What is the Purpose of Hiking Poles?

You might have heard of skiing poles and understand their purpose – after all, if you’ve ever been on a pair of skis, you know that you can’t just “shake” your way downhill if you’re still on a flat surface. Sometimes you need poles for extra leverage and to give your hands access to the ground in order to gain needed support. If it makes so much sense on a ski hill, why not bring poles to the hiking trail when you’re exercising during the summer?

Hiking poles can be just as useful as ski poles, even if you don’t need them to slide across the ice in the summers. Here are a few of the purposes many people find hiking poles serve:

Easier traveling

Believe it or not, hiking poles really can have a tangible difference in your overall experience. This doesn’t just mean the short-term experience or the quality of the hike, but the long-term effects of walking up and down hills for a long period of time. Hiking poles will help support your weight, reducing the stress placed on your legs, knees, and ankles.

It’s not simply about making it easy on yourself during the actual hike, but making hiking as a lifelong hobby easier on you. If you’re looking to become a long-term hiker, you might want to look into skiing poles.


In addition to carrying the load, hiking poles serve another useful purpose: leverage. Like ski poles, hiking poles will give you more adaptability to adverse weather conditions, such as when it starts to sprinkle or when the previous winter’s snow is still melting. You can’t always rely on your own two feet when you’re out and about on the trail; there might be mud or other difficult terrains that you don’t want to risk slipping in. A hiking pole or two will give you added leverage, making you feel like you have three or four legs instead of just two.


In addition to providing leverage, the hiking poles are an instrument that prepares for the worse. What if you’re coming up on a stream in which there are slippery rocks? A hiking pole can be dug into the bottom of the stream, giving you something to use as leverage when there’s nothing else around. It also gives you a greater range because of the reduced pressure on your back, as well as an increased ability to trek uphill.

To many, hiking poles are simply ways of taking the hobby too far – but if you’re like me, you see the value in “going to far” for the sake of a healthy, long-term hobby.

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