Proper Way to Use Trekking Poles

Proper Way to Use Trekking Poles
Many hikers and backpackers underestimate the help trekking poles can provide over the course of a long trip. They can make a huge difference when carrying a heavy load, taking anywhere from 15 to 25 pounds of weight off your feet and lower back. This, plus the stability they provide, can add several miles per day to your hike while reducing blisters from your boots and/or backpack. But trekking poles are only effective if you know how to use them.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Trekking poles
  • Trekking poles
Step 1
Adjust the trekking pole lengths so that the grips are as high as your elbows. This is an ideal median height. If you are hiking uphill for an extended period of time, shorten the poles. For downhill hikes, extend them.
Step 2
Secure the poles using either a clip or twist hold so that the poles do not change length when you put your weight on them.
Step 3
Bring forward the pole opposite of your moving foot, just like you do during your normal stride. This means your right pole will move forward as you step with your left foot, which provides stability on both sides of your body.
Step 4
Use poles while going down steep hills to secure yourself and prevent slipping or losing control and heading downhill into hazards.

Tips & Warnings

Choose a trekking pole weighing eight ounces or less for the best experience.
Use caution on rocky surfaces. A poorly-planted pole could slip and cause you to fall and injure yourself.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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