The short answer is yes. Even if you don’t normally use trekking poles we recommend renting them for your Kilimanjaro trek.
Why is this?
The reason we recommend poles is that most people are not used to hiking for several days. Each day consists of hiking for several hours at a time all the while wearing a pack. With this in mind, navigating the unstable terrain on Kilimanjaro is easier with poles.
At this point, you should have already looked over our recommended equipment list. On the list, you’ll notice that trekking poles are a required item for all but experienced hikers. This does not mean that experienced hikers should not use poles. We endorse the use of poles for everyone on Kilimanjaro because of the many advantages they provide.
While experienced backpackers’ preference is not to use them, those with little to no hiking or backpacking experience may be unfamiliar with the benefits of using trekking poles.
What are these benefits?
First of all, poles provide much-needed stability as you traverse the trails on your trek to the summit and back down.
For example, when you descend from the Crater Rim, the trail is hazardous and rocky. Our guides will instead have you descend on the scree slopes. It is much easier than the rocky trail. However, you can get going a bit fast. You will lose your balance from time to time. The poles will help keep you upright. Especially since you will have been hiking for several hours at high elevation and you may be exhausted.
Once you get used to using the poles, you’ll start to get into a rhythm with them and you’ll find it easy to cruise along the path. However, if you go too fast, you will hear “pole, pole” from the guides. Pole is Swahili for slowly. They don’t want you to fall or ascend too quickly and will constantly remind you to go slow.
Secondly, poles provide balance. They will help you keep your balance while walking over uneven ground. Many clients have commented on how rocky the trail is in certain sections. What’s more, just to reiterate what we said before, they help tremendously on the scree descent.
Thirdly, poles save your knees. One of the greatest benefits of using trekking poles is how much they help transfer the weight from your knees to your arms and shoulders. This is especially true on the downhill part of your Kilimanjaro climb. Studies have shown that using trekking poles can reduce the weight on your knees by 17 pounds while walking at an incline. That is a lot of weight transfer when you are walking for several hours over varied terrain.
Finally, poles save your energy. How does carrying extra equipment save your energy? Poles transfer some of the energy required to hike on the uneven ground from your legs to your arms. If used correctly, the poles will ease some of the strain on your core muscle to keep you upright as you stumble over rocks. They will also improve your walking posture which can help with breathing and thus reduce fatigue.
Now that you know why you should use them. Now you should know how to use them. Watch the video below to see the correct way to use trekking poles. It will cover how to use, set up, and properly hold them.
Furthermore, if you own trekking poles, you can bring them. Keep in mind, you’ll have to check them on the plane. This can cause them to get damaged or to damage your luggage or items inside your suitcase or duffle bag. For this reason, we suggest renting them from us. We use brands like Black Diamond and Leki. Renting them will save you the hassle and potential damage of bringing your own