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[at-l] Hiking poles



I am now a committed hiking pole user.  I've always carried some sort of
pole or stick, but now use the two pole method religiously.  The theory
(whether true or not I don't know) is that the the planted pole carries the
weight of your hand and entire arm for each step you take.  What does each
arm weigh?  I've heard from 5-10 lbs. each.  

I like the commercial poles better than sticks because of the straps.  The
weight of your arm is then carried by the straps instead of being held by
your hand on the grip.  I keep my straps fairly snug around where my hand
meets my wrist.  This makes it very useful for keeping my balance, etc. as a
secondary benefit.  I have the REI Komperdel poles with the shock absorbancy
feature.  I haven't found that feature to be particularly useful, however.
Also, the Komperdel brand of poles tends to shed the paint around the bottom
portion of the poles very quickly, thus making a mess of paint flakes on you
and your gear until it is gone.  

I would recommend the telescoping feature on any poles you use.  Used ski
poles are fine and usually inexpensive, but are a hastle when carrying them
around when not hiking and do not adjust to your particular height.  The
collapsed poles are easier to strap onto your pack when needed.  I usually
leave mine at the length used for hiking when actually on the hike, but
collapse them down for convenience in hauling in the car, etc.
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