Hiking Tips & Gear Reviews

note; some of the gear reviewed here was provided to us at no cost

Trekking poles are light-weight, adjustable support tool that are used to save energy, take pressure off of your knees and add stability to all types of terrain. I first picked up a pair when I was planning a hike to Gaviota Peak in Santa Barbara, because it’s a long uphill/downhill hike. I have a really bad knee and I was looking to remove some pressure off of that knee, but after I started using them I instantly feel in love with them. The poles make hiking easier, instead of using just your two legs, now you have four legs and you can really fly up and down hills using trekking poles. I know they totally look dorky, but once you use them you’ll never go on a long hike again without them. I keep an extra pair in my car, and have turned on lots of my friends to using the poles, and they won’t go hiking without them either. Here are a few key steps to get started with yours.

To get the proper fit, loosen the fasteners on your poles, now while holding the hiking poles, your arms should form a 90-degree angle at the elbow. Lock them in place. Once I have the length that I like, I just keep them at that length so I don’t have to mess with them every time I go hiking. Also I only use them when I’m hiking over 5-miles. On short hikes, they really aren’t needed.

Some people shorten their trekking poles, hiking uphill and then while hiking downhill they add length. I don’t do that. I guess if I was hiking, Mount Whitney I would do it, but on my day hikes that rarely go over 10-miles it’s not necessary.

There are all different kinds of trekking poles on the market now, like, antishock poles, poles made with high-grade aluminum or carbon fiber. There are options on the grips too, such as cork, rubber or foam. You can spend up to $200 on a really nice pair of trekking poles. I picked up mine years ago a Walmart for $18.00 and they work just fine.


Garmin eTrex 10 - $109.00

I first started thinking about getting a handheld GPS after reading about another day hiker a 64 year-old man from Rancho Palos Verde who became lost on a day hike to Joshua Tree and was found barely alive six days later. If this wealthy man picked up a $100 handheld GPS he could have retraced his steps back to his car.

A week or two after reading that story, I went to Joshua Tree, but picked up an Garmin eTrax first. I learned how to use it on a few local hikes. It’s real easy to use. You just mark a waypoint where your car is and head off. You can see your path on the screen. If you get lost, you can just follow your footsteps back to your car. Of course the eTrex will do lots more then get you back to the trailhead, you can use it for geocaching, it also come with BaseCamp software that lets you view and organize maps, waypoints, routes, and tracks. BaseCamp is a free trip-planning software that even allows you to create Garmin Adventures that you can share with friends & family.

It’s easy to get lost while hiking, you hear about people getting lost all the time. If you’re doing an out and back hike, the trail looks different on the way up then it does on the way back down. I’ve used the eTrex on loop hikes too, and it’s nice to see how far away you are to your car.

There are all types of handheld GPS units that Garmin offers. Priced from $109 to $599. Check out their site to see which one would fit you best. https://buy.garmin.com