I am preparing for a Himalayan Expedition which requires a trekking pole at the altitude of 16000 ft and melting snow condition. I haven't used any aluminium/carbon fibre poles yet.

I usually find a wooden hiking stick in the woods and only use them when fording streams and hiking up and down steep slopes. I toss them back into the woods when I am done with them.

I am about to buy a Trekking pole but this question is bothering me: whether to buy a pair or a single-pole? Obviously, it seems the pair would provide more stability but it will also double the weight(avg 230g per pole).

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    You can always buy two and use one but you cannot buy one and use two.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 19:25
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    Please remove the folding vs fixed part which is a duplicate of Trekking poles: Collapsed or fixed?. The remaining question of 1 vs 2 is IMO fine (while maybe a little bit trivial).
    – imsodin
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 21:44
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    I'm not convinced that any activity requires trekking poles. On steep snow/ice, I prefer an ice ax. Trekking poles make you less efficient, so presumably in terms of efficiency, 0 poles would be better than 1, and 1 better than 2. If your goal is to be inefficient, you could carry 3.
    – user2169
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 21:50
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    I question if most people do use more energy at 16000ft. At 16000ft most people spend a lot of time in 'micro pauses' between steps, loading the poles here takes weight off your legs.
    – user5330
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 20:41
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    @BenCrowell My 55 year old knees very much favor trekking poles when descending. While I could go without I would generally choose not to do a hike with a lot of elevation if I didn't have my poles. Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 2:00

2 Answers 2


They weight of the extra pole is counteracted by the energy saved using it. Poles do more than offer stability, they also save you legs precious energy on the climb, and on the descent. At 16,000ft you'll sing praises to your hiking poles, and I guarantee you'll find yourself resting on them a lot more than you would have expected. Get two poles, you won't regret it.

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    I support the suggestion of getting 2 poles wholeheartedly, but would like to point out that while there are benefits to stability you'll actually use more energy over all with poles than without. However this can be worth it to ease up on your legs/joints, and because of added stability.
    – fgysin
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 13:32
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    @fgysin I only agree that you use more energy in as far as you're carrying an extra 230g on the climb, but You're using your arms now to help you climb, distributing the effort over more muscle groups. You'll burn pretty much the same number of calories, but your legs will last longer, and you'll feel stronger at the end of the day.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 20:45
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    In rough and/or windy conditions, using poles saves a lot of the energy I would otherwise expend keeping myself upright. In easy conditions, the energy cost may go the other way, but it's usually worth it for me. Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 12:09

If you get a pair, you can choose whether to actually use one or both for a particular day. I recommend that you buy a pair well before your expedition, and use them enough to you learn your preference. If you never want to use both, you still have one you can retain as a spare.

Personally, I found that when I started using poles, I got very frustrated with a pair, because I no longer had a free hand to hold map and compass, or camera. After a few months of weekend trips with the poles, I developed techniques for managing with both hands occupied.

Do be aware that it's easy to have too much faith in poles when you really require an ice-axe. Don't get overconfident on snowy slopes where the poles help you maintain your footing, but don't give you the ability to arrest a fall.

You'll also have to learn to hold onto your poles when they are not required - remember to strap them onto your back and not throw them "back" into the woods!


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