It is easy for people to talk about the benefits of using a trekking pole over long distance travel. The idea that using a pole takes some of the pressure off of your legs is intuitive – it makes sense that the more items you use to support yourself, the more you would take some of the weight off of the rest of your body. Still, how much weight does a hiking pole take off, and how significant is the difference?
According to a study by the KLETS group (Ken Ledward Equipment Testing Service), the amount of weight that is saved from the lower half of your body by using a trekking pole each hour is remarkable. Using the amount of weight transferred to each leg (a number that appears, for most people to be around 5-9 kg), the number of pounds transferred with each step over the course of an hour with and without a pole was calculated. According to the KLETS study, the following numbers were found:
– 5kg weight transfer will produce a saving of 37.40 ton per hour.
– 6kg weight transfer will produce a saving of 44.80 ton per hour.
– 7kg weight transfer will produce a saving of 52.36 ton per hour.
– 8kg weight transfer will produce a saving of 59.85 ton per hour.
– 9kg weight transfer will produce a saving of 67.33 ton per hour.
The full report can be seen here (http://www.klets.co.uk/walking_pole_report.pdf), but the result shows that, due to the average person’s body weight, the pressure they put on each foot with each step, the number of steps that they take and the weight that is taken off of their feet by using just a single walking pole, the average person can reduce the weight on the lower half of their body by roughly 50 tons each hour, or 100,000 lbs.
Over the course of an entire trip, this number adds up even more, and does not include the amount of weight saved by getting more support walking up and down steep hills, which can put more pressure on your feet and joints due to the increase in gravity.
What are the Implications?
The weight saved each hour is also not limited to the weight above. Our bodies are also able to recover after a significant exercise routine, and when we add less pressure to our legs, we are also able to recover from the pressure we do add more easily. If you hike for an hour and take a 15 minute break, you will have an easier time recovering with a walking pole than without one.
These numbers are even more relevant if you are suffering from poor or weak joints, or are going to be on a hike that lasts long enough that you risk getting hurt or injured over the course of your journey.
Hiking Poles are a Great Help
Though they can be a little tricky to get used to if you have never used them before, there is no denying that hiking poles are an effective way to reduce strain on your body during the course of your excursion.