How to Size a Hiking Pole

How to Size a Hiking Pole
Hiking poles are a useful balancing tool to help support the body while hiking. Hiking poles can also help decrease the stress put onto the lower body when heading downhill. The most versatile hiking poles are adjustable trekking poles that can be height adjusted to fit the terrain or activity. To work effectively, a hiking pole should be the correct size for the user.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Hiking poles
  • Hiking boots
  • Varied terrain
Step 1
Stand up straight with your shoulder relaxed. Make sure you are standing on level ground. It is also helpful to be wearing your hiking boots when sizing the pole as the boots tend to add height.
Step 2
Place the pole under your arm. The right-size pole should fall 2 to 3 inches below your armpit.
Step 3
Lock down the pole at the correct height. Use the locked down pole as a guide to adjust the height of the second pole.
Step 4
Simulate the type of terrain you will most likely be hiking on. If it is flat terrain, take a short walk around the store striding naturally, your forearms parallel to the ground when the tips of your poles hit the ground.
Step 5
Take the poles outside, if possible, or see if the store has a ramp for testing hiking boots. Shorten the poles 2 to 3 inches and practice walking uphill and lengthen the poles 2 to 3 inches and practice going downhill.
Step 6
Adjust your poles for traversing as well. The pole pointing downslope should be an inch or two longer then the pole facing upslope.

Tips & Warnings

When it doubt, it is better to go with a longer pole then a shorter one.
Many manufacturers put numbers on the poles so you can use the numbers for reference when adjusting the pole height.

Article Written By Courtney Johnson

Courtney Johnson is a freelance sports writer and photographer based in California. Her articles and photos appear regularly in newspapers and magazines such as "Triathlete" and "Cross Country Skier." Johnson graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in media production and minor in writing. She is studying for her copy editing certificate at the University of San Diego.

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