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Hiking poles vs staff

Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2022
Norte/Primitivo 2023
I do not like using hiking poles. I have a nice pair and I have adjusted the straps and lengths and use them properly on uphill, downhill and level ground but still prefer to go without. However, as I get ready for Norte and Primitivo, I am considering a walking staff. So a question to pole-averse staff users: any recommendations?
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
What @C clearly say. Cut yourself a staff. About 7ft to start with and take it and a sharp knife on a good rough ground walk. The blade is to cut to your balance length ( a bit at a time 😉) and also to trim any burrs and bark that catch your skin and, ultimately to cut your thumb notch when you’ve found your height.
Of course you’ll have to do it all again when you get to Spain but the practice will be worthwhile
 
No similar terrain where I live to experiment, but an excellent idea to build and personalize a staff. Will update on my efforts and results soon!
 
I would suggest poles and staffs have two very different purposes.
But am no expert.
I look forward to hearing from Staff users.....
What are the main benefits?

For me I would not walk without two poles.
They propel me forward, whilst at the same time 'lifting' weight off my knees.
But they do need to be used quite aggressively, by putting quite a weight through the poles.
Using kitchen scales I estimate the downward pressure I apply between 10-15 kgs.

A staff on the other hand, though I have not used one, would appear to be more for balance?
Whilst it does have a loop, the staff is generally longer, and I imagine not easy to apply downward pressure to. But for balance, I'm sure they are useful.

Though heavier?

My old poles are 300gms for the pair.
 
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3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
I would suggest poles and staffs have two very different purposes.
Yes, quite obviously! Everyone knows that poles are for barbers and strippers while staffs are used by old wizards casting spells or friars fighting in the forest! (And let me tell you, I do NOT want to confuse those groups…again…)

Seriously, though, a staff can be a bit heavy and unwieldy when you DON’T want to have it in use while poles usually collapse down and can be stored. I’ve seen a couple of handmade ones on the Camino which were very neat in design and carving, but rarely in use.
 
I think a non-foldable hiking staff is not easily gotten onto a plane as carry-on, unless it is checked in as a luggage, which may incur additional cost.
 
My two pence worth. During my 100 mile West Highland Walk then Ben Nevis trek in Scotland last year I definitely was saved from a major fall 8 times along with numerous other minor slips. That is why despite any preferences, you’ll hear me tapping my way to Santiago this spring like Blind Pew clutching his Black Spot
 
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I would suggest poles and staffs have two very different purposes.
But am no expert.
I look forward to hearing from Staff users.....
What are the main benefits?

For me I would not walk without two poles.
They propel me forward, whilst at the same time 'lifting' weight off my knees.
But they do need to be used quite aggressively, by putting quite a weight through the poles.
Using kitchen scales I estimate the downward pressure I apply between 10-15 kgs.

A staff on the other hand, though I have not used one, would appear to be more for balance?
Whilst it does have a loop, the staff is generally longer, and I imagine not easy to apply downward pressure to. But for balance, I'm sure they are useful.

Though heavier?

My old poles are 300gms for the pair.
I’m with Robo on this; but I’m happy to assume that it’s my lack of understanding or that the technique and function are just very different from using poles.

In trying to maintain some degree of posture whilst walking my logic is: two arms, two legs; two poles.
 
I think a non-foldable hiking staff is not easily gotten onto a plane as carry-on, unless it is checked in as a luggage, which may incur additional cost.
I remember reading about a British pole-vaulter in the 1950s who had to travel to training on the bus. He used to go up to the top deck, open a window and have his wife pass his pole up to him. He held it along the side of the bus. I don’t recall how he reversed the process.

Do carry on.
 
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This is neither here nor there for anyone else, but I don't like hiking poles; I've never found them to be helpful. In St Jean, I found a store that sold staffs. I bought one for myself and offered to by one for my daughter. She turned her nose up and said she didn't want one. Then, the next day, somewhere a bit past Orrison, she decided she wanted to try the staff. From then on it was her staff.

The next day, somewhere between Espinal and Zubiri, I stepped up into the woods to take a leak and found an old tree branch that turned out to be just the thing. It worked great! And from there on she had the staff and I had my stick.
 
Two poles are far more effective than a staff - the staff has romantic quality I suppose,linked to ancient images of Pelegrinos,but in terms of practicality it doesn’ one close,really.
 
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I was not a fan of poles either, until I started carrying 25lbs / 10k of weight on my back. My plan was to donate my poles after the initial Camino Frances climb from SJPP, but I ended up using them all the way to Santiago b/c I found they helped me balance and move better with the weight on my back. Something to consider as you decide…
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I do not like using hiking poles. I have a nice pair and I have adjusted the straps and lengths and use them properly on uphill, downhill and level ground but still prefer to go without. However, as I get ready for Norte and Primitivo, I am considering a walking staff. So a question to pole-averse staff users: any recommendations?
I prefer a good solid walking staff. I understand that Norte and primitivo have some challenging climbs and drops so a good staff will steady your walking to prevent a fall. My experiences have all been on the Camino Frances. The staff was needed dropping down into ronces, dropping from alto Del padrón, dropping into Molinaseca and then the climb to O’Cebreiro. These were the most challenging sections for me. Maybe another one entering portomarin via the tough original path but you do have an option to bypass and simply follow the paved road, not as interesting but way safer.
 
