Sure, they're not as essential as food and water, but trekking poles can be a great aid to long-distance hikers, especially in rocky or slippery areas where keeping your balance is both tricky and necessary. Steve Silberberg of Fitpacking says that a wooden staff can work just fine as can old ski poles, especially if you don't want to spend any money. But there are other options that are a little more versatile, such as those that collapse and are easily packed into luggage on a plane. Besides being an extra arm or leg when you need to keep your balance, trekking poles have other uses on a long expedition. "They can be used with a tarp as part of a shelter lowering the weight carried," says Silberberg.
- Alt, Jeff. Hiking expert and author of "A Walk for Sunshine." Personal correspondence. Feb. 2, 2012.
- Appalachian Trail Conservancy Web site. Jan. 23, 2012. http://www.appalachiantrail.org
- Davis, Jennifer. Appalachian Trail speed record holder and author of "Becoming Odyssa." Personal correspondence. Jan. 26, 2012.
- McKinney, John. Hiking expert and author of numerous books. Personal correspondence. Jan. 23, 2012.
- Mount Whitney. Jan. 25, 2012. http://www.peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=2829
- Silberberg, Steve. Owner of Fitpacking. Personal correspondence. Jan. 23, 2012.
The Boy Scouts of America will no longer include the word 'boy' in its official name. HowStuffWorks looks at how opinions differ on the new change.