Rachel Gross Recounts History of Walking Sticks and Trekking Poles

Published: April 21, 2024

Rachel Gross, Assistant Professor of History, recently recounted the history of walking sticks and trekking poles for the Denver Post: "For her new book, Shopping All the Way to the Woods: How the Outdoor Industry Sold Nature to America, Gross researched the history of recreational gear and its cultural significance. She said guidebooks from the 1950s through the 1980s suggest poles were historically seen as luxuries--not necessities. Most referred to using a single walking stick and often suggested picking up a piece of bamboo or wood at the trailhead to suffice."

“The terminology is pretty new because ‘trekking poles’ doesn’t exist in any of those materials. Usually, ‘walking staff’ is the preferred terminology from the 1950s to ‘80s. That indicates something important, which is trekking poles are used in pairs and walking sticks and staves are used singularly,” Gross said.

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Denver Post, Apr. 8