Few items compare to the overall versatility of trekking poles. Over the years, we’ve been in a lot of remote places and we are continually surprised in the variety of ways in which they are useful. Some of which we’ve attempted to detail below.
Ice axe. In mountaineering situations where we are traveling up slopes less than 45 degrees trekking poles provide a third point of stability and can also be used in a self arrest as well.
Communication. You can use trekking poles to signal to one another in loud storms. Two poles held out horizontally means “all ok”. Two poles held in an “x” above your head means break time. Two poles held straight above your head or waiving back and forth means “I have a problem come help immediately.”
Dead man / tent stake. In mountaineering situations, we are always trying to be economical with the our weight. Therefore, we often burry trekking poles in the snow to use a dead mans. In really deep snow we sometimes just push the grip down into the snow to use as a stake or guy out point as well.
Depth gauge. You can glue a tape measure to your trekking pole when you encounter a crack in the ice like a ruler to measure the ice.
Tent pole. You can use trekking poles to build tarp shelters.
Crutches. If you can’t bend your knees or you have a leg injury, you can use trekking poles as crutches.
Laundry. Use a trekking pole to wring out a wet sock by twisting a folded sock while you hold the ends together and you’ll wring out a surprising amount of water and decrease your drying time substantially.