THE HISTORY OF PACERPOLE?
For a brief history of Pacerpole please click here.
WHY USE POLES?
Even after evolving to become bipeds, your arms will automatically switch to walking-mode when they haven’t anything to do; but if they dangle for too long your hands become stiff, swollen and uncomfortable. They need to be used. Power from the familiar arm-swing above your legs represents a natural-walking-resource as it thrusts back against the air. Until now, the problem has been one of inefficient control of this extra power during transmission between your arm, the pole and the ground, resulting in inferior performance. This gives grounds for the stigma often attached to poles of all kinds - that they’re a means of "last resort".
Pacerpoles are different; they are designed from first principles to access maximum arm power. The design started without the constraints of modifying something already existing – unlike that of conventional walking or trekking pole designs, based on modified ski poles and a wooden staff. Instead, Pacerpoles resulted from extensive anatomical and biomechanical research, designed to integrate with the hand as a contoured platform for controlling your arm’s power transmission; you continue to walk-tall with the bonus of increased stability, support and thrust. Accessing your arm’s power so efficiently to boost overall walking and endurance levels means that even the fittest biped’s performance can improve. You become an extremely effective "Double-biped"! (Where the axis of movement remains around the vertical instead of reverting to the horizontal axis of quadrupedal gait.)
WHY USE TWO POLES?
With each stride the top half of your body twists on the bottom half – so the right hand comes forward with the left leg, then the left hand and right leg move through. This means that the thrust from each arm/leg combination balances the other to improve overall performance. Using two poles can improve your dynamic stability (safety benefit) as there is always a minimum of one foot + one pole on the ground making it easier to establish a well balanced stride rhythm especially over rough ground, variable terrain and long distances.
You reduce your efficiency if the right pole and right leg move together, as your weight sways over to that side, then over to the left side as your left pole and leg have moved through. This ‘sway’ minimises the potential benefits of using two poles.
WHY LEFT + RIGHT HANDLES?
(See Shaping the Future page.)
Conventional poles use the same shaped handle for either hand. Pacerpole handles are paired left and right for the same reason your boots are; to improve performance. Just as centuries ago primitive footwear also used the same shape for either foot until someone made a left boot, and a mirror image right one. It was obviously a great success for improving performance as they’ve been worn in pairs ever since – and more recently, by having an advanced innersole design shaped in 3-dimensions improves control of each stride even more. Your poles need the same approach too – and for the same reasons.
Our familiar arm and leg swing both operate in 3-dimensions: the rotation aspect of this is frequently mentioned when sport’s scientists discuss the foot i.e. pronation - the twist of the foot as it pushes-off against the ground (important in controlling the limb’s line of thrust). This control is important as your leg pivots over its foot like a metronome during each ground contact phase; if this control is inadequate (such as running in slippers!) it equates to wasting energy as corrective muscle action is needed at your other joints - which in turn can cause joint abuse.
Your forearms pronate too which is why hand specific handles are needed set at an angle to the shaft for optimum leverage – with the handles themselves contoured in 3 dimensions for avoiding joint abuse and maximising control of power transmission between your arm, the pole and the ground ....... so your effort isn’t partly being wasted in trying to control the pole itself - but is directed into thrusting you forward so you stride-out to enjoy the great outdoors hour after hour.
WHY NO THICK WRIST STRAP?
(See Shaping the Future page.)
Conventional poles are modified ski poles with slender handles; as the hand is suspended from the top of the pole in a strap which tightens as the load increases, with greater potential for discomfort. Instead, Pacerpole’s contoured handle needs only minimal grip, and gives instant and direct control of the shaft for accurate tip placement. In use, the heel of the hand relaxes into the handle’s shaped base, which together with the thumb shelf provides the platforms for thrust and control – superseding bulky wrist/hand straps. The handle’s shape allows the impact force to be dispersed naturally around its contours as the direction of loading moves around the hand as the pole strikes the ground – eliminating any need to waste energy controlling shaft springs.
WHY NO SHAFT SPRINGS?
(See Reviews page: Chris Townsend/The Backpacker’s Handbook.)
Pacerpole’s contoured handles control the loading and flow of movement around your hand; this makes it a natural gradual force absorber on impact. The alternative method of shock absorption using a spring in the shaft is therefore unnecessary; a spring adds to the shaft weight, and wastes energy trying to control it.
SINGLE POLE USE?
Using a single pole instead of none can still increase stability over rough ground, reducing the chances of a fall. If for some reason only one Pacerpole can be used, then set it’s height a little lower than elbow height to reduce its range of elbow extension thrust (be aware that excessive thrust from one side only, can twist the trunk causing an imbalance). As a general guide – use the opposite hand to the weaker leg. The left hand moves forward with the right leg and vice versa.