I am not totally unfamiliar with using a staff. Just before entering Villafranca del Bierzo, I noticed what appeared to be a long stick on the side of the trail. As I walked past, I realized that it had been placed there for me. I went back to the ungainly branch, placed my hand around one end and pulled it up from the ground, somehow understanding that this was to be my Excalibur, a gift from the Camino. I knocked the thorny bits off with a stone, gave it the name Tizona and walked into town. The next morning, as I prepared to leave my lodging, Tizona leapt into my hand, and off I went, knowing at that moment I would take the Dragonte.

It was still dark as I hiked up the hill to Dragonte and Tizona was a reassuring guardian as I walked past valleys and glens where dark shadows followed me. Later that morning as I descended into Moral de Valcarce, several large dogs surrounded me, baring their teeth and growling. Two dogs were behind me, a third, in front, distracted me. I realized this was how dogs and wolves hunt their prey. I raised Tizona, holding her vertically as she cast her spell upon the dogs, who backed off as though heeding their master. Departing the hamlet I noticed another, smaller dog, who had watched but not joined in the attack. It scampered up to me and I tried to shoo him away. He would not leave me and after about a kilometer, with the dog apparently expecting an adventure with me, a farmer on a tractor approached. “That dog is not yours!” cried the farmer. “I know,” I protested, “but I can’t get rid of him!” We devised a plan: I struck the ground in front of the dog scaring him away, to the front of the tractor. The farmer took over, using the tractor to herd the dog back to its home, shouting “Venga! Venga!” As I watched them disappear down the rutted road, I realized that I had broken Tizona in half when I struck the ground. I kept the shortened staff until I exited the Dragonte trail and somewhere beyond Herrería, I placed her on the side of the path, pointing the way to Santiago.
 
I found a wonderful natural wood stick on my recent fall Camino on the Via Francigena before I had an opportunity to purchase new hiking poles. I normally only use one of my poles anyway, so decided to give this "free" stick a try. It was smooth, perfect height for me, lightweight, and I grew very attached to it.😅
Screenshot_20230130-163437~2.png
It was actually sad for me to leave it behind on my final day of walking.🙁
 
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I am not totally unfamiliar with using a staff. Just before entering Villafranca del Bierzo, I noticed what appeared to be a long stick on the side of the trail. As I walked past, I realized that it had been placed there for me. I went back to the ungainly branch, placed my hand around one end and pulled it up from the ground, somehow understanding that this was to be my Excalibur, a gift from the Camino. I knocked the thorny bits off with a stone, gave it the name Tizona and walked into town. The next morning, as I prepared to leave my lodging, Tizona leapt into my hand, and off I went, knowing at that moment I would take the Dragonte.

It was still dark as I hiked up the hill to Dragonte and Tizona was a reassuring guardian as I walked past valleys and glens where dark shadows followed me. Later that morning as I descended into Moral de Valcarce, several large dogs surrounded me, baring their teeth and growling. Two dogs were behind me, a third, in front, distracted me. I realized this was how dogs and wolves hunt their prey. I raised Tizona, holding her vertically as she cast her spell upon the dogs, who backed off as though heeding their master. Departing the hamlet I noticed another, smaller dog, who had watched but not joined in the attack. It scampered up to me and I tried to shoo him away. He would not leave me and after about a kilometer, with the dog apparently expecting an adventure with me, a farmer on a tractor approached. “That dog is not yours!” cried the farmer. “I know,” I protested, “but I can’t get rid of him!” We devised a plan: I struck the ground in front of the dog scaring him away, to the front of the tractor. The farmer took over, using the tractor to herd the dog back to its home, shouting “Venga! Venga!” As I watched them disappear down the rutted road, I realized that I had broken Tizona in half when I struck the ground. I kept the shortened staff until I exited the Dragonte trail and somewhere beyond Herrería, I placed her on the side of the path, pointing the way to Santiago.
Wonderful story!
 
I am considering a walking staff. So a question to pole-averse staff users: any recommendations?
Rather than being walking pole averse, I am an aficionado, and even though I used a wooden walking staff for many years, and still have it, I don't think I would be taking it on the Camino. That said, if you are thinking of using one, there are some things that I wanted in a staff:
  • it needed to be light and strong. I chose an ash plant staff about 135 cm long, 2.5 cm in diameter at the base and narrowing to 1.5 cm just below the thumb fork. It weighs about 280 gm.
  • I wanted to be able to rest my chin on my hands when I was holding the top of the pole. Don't ask me why now, but it seemed like a reasonable way to judge the length of the pole I needed.
  • As a grip, I have whipped the thumb grip and a short section of the shaft with kangaroo leather. It is still a little too thin for my liking, and were I using the staff more regularly, I would probably replace the whipping with something like tennis racquet handle over-tape. I have done that for a pair of trekking poles when the soft part of the handles wore through.
    • If you were thinking of getting a pole when you arrived, it would be a simple matter to bring some over-tape with you and be prepared to make the grip more comfortable from the outset.
  • I didn't want a highly decorated pole, so mine is plain. It did have a plain copper ferrule, which has been replaced by a rubber foot.
  • On the ferrule, I didn't have any particular view at the time. I would now recommend getting one with a steel ferrule to stop the tip wearing. A copper ferrule might last for some time wandering around the soft paths of England, where I got mine, but won't cope well with concrete and asphalt.
 
