|Are two poles better than one when hiking? It depends.|
Used like a walking staff, a single pole is all that's really needed for a fairly flat surface and a day hike (when you have a light load on your back) to provide you with increased stability and to lessen the impact on your knees. You will want to switch off which hand holds the pole during the hike, however.
• Ensures you have a free hand
• Some poles with camera mounts and so can double as a monopod
• A lone pole is less expensive than a pair
• If you encounter rough terrain or a grade, not as beneficial as a pair
• If it breaks on the trail, you're stuck without the benefit of having any trekking pole
Pair of poles
Like ski poles, they are used in tandem. If backpacking (in which you’ll have a heavy load), traveling long distances, or on a rough surface or trail with significant grade, a pair is a far better option than a lone pole.
• Provides more stability than a lone pole
• Reduces impact on knees (by up to 30 percent with each step) – as well as on ankles, back, hips, shoulders and neck – far more than a single pole ever could
• Descents are safer with two poles rather than one, which creates torque in your spine
• No free hand
• Cost more than a single pole
Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.