POLE / HANDLE WEIGHT?
The one objectively-founded negative comment about Pacerpole is their weight - generally understood to be a consequence of the handle design.
Our limbs, as levers, are divided into segments (upper arm, forearm etc) linked by joints - with Pacerpole being designed as a body-part i.e. another add-on segment. Each needs some weight to apply joint traction so the body can sense where the segment is (otherwise it could be rather like trying to walk on a numb leg). The 'weighting' of each segment has the weight at the upper end and is lighter the further away from its pivot point eg the muscle bulk/weight of the thigh, down to the thinner/lighter knee; the muscle bulk/weight of the calf down to the lighter ankle; the muscle bulk of the forearm down to the lighter wrist, and the bulk/weight of the handle, down to the lighter shaft tip.
The pole weight though is not just about having the pole's 'weighting' to be one which could provide for an even lighter shaft end-section, so that a lesser weight of handle could be used to balance it. In practical terms the 'pole' is only one part of the whole limb - so having something super light just as one segment, even though well-balanced itself, cannot produce significant dead-weight benefits if it doesn't integrate as a natural part of the whole i.e. Pacerpole as a body part has to integrate with the rest of the limb ....with the union being an artificial joint comprising half as the hand and the other half being the handle with its own traction/weight being the top part of the next segment below. As such, the super-light poles are not as effective and in windy conditions difficult to position - and can become a liability.
The pole's dead-weight is of practical interest when it is to be carried - but with Pacerpoles this is generally only when scrambling; otherwise they are in use and allowing the user to maximise their walking potential/endurance, whatever their fitness level. It may be helpful to read the Weight v Effort section on this website.
WEIGHT v EFFORT?
In practical terms weight is not just a question of gms or ozs - but more importantly, how much effort is required to move it.
Why does carrying a pack by hand take more effort (is more tiring) than carrying it on your back - even though it's exactly the same weight?
1. Where the weight is has a significant impact on performance - and when applied to poles - where the weight is distributed along its length as it integrates with the arm (its weighting) will influence how much effort is needed to move it.
Compare the arm/leg scenarios: lightening-up the weight of a boot at the far end of your leg as a pendulum, will mean less effort to move the leg - so it's less tiring; lightening-up the weight of your shorts will hardly be noticeable (even though it's the same leg that's moving) because it's near your hip pivot point as the leg swings through.
The shaft tip is the equivalent of your foot/boot, and the pole's top section is the equivalent of your thigh/shorts. Having the 'weighting' of a pole near to its elbow pivot point means less effort to move it……..
Effort expended or saved is not directly related to the 'dead' weight in gms or ozs of the pole.
2. The above scenarios refer to limbs/poles when they're off the ground - but the reason for using a pole is to have it for loading/thrusting-against for each step on the ground. Controlling this thrust from a suspended strap fixed to a shaft wastes a lot of effort; this is the equivalent of the leg's walking action on soft sand which is very tiring (inefficient) - especially when compared to walking on solid ground, thrusting against something firm which doesn't give-way. This firm ground is the equivalent of the 3D contoured Pacerpole handle - so the hand/arm can push directly against the contours controlling the arm's action without gripping and without wasting effort ….. rather than by trying to control a 3D soft-sand-action indirectly through the suspending strap of a conventional pole.
3. Even though Pacerpole's 'dead' weight may be more than an ultra-light pole, it is designed to make the body more effective (accessing maximum power and wasting less effort then conventional designs when being used to load and thrust-against on the ground) and whose effort expenditure when lifted off the ground is insignificant over the day to affect the net gain in performance and endurance levels.
An ultra-light pole is only ultra-light when it is off the ground; when it touches down it's as wasteful of body effort as any other conventional pole - which is why overall it is inefficient.
WHY ARE THE PACERPOLE BASKETS THREADED?
The baskets are threaded so you can exchange the smaller baskets for the wider snow baskets just by pulling-and-twisting firmly to remove, and then pushing-and-twisting firmly to replace. It's easier to do if you wrap a piece of rubber/latex glove around the tapered shaft section for a better grip whilst twisting the baskets. All baskets should be finally positioned with their top touching the top rim of the plastic tip housing and be able to rotate independently of the shaft; this avoids the shaft twisting and loosening the expanding bolts which can happen if the basket is fixed/stuck between rocks, deep bog or snow and you twist to free it. To retrieve, remember to twist in the direction as if you were tightening the expanders and not undoing them! In snow - putting a smear of grease such as Vaseline at the top part of the tip housing above the threaded section, can help avoid the plastic basket binding to the plastic of the housing, reducing the chance of them becoming frozen together in very low temperatures.