Trekking Poles

“When I was a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

That was pretty much my theory on trekking poles. When I was a small child it was different. Nothing made me prouder than to grab a walking stick to trudge up Spruce Mountain with a swagger just like Grandpa’s. But as a teen, it was different. Walking sticks were totally non-cool. I rejected them.

When I entered the world of hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, my theory was challenged. Here, everyone used—whatever those things were—even on just a day hike. Why? I set out to discover the answer.

Here’s the breakdown.

So what’s the proper name for these thingamajigs?

Trekking poles or hiking poles.

What do they... DO?

Basically, trekking poles distribute the impact of your weight while walking, by sending some of it to your upper body through your arms and hands. This is especially helpful for people with knee problems. Body-building junkies will be happy to know that this same distribution of impact turns ordinary hiking into a full-body workout.

When should I use them?

Any time you are going on a strenuous hike, trekking poles are a very good idea. That’s because trekking poles provide stability and balance on treacherous terrain, help you maintain better posture and allow you to pace yourself more effectively. A creative mind can make them fit the bill for a hundreds of other uses, such as one summer hiker who uses her poles as a handy tool to flick snakes off of the path and out of her way.

Do I need to adjust my poles?

Yes. You should adjust both poles to be the same height as your arm when it your elbow is bent at a 90- degree angle. This height will distribute your weight most effectively. On long downhill or uphill stretches, the distance between your arms and the ground will change, so you will need to re-adjust. When going downhill, make them longer, uphill make them shorter.

How should I use them?

Slide your hand through the wrist loop from underneath, and settle your thumb and fingers on top of the strap as you put pressure on the pole. Using your wrist strap correctly is a key part of distributing your weight effectively. When walking, move the pole in your left hand as you move the right leg, and vice versa.

More Information

Find out how to choose a pair of trekking poles HERE
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