One of the most controversial topics among thru hikers on the AT is whether or not to use hiking poles (often called trekking poles) or walking sticks for the journey. Many hikers try to go the distance without the aid of any kind in this area and they often fail miserably?
So which is a better choice for a thru hike and how much will they cost me?
First, should I use one pole or two? This is entirely up to each individual hiker, but I plan to start with one walking stick and see where that takes me. The tent I plan to use utilizes trekking poles for the setup so I may opt to use two in the event that I don’t want to carry the extra weight that the tent poles would add to my pack.
My DIY walking stick would consist of a lightweight broom handle that can be purchased at any home goods DIY store or even the local Walmart. I would use an epoxy to seal a rubber cane tip on the end so as to not offend any purists on the trail who often claim that hiking poles tend to do damage to the Appalachian trail. Some people are just looking for a reason to get in your face, if ya know what I mean.
Heck, even a pool cue or billiards stick would work well as the base of a DIY walking stick for hiking the AT, and I’ve even crafted my own from larger sticks I’ve found laying around on the ground on various trails in the Wilmington, DE hiking areas, but they often dried out and invariably snapped at some point because I didn’t treat them and seal them quickly enough, or at all if I’m being honest.
Trekking poles come in a wide price range and I think a decent pair can be had for less than a hundred bucks, but the DIY walking stick I mentioned above would cost less than twenty, even if I decided to craft two for my thru hiking journey.
There are plenty of videos on the subject over at YT and they certainly vary in quality and labor intensiveness..