I carried one collapsible hiking pole. Advantages are
1) Good for balance when stepping down large uneven steps or steep descents. Good for balance crossing streams.
2) Can be collapsed when not needed for walking, either attach to pack or carry like a 'swagger stick'
3) Helpful if one knee or foot has a temporary injury.
4) Easy to transport or take into cafes, etc
 
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5) Easy to switch hands or hold one between your legs to take pictures of beautiful places in nature, architecture, villages...or to take a drink from your water bottle.😅
I bring two poles, but rarely do I use both.
 
Having attempted use of walking sticks, I still favor a staff. Reasons?

Perhaps due to a personal lack of motor skills, the sticks proved awkward for me. I experimented over multiple Caminos. Risk of tangling my legs with my usual walking cadence out-weighed any potential reward. My walking style is leaning into a long stride which runs about 0.75 meters on the flat.

Maybe I just used to learn a staff well on uphills and downhills over 50 years ago - - I always rested it on the flats.

In favor of sticks?

My late Camigo found sticks to be far preferable to a staff and credited them with saving his Camino. I was with him and can agree though I still do not understand why.

Try a staff. If your knees and/or hips start arguing with you then try sticks.

B
 
Perhaps due to a personal lack of motor skills, the sticks proved awkward for me. I experimented over multiple Caminos. Risk of tangling my legs with my usual walking cadence out-weighed any potential reward. My walking style is leaning into a long stride which runs about 0.75 meters on the flat.
B

Totally get that......

Indeed they feel very awkward at first!
It takes a bit of practice.
But once it all 'clicks' into place it becomes very natural, like swinging your arms whilst walking.

I walked around a local sports field practicing with them.
Trailing them behind me.
then holding them loosely.
then swinging my arms with them dragging.
then 'planting' them with each step.

After an hour or two it clicked.

Sadly I think a lot of people give up on them, or try them with a poor technique, and see no benefit.

The only time I'm not using mine is in towns and villages where I don't want to create a tripping hazard for others. Otherwise, every step of the way. They are like my extra 2 legs

I too lean into the walk a bit.
And pushing back on the poles really helps me/boosts me, moving forwards.

But hey, we're all different........ :)

Just not convinced of the mechanics of staff usage and the benefit.
All seems a bit lopsided. using only one. :rolleyes:
Good for balance maybe....... and 'looking' like a Pilgrim :cool:
 
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5) Easy to switch hands or hold one between your legs to take pictures of beautiful places in nature, architecture, villages...or to take a drink from your water bottle.😅
IF the straps are worn correctly, the poles should fall away from your hands and leave them free for photography, nose-picking or any other manual task you might contemplate.
 
I carried one collapsible hiking pole. Advantages are
1) Good for balance when stepping down large uneven steps or steep descents. Good for balance crossing streams.
2) Can be collapsed when not needed for walking, either attach to pack or carry like a 'swagger stick'
3) Helpful if one knee or foot has a temporary injury.
4) Easy to transport or take into cafes, etc
I agree! I like the freedom and rhythm of walking, unencumbered by a wooden staff or a pole. But I always use one pole when the terrain is rocky and/or steep to keep my balance.
 
IF the straps are worn correctly, the poles should fall away from your hands and leave them free for photography, nose-picking or any other manual task you might contemplate.

100%.

I wonder if there is an analysis of the benefits of poles v staffs anywhere.

If I think of the benefits of poles, for me at least (using 2), they would be in order of importance:

  1. Reduction of load on joints such as knees and ankles.
  2. Improved walking mechanics and posture helping reduce back pain.
  3. Improved forward momentum due to propulsion effect. (up and forward).
  4. Better balance on uneven terrain.
Not that I have used a staff, other than grabbing a suitable stick during bush walks........

But I would only see the benefits being #4.

But maybe I'm missing something .......

Hopefully some more staff users will chime in.........
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Totally get that......

Indeed they feel very awkward at first!
It takes a bit of practice.
But once it all 'clicks' into place it becomes very natural, like swinging your arms whilst walking.

I walked around a local sports field practicing with them.
Trailing them behind me.
then holding them loosely.
then swinging my arms with them dragging.
then 'planting' them with each step.

After an hour or two it clicked.

Sadly I think a lot of people give up on them, or try them with a poor technique, and see no benefit.

The only time I'm not using mine is in towns and villages where I don't want to create a tripping hazard for others. Otherwise, every step of the way. They are like my extra 2 legs

I too lean into the walk a bit.
And pushing back on the poles really helps me/boosts me, moving forwards.

