17 November 2018

The Super Uses Of A Walking Pole

A walking pole, or two, can be a fantastic hill walking aid to relieve pressure on legs, knees, feet. Especially with heavily laden packs, on long days, or multi-days.

They can get in the way on certain terrain, or if using a map and compass.

I generally have one strapped to my backpack and have found it invaluable on many occasions; however not in its typical use.

Here is what I love walking poles for!

Soft Crutch:
Bad blister or sore knee - having a pole to use can be the difference between getting off the mountain before nightfall; or being caught in darkness.

Hard Crutch:
For a sprain or proper leg/foot injury a walking pole becomes an invaluable crutch - once it is still alright for yourself, or the casualty, to be standing or walking.

Tricky Ground:
For loose, tricky, steep, rocky ground - self explanatory. Prevention is far better than cure.

Bog Crossing:
Keeping your feet dry and keeping your legs dry for as long as possible is important in our mountains, in our weather. I have seen someone become hypothermic over several hours from a simple case of slipping waist deep into bog and not warming up afterward. A walking pole makes a great ground tester!

Stream Crossing:
Even where a stream is safe to cross - the stream bed, or stepping stones, are often very slippery and I have seen many a person take a simple slip right into a stream. That is them fully wet then for the rest of the day potentially. A walking pole or two can make stream crossing far more stable.

Bivvy Bag Stretcher Handle:
When making a bivy bag stretcher/survival bag stretcher - you can roll a walking pole up into the outer length of the bivy bag, on each side of your improvised stretcher. These become stretcher handles.

Sprain/Fracture Splint:
A walking pole generally separates into two or three shorter sections of pole. Ankle, knee, leg, elbow, arm - all can be splinted using walking pole sections. Pad the pole with a scarf, shirt or bandage to ensure it's not sharp or cold against skin; then tie firmly into place. I used this method last year with a student who dislocated their knee - splinted walking pole sections down either side of the knee, tied into place with triangular bandages.

Some of these points relate to first aid and for this I highly recommend Marie Lyons from www.remotewestfirstaid.com if you are interested in first aid training.

Thank you to Portwest for their poles!

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