I am stumped.
I just received an emailed question about trekking poles and whether or not hikers should invest in them and take them on long-distance or day hikes. The questioner told me that she has some old crappy ones and never got the utility out of them.
I will ask around about this, but meanwhile, if you have any experiences you wish to report about hiking poles -- or a particular kind that you like or don't like -- let me know, and I will incorporate your ideas into my answer, which I will post right here on Cactuseaters.blogspot.com.
Personally, I've never used the retractable, shock-proof, store-bought hiking poles, although I've always been curious about them; I usually improvise with ski poles or twigs or something like that. Also -- I often hike in forbidding terrain that requires two free hands for scrambling up and down slopes (making it impossible for me to hold poles in my hand.)