How to choose and use trekking poles
In the market for trekking poles? That means you're getting serious about trekking – how exciting! Here's all you need to know to find the right pair for you. We also discuss how to use them, how to use one as a camera mount, and how to transport them.
Anatomy of the trekking pole
Trekking poles vs hiking staffs
Things to consider when choosing poles
rubber cork foam
Rubber grips are the best for high-altitude trekking, while cork grips are good for trekking in hot conditions.
2. Wrist bands
The main purpose of wrist straps is to allow you to release your hold without the poles falling to the ground.
3. Foldable vs telescoping vs non-foldable
Foldable trekking poles
Foldable trekking poles are food for those wanting ultralight poles that only need to be a fixed length.
Telescoping (or adjustable) trekking poles are the better option for high-altitude trekkers.
Types of adjustment devices
External lever lock (or clasp lock). An external lever lock uses a clamp-like function at the intersection of the two shafts to lock the shafts in place. These are really easy to adjust, even when you're in a super cold environment and wearing gloves. Note that the locking mechanism adds a little weight to the trekking pole (which is or isn't a problem depending on the sort of activity you're doing – more on that in a moment). Push-button lock. Just as it sounds, a push-button lock requires you to push in a button and then slide the inside shaft up or down to lock it into place using a different hole. These can sometimes be a little difficult to manage when wearing thick gloves or mitts. Twist lock. With a twist lock, you simply twist the two shafts of the pole in opposite directions to tighten them in place. This locking mechanism is good for keeping the length secure. Combination lock. Think carefully about buying this lock as it will take longer to adjust when you are caught in a severe weather situation or lagging behind your trek mates.
Non-foldable trekking poles
Note that adjustable poles travel better
Non-adjustable trekking poles
If you're 1.55 m (5 ft 1 in) tall or just below, then you probably want poles that are about 100cm (39 in) long. If you're between 1.55 m and 1.7 m (5 ft 1 in and 5 ft 7 in), then you probably want a pair of poles that's 110 cm (43 in) long. If you're between 1.7 m and 1.8 m (5 ft 8 in and 5 ft 11 in), you should look at poles that are around 120 cm (47 in). Finally, if you're above 1.8 m (6 ft), then you'll likely need poles that are around 130 cm (51 in) in length.
Adjustable trekking poles
If you're taller than 1.8 m (6 ft), opt for poles with a maximum length of at least 51 inches. If you are shorter than 1.8 m (6 ft), the good news is that you'll be able to shorten most adjustable trekking poles to suit you. But since you don't want to carry the extra weight that comes with unnecessarily long poles, it's still best to choose shorter poles.
5. Shock absorption
Trekking pole weight is a very real consideration for anyone who treks at altitude or for long distances.
Aluminium vs carbon trekking poles
Aluminium poles are heavier than composite ones, but they're also stronger and thus more durable.
Using the rubber guards when appropriate helps to prolong the life of your metal or carbide tips.
How to use your trekking poles
1. Get your grip right
2. Use the wrist straps correctly
3. Adjust the poles to the correct height
The wrong pole length can lead to bad posture and less stability.
4. Learn the motions
Using trekking poles correctly takes time and practice.