How to choose and use trekking poles


Of course, you enjoy that trek, and It will even thrill you more when you have suitable trekking poles! Walkers, hikers, and trekkers find pleasure when they have standard equipment that simplifies their adventure. Are you ready to choose the best trekking poles? This article will impart insights on choosing the best trekking poles and later give you tips on using them.

Trekking poles will enhance your stability while providing support when you are hiking in a terrain. Check the following steps that will enhance the functions of your trekking poles

  • First, you should be concerned about the length of your trekking pole. A 90-degree bend at your elbow is best when the pole tips are touching the ground. It would be best if you were sure about this before you purchase one.
  • Again, you should be aware that there are two kinds of trekking poles. You will be choosing between a single and a double one.
  • Once You know the types that will best suit your case, you will now focus on the features. This article will give you the details about the features, but if you are in a rush, you should be thinking about adjustability, fold-ability, weight, shock absorption, etc. The features are vital when making a buy decision.
  • Once you know what you want, it will be prudent to get started with the tips on using the trekking poles. There are lots of things to learn; getting around obstacles, walking, etc.

Be aware that trekking poles are best for people who are fit enough to walk around the rugged terrain.

What types of trekking poles will you find in the market?

There is no direct answer to this quiz, but we have covered it most suitable to quickly understand what you are up to when considering a trekking pole.

Trekking poles are sold as a pair, and they work simultaneously. You will need trekking poles to enhance your stability while reducing the force exerted on your feet when you are hiking. Trekking poles are not the same, and you should have your features clearly defined to get the best out of your investment. You will find several options with adjustable length, internal springs, and shock-absorbing features.

Hiking staff, on the other hand, is yet another vital hiking equipment. They are sometimes referred to as walking staff. They are best when you are hiking on flat terrain. Walking staff are best for people who are walking, with nothing on their backs. The available hiking staff in the market will have adjustable features with others, including shock-absorbing features. Hiking staff may also contain a built-in camera mount under the handle, making it possible to serve as a monopod.

Trekking pole lengths

2 Pairs of trekking poles on a pile of rocks with mountains in the background

Trekking poles do have varying sizes. You don't have to worry about your height because trekking poles are adjustable. You only need a properly-sized pole that will place your elbow at a 90-degree bend whenever the tips touch the ground. When you have an adjustable trekking pole, it becomes easier to achieve the 90-degree elbow bend. Here are the tips that will guide you when using the trekking poles.

Tips for adjustable-length trekking poles and hiking staffs

  • Taller people should consider hiking staff that is at least 51 inches. Here, we are implying a height of over 6 feet. You should check n something smaller if you are below that height.
  • Short people below 6 feet will be happy with the adjustable trekking poles and hiking staff. You need to adjust it to a size that will favor you.

Tips for fixed-length trekking poles

If you are considering the fixed length trekking poles, then follow this guide;

  • Five feet and below should consider 100cm pole length
  • Between one to seven inches, you should choose a 110 cm pole length
  • From 8 inches to 11 inches, you should consider 120 cm pole length
  • Finally, if you are above 6 feet, choose 130cm inch pole length.

How to adjust the pole length

Owning an adjustable trekking pole is a milestone, but you will suffer when you don't know how to adjust them properly. You should know the suitable heights to set them up. Proper adjustment will keep you from cases such as distress in the arms, shoulders, and neck.

Adjusting a trekking pole for general hiking

General hiking is not specific. You will be trap-passing places that may be rugged or even flat. It will be prudent to adjust the length of the pole to a level where it will be bending at 90 degrees at the elbow while its tip is touching the ground. Every general hiking will need this adjustment. If you use trekking poles with three sections, you should set the top adjustments to be in the middle of the adjustment range. The bottom adjustment should be set in length that puts your arm at the correct angle. The top adjustment is suitable for fine-tuning the length.

Adjusting a trekking pole for long uphill sections

Trekking along the long uphill sections may not be similar to that of general hiking. You are climbing uphill, and you won't need a long hiking pole. You can reduce the length of your hiking pole by 5 to 10cm for better leverage. The steepness will determine how much you will have to shorten your trekking pole. The steeper the slope, the more you will have to shorten your trekking pole. If your trekking poles add your burden while climbing uphill, then it's because you are omitting vital adjustments. It would be best if you climbed uphill without causing any strain or fatigue to your shoulders. Always make sure that your trekking is as smooth as possible while you are o your way uphill. Please don't get bored adjusting it as it gets steeper.

Adjusting the trekking poles for long downhill sections

Trekking downhill is the opposite of climbing uphill. You will need to increase the length of your trekking poles by at least 5 to 10 cm. You will have a length that you set for general hiking, say if it were 130 cm, you would have to increase it by 5 to 10 cm when climbing walking downhill. This will keep your body more upright hence according to you, a better balance.

Adjustments for long traversing sections

When you are trekking in a long traversing section, it will be good to shorten the pole when you are on an uphill side while lengthening it on the downhill side. It is your comfort that will determine how you will shorten or lengthen it.

