A Beginner’s Guide to Trekking Poles

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Have you ever hiked up a steep hill?

If you have, you probably understand the importance of stability and balance when hiking. Unfortunately, many first-time hikers and climbers don’t consider the need for additional support before heading to a trail. They assume they can rely solely on their lower-body coordination to successfully finish a hike. In most cases, this is a wrong assumption!

If you are among the millions of Americans who have a newly-developed interest in hiking recently, it is important for you to learn about the importance of trekking poles. Here’s a detailed guide to help you find the best trekking poles on Amazon.

What are Trekking Poles?

You have likely seen outdoor adventurers carrying large backpacks with two sticks poking out of or strapped to them. Those sticks are likely trekking poles or hiking staffs!

The main difference between trekking poles and hiking sticks/staffs is that the former are almost always sold in pairs. Meanwhile, a hiking staff is most commonly used separately as a single pole. Both products are specifically designed to assist walkers and hikers with improved stability and balance.

Why Use Trekking Poles?

Many hikers choose not to invest in trekking poles because they don’t consider them necessary hiking gear. While that can be true for experienced hikers, you should still take trekking poles on your first few hikes, even if you don’t think they are essential. This is because trekking poles provide the additional balance, stability, and coordination you need as a first-time hiker. Trekking poles can help you avoid the most common hiking-related injuries like lower-body muscle sprains. So, trekking poles might not be necessary for you, but they are still great investments.

What to Look for When Buying Trekking Poles

You can easily search for and find the best hiking poles on Amazon. However, the hundreds of options might overwhelm you and make it difficult to choose a suitable pair. Taking the following factors into consideration can make finding your ideal trekking poles easy.

A solo hiker walking with a single trekking pole

· Quantity

The choice between using only one or two trekking poles is entirely subjective. Some hikers prefer keeping one hand free, which is why they choose to carry only one pole. For others, using two poles is a better choice because it provides extra support when they need it. So, consider your mobility requirements and limb coordination efficiency when deciding how many poles you might need to use.

· Material

The material your trekking pole shafts and grips are made of can make a difference. Trekking pole shafts are most commonly made of either carbon fiber or aluminum. Carbon poles are known for their shock-absorption properties, while aluminum poles are far more bendable. Beginner hikers often choose aluminum poles like the Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles since they are more flexible and easier to become accustomed to.

You can find trekking pole grips/handles made out of cork, rubber, or foam. Foam grip poles are the most popular among new hikers because of their softness and durability. The Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles are a great choice since they have breathable foam grips.

· Length or Height

The length or height of your trekking poles makes a great difference. Measuring the height from your elbows to your feet will give you a good idea of what trekking pole length to look for. You can hold your elbows out at a 90-degree angle while standing straight to take these measurements. Enlist the help of someone else for better accuracy. If you cannot find poles that are your ideal length, just buy adjustable ones!

· Weight

Many hikers don’t take weight into consideration when picking a pair of trekking poles. Don’t make this mistake! Your poles should be lightweight enough that you can easily move them but heavy enough to provide stability on the ground. The TrailBuddy Lightweight Trekking Poles are only 19.4oz, making them a great choice if you are looking for good balance.

· Pole Features

Most trekking poles can be used as they are, but you can find trekking pole accessories for additional support, too. For example, you can use baskets with your trekking poles. These baskets provide ground support in the snow to stop your poles from sinking in too deep. You can also find poles with straps that you can secure around your wrist for better mobility.

A person gripping two trekking poles with straps

How to Use Trekking Poles

Once you find the best trekking poles on Amazon, it will be easy to figure out how to use them. Here are some basic but effective tips to help you out.

1. Use Proper Movements

Experts suggest that you should always use double trekking poles in opposite motions. Not using proper movements can lead to finger, shoulder, and elbow injuries. For example, if you step forward using your left foot, you should move the pole in your right hand forward at the same time. This helps because trekking and hiking poles are designed to act like additional limbs.

2. Use Poles as Navigation Tools

You might come across streams or lakes during your hike. If you are unsure about the depth of the water, you can use your trekking poles as tools. You can also use your poles to move branches or small rocks out of your way when hiking.

3. Know When to Plant Both Poles

In certain situations, you will need to plant both your trekking poles into the ground in front of you at the same time. Commonly, these situations arise when you are going uphill, downhill, or through steep stairs. You can double-plant by swinging your poles forward and dropping them upright simultaneously.

4. Adjust Throughout the Hike

Depending on the angle you are hiking at, you might need to adjust your pole length and straps accordingly. You can navigate uphill hikes better by shortening your poles by 5-10cm and loosening your straps. Contrarily, lengthening your poles by 5-10cm and tightening your straps can help you hike downhill more easily. Just know when to adjust your poles for the most efficient navigation.

A blue hiking backpack with trekking poles and a folded map

Read the Best Backpacking Reviews Online!

Backpacking reviews are a great place to get product information online. Head over to Back Country Gear to learn more!

Our website contains helpful resources for outdoor enthusiasts across the US. You can find the best backpacking gear, hiking gear reviews, and even camping iron cookware reviews on our site. We rank the most suitable outdoor products for you so that you can have the best hiking gear for men, or climbing experience. Contact us for any questions.

A person hiking with a backpack in the mountains.
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