How to Hike With Trekking Poles

How to Hike With Trekking Poles
Trekking poles aren't the same as crutches. While a good trekking pole may occasionally support some of your weight, you'll never lean on them exclusively. Instead, you're more likely to use trekking poles as extra points of balance and to ease some but not all of the burden on your knees as you go up or down hills and cross unstable surfaces.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Slide your hands through the retaining loops on your trekking poles and grip the pole handles loosely. Don't over-grip and cut off circulation to your hands or fatigue your hands---the loops will keep you from dropping the poles.
Step 2
Keep your elbows comfortably bent and swing your arms in a natural motion as you trek. Most hikers prefer to use an opposing arm-leg motion so that when your left leg is stepping forward your right arm---and trekking pole---is swinging forward, and vice versa. Just relax and you'll quickly find your own natural rhythm.
Step 3
Trek uphill by planting your poles securely a short distance in front of your feet. Use your arms to help lift your body with pressure on the poles at the same time as your legs push you up. If you have telescoping poles, shorten them a bit for long uphill slopes. For non-telescoping poles, grip the handle a little lower if you find using the normal grip to be uncomfortable.
Step 4
Move downhill carefully by maintaining your weight and balance over your feet. Use the trekking poles like arm extensions to help you balance, but try not to lean on them exclusively---that's inviting a fall. If you have telescoping poles, you will probably want to lengthen them a bit for long, downhill slopes.
Step 5
Carry trekking poles, when not in use, by collapsing them to the shortest length possible if they are adjustable. Strap them vertically to the side or back of your pack, points down.

Tips & Warnings

 
If your trekking poles have rubber tips, they may slip on some wet surfaces. Always check to make sure your trekking pole is firmly planted before leaning any weight on it. If you're hiking in deep snow or soft mud, having large baskets on your hiking poles will help keep them from sinking too deep.
 
If your trekking poles have rubber tips, they may slip on some wet surfaces.
 
Always check to make sure your trekking pole is firmly planted before leaning any weight on it.
 
If you're hiking in deep snow or soft mud, having large baskets on your hiking poles will help keep them from sinking too deep.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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