Trekking poles are an essential piece of gear for anyone wanting to get some elevation. But did you know that they’re also important for families exploring even relatively flat terrain?
If you’ve ever considered trekking poles to be an unlikely addition to your family adventures, then read on to learn why you should probably pick up a pair for every walker in your family.
Stability is key
First and foremost, trekking poles offer a powerful stability boost if you’re hiking up anything steep. And, of course, as hiking families who often babywear to expand our available terrain, stability is something we can all use more of. After all, even the most coordinated of us can trip on a flat road, especially if we are front carrying a child. So even if you’re not out there bagging a new peak each week and you stick to paved trails, trekking poles are a worthwhile investment. (Pro tip: They don’t have to be a huge investment either. You can often pick up an inexpensive pair of high-quality poles that work great.)
And, if you ever tandem carry, or hike on icy winter trails, trekking poles are a must!
The fitness factor
In addition to stability, there are also huge fitness benefits to using trekking poles:
- Who doesn’t want to burn more calories? According to The Cooper Institute, using trekking poles can help you burn up to 20% more calories.
- Engage and activate those muscles! Using trekking poles on any kind of surface or terrain can help you better engage the muscles of your arms, core, and yes, even your leg muscles.
- Joint protection: Adding two additional points of contact is better for our bodies, especially on those downhills, however long or steep they may (or may not) be. So save your knees, ankles and hips. And yes, save your back too!
In addition to the obvious safety benefits that come from more stability (think avoiding falls), there are some other safety benefits to using trekking poles. Granted, that’s a pretty big benefit, but there are more.
You can use your poles to guide brush and prickly bushes out of your way. This can come in handy too, if you’ve got small hikers and you want to help hold branches out of their way so they can scramble on down the trail.
And, you can use them for noise. Why is this important? Well, we recently published an article about hiking in areas that big game calls home. So in addition to singing or talking loudly with your group, you can clang your trekking poles together to make a noise not typically found in nature. This will help you not surprise any large animals also enjoying the trail.
The fun factor
If you’ve ever had kids (and since you’re here reading, you probably do), you know that they love to have fun. And what’s more fun for kids than to have their very own hiking implements? And you may not need to buy them a pint-sized set of trekking poles either. Many great brands are collapsible for easy storage and packing, and these make great tools in your family exploration arsenal because any walking member of the family can use them, from new walkers to even the most experienced.
What has your experience been using trekking poles? Let us know in the comments below!
Photos by Krystal Weir.