How to choose and why use hiking poles?
Hiking or trekking poles are a terrific and proven aid for a one-day or several-day hike through the mountains. You will learn what benefits they bring you, what kinds of poles exist and how to use them, but mainly how to choose from the many available on the market. We can advise you, but you have to decide for yourself.
Why use poles?
- Stability – they help you maintain stability when climbing, descending or traversing and can help you distribute weight in the event of a heavy load.
- Support – the poles relieve the joints and muscles and reduce the possibility of injury on unstable surfaces.
- Complex movement and pace – thanks to the poles, you can also move the upper parts of your body, particularly the arms and shoulders. This in turn contributes to maintaining the pace of the hike even over longer distances.
- Practical use – they can serve, for example, in the construction of an emergency shelter, a tent, as a stabilizing splint for injuries, or help in clearing vegetation, when attacked by an animal and for safer crossing of streams or rivers.
Division according to construction
What are you looking for and how do you decide?
- Low price – this doesn’t automatically mean that the poles are unusable. It can easily happen that branded, high-priced poles will not survive even the first trek. The price increases depending on the brand name, the material used or the technology of the lock. If you can accept a higher weight, i.e. thicker aluminium alloy tubes, a plastic lock, a rubber handle, the absence of replaceable plates or a lower quality tip, this is your category. And if you are a beginner or plan to use the poles only occasionally, you can save a relatively large amount of money here.
- Low weight – if you are looking for poles for intensive use in the field and larger transport dimensions don’t hinder you, choose two-piece poles made of aluminium alloy or folding 3-piece carbon poles with Spartan equipment. They have their price, but every gram counts. By the way, the lightest of them have already reached the limit of 240 g per pair. Comfort gets side-lined.
- Packability – be sure to choose 3- or 4-piece folding poles that upon packing can be reduced to less than 35 cm for some lengths and models. The typical size of telescopic poles is around 60 cm. Rubber bands for holding the poles together after folding are a perfect tool. You won’t save any money here and comfort doesn’t have to be completely taboo.
- Comfort – look for stable but also more robust poles made of aluminium alloys with an anti-shock system that absorbs the impact. Choose an anatomically shaped handle with a slant of up to 15 °, which fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. The best of quality foam or with a combination of cork and foam, or with anti-slip rubber parts.
The correct length of poles
The correct angle is the right length
|your height||minimum and maximum adjustable pole length|
|155 - 175||100 cm - 125 cm|
|175 – 185||100 cm - 125 cm|
|185 – 195||110 cm - 135 cm|
|> 195||115 cm - 145 cm|
Every manufacturer has its own recommendations and can offer different lengths, so this table is for basic guidance only.
- Comfort – the correct length of the poles, comfortable strap adjustment, or the use of a compact wrist strap clearly increase comfort. Impact on hard surfaces can be reduced by a built-in shock absorber together with moulded foam handles.
- Gloves – before use in the field, test the compatibility of the palm of the glove with the material and shape of the handle to prevent discomfort or unnecessary wear and tear.
- Plates or baskets – most manufacturers provide at least two sizes of replaceable plastic plates for the purchased poles. The larger is intended for winter hiking in the snow and the smaller plates about half the size are for summer hiking. The plates fix the pole on the snow surface and in summer reduce the chances of the tip slipping between stones.
- Care – you will extend the life of your poles if you clean them and dry them with a cloth immediately after returning from a hike. By releasing the locking points during storage, you reduce wear and prevent the plastic parts from breaking. Pay special attention to folding structures with a cable, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Store the poles in a dry, dark place with a constant temperature.
- Maintenance – never use lubricants based on friction for cleaning poles or locks. If the lock does not fulfil its function even after thorough cleaning, you can increase the friction of submerged aluminium sections by carefully sanding them with the finest sandpaper. We only recommend this, however, for poles out of warranty. Definitely avoid inserting any foreign fragments into the lock to increase its friction.
- Inspection of stressed parts – before each use, it is advisable to pay increased attention to the locking joints or inspection of cracks. If you find a crack, do not use the poles.
- Replacement – if the locks are cracked, oxidized or rusted, replace them with new ones.
- Warning: when buying poles, it is necessary to take into account their most common use. We do not recommend using telescopic hiking poles, for example, when skiing on the slopes. For Nordic walking, use only poles made by the manufacturer for this purpose.