Is it overkill to use two trekking poles?

Thanks to a little bicycling accident last fall—which resulted in four brain surgeries—I've decided to take up hiking. I'm considering a staff or trekking poles to help with my balance. I believe trekking poles would be overkill for me, and that a single staff would be fine, particularly since I'll be sticking pretty closely to trails. Do you agree, and if so, which staffs would you recommend? Roley Davidson, North Carolina

Sep 18, 2003
Outside Magazine
A: I'm not going to recommend any staffs, as I don't think they'll do you much good. Well, one would work fine, if you really want to go that route: Cascade Designs' Sherlock Staff ($65; www.cascadedesigns.com). It's a high-tech take on the venerable walking stick, with a padded grip, adjustable shaft, and even a universal camera mount.

But really, a twin pole setup is much more versatile. Using twin poles gives you better rhythm when hiking, and provides much better balance when crossing streams or log bridges. Even for trails, I like using twin poles. And you don't need to spend much more than you would for a single pole. REI, for instance, sells its very adequate Summit Trekking Poles for $60 (www.rei.com). A step up, with lighter poles and more comfortable grips, would be the Komperdell Titanal Trekking Poles ($90; www.rei.com). And some people swear by shock-absorbing poles such as the Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo PA AS trekking poles ($150; www.rei.com). But, my gut is that inexpensive poles will work just fine.

Very sorry to hear about your cycling accident, by the way. Four years ago I peeled off the bike and likely would have come off a lot worse had it not been for my helmet.

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