Day -1 Phoenix/Grand Canyon R2R2R – Hiking Poles Swordfight. En Garde!

Many R2R2R hikes praise the use of hiking poles (aka trekking poles) on their crossing. “…a godsend”, “wouldn’t have made it up without them” and “…they are a lifesaver”.

Hiking poles are similar to ski poles and have a rubber tip (with a sharp metal tip for ice underneath). They also have straps and a contoured grip (which are again worn like ski poles) to reduce the fatigue in your hands while using them.

You can buy aluminum poles but most hikers recommend carbon fiber poles for the right balance of weight and strength.

Poles are also collapsible either by folding or telescoping inside the hollow shafts.

Hiking poles provide great support on uphills, downhills and on unstable ground. They are also helpful when crossing streams to keep your balance.

The US Transportation Safety Administration allows hiking poles as checked baggage only and can seize them ass you pass screening. Many people do get them through security but it is a crap shoot. “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”

I guess they are worried that poles could be used by passengers for mock sword fights in the cabin or as some kind of spear. Mobility devices, such as canes, ARE permitted. Just another example of Secuity Theatre on display.

Don’t risk your poles. Pack them in checked baggage (which really sucks). Alternatively, you can buy cheap poles at your destination and give them away when you leave. The Grand Canyon store also apparently rents poles for hikers who lost them at TSA or did not bring them.

My backpack is the next most important thing I am bringing. You need to be self supporting and prepared when undertaking an advanced hike (and in the heat).

I have about 20 packs (don’t judge me, it’s just like my shoe collection – they each have a purpose). As this is a one day hike with no camping, I don’t need to carry a sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad etc so a small day pack will do.

I do need to carry 4 liters of water and a variety of other items so my small hydration pack will not do.

I decided on a small cycling pack of about 20 liters. Although it does not have a padded waist strap it does check all the other boxes. It’s light, has a chest strap and a hole for the water bladder. It’s also the pack I trained with, carrying 50 pounds of books up and down stairs and on long hikes.

It has to carry my “on the trail necessities”. Here’s my checklist:

4 Liters of water

Sawyer Mini water filter

Aquatabs (back up water purification)

Spare socks

Emergency Blanket

First Aid kit (includes Naproxen in case of swelling and Tylenol 3 in the event of pain)

Blister kit

Vaseline tube

Small microfiber towel

Duct tape 10 ft rolled around a pencil stub.


Sunscreen SPF 50 (and Zinc oxide)

Clif Gel Shot Blocks

Honey Stingers

4 Energy gels (overkill – I know)

Trail Mix and Payday bars

Salt Sticks capsules and chewable tabs

One tube of Nuuk Dissolving electrolytes

Extra hat

Headlamp (spare headlamp and batteries as well)

Red blinking light and whistle

Swiss Army knife

Small power bank (to charge phone)

Go Pro camera

Selfie stick/tripod

Given that these two items are in my checked baggage on Air Canada (because of the poles and having two sets of clothes), I guess I need to get an apple AirTag today.

I picked one up so if Air Canada loses my bag, I can help them find it.

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