But hey, we're all different........ :)

Just not convinced of the mechanics of staff usage and the benefit.
All seems a bit lopsided. using only one. :rolleyes:
Good for balance maybe....... and 'looking' like a Pilgrim :cool:
I have given this topic as much thought as I am able at the moment, might be back later if inspiration kicks in.

Here's the deal....

A staff allows me to put my full weight, and focused upon a single point, on steadying myself when pulling myself uphill and slowing myself on a downhill.

My best guess is that I learned "technique of the staff" (such as it is) first by 'portaging' in the US/Can boundary waters with a 40Kg pack (yes, seriously!) and then later in humping a 30 kg pack (yes, I was still stupid!) in the Western US Rockies over several years. And, BTW, walking sticks had not yet been made widely available - - so I can be forgiven for my lack of awareness.

It still comes down to "what works for you", IMHO.

If my opinion was "best", the world would never have been invented.

B
 
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the benefits of poles

  1. Reduction of load on joints such as knees and ankles.
  2. Improved walking mechanics and posture helping reduce back pain.
  3. Improved forward momentum due to propulsion effect. (up and forward).
  4. Better balance on uneven terrain.
2 poles in my opinion are essential. A staff is dysfunctional.

People have done research on poles and it is useful to know this stuff
- sadly the relevant papers are lost in this computer somewhere
- someone might ask ChatGPT or other?

In addition or clarification to Robo they provide bodily symmetry (very important), maintain and enhance upper body fitness - the upper body gets a useful role and avoids the upper body muscles atrophying during a long walk.

It takes an investment in practicing the technique with the reward that it is then fully natural in muscle memory for the rest of your life.
- a few days at home and then pay attention for the first days of your next long walk.

People who own Pacer Poles get an instruction sheet on the use of their poles. Applicable also to lesser poles.

It is likely that the grip on the Pacer Poles makes using their pole a delight to use all the time:
- uphill
- downhill
- difficult terrain
- long flat sections
- late in the day when you are tired

The grips on conventional poles are the possible cause of people not liking poles, as well as a bit of impatience in practicing the technique as reflected is some comments.

Any comments on the added weight of poles is irrelevant as they would not be on your backpack but touching the ground often and being useful and any sense of being carried is being done by your arms whilst assisting the legs rather than being a burden on the legs.
 
Hiking poles, used properly, can take 25-30% of the load off your lower body. Using one pole, it will take 25-30% of load off ONE side of my our body, making your walk very asymmetrical, setting one side of your body up for injury. If you don’t like the feel of 2 poles, go to a sporting goods store and get a lesson on how to even hold them, and then use them properly. Game changer.
 
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I was using hiking poles on flat asphalt when I fell last Spring, almost breaking my wrist.
Not a fan.

I walk the road into Roncesvalles these days, so I don't feel I need poles.
I walk carefully down the sides of the path at Perdon, so don't use poles.
I'm so over the path to Zubiri that from now on I'll taxi from Viskarret instead of breaking my leg in those foot deep ruts.
Those are the only 3 places I've ever felt I need poles.
 
Those are the only 3 places I've ever felt I need poles.
Annie, what about walking through thick mud with big puddles? I'm always thankful to use one☝️ hiking pole or a staff. I know I would probably fall into a mud bath if I didn't use one for balance walking through it.
 
- someone might ask ChatGPT or other?
This is what ChatGPT says:

Advantages of using a staff:
  1. Provides support for balance and stability.
  2. Eases pressure on joints, particularly knees.
  3. Can be used to probe for obstacles or check depth of water.
  4. Offers protection against animals or attackers.
Disadvantages of using a staff:
  1. Adds extra weight to carry.
  2. May get caught in underbrush or narrow passages.
  3. Can be cumbersome to carry and use in some terrain.
Advantages of using poles:
  1. Provides support for balance and stability.
  2. Eases pressure on joints, particularly knees.
  3. Can be used to probe for obstacles or check depth of water.
  4. Can increase speed and efficiency on flat or downhill terrain.
  5. Can help in carrying weight by distributing it to the arms.
Disadvantages of using poles:
  1. Adds extra weight to carry.
  2. May get caught in underbrush or narrow passages.
  3. Requires coordination and technique to use effectively.
  4. Not as versatile as a staff for protection or as a tool.
Ultimately, the choice between a staff or poles will depend on personal preference, the type of terrain being traversed, and the individual's physical abilities.
 
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Kind'a scary imo, but "it" was very thorough in answering.
We didn't need the 35 pior replies; only the last one, cuz "it" said just about everything very clearly and consise without added embellishments.
Some day forums may become obsolete with human input no longer needed. If so, a sad day indeed.
 
Yes, quite obviously! Everyone knows that poles are for barbers and strippers while staffs are used by old wizards casting spells or friars fighting in the forest! (And let me tell you, I do NOT want to confuse those groups…again…)
Whereas in my experience (I've used both on Camino, admittedly poles for longer) staffs are used by people who want to look more like medieval pilgrims and less like modern hikers; while poles are used by people who want to effectively protect their knees.

[I was very pole-averse, and when my knees got shot, I reluctantly went with a staff, still trying to avoid poles, only to find it wasn't enough to let me continue while poles were.]
 
