It's a question we get all the time and a quick search of the net will bring up hundreds of arguments for, against, and netutral for the need to use trekking poles when hiking or trekking in the Himalayas.
In short, in our opinion YES, you should use trekking poles.
Why do we say you should use trekking poles?
Save Your Knees
This is perhaps the most commonly noticed benefit of using walking poles, especially only long trekking trips with lots of downhill walking. Under normal walking conditions your knees take all the force of every step, straining under the weight of your body and your pack as you go uphill, then absorbing all the downward force of each step on the way back down. With walking poles not only do you spread the contact over four points instead of two, you also gain two full limbs worth of muscles (your arms of course) to help with the lifting and stamping. Trekking like this will likely help to keep you trekking for longer as the years go by!
Cross Train Your Body
Trekking in the Himalayas without trekking poles is the equivalent of going to the gym and using only the treadmill and the leg press. By using walking poles you change this workout to be more like a day on the cross trainer - a great, balanced work out for your whole body (with a touch of the leg press thrown in on those harder climb days).
Pro tip: If you plan on using poles on your Himalayan trek, training on a cross trainer machine at home or on the road before your trekking adventure in Nepal will be a great way to get all the right muscles in shape!
Save Your Skin
When we go trekking in Nepal we're not doing so on a sealed road surface, we're walking on rocky, uneven trekking trails and some times, for instance when trekking over the Cho La Pass or sumitting Kala Patthar for sunset views of Everest, you may be trekking in dawn, dusk or darkness. When the light is low, our chances of tripping or falling become a little higher and in this instance poles can stop us dropping like a bag of Dal Bhat! With a pole in our hand, it's like a 3ft arm extension and whenever we catch ourselves off guard we can just swing a pole to the floor and keep ourselves upright. After all, no one likes a face plant!
How to use trekking poles
We found a great video on YouTube from AdventureBuddies that quickly sums up how to make the best sue of your poles. We hope this helps!
Do Your Knees Hurt When Walking Down Hill? Here's Why. [external link]