How to Adjust Walking Sticks

How to Adjust Walking Sticks
Walking sticks, or more specifically hiking poles, are frequently used by backpackers as an aid when hiking. The poles provide extra balance points when crossing rough or slippery terrain, help absorb pressure on the knees during downhill stretches, and assist the hiker when going uphill as well. Many hiking poles are adjustable in length, and setting the poles to the correct length is important if you want to get the maximum benefit out of them.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Walking sticks (hiking poles)
Step 1
Loosen the barrel locks on the middle section of your walking sticks. Walking sticks or hiking poles usually have three sections, with two barrel locks so you can move the middle and lower sections in and out. Loosen the barrel lock nearest the grips by twisting it to the left until the middle section of the stick can be moved in and out freely to lengthen or shorten the stick.
Step 2
Pull the middle sections out until you see the "maximum limit" line. Then push the middle section back in one inch. Tighten the barrel lock by turning it to the right.
Step 3
Loosen the lower barrel lock so that the bottom section of the stick can be moved in and out freely.
Step 4
Stand on a level surface, grasp a pole in your hand and let your arm dangle by your side. Now raise your forearm so that it is parallel with the ground and place the tip of the pole on the ground straight beneath your hand. When the pole is properly adjusted, your forearm will remain parallel with the ground. If your forearm slopes upward towards your hand, the pole is too long. If your forearm slopes downward, the pole is too short. Adjust the bottom section and tighten the barrel lock.

Tips & Warnings

If you're hiking a steep downhill, lengthen the poles slightly. If on a steep uphill, shorten the poles.

Article Written By Nichole Liandi

Based in Virginia, Nichole Liandi has been a freelance writer since 2005. Her articles have appeared on various print and online publications. Liandi has traveled extensively in Europe and East Asia and incorporates her experiences into her articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from West Virginia University.

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