Annie, what about walking through thick mud with big puddles? I'm always thankful to use one☝️ hiking pole or a staff. I know I would probably fall into a mud bath if I didn't use one for balance walking through it.
Well... I don't walk through thick mud with big puddles. lol!
 
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staffs are used by people who want to look more like medieval pilgrims and less like modern hikers;
🙄You have got to be kidding!
Never farther from the truth and that has never entered my mind when I used a stick for the first time last October on a pilgrimage route in Italy. Nor have I ever thought of that when seeing anyone else using a staff except the one time I saw a man in a brown robe and a gourd on the end of his wooden staff. Look at post #18. That's me in a pair of wild pattern leggings...I look nothing like a medieval pilgrim.😅
 
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I like the grip on the pacerpoles and checked out their website. Now if I can just get them to send me a pair, I will trial them out on the Norte.
 
I like the grip on the pacerpoles and checked out their website. Now if I can just get them to send me a pair, I will trial them out on the Norte.
Pacer poles are a small family business just up the road from me and they have really struggled with supply for the past couple of years.

Finally they have secured a supply of the top sections only (which contain their unique grip) but which you’ll have to ‘mate’ with lower sections of your choice from other poles. I believe they have a fairly long list of back-orders; so if you need them soon you had better get your order in.

There are no resellers; they only supply direct and existing users rarely part with theirs so there’s no real second-hand market.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Whereas in my experience (I've used both on Camino, admittedly poles for longer) staffs are used by people who want to look more like medieval pilgrims and less like modern hikers; while poles are used by people who want to effectively protect their knees.

[I was very pole-averse, and when my knees got shot, I reluctantly went with a staff, still trying to avoid poles, only to find it wasn't enough to let me continue while poles were.]
Not really.
If I'm going to take anything, I'll take a staff instead of walking poles.
I find something that people have used for centuries (before trekking poles became a fad) to work quite well.
I prefer to have one hand free.
It's just a matter of preference.
 
Pacer poles are a small family business just up the road from me and they have really struggled with supply for the past couple of years.

Finally they have secured a supply of the top sections only (which contain their unique grip) but which you’ll have to ‘mate’ with lower sections of your choice from other poles. I believe they have a fairly long list of back-orders; so if you need them soon you had better get your order in.

There are no resellers; they only supply direct and existing users rarely part with theirs so there’s no real second-hand market.
I have pacer poles.
I don't take them on the Camino for fear they'll be stolen.
Several places make you leave your poles in barrels either outside or near the door.
Nope. Too expensive.
I rarely use them. It's my second set. I sold the first ones.
Keeping these for when I'm 95 and walking the Camino -- just in case.
 
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Yes, quite obviously! Everyone knows that poles are for barbers and strippers while staffs are used by old wizards casting spells or friars fighting in the forest! (And let me tell you, I do NOT want to confuse those groups…again…)

Seriously, though, a staff can be a bit heavy and unwieldy when you DON’T want to have it in use while poles usually collapse down and can be stored. I’ve seen a couple of handmade ones on the Camino which were very neat in design and carving, but rarely in use.
You just convinced me to get a staff. I've always wanted to be a wizard.
 
Totally get that......

Indeed they feel very awkward at first!
It takes a bit of practice.
But once it all 'clicks' into place it becomes very natural, like swinging your arms whilst walking.

I walked around a local sports field practicing with them.
Trailing them behind me.
then holding them loosely.
then swinging my arms with them dragging.
then 'planting' them with each step.

After an hour or two it clicked.

Sadly I think a lot of people give up on them, or try them with a poor technique, and see no benefit.

The only time I'm not using mine is in towns and villages where I don't want to create a tripping hazard for others. Otherwise, every step of the way. They are like my extra 2 legs

I too lean into the walk a bit.
And pushing back on the poles really helps me/boosts me, moving forwards.

But hey, we're all different........ :)

Just not convinced of the mechanics of staff usage and the benefit.
All seems a bit lopsided. using only one. :rolleyes:
Good for balance maybe....... and 'looking' like a Pilgrim :cool:
Robo, I have a question. I occasionally get bad cases of tendonitis in my arm (Good ol Tennis Elbow) the amount of pressure you mentioned to push yourself up the hill makes me worry that it might cause me some issues. What do you think? Can you "feel it" in your forearms when using them?
 
This has been a really interesting discussion and am I now thinking about a staff rather than poles for my first Camino. I am planning to buy whatever I will use in Pamplona so it might just come down to what feels right when I get there.
 
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the amount of pressure you mentioned to push yourself up the hill makes me worry
Regarding the weight that people putting on their poles, I think that varies a lot. I am not convinced that using them to bear a lot of weight is necessary or helpful unless you have particular knee problems (which @Robo has).

I place my poles firmly on the ground - with some pressure but not leaning hard on them. They still seem to provide significant benefit in terms of balance, stability, and some weight relief. Since I don't use them at home, when I start a Camino I often feel a bit of tiredness in the muscles of my wimpy upper arms for the first couple of days, but nothing serious.
 
