Hiking With One Pole Vs. Two Poles (Advantages & Disadvantages)

Whether you’re out trekking on rigid terrain or on a low-elevation trail, having all the support and stability you can get is crucial to the quality and enjoyment of your hiking adventures. Using trekking poles is just one of the great ways that you can ensure that you have support and balance out on your hike. 

When using trekking poles, you have the option to bring just one or two for both hands; the choice is yours. Since you have options when choosing how many trekking poles you’d like to bring on your hike, is there a difference between using one or two trekking poles?

For me, two poles will always be better than one. Bringing two trekking poles will ensure the most support and balance possible, but what is the difference between using one or two trekking poles?

Before we get into the main differences in hiking with one versus two trekking poles, why should you consider using trekking poles in the first place?

Why Should You Use Trekking Poles?

Reduces Stress on the Body 

When you use trekking poles on your hike, you’re giving your muscles and joints more of a break as you engage in this physically exhausting activity. According to research, using trekking poles on your hike can reduce muscle damage and joint stress by up to 25%. For your knees, in particular, trekking poles can reduce the stress load quite a bit, which is very important. Your knees can take quite a beating on strenuous hikes.

Better stability and balance 

Perhaps most obviously, using trekking poles out on your hike will increase your level of support and stability. Instead of using just your two legs, you now have four legs to stand on and be supported on your hikes. 

Promotes Blood Circulation

Using trekking poles is going to activate your arm muscles more than if you choose not to use them. This extra muscle engagement you’re giving your body in the form of pumping two poles into the ground will help to keep your blood going, which is beneficial for your health in the long run. 

One Trekking Pole vs. Two Trekking Poles 

The main difference in hiking with one trekking pole vs. two is obviously the amount of stability you will get. You will always have a better sense of stability to maneuver your trail with two trekking poles in your hand rather than just one. 

How many trekking poles you choose to bring with you boils down to personal preference at the end of the day. There are several valid reasons why somebody might want to bring just one trekking pole with them on their hiking adventures. Below are some of the benefits.

Benefits of Using One Trekking Pole

Less Weight To Carry 

Generally, bringing a single trekking pole with you on your hike will be easier to manage than bringing two. Hiking is one of those physical activities in which the amount of weight you have on your person directly affects your energy levels. Keeping it light with extra gear or equipment is a valid reason why many hikers opt to bring just one pole.

Simpler Technique 

Hiking with one pole instead of two is going to require you to use a simpler technique than its two-pole counterpart. With just one pole, your technique is more about simple balance and stability on the terrain. It’s a great way to get back in touch with the natural environment around you.

If you’re an experienced hiker who has a good understanding of their terrain, then using one trekking pole should not be too much of a problem. With that said, if this is your first time hiking or if you are on unfamiliar terrain, two trekking poles are always a better option for added support and stability.

Easier to Pack

If you find yourself short of space in your pack for the hiking trip, bringing one pole is likely to be more optimal than bringing none at all. Most trekking poles are collapsible, which makes them a perfect size for those smaller hiking packs. 

Best for Shorter, Low Elevation Hikes 

If you find yourself on a shorter hike with a softer variation in elevation, bringing one hiking pole will be just fine. These trails are easier and require less complexity to maneuver. Using one trekking pole on these types of trails will suffice just fine if you are looking for extra support for joints and muscles.

Benefits of Using Two Trekking Poles 

Better Stability

When using two trekking poles, you will always have a stronger foundation of stability and support than just using one. Having four points of stability on the ground while you’re hiking is going to ensure that you reach all the way to the end of your hike feeling strong and supported. 

You May Finish your Hike Faster

When you’re hiking with two trekking poles, you have to move your body in a certain fashion to get along efficiently. This technique gives you form, and hikers will often find themselves gliding along the trail faster than usual. It may be because of the extra confidence the two poles bring, or it may be the meditative state the technique creates within the hiker.

Best for Longer, More Complex Hikes 

Using two trekking poles is going to be the most beneficial when hiking on hikes of a longer distance that have more complex terrain. These trials are going to require more out of you than shorter, lower-elevation trails, so having extra support to help carry you through to the end might be vital. 

Final Verdict

Again, personally, I use two poles. But at the end of the day, it’s all about what works best for you when out on your hike. If two trekking poles are too much to manage or carry around with you, then one should suffice. But if you want the best possible balance and stability on the trail, using two trekking poles is the way to go. Consider the difficulty of the terrain and distance you’re going to be hiking, and make a decision that works best for that particular scenario.

However many poles you decide to take with you on your hike, be assured that you will still experience an elevated sense of support, stability, and confidence with you on the trails!

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