Of all the new equipment I am learning to use for my Camino pilgrimage, I think I like my trekking poles the best They are probably only practical for pilgrimage walking or hiking, I don’t see any real use for them day to day. Poles can range from cheap and useless to very expensive and not as useful as another pair. So from my practical, Scottish heritage it was important for me to find a not so expensive pair of trekking poles. I did a little research, actually a good bit of research.
It is important that they be collapsable and expandable, but that they stay put once that you fixed them where they were to be. It is important that they have wrist straps that adjust in just the right way so that they remain on your wrist, but don’t cut or bind. Finally, it is recommended that the grips be cork, not plastic or rubber. Plastic can break or chip making it dangerous. Rubber can peel or sweat making it sticky and impractical. Cork can be a little unrelenting, but under the heat of your hands it can be formed by your hand to fit perfectly. So I found a nice, reasonably priced pole, German made with cork handles.
Now I was a bit skeptical at first, but one of the crew who is a regular hiker insisted that they were completely necessary. And after our first practice hike, it was clear – indeed, they were a necessity. They assist with the uphills and the downhills by allowing you to shift your weight to the poles, either forward or to one side. They take the weight off hips and lower back to make walking less effortful. So, in an odd sort of way, taking up something extra to carry, actually lightens the load.
But then I guess it matters, what you pick up along the way.