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It is likely that the grip on the Pacer Poles makes using their pole a delight to use all the time:
- uphill
- downhill
- difficult terrain
- long flat sections
- late in the day when you are tired
I have never understood the fascination with Pacer poles. When I look at the construction of the grip, it has one fixed angle, from which I conclude that there is only one particular length and pole angle where the wrist is in its natural rest position. At any other pole position, the wrist will move away from that rest position, and need to bend to a certain extent. If you look at the videos on the Pacer pole site carefully, you will see that the demonstrator is cocking their wrist.

Of course, wrists can do that, but there is going to be a point beyond which it becomes uncomfortable, either through repetition or by the extent of the angular change required. I suggest that the angular change might be greatest when going downhill with the poles extended to give maximum control over the speed of the descent. It doesn't appear to me that this technique is demonstrated in any of the Pacer pole videos, at least not that I have seen. It is difficult to say with certainty, but the demonstrator, when going downhill, seems to have a substantially increased the angle between her upper and lower arm, and not extended the poles to keep the arms at about right angles when the pole tip strikes the ground.

In contrast, on a conventional trekking pole, the wrist can stay at or close to its natural rest position throughout any range of pole length and angle because the strap is only fixed at one point. One isn't, or shouldn't be, gripping the pole handle itself, but letting the wrist move freely supported by the strap. The range of wrist movement can clearly be minimised, both on level ground and on slopes. That is something that cannot be achieved with Pacer poles, where to maintain one's grip, the wrist has to go through the same changes of angle the poles make with the forearm.

I have only used Pacer poles for a very short time over a very short distance on a couple of different occasions in Spain and here at home. There is nothing about them that I find advantageous. If one is a novice user, the fact that you are forced to grip them 'correctly' from the outset might be an advantage. That is about the only one I can see, and I see many more disadvantages about them otherwise.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
This is what ChatGPT says:

Advantages of using a staff:
  1. Provides support for balance and stability.
  2. Eases pressure on joints, particularly knees.
  3. Can be used to probe for obstacles or check depth of water.
  4. Offers protection against animals or attackers.
Disadvantages of using a staff:
  1. Adds extra weight to carry.
  2. May get caught in underbrush or narrow passages.
  3. Can be cumbersome to carry and use in some terrain.
Advantages of using poles:
  1. Provides support for balance and stability.
  2. Eases pressure on joints, particularly knees.
  3. Can be used to probe for obstacles or check depth of water.
  4. Can increase speed and efficiency on flat or downhill terrain.
  5. Can help in carrying weight by distributing it to the arms.
Disadvantages of using poles:
  1. Adds extra weight to carry.
  2. May get caught in underbrush or narrow passages.
  3. Requires coordination and technique to use effectively.
  4. Not as versatile as a staff for protection or as a tool.
Ultimately, the choice between a staff or poles will depend on personal preference, the type of terrain being traversed, and the individual's physical abilities.
How sad! This tool, ChatGPT, has successfully created a summary of some selection of both the good and the bad information available on the internet about staff and poles without any explanation for its 'reasoning' nor any guarantee about its completeness. At least with other forum members, it is possible to establish both of these qualities - completeness and correctness - even where there are elements like personal preferences at play.

@pepi, I would be rather more interested in your views on this, or any other, topic rather than being fed some mindless pap from what appears to be a pretty immature AI bot.
 
Paddy Leigh Fermor described watching the Sakristan shepherds of the Rodope mountains on their annual migration, the transhumance that created among other routes the Caminos Real, as great triangular pyramids. Two leather bound legs, their hooded cloaks and their 7 foot staffs forming the third leg powering them along the trail.

I don’t suppose there’s much chance that “I needs it fer me flock” will get a staff through airport security even if you were in full Bishop regalia
 
I have only used Pacer poles for a very short time over a very short distance on a couple of different occasions in Spain and here at home.
It is interesting how we all have our preferences. I have enjoyed using them for a few thousand kms. And will be using an even better improved pair next walk.
 
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I don’t suppose there’s much chance that “I needs it fer me flock” will get a staff through airport security even if you were in full Bishop regalia
When I was using a staff, I did manage to travel with it as cabin baggage back and forth between the UK and Australia twice, and didn't need to dress up as either a bishop or a shepherd on any of the three flights involved. There were some strange looks, but never any more than that.
 
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This has been a really interesting discussion and am I now thinking about a staff rather than poles for my first Camino. I am planning to buy whatever I will use in Pamplona so it might just come down to what feels right when I get there.
If you buy a staff, be sure it is more than the “souvenir” quality I noticed at many shops. Check for a good grip and something better than the loosely fitting cap on the end. Also, it should have some magic power.
 
Two poles are far more effective than a staff - the staff has romantic quality I suppose,linked to ancient images of Pelegrinos,but in terms of practicality it doesn’ one close,really.
Not really, it's just that using a hiking staff is more difficult to learn properly.

How to use it to propel yourself forward ; and learn how to put both shoulders into it, rather than just your staff arm one, and balance your walk with it. And/or if you have bad knees or whatever, as a proper walking stick to help with support.

