Homer's Travels: Pole Position

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Pole Position

A while back I mentioned that I had to figure out how to get my trekking poles to Spain for my next Camino.     The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) frowns upon taking trekking poles into the airplane cabin and, since I was going to carry on my pack and all its contents, I had to figure out how to get my trekking poles and a small pocket knife/scissors, whose inch and a half blade would also be considered a deadly weapon, to the start of my Camino.

Earlier this week the Camino must have whispered in the TSA's ear when they announced both small knives and poles would be allowed in carry on bags.  This fixes all my problems.  I should be able to pack my poles and pocket knife into my pack and carry them on the plane.  I just hope the flight attendants and the sky marshals don't get their way and get the TSA to reverse their decision.

There is another trekking pole issue I have to tackle.  It's not that big of an issue but I am notoriously indecisive.   During my Fontenelle Forest hike a few weeks ago I bent one of my poles.  While I managed to straighten it, the third section will no longer collapse (trekking poles collapse to make them easy to pack/transport).  Not being able to collapse one of my poles means I need to buy new poles.  Should I buy my poles in the US before I go or should I buy them in Oloron-Sainte Marie, France where I will be starting my Camino?  Should I buy good ones (i.e. expensive ones) or buy cheap ones for the Camino and buy better ones when I get back to use on the Appalachian Trail?  Decisions, decisions.

Buying the poles in France would make it easier - one last thing to pack - but it would also mean a late start on the first day because I would have to go to an outfitter and buy a set of poles.  And what about the quality of the poles?  My first instinct would be to buy a nice set of (probably) expensive poles but expensive poles have been known to walk off on their own along the Camino.

Any suggestions or thoughts (including suggestions on brands you would recommend) are welcome in the comments.  I have some time to think about these minor conundrum.


  1. My cheap (35$) poles served me well and are coming back with me this year...the angled handle is perfect, the're light enough and strong too.


    1. GV: I think I will buy them in France and I will make the decision there.

  2. Oooh I have no idea, neighbor. But hey at least one thing is a little easier :)Woo hoo!

  3. Okay, so I'm catching up with March; maybe you've already made the decision, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway.

    My suggestion would be to put the price question to the side for a moment. Look for poles while you're here, so that you can test them out locally (you'd hate to buy in France and hate the pole you bought five days in to the Camino). Try several different poles and find the ones that you're most comfortable with, then look at the price tag. If you end up with a more expensive pair, then make sure to treat them like you do your camera (i.e. never out of sight).

    For whatever it's worth, my Leki's have served me well for years...

    1. GH: I haven't made a decision yet so your input is appreciated. I understand your delay ... you were occupied with more important things.

      You advice makes sense. I think I am leaning towards buying poles before I go.