Features of a trekking pole

How you will be using the trekking pole will determine the kind of features that you will wish to have in your trekking pole. Check the following features that will guide you when choosing a trekking pole

Adjustable trekking poles

Every terrain has a specific stability requirement. An adjustment for a flat terrain will not resemble that of a steep slope. If you are sure that you will be traversing places with varying terrains, you will be doing well to pick an adjustable trekking pole that will favor all kinds of terrain. The trekking poles can adjust from 24 inches to 55 inches, suitable for steep slopes and flat terrains. Lengthen it when climbing down the slope and decrease the length when you are climbing up the hill.

Non-adjustable trekking poles

In some instances, you may find non-adjustable trekking poles. They are referred to as fixed-length poles, which tend to be lighter in weight and operate with fewer parts. The non-adjustable trekking poles are popular among the ultralight crowd. Non-adjustable trekking poles are great for activities that involve flat terrain.

Fold ability

When you are looking for a trekking pole, you should be keen enough on foldability. It would be best to have a foldable trekking pole when you are backpacking because you will arrive at places where you will need to use straps, and you won't be using the trekking poles. They function like tent poles and therefore making it to be packable. You may not need foldable trekking poles when you are doing general hiking.

Shock-absorbing poles

Walking downhill involves jumping, and your body weight will be exerting force on your feet. You may need a shock-absorbing pole to help in reducing the shock on your feet. Shock-absorbing poles will offer an internal spring that is effective in absorbing shock. You may turn off the shock absorbing feature when you are not walking downhill. You do not need a shock absorber when you are walking uphill. The feature is best for all kinds of hiking but is highly recommended for people with unstable hips, ankles, and knees. If you have had any previous injuries, it will be good to have the shock-absorbing trekking poles.

Standard poles

Standard poles do not have a shock-absorbing feature. It is best for people who need a lighter and less expensive pole. You will need a standard pole if you don't need a shock absorber, but rather a balance and comfort as you move downhill.


You will need an ultra-light pole when you need to enjoy the advantage of less swing weight. It gives the user an advantage to move easier and quicker when they are in a long course of a long trek. You don't need to worry about how you will pack the ultralight poles because they offer ease of packing. They weigh less than 1 pound.

Camera mount

If you need to use your trekking pole as a monopod, then it will be wise to consider those with a camera mount. It includes a built-in camera mount that locates under the handle.

Trekking pole locking mechanisms

Locking mechanisms are vital considerations when choosing a trekking pole. They are essential parts of trekking poles, whether you are using the adjustable or non-adjustable pole. You do not want the poles to slip when you are using them; that is why it will be a milestone to have a suitable locking mechanism in place. If your trekking poles are non-adjustable, you will need suitable locking mechanisms t lock and unlock for total length adjustment. The adjustable poles operate similarly to the non-adjustable poles, and it will let you adjust to two or three interlocking sections. Adjustability often ranges from 24 to 55 inches, sufficient to adapt the poles to your favorite height.

You will find the following types of locking mechanisms in trekking poles.

Diagram of trekking pole adjustment points

1. External lever lock

An external lever lock is a clamp-like mechanism that makes the pole length quick and easy to adjust even when your gloves are on.

2. Push Button lock

Push-button locks are among the best locking mechanisms in trekking poles. The locking mechanism will snap in place and lock within a single pull. You only need to press the push button to release the lock and collapse the poles.

3. Twist lock

Twist lock is another locking mechanism that you can find in a trekking pole. It uses an expander and screw setup, which is consistently strong and durable.

4. Combination lock

Other locking systems will use a combination of other locking systems to achieve the best locking strategy. Finding a trekking pole that combines the external lever lock and the twist lock on the lower shaft may be possible.

Notably, the trekking pole locking system loosens over time. You should always check the locking system before hiking.

There is also an exciting part of trekking poles that you should check when buying trekking poles. The shaft system is essential, and you will find aluminum shafts. When you choose a trekking pole with aluminum shafts, you choose a more durable and economical choice that weighs between 18 to 22 ounces. Prices will vary based on the weight of trekking poles. Aluminum may bend under extreme pressure but is impossible to break.

You may also find other types of shaft system that uses carbon. They are best for backpackers who need to reduce the luggage on their backs. They are lighter options, but you should be ready to incur the expense because they are expensive.

Trekking pole grips

Comfort is the lead factor that comes first when you are checking the grip types. Ergonomic grips are the best. You will be considering a 15-degree corrective angle which will keep your wrists in a neutral position.

Your trekking poles will have either of these grip types.

  • Cork: You will need a cork grip if your hands are fond of sweating. It is also the best grip type when you are walking in rugged terrain because it will decrease vibrations by conforming best to the shape of your hand. These cork grips are best for hiking in hot weather, and they sweat a lot.
  • Foam: You can also choose a foam grip if you have sweaty hands. It will give you the best soft touch.
  • Rubber: If you need a type of grip that will insulate your hand from a cold, a shock, or a vibration, you should think of a rubber grip. If your hand is fond of blisters, then you should not use them. They are not the best during warm weather hiking.
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