I find them more annoying than helpful, but I’m more of a light hiker. I would think they help the most when going downhill, since you can use them to take some of the pressure off of your knees. Going up the poles can also reduce the stress on your leg muscles, especially on the leg opposite the pole. So if you have leg/knee issues, they can help a lot. However, if you find the pole isn’t doing it for you, then you are stuck on a hike with it- it’s something extra and unwieldy for you to carry.
There are pros and cons to using a trekking pole. Poles can help people with balance issues. Tasks like crossing rivers and streams can be daunting for some so a hiking pole can really come in handy in the right situation. Poles also help with weight distribution. You will be taking a lot of pressure off of your joints by utilizing a trekking pole. There is, however, a negative side to using the pole. One of these issues is your use of your energy. When on a long hike, you want to reserve as much energy as possible and distribute it evenly throughout your day but the use of a hiking pole can use up a lot more of that energy than you intended. It requires the use of your arms in more ways than necessary for some. I would say for shorter trips the poles are useful but for longer adventures you may be better off utilizing it only briefly when absolutely necessary.
I enjoy hiking and recently was given a set of trekking poles as a gift. I find that the poles do help with going up and down hills. However, they do become cumbersome when walking along flat ground, especially on narrow trails. If you have space to stow the poles in your backpack, I would say the poles are a solid purchase if you plan to hike a lot.
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