Hiking poles are a pure lifesaver (sometimes quite literally!). They save your legs and knees and keep your balance. But can you hike with one trekking pole? And which is better, hiking with one trekking pole or two?
Two trekking poles are better than one. Two trekking poles absorb more impact and don’t cause imbalances that a single pole will cause when hiking. One trekking pole can be beneficial to keep a hand free to handle other gear.
Two Trekking Poles vs One
In most cases, when it comes to trekking poles, two is better than one. Here a few reasons why:
- Two trekking poles absorb more impact. If you have poor knees or balance, two will help more
- Water crossing will be safe with two poles as you’ll have more points of contact on the slippery ground
- Two poles will be better for windy or harsh conditions and save a lot of energy
- One trekking pole creates an imbalance with gait and load which can cause muscular imbalances over time
- You can always bring two and use one if you wish
- Having two creates a backup in case one trekking pole breaks or snaps
I personally like hiking with two poles because I can get into a nice rhythm, especially on uphills and straightaways. If you’re doing any kind of long-distance or multiday hikes, then two will most definitely serve you best. As a fun fact, 90-95% of Appalacian Trail Through-Hikers use poles!
When One Pole Might Be Better
I won’t say that two hiking poles are always better than one. You can you hike with one trekking pole if you wanted.
Some hikers may use one pole or single walking stick mostly because it’s more convenient for them. A single walking stick allows hikers to use a free hand to use a map and compass, grab their camera gear, use their cellphone, eat some snacks, or walk their dog.
If you’re a person who doesn’t need a whole lot of support or likes their hands free, then one hiking pole may be fine.
Some ultralight backpackers will claim that one pole saves more weight. This, of course, is true, but if you are using trekking poles for their intended purpose and not just for setting up camp, then the benefits of using two poles are huge compared to any weight that you may save.
If you are looking to save weight on trekking poles, then you might want to consider trekking poles made from carbon fiber. A good starting place to look is the Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles at Amazon.
Remember, you can always bring two poles and use one but you cannot bring one and use two!
If you are deciding which is better, one trekking pole or two, in most cases, two will be best. Two poles offer more balance and shock absorption which will save your legs from getting tired and knees from hurting.
But if you prefer to keep your hands free or only need the occasional support, then one trekking pole may just be fine for you. This can be handy when you like to take pictures, eat snacks, or walk your dog when you’re on the trail.