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How to Use Trekking Poles

how to use trekking poles

Now for all those who have tried using trekking poles will attest to the fact that it’s not child’s play. However, they will also attest to the fact that having trekking poles on an excursion is a huge advantage. But having trekking poles is not enough, you need to know how to use trekking poles for them to be effective.

Having a pair of these poles means having an extra pair of support. So, which is the most effective way to use trekking poles? Here are the tips to make sure that you make most of your trekking poles.


Use a Wrist Strap

The wrist strap is a very important aspect of the proper use of the trekking poles. For starters, you must be able to properly adjust the straps.

Proper strap adjustment will keep aching and sprained wrists at bay. For proper wrist, adjustment pull out the tension block, then pull the ends to tighten it or the upper area to loosen it. There is a proper way to use the wrist straps.

For this, you need to slip your hand from the bottom through the strap to allow it to comfortably fit around your wrist. Grip the loose ends when using the poles. Allow your hand to loosely grip the pole allowing your hand to hang enclosed in the strap.

However, be keen to ensure that the strap is not too loose. For best fitting, the strap should be loose enough to support your hands’ weight but not too tight to restrict circulation in the hand.


Pole Length

trekking pole length

First and foremost, it is impossible for you to aptly be able to use the poles if the length is not right. This means that the poles must not be too long, neither too short. To get to get the best pole length, ensure that you place the pole straight so that the tip is at your feet.

The rule of thumb here is to make sure that your elbow rests at a 90-degree angle. When it comes to the height adjustment, make sure that the numbers at the top and bottom segments of the pole correspond.

Sometimes it is advisable to set the poles at different lengths. This means one pole short and the other long. This is most useful when you are navigating uneven or a zigzag terrain. This allows you to use the poles alternatively without necessarily having to adjust the poles length every couple of meters.


Tightening Your Poles

Open the clasps then slowly screw until you are satisfied with the tension. Screw clockwise to tighten and anti-clockwise to loosen.  Make sure that the tension allows the pole to support all your body weight without slipping.


Terrain Navigation

To make the most use of your trekking pole you need to know how to properly use it to walk uphill and downhill. So here goes.

Navigating an uphill terrain can be somewhat of a challenge as you exert your legs and lungs. However, the trekking poles can help alleviate some of that stress by engaging your upper torso. This, in turn, relieves the pressure from the legs making your movement more efficient.

When walking uphill the pole needs to be short enough to aid you in the push off. As much as possible make sure that the poles are close to your body for effective performance. Reducing the length of the poles allows you maximum leverage when descending. The poles’ tip should not be before the lead foot.

When walking downhill, make the poles a bit lengthier. This means that you should be standing upright at any time you plant the pole ahead of you. Trekking poles when used right, will go a long way in ensuring that your knees are happy. They help in absorbing the shock through your upper body.

This, in turn, enables you to navigate quicker and with less strain. If you are using a single trekking pole, make sure to firmly plant it ahead of the opposite foot. This will make your movement more efficient. For management of balance on uneven ground, ensure that your hands have a proper grip on the poles.


Pole Movement

using trekking poles

In essence, pole movement has a pattern. Pole movement may correspond with the movement of the leg on its opposite side. This is best for balance. The pole movement may also be parallel as the pole moves in tandem with the leg from the same side. This movement reduces leg fatigue. However, there are other techniques to help you when using the poles.

When stepping on higher or lower ground e.g. a ledge, put both poles forward to give you more leverage. Additionally, be careful when navigating on rocky terrain as the poles are prone to slipping and breaking leading to accidents.

A rule of thumb here is to ensure that the poles angle back slightly behind you as you walk. As you make your step, lightly push off the ground and always make sure that you keep pressure off your knees.


Keep Your Elbows Close

This is very vital to ensure that you properly use the poles and to minimize the fatigue. By keeping your arms as near as possible to your body, you are able to conserve energy. By keeping them close, the poles will move near your feet where the path is most likely clear.


With these tips in mind, you will be able to get maximum usage out of your trekking poles. Trekking poles go a long way in ensuring you do not tire out easily as you move. They enable you to distribute weight and stress from your body to the poles. This means that there is less fatigue in your legs. Additionally, trekking poles when properly used add the benefit of safety as they provide the much-needed stability and leverage.

If it is the extra gear you are worried about carrying, you can consider using trekking poles instead of tent poles. So no matter terrain or weather, trekking poles are your best companion. However, it is important that you first find the poles that are most suited for you. Then rest assured that the trekking poles will make a huge difference in your experience.

Author Bio:

Together with her husband Ethan, Jessica writes product reviews at, giving you the low down on varied and diverse products found on Amazon.

Image credits:
“1 (27)” (Public Domain) by lastextremeanonymous
A Strange Hat” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Chris Hunkeler
Black Diamond trekking poles on Mt Garfi” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by iagoarchangel

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