THE BENEFITS OF HUNTING WITH TREKKING POLES
Equipment has evolved a lot since many of us started hunting. Perhaps one of the most welcomed changes has been the shift toward highly technical, lightweight gear. No more heavy wool apparel, bulky frame packs, or five pound sleeping bags! A rapidly growing trend amongst backcountry hunters is the use of trekking poles. Once considered by many as “sissy”, avid backcountry hunters now treat trekking poles as an essential piece of equipment that has become a staple in their pack. In this article, we will explore the use of trekking poles while hunting and examine the medical benefits of pole use in hiking downhill while carrying external loads.
PHYSICAL HEALTH BENEFITS
In 2010, British researchers reported results of a study that compared 19 novice hikers who used trekking poles with a control group of 18 who did not. After climbing and descending 3,400-foot Mount Snowdon in Wales, the people who used trekking poles reported less muscle soreness and recovered faster than those who made the 7-mile round-trip hike without poles.
In 2007, researchers took fifteen experienced male hikers and put them in environments that included hiking with and without the use of trekking poles for each of three backpack conditions (no pack, day pack (15% of body weight), and large expedition pack (30% of body weight). Ten trials were completed for each condition, for a total of 60 trials per participant. All conditions were performed in a random order. The net joint moments and power at the ankle, knee, and hip, as well as the net joint forces at the knee were examined statistically using a 2 x 3 (poles x packs) repeated-measures ANOVA, with a family wise alpha level of 0.05.
The outcome showed a significant reduction for the sagittal plane moment at each of the joints in the lower extremity with trekking pole use. Reductions were also observed in the peak power absorption for the ankle and knee. These results held true across pack conditions, as packs only resulted in a larger power generation at the hip.
The study concluded that a reduction in the forces, moments, and power around the joint, with the use of trekking poles, will help reduce the loading on the joints of the lower extremity by as much as 40%.
TREKKING POLE USES
Aside from the clear medical benefits, trekking poles have several uses that many backcountry hunters find advantageous in their pursuit to escape hunting pressure and locate trophy quality animals.
Trekking poles can:
- Improve power and endurance
- Aid in balance and stability on uneven trails
- Increase speed while hiking
- Integrate upper body muscles and reduce leg fatigue
- Pitch and support shelters/tents
- Prop up packs as backrests while glassing
- Stabilize binoculars
- Act as a bi-pod or mono-pod while shooting
TREKKING POLES SPECIFICIALLY FOR HUNTING?
Trekking poles are manufactured in a variety of designs, styles, and sizes. Carbon poles are ultralight but more susceptible to breaking. Aluminum poles are heavier and if bent to severely can prevent the poles from being able to collapse down for storage. EVA, Cork and Rubber handles really boil down to user preference. Flip locks have overtaken twist locks due to their simple yet reliable design. Telescoping vs folding depends on whether you prefer a pole that is more versatile or more packable.
PEAX Equipment offers a complete line of trekking poles designed specifically for backcountry hunters combining the two most prominent materials (Carbon Fiber and Aluminum) into an innovative hybrid design that strikes the perfect balance between durability and light weight construction. Unique features like micro-threaded tips with screw on rubber feet assist backcountry hunters in silently stalking in on target animals increasing their odds of success.
Shop PEAX Equipment trekking poles here.