Trekking poles……who would have thought that “trekking poles”; “hiking poles”; “walking sticks” or whatever you want to call them would generate any significant amount of debate within the outdoor community. But, apparently, they do.
Not here to debate the pros and cons of using them. Just do an internet search “trekking poles good or bad” or something similar and you’ll have plenty of reading to keep you occupied for the rest of the day.
At this stage, I went the trekking pole route for two reasons.
First, Lynn asked me what I wanted for Christmas.
The second and main reason falls back to June of last year when I got new glasses.
Up to that time last year, I only wore reading glasses to see up close – like for…………..well you know …………………………reading. However, I was having some issues and after heading off to the optometrist and coming back home with a prescription essentially for trifocals, let’s just say things changed a bit.
To make a long story hopefully shorter, when we’re out hiking or rock scrambling, I was having issues with depth perception when looking down to see the ground.
Anyone who has bifocals or such uses the lower portion of the glasses for reading or seeing up very close. So trying to focus on the ground that is 6 feet from my eyes through the portion of my glasses that is made to focus on stuff 12 inches from my face……well it wasn’t working so good.
What was happening, there would be times I couldn’t tell how far my foot had to go before touching the ground.
As you could imagine, this threw my balance and a host of other things off.
So, after thinking about it for a while, I figured trekking poles might provide balance and stability in those situations.
After completing some research near Christmas, I decided on the McKinley Migra 6 as a good option for getting into the trekking pole market. Positive online reviews and a price point of around $89 retail convinced me to take the plunge. The secret though – Lynn got them for half that price on sale.
So, here’s the skinny on the Migra 6:
- aluminum and carbon construction
- comfort extension foam grips
- an outer flick lock system
- lightweight seamless strap
- a weight of 248g per pole
- 2 in 1 basket (small trekking basket and attachable snow basket)
- extendable length from 65cm to 140 cm
The tips of the Migra 6 poles ends have carbide tips, which really provide excellent traction on hard surface trails like packed dirt trails; in snow or on ice. The problem with hard metal tips is they can get damaged over time when used on hard treatments like pavement, concrete or even rock surfaces. In these cases, it would be wise to cover the tips with “tip protectors” that are made out of rubber. In addition, because the carbide or hard metal tips can’t penetrate the top of those types of surfaces, they can slip and slide with the potential for you to “slip and slide” as well.
So, using tip protectors will help to extend the life of the pole tips and protect your gear when poles are stowed in your pack.
Also, if you are trekking through a sensitive area the rubber tips will also help to reduce potential impacts to the ground.
When I received these poles at Christmas the rubber protective tips weren’t part of the package. But, not a huge deal. They can be purchased for under $5 at most outdoors stores. Need to pick up a set.
The Migra 6 comes with an outer flick lock to fix the pole sections in place. The two most common types of locking systems are flick lock and twist locks. Flick locks seem to be more popular with users because they are easier to open and close with gloves on.
Any of the locking systems tend to loosen over time. As such, they can be tightened using either a screwdriver and set screw mechanism or in the case of the Migra 6, an adjusting/tightening thumbscrew.
The thumbscrew approach is somewhat more convenient as there is no need to carry a screwdriver along with you.
Grips and Wrist Straps
The Migra 6 comes with very comfortable black extended foam grips and adjustable wrist straps.
Adjustable Length Indicators
The Migra 6 model comes with pole length indicators to assist in obtaining the correct trekking pole length to ensure a quality fit. Not taking the time to adjust your trekking poles to the correct length, can result in muscle soreness and other “not fun issues” to your arms, shoulders, neck and back.
But, once you correctly adjust to the “proper length for you” using the length indicators marked on the shafts, all you need to do the next time is simply open the poles to the previous setting and you’re good to go.
Just don’t forget the settings when you adjusted them correctly the first time.
To fit trekking poles correctly, they should be adjusted so that when holding the pole with the tip on the ground near your foot, your arm makes essentially a 90-degree bend at the elbow.
When you got this, the poles will be the correct length for most of your hiking outings.
A couple of pictures to help(Source: Google Images)
Adjustments to the length of the poles can be made quickly on the trail if going up a long uphill section(shorten poles), downhill section(lengthen poles) or a long traversing section(shorten pole on the uphill side and lengthen pole on downhill side).
Attachable Snow Baskets
The version of the Migra 6 package I purchased came with a set of attachable snow baskets. With little effort, they can be attached to the poles in less than a couple of minutes. As shown in the picture, both the snow baskets and the bottom section of the trekking pole are threaded.
You simply insert the pole end through the snow basket and thread them on until they are firm and snug. When I used them on our most recent hiking adventure, having the baskets attached made a substantial difference when hiking through deep snow.
At this stage, the Migra 6 is two thumbs up.
These are going to make a great addition to my outdoor gear supply.
Even Lynn used one for a bit on our last adventure back to the Beaver Valley and she really likes using them!
They’re lightweight at 248g per pole; easy to open and close using the flick locks( especially when wearing gloves in the field), and the snow baskets are extremely easy to install and detached on the trail if you have to.
Up to writing this post, I’ve used them three times on outings, including our latest adventure back to photography waterfalls on very challenging terrain in the Beaver Valley area of Ontario. On that outing, the poles were at “the top of their game” providing the necessary balance and stability I was looking for.
As well, you can remove the snow basket and push one of the poles into a 50-degree snow covered slope to ensure your wife’s camera bag doesn’t tumble down the into freezing cold set of small rapids below.
To this point in their outdoor life, I’ve found the McKinley Migra 6 trekking poles to be very durable.
When purchasing any type of outdoor equipment, the price can always be a factor when trying to decide which way to go. I’ve always taken that old saying to heart, “buy the best quality you can afford at that point.” Right now, the Migra 6 retails in the $89 range(before taxes) in local outdoor stores in my area of Ontario.
So, if you’re in the market for trekking poles or thinking about using them, you couldn’t go wrong checking out the McKinley Migra 6 or any of the trekking poles that McKinley make.
Thanks for reading and see you out there.