Once you've learned that, the practicality of a staff is superior, as it has several more purposes than just as an aid for walking.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
@pepi, I would be rather more interested in your views on this, or any other, topic rather than being fed some mindless pap from what appears to be a pretty immature AI bot.
First of all, I'm replying to you on this thread about poles and staffs, although the AI topic doesn't fit in here.

Despite my advanced age, I'm very interested in all new technologies. I never understood the attitude that people first rant against everything new by principle. In order to have a say at all, or to form your own opinion about new developments, you have to get to grips with them.

In my first thread, I did this with the example of Camino and revealed the big gaps and mistakes that undoubtedly still exist at this time and I thought that the topic might be interesting for others in this forum too.

It appealed to me to respond in a second post here on this thread to the question of @Sirage and to query ChatGPT; I certainly will not make this a habit. The answer was informative and at least as good in quality as the human posts. If you want to call this mindless pap, you would in all fairness have to call many human posts as such as well.

This forum is meant to share personal experiences and advice and I totally agree that ChatGPT can't contribute anything to this, except maybe answering the stereotypical, repetitive, and banal questions.
But AI will continue to develop rapidly and challenge – very possibly even replace – services such as Google and many others. In a broader context, this will also influence and change this forum and the members' lifes here.

With that, I want to pursue the topic of AI in more appropriate forums.

Buen Camino
Pepi
 
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First of all, I'm replying to you on this thread about poles and staffs, although the AI topic doesn't fit in here.

Despite my advanced age, I'm very interested in all new technologies. I never understood the attitude that people first rant against everything new by principle. In order to have a say at all, or to form your own opinion about new developments, you have to get to grips with them.

In my first thread, I did this with the example of Camino and revealed the big gaps and mistakes that undoubtedly still exist at this time and I thought that the topic might be interesting for others in this forum too.

It appealed to me to respond in a second post here on this thread to the question of @Sirage and to query ChatGPT; I certainly will not make this a habit. The answer was informative and at least as good in quality as the human posts. If you want to call this mindless pap, you would in all fairness have to call many human posts as such as well.

This forum is meant to share personal experiences and advice and I totally agree that ChatGPT can't contribute anything to this, except maybe answering the stereotypical, repetitive, and banal questions.
But AI will continue to develop rapidly and challenge – very possibly even replace – services such as Google and many others. In a broader context, this will also influence and change this forum and the members' lives here.

With that, I want to pursue the topic of AI in more appropriate forums.

Buen Camino
Pepi
@pepi, I have already suggested the criteria I would use to judge when ChatGPT. There were three - completeness, correctness and transparency about its 'reasoning'.

As for AI, it's hardly new. Powerful AI engines have been around for many years, but generally not exposed to the general public. Companies who developed the specialised data sets, inference rules and other programming artefacts had, and still have, good reason to preserve their commercial advantages in developing and using those systems. You got access to them at a price, and almost certainly with clear agreements about how the associated intellectual property was to be protected.

Clearly ChatGPT is being presented as a wonderful advance. Which it might become in time, but clearly isn't yet IMHO.
 
I do not like using hiking poles. I have a nice pair and I have adjusted the straps and lengths and use them properly on uphill, downhill and level ground but still prefer to go without. However, as I get ready for Norte and Primitivo, I am considering a walking staff. So a question to pole-averse staff users: any recommendations?
check out this site.
 
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Thanks! This is certainly one of the better explanatory videos of using poles, but, respectfully, I have watched many of these and practiced their good information. However, I am walking the Camino, not climbing thru snow or crossing rivers. Not that the Camino does not have its challenges, but the majority of the Frances is easy walking. Truth be told, the only reason I am inclined towards poles is to save my knees. But after a day on the Camino, it is my feet and not my knees that hurt.
Thanks to all for a great many good perspectives. I am thinking that I will take my poles to start out on the Norte. I promise to give them a fair chance. If after a few days I still don’t like them, I will try a staff. And if that isn’t any better, I will hike as I have always hiked. Two feet, no poles, alert mind (well, most of the time) - and taking in the beauty of the world around me.
 
Thanks! This is certainly one of the better explanatory videos of using poles, but, respectfully, I have watched many of these and practiced their good information. However, I am walking the Camino, not climbing thru snow or crossing rivers. Not that the Camino does not have its challenges, but the majority of the Frances is easy walking. Truth be told, the only reason I am inclined towards poles is to save my knees. But after a day on the Camino, it is my feet and not my knees that hurt.
Thanks to all for a great many good perspectives. I am thinking that I will take my poles to start out on the Norte. I promise to give them a fair chance. If after a few days I still don’t like them, I will try a staff. And if that isn’t any better, I will hike as I have always hiked. Two feet, no poles, alert mind (well, most of the time) - and taking in the beauty of the world around me.

I wish you well. Great perspective and a few options to try :)
I look forward to hearing what worked best for you.

Just as a General comment on this topic......

True, the Camino is not 'technical' hiking.
However I use my poles every step of the way (except in towns)
The benefit is taking some load off not just my knees, but my feet too.

I'll be heading off prior to my next Camino for hydrocortisone injections in my feet.
Long term Achilles tendonitis and more recent plantar fasciitis.

