The Pros and Cons of Using a Trekking Pole as an Emergency Splint

Hey, adventurous spirits! If you’ve spent some quality time hiking or trekking, you know that being prepared for emergencies is a non-negotiable part of the experience.

Whether it’s a backup fire starter or extra snacks, we hikers love to be prepared for the “just in case” scenarios.

But what about injuries, particularly those that require immobilization, like fractures or sprains?

Enter the humble trekking pole. In today’s post, we’re diving deep into the pros and cons of using a trekking pole as an emergency splint.

Good Trekking Poles: The Pros

Using a good trekking pole as an emergency splint.

There are tremendous benefits of using trekking poles. But let’s first consider a trekking pole still in good condition. One that you don’t want to break to save yourself.

1. Rigidity to the Rescue

A well-designed trekking pole is made to be sturdy. If you’re in a situation where you need to immobilize a limb quickly, the structural integrity of a trekking pole can be a lifesaver.

You’d otherwise use a tree branch or a tent pole. A tree branch may not be a quick solution. Even a tent pole requires you to go to your backpack.

But a trekking pole is always in your hand. You can easily strap it to your broken part.

2. Adjustability for the Win

Need to adapt the length to fit an arm or a leg? No problem. Many trekking poles offer adjustable lengths so you can fine-tune your makeshift splint to offer optimal support.

Most trekking poles can be as short as 10 inches. They could fit well in your arms. You can expand it up to 57 inches if you need more length. That’s enough length to support your whole leg.

3. Multi-Functional Marvel

Why rip apart your backpack or use up your belt when you can repurpose your trekking pole? It’s a great way to save other resources for later use.

You don’t have to break you’re using a trekking pole as an emergency splint. You can adjust it to the required length and use it.

When you’re back to safety, you can remove the trekking pole and continue to use it on your next adventures.

4. Lightweight Yet Strong

Trekking poles are built from lightweight materials like aluminum or carbon fiber, making them easy to handle and secure in an emergency.

Aluminum poles are usually sturdier than carbon fiber. But both are good enough to hold your broken bones together.

There are low-quality cheap trekking poles that use Aluminum 6-series alloys. Even they can hold together very well. Nevertheless, I don’t recommend you buy them for any reason.

5. Straight-Up Effective

Thanks to their straight form, trekking poles can provide proper limb alignment, which is crucial for effective immobilization.

If you’re using a tree branch or anything as such, you might not be able to find the perfectly straight-up one. The little thorns in them can make life even worse.

Good Trekking Poles: The Cons

Besides the many benefits, there are situations in which you should avoid using your trekking pole as an emergency splint. These may be the reasons why we could decide not to use it.

1. Ouch, That Hurts!

The hardness of the trekking pole can create pressure points on your limb, which you don’t need when dealing with an injury.

Imagine you have an ankle injury. Even though the trekking pole’s length can be adjustable, you don’t want to use a 10-inch pole to aid a small part of your leg. It might hurt the other parts of your leg and worsen the situation.

2. It’s Complicated

Having a trekking pole is one thing; securing it is another. You’ll need additional materials like cloth, shoelaces, or straps to make the splint effective.

One way to mitigate the impact of lengthier trekking poles is to use some clothes or other soft materials. But this itself is a cumbersome task to handle.

3. Not-So-Clean Aid

Out in the wilderness, your trekking pole has been through mud, water, and who knows what else. The lack of sterility could be a concern if you have an open wound.

On a trip, you don’t want to get infected. Especially on a multi-day backpacking trip, you should stay healthy until you find your shelter or return to civilization.

Also, if your fracture is mild and the wounds are more prominent, you don’t want to risk using a dirty trekking pole as an emergency splint.

Broken Trekking Poles: The Pros

Using a broken trekking pole as an emergency splint.

A broken trekking pole is equally useful in emergency situations. Moreover, you can use it in many different ways than a good one because you can just throw it away after the hike.

1. Better Than Nothing

A broken trekking pole might offer some rigidity; some support is better than none in an emergency.

2. Bend it Like…Well, a Splint

Depending on the break, a damaged trekking pole could offer more flexibility, allowing for a more custom fit.

3. Compact Convenience

A broken pole’s reduced length can make it easier to splint smaller limbs.

Broken Trekking Poles: The Cons

1. The Weaker Link

Broken means compromised; a compromised pole may not offer the necessary structural support for effective splinting.

2. Danger Zone

Sharp or jagged edges on a broken pole could worsen your injury, so exercise extreme caution.

3. Tying Troubles

Securing a broken pole to act as a splint could require even more material to hold it in place, complicating the process.

Conclusion

Using a trekking pole as an emergency splint can be an intelligent and resourceful option, but it’s far from perfect. Remember that this is a temporary fix until you get proper medical attention. So, the next time you hit the trails, walk with the assurance that you are a little more prepared for those unexpected bumps (or breaks) along the way.

That’s it for today, adventurers! If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to share it with your trekking buddies. Until next time, hike safe and take care!

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