vario Carbon:
Designed and engineered specifically for women, Leki’s Micro Vario Carbon features an extremely ergonomic handle with hollow construction to reduce weight. The handle keeps the wrist in the natural relaxed position in order to prevent strain, and uses thermo-foam grip in order to provide extra padding on the hands and insulation during cold weathers.
Apart from that, the baskets can easily be screwed on and off depending on the user’s preference, and there are offset threads to keep them tightly in place when they’re screwed on.
4) Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock:
Cascade’s Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock is not just affordable in case you’re looking for a pair of trekking poles while on a budget – they’re also just as good in quality, as they feature a twill-weaved carbon fiber build which minimizes wear and tear to the best possible degree.
They also have poles adjustable as much as 26 to 54 inches, as well as adjustable wrist straps. The poles don’t require any additional tools to fix them in place, as there are quick-lock adjustment levers to easily and quickly anchor them in place. As for the handle, it is ergonomic, and is made of premium-quality cork to wick away sweat.
5) Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles:
Foxelli’s Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are made of 100% carbon, which makes them a lot more light-weight as compared to their aluminum counterparts. They weigh only 7.6 ounces per pole, and are also popular for their shock-absorbing properties.
The cork handle prevents the wrist from blistering as they are extra-padded and breathable. They may not be as strong as aluminum trekking poles, but they are definitely justified for their price.
Trekking poles are, beyond doubt, some of the most convenient items to use while hunting if you wish to make your hunting experience not only safer, but also more enjoyable in the long run.
Whether it’s for the physical comfort they offer or the wide range of extra purposes they can be used for, they’re definitely worth investing a couple of bucks in to optimize your hunting experience to the best possible degree.