How to Get the Most Out of Your Treking Poles

How to Get the Most Out of Your Treking PolesEven on the most luxurious trails, trekking poles exhibit a welcome facility for postponing a hiker's fatigue. They enhance his stability by adding two extra balance points for his pack-laden body and they absorb a great deal of the percussive shock of steep downhill walking. With a heavy pack, the natural stride is more easily maintained with trekking poles. For people with arthritis or other knee, ankle or back injuries, trekking poles eliminate much of the pain of climbing and descending.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Trekking poles with baskets and rubber tips
  • Light gloves
Step 1
Choose lightweight, adjustable poles with a comfortable grip and baskets to suit varying trail conditions. The anti-shock feature on some trekking poles has a limited ability to reduce jarring on the wrists and arms. Realize that more expensive poles function properly for longer periods of time.
Step 2
Set the length of the poles to accommodate a comfortable body position that does not require bending over in a natural stride. They should be set shorter for uphill walking and longer to reach the trail when traveling downhill. On level ground, your elbow should be bent at a right angle when the poles are perpendicular to the ground.
Step 3
Pay attention to the "right" and "left" designations marked on some trekking poles. The grips and the angle of the straps will probably be different. Adjust the straps to be snug but to allow a natural grip. Properly adjusted, with your thumb and index finger pointed forward, you should be able to direct the poles as you swing them back and forth. The downward pressure of your hands on the straps should supply the push on the ground. An iron grip with your entire hand will just increase discomfort and fatigue.
Step 4
Walking on flat ground, plant your left pole slightly ahead of the right foot and push gently, and then, keeping cadence with your stride and natural arm swing, repeat the process with your left pole. Keep your elbows bent.
Step 5
When ascending steep slopes or when scrambling over tree roots or rocks, position your poles in front of your body, a comfortable distance apart, for balance and to take weight off your legs. Lean into the pole a bit so it can absorb some of the weight. On gentler slopes, the poles may be planted near the sides of your body and used to push off and ease the strain of the climb.
Step 6
When descending, place the trekking poles ahead of you to balance your body and save your knees as gravity forces you downward. In steep or rocky conditions, both poles can be planted simultaneously to hold a position while you negotiate the trail. Keep your knees bent and slant your body lightly forward.
Step 7
Show consideration for your trail. Most trekking poles have rubber tips, which can be removed for hard surfaces, but should normally be left on to minimize trail damage. Do not stab flowers or plants with your poles and save the baskets for snow or mud.

Article Written By Barry Truman

Barry Truman has published many outdoor activity articles in the past five years with International Real Travel Adventures, the Everett Herald and Seattle Post Intelligencer newspapers, Backpacking Light Magazine and He has a forestry degree from the University of Washington.

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