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How to Use and Choose Trekking Poles

How to Use and Choose Trekking Poles

If you are a hiker, you understand the critical importance of hiking poles. They are an absolute must-have for any climber, hiker, or a backpacker. They provide enhanced stability and help even out your body's fatigue by balancing your upper body and minimizing the impact on the knees.

Trekking poles come in three main types: fixed, adjustable (or retractable), and telescopic. The fixed ones feature a rigid length that cannot be adjusted. Although they are light, you cannot fold and pack them. One has to contend with the inconvenience of carrying them around as they are.

The adjustable or foldable anti-shock trekking poles are easy to carry since you can fold and pack them when not in use. These are ideal for split-boarders, trail and thru-hikers, and uphill skiers.

The most popular is the telescopic poles, especially the folding telescopic cane, which feature two or three sections that slide in and out of each other, making it easy to adjust the height as you wish. These trekking poles come with a locking mechanism that secures them in place once the correct height is established.

In short, choosing and appropriately using the correct hiking poles is critical. But it all depends on several variables. Below are several tips on how to choose and use trekking poles:

Durable is Better than Light

Trekking poles, by design, are light. The best trade-off is where a pole is both durable and light. However, durability must always trump lightness. Of course, some hikers swear by the lightness of a pole, but would it break a fall if you tripled over a pebble or two? The ideal trekking pole should strike a balance between strength and weight. It should also be comfortable to use, fitting snugly under your grip even with hours of hiking and sweating. The anti-shock retractable hiking sticks are especially popular with trekkers.

Using Trekking Poles

As a rule, two trekking poles are better than one, even when walking on less-demanding terrain. Should you use only one, especially when carrying a backpack, you could end up hurting your shoulders due to an imbalance in the upper body back muscles.

Besides using a pair of poles, make sure they are locked at the same height. If walking on an even surface, adjust your poles to ensure your forearm is parallel to the ground. For this to happen, your arm must hang down straight as your hand firmly grips the handle.

Going up a hill demands poles that are short in length. The converse is true when coming down a steep slope. However, when climbing down, be careful not to go beyond the maximum length indicated on the inside slider to avoid compromising the strength of the pole.

Appropriate use of a trekking pole involves slipping your hands through the wrist straps. Next, rest your arm on them and gently grasp the handle. The ideal handle should be non-slip, even with the inevitable sweat.

A firm and steady grip is critical when using a trekking pole. One thing you can be sure of is that you will sweat a lot. So, you need a grip that won't be compromised by sweat. For this, you can choose between a rubber or cork grip. You might even consider handles that feature paddled straps to give your hands better protection and enhanced comfort.

Consider the Terrain you intend to Cover

If you plan to scale mountains, you will need a different set of trekking poles than those for just staying on the trails. The adjustable telescopic folding cane is ideal for this activity. Besides the fact that it's durable, it's designed for maximum hand and palm comfort. One can use it to walk or climb steep areas with ease. 

Another trekking pole to consider is the ultralight adjustable trekking cane that experienced hikers and newbies find easy to use. These are extremely light and feature durable sweat-absorbing cork grips to make your trek that much more comfortable. 

Using Aluminum Poles for Short Hikes and Easy Walks

Poles made of aluminum are ideal for leisurely walks and short hikes. Aluminum combines durability and lightweight to deliver a trekking pole at a bargain. They feature adjustable poles that you can fold into two or more pieces for easier carriage. The aluminium alloy folding cane is great for walking or hiking. It's easy and comfortable on the hands and joints. It features an adjustable height you can adjust depending on your circumstances.

Consider compact, lighter trekking sticks, such as the ultralight adjustable poles, for even terrain and less-demanding walks. Those with an on/off anti-shock system are great at enhancing your balance and absorbing shocks, minimizing strains on joints and preventing falls.

Fixed or Anti-Shock Absorbers? It Depends!

Injuries and falls are common among hikers, especially in uneven terrain where you need fixed shock absorbers to keep injuries and falls at bay. These can absorb maximum punishment, no matter how heavy a weight you are carrying on your back. Depending on the nature of your hike, you can go for anti-shock poles that are lighter and compact, although they are unlikely to provide sufficient support on uneven surfaces.

Using the Appropriate Baskets

Without baskets, the tips of trekking poles will sink into the ground as you trudge along, making it difficult for you to make progress. Baskets in trekking poles keep you moving without worrying about your poles getting stuck in the ground.

Depending on the hardness or softness of the terrain, you can use either mud, snow or mud baskets. The mud baskets have the smallest diameter, usually an inch and a half. They are dome-shaped and ideal for soft terrains. Next are the snow baskets featuring a wider diameter of 3-4 inches to keep the poles from sinking into the snow. The last type is known as powder baskets, which are much larger. Their function is to deal with areas with fluffier snow, which tend to make poles featuring the other two baskets highly sinkable.


The benefits of using adjustable or anti-shock retracting trekking poles include providing you with support and stability as you hike long, sometimes through treacherous, uneven terrain. These excursions can be highly exerting on your back and knees, which is why you need trekking poles to ease off some of the punishment.

If you are planning to mountain hike or trek long distances, the anti-shock retracting trekking poles are a must-have. They ease off the strain exerted by the rough terrain and heavy luggage, helping you maintain balance when climbing up and tackling those brutal descents.


Trekking Poles from Outdoor Camping (