So I use anything that will ease the pain in my feet (and knees). and poles help ;)


Some Perspective and Tips.
I have tried all manner of exercises and stretches for these conditions.
Seen lots of physios. Tried all the creams and 'potions'
Hydrocortisone jabs are not a preference. They hurt!
They take the 'edge off' but only last about 4 weeks.
After that I just 'up' the painkillers if required.
Note that the jabs should be administered using ultrasound guidance.

Tip.
Look after your knees and feet while they still work well.
Hopefully you can make them last longer pain free. :oops:
 
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Don't want to be nasty, Robo; but you wrote here about it yourself...overweight.
I developed very bad tendinitis on my first CF. Ever since I make a habit of losing the equiv of my backpack in my weight, the 4-4 months prior to walking. (I am 185 cm tall - 100 = 85 kg norm weight- 6 kg backpack, or close to it)
Tendonitis and other pains in feet and knees never occurred again on subsequent Caminos. (Shoes of course were also an important issue, but you hopefully have found the solution there).
Just saying, hope you don't take it wrong
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Don't want to be nasty, Robo; but you wrote here about it yourself...overweight.
I developed very bad tendinitis on my first CF. Ever since I make a habit of losing the equiv of my backpack in my weight, the 4-4 months prior to walking. (I am 185 cm tall - 100 = 85 kg norm weight- 6 kg backpack, or close to it)
Tendonitis and other pains in feet and knees never occurred again on subsequent Caminos. (Shoes of course were also an important issue, but you hopefully have found the solution there).
Just saying, hope you don't take it wrong

Not taken the wrong way at all @pepi :)
In fact I thought of adding that aspect to my post, as there are a few 'chubby' Perigrinos out there....

I'd say the Number 1 factor to pain in the feet and knees is obesity! :oops:
Certainly in my case I reckon.

But hopefully a toned down version will be hitting the next Camino :cool:
 
Not taken the wrong way at all @pepi :)
In fact I thought of adding that aspect to my post, as there are a few 'chubby' Perigrinos out there....

I'd say the Number 1 factor to pain in the feet and knees is obesity! :oops:
Certainly in my case I reckon.

But hopefully a toned down version will be hitting the next Camino :cool:
Le deseo buena suerte y perseverancia!
 
I agree with Robbo
I have used both for extended periods over very rough and varied Australian bush. My preference is the walking poles and I like the ones with a handle like a walking stick best as they are more versatile.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Kind'a scary imo, but "it" was very thorough in answering.
We didn't need the 35 pior replies; only the last one, cuz "it" said just about everything very clearly and consise without added embellishments.
Some day forums may become obsolete with human input no longer needed. If so, a sad day indeed.
Except for the part where poles make a good clothesline when required.
 
On the Norte, Primitive and VdlP I used a staff I purchased/found on the way. I loved the sense of authenticity and the way the staff wore down as I progressed along the way. Now I bring a Kmart hiking pole from Australia that is cheap, light and left behind after reaching SdC. Both give me power on the hills and stability through mud, puddles and downhills. The hiking pole is kinder on the hand and folds conveniently but there's something about relying on a staff, the quietness it offers (no clack clack clack) and the regret leaving it behind at the end of a Camino. But both are effective dog deterrents when required!
 
I remember reading about a British pole-vaulter in the 1950s who had to travel to training on the bus. He used to go up to the top deck, open a window and have his wife pass his pole up to him. He held it along the side of the bus. I don’t recall how he reversed the process.

Do carry on.
Hmmm. Ya tried that on a plane at x thousand feet? Might scare the heathen into rapid conversion!

Samarkand.

:)
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Has anyone tried one of these? They look like they might travel well on budget airlines and not have to be discarded after walking…

FOREST PILOT Trekking Poles- 1-pc Pack - Adjustable Hiking or Walking Stick –Strong, Natural Beech wood - Quick Adjust Flip-Lock - Beech wood Grip, Leather Strap https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BJ1G79FT?tag=casaivar-21
Weight? Length not adjustable 🙁! A gadget, not a tool
 
Weight? Length not adjustable 🙁! A gadget, not a tool
There appears to be an adjustment mechanism on the top section - so similar to the BD adjustable Z-poles. Not clear what the weight is. The shipping weight packed is 600 gm, so they weigh less than that, but what. Is someone from the UK planning to buy some and road test them?
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Weight? Length not adjustable 🙁! A gadget, not a tool
There is information on that in the link
1. It is adjustable from 46in to 55in (approx 117cm-140cm)
2. It weighs 600g or less if that is the package weight.

It's not a nordic trekking stick, it's a hiking pole/staff - a possible packable alternative to buying a pilgrim staff en route.
 
As a concluding remark to this thread, I did the Norte from Irun to Oviedo and Primitivo from there to Santiago without poles, staff or other device.
 
"but the majority of the Frances is easy walking."

Except when it is not. We need to portray an accurate picture of the Camino for those planning their first trek. There are several descents that can be somewhat treacherous for those less nimble on their feet. It was on these, many with loose gravel or under wet slippery conditions, that I was very thankful to have two walking poles for an added measure of stability.
 
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