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Matt Marine

Matt Marine is an Arizona resident who loves exploring Arizona's wonderful outdoor adventures. To find out more about Matt, click the link below.

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Cat-Dog

Cat-Dog is my faithful trail companion. Her real name is Cammie. Why do I call her Cat-Dog?

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Tobey Schmidt

Although I come from the flat lands of Indiana, I now call Arizona home where I love to rock climb, bike, backpack, paddle—and photograph it all. I can’t wait to share my adventures with the readers of Experience Arizona!

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Read the Experience Arizona Disclaimer before attempting any of our adventures. Check with local authorities (FS, BLM, etc.) before heading out on any adventures for updates road conditions, closures, etc.

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Swiss Gear Trekking Pole Review

By Matt Marine

First, I understand that some of the hardcore hikers out there will probably look upon this review with a bit of distaste, but that's okay. We all have to find equipment that works within our own experience level and budget.

I'm a weekend warrior as far as hiking goes and I will never be anything more than that. I wanted a pole that works, but doesn't break the bank. The Swiss Gear Trekking (hiking) pole hits the bulls eye on both marks.

I bought this pole about six years ago at Walmart for about $18. Although I used it only sparingly the first few years, now I take it on almost any adventure I go on.

I've found it gives me a HUGE advantage on steep, slippery slopes. When I hiked up to the Cold Spring Canyon Ruins, I had to climb about 300 feet up a steep rockslide. On the way up, I used the pole as an extra limb to provide me stability and an anchor point. I poked at the rocks a few feet in front of me to test them if they were loose or not. When I found a stable surface, I'd set the tip of the pole, put about 25%-50% of my weight on it and give myself a boost up the hill. I found collapsing my pole to about a foot shorter than normal gave me the best leverage (since the point I was setting it was about that much higher than I was).

My pole was even a greater advantage on the way down the rockslide. I extended the pole just a bit and would use it to test the ground in front of me. Having two feet on solid ground while testing the rocks below me was much safer than trying to stand on one foot and testing it with the other. It also gave me much greater reach. When I found a stable point, I would put a portion of my weight on my pole before stepping down.

This may sound obvious to some and a little idiotic to others, but it worked better than I ever dreamed it could. First, I don't know if I could have done the hike without it. I was able to stay upright on my two feet (and one pole) for the majority of the climb up and down. The two other hikers with me who were 10-20 years younger, in better shape and more experienced, had to climb on all fours and slide down on their butts for 75% of the rockslide. They would have to slide down on their rear ends on sections with loose rock and soil where I was able to walk down it.

Not only does the trekking pole help out on steep slopes, I've also used this pole for many different helpful items like:

- Prop to keep my Jeep tailgate open. I had been thinking about doing a fairly expensive and complicated upgrade to my Jeep to fix this inherent issue, then I got smart and began using my pole. I can extend it out to the correct length and prop it open on almost any surface.

- Extension arm for my GoPro camera. I've secured my GoPro to the end of the pole and put the camera down into a freezing cold stream or way up above my head to get a unique view of the surrounding area.

- Defense against aggressive dogs. I take Cat-dog for walks around the neighborhood which includes a portion of a trail that goes through a wash and vacant desert. More than a few times I've used the end of my pole to keep an aggressive dog away from Cat-dog and me. I've also seen (and heard from other neighbors) a pack of aggressive coyotes that often visit that area. They are not scared of people or other dogs. One time three of them actually tracked us for about 100 yards, coming within 20 feet of us. It was the only time I have been scared of coyotes since I've lived here.

I'm sure this is not the best trekking pole out there. I've seen trekking poles in sporting good stores for $100 and would love to try one out one of these days, but it's hard for me to image they'd be worth the money for me. Now, if you are a hardcore hiker, doing 20 miles a day or hundred plus mile trips, these are probably worth it.




Pros
Cons
The bottom line

For the price, this is a great trekking pole. It has served me well for about six years and shows no signs of retiring soon. I have found it indispensable when hiking up and down steep slopes. Well worth the money.

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