How To Choose and Use Trekking Poles?


Updated on April 25, 2021

Since I used the trekking poles for the first time, I can’t imagine hiking without them. There is always a place for hiking poles in my luggage. I can always rely on trekking poles and I use hiking poles in different terrain. Mountains, valleys, canyons, deserts, snow, sand, mountain streams. They perfectly support and facilitate the hiking. Which trekking poles should you choose? How to use trekking poles? When and what terrain to use trekking poles? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using trekking poles? We share our years of experience of hiking with trekking poles. So, check our hiking poles guide.

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How to Use Trekking Poles

Why use trekking poles?

Using trekking poles is not a fashion. Walking with trekking poles has nothing to do with mountains lance, but it is a matter of health. Hiking with poles is much easier. They have many advantages that make it easy to hike. First of all, they relieve the joints and spine. We will discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of using hiking poles. We will tell you how to use them correctly and when to use them. We’ll share our tips on choosing the best trekking poles without spending a fortune. We will show you the budget trekking poles options we used. We will also show our favorite model, the purchase of which we are very pleased with, and we can highly recommend it, after months of hiking.

Benefits of trekking poles

  • Trekking poles relieve the joints, especially the knees and spine. When walking, especially in the mountains, the body is exposed to many loads, the effects of which can be minimized by using trekking poles. The greatest loads are generated by two factors – carrying a backpack and descent the slope. Research shows that during one hour of walking (especially when descending) with trekking poles, it is possible to absorb several tons of loads that would otherwise be exposed to our joints.
  • They provide stabilization on uneven ground while ascending and descending. With trekking poles, you can gain more control when descending and soften the momentum of your descent from the slope.
  • Trekking poles reduce the load on the lower limbs by transferring them to the arms and making the whole body participate in the walk. Distributing weight over the upper and lower limbs is one way to help your body over rough terrain and with your luggage on your back.
  • The use of trekking poles allows you to correct your posture. Well-adjusted poles keep the body straight. Which, in turn, is extremely important for proper breathing. It is easier to breathe in the natural body position. This is especially important on approaches.
  • Trekking poles provide additional support when we lose our strength. They often make you feel less tired during the hike with trekking poles.
  • Trekking poles help you keep your balance. Thanks to them, you can increase the static balance and reduce the risk of falling on unsafe ground.
Black Diamond Trail Ergo CorkFoxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking PolesKomperdell UnisexTrailBuddy Trekking Poles
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  • Trekking poles are also invaluable when crossing rivers and streams. They were perfect for riverbed treks in the Narrows or the Subway.
  • On steep terrain – both on ascents and descents – you walk faster with the hiking poles. This has to do with the distribution of loads and the stabilization of the body with additional points of support. It was great to go down with trekking poles on the 8-miles trek to the famous Havasu Falls. Also, during the return, when you have to go uphill, they reduced the fatigue.
  • When walking through tall grasses or meadows, you can check with the hiking poles whether there is a viper or a snake in the grass in front of you. During our road trip around Argentina, I managed to chase away the persistent fox thanks to the trekking poles. It probably had rabies. I met it on the trail. It didn’t want to leave. It was getting closer and closer. It wanted to fawn (this is how sick animals behave). I used my trekking poles to scare it away. I hit the stick to stick several times. It helped.

how to use trekking poles
how to use trekking poles
Angels Landing hike

Disadvantages of trekking poles

Are there any disadvantages to using trekking poles? Few. The benefits of using hiking poles definitely outweigh the disadvantages. But a few minor drawbacks we can mention.

  • They may interfere with the approaches where you must have your hands free. So, your backpack should have straps that allow you to attach poles to it, and hiking poles should fold comfortably so that they do not interfere. So, in more exposed terrain, on edges, on ridges, on steep ascents (like the end of the trail to Angels Landing), you should give up trekking poles and free your hands. When you meet an abyss on the road, be sure to attach the hiking poles to your backpack.
  • They constitute an additional load when you need to attach them to a backpack. So, it would be best if you chose poles made of light but durable material.
  • Sometimes steel tips slide on stones, so choose poles with several tips, also rubber.
  • Sometimes they might break and bend, so it is worth investing in durable hiking poles that will serve for years (but you don’t have to spend a fortune to buy great hiking poles).
  • The tips might block between the stones. Therefore it is important to have a few interchangeable tips that allow the trekking poles to be adapted to specific terrain.
  • Incorrect handling of the poles, most often associated with improper adjustment, can cause poor posture. So, choose poles with adjustable lengths to make them perfect for yourself.
  • People who use trekking poles for a long time, especially when the technique is not fully appropriate, may experience disturbances in the proper sense of balance. Support with trekking poles makes the human body a little lazy, so there is no point in using trekking poles on smooth and straight terrain or short and easy hiking trails.
how to use trekking poles

Who should use trekking poles?

Specialists have determined that trekking poles are especially recommended for people:

  • who carry backpacks during their hikes
  • with diseases of the joints, pain in the knees or spine
  • with excessive body weight
  • in middle and old age

When to use trekking poles?

When are hiking poles really useful, and you should definitely take them on the trail?

  • on all hiking trails with uneven surfaces
  • for long distances day hikes with a backpack
  • for multi-day hikes with a backpack
  • when you have problems with joints, knees, or spine
  • when you overcome large elevation gains
  • on routes where you cross rivers or streams
  • on all routes where it can be slippery, especially in rain and snowfall
Bryce Canyon hike

How to choose the best trekking poles?

We’ll give you a few tips to follow when choosing your trekking poles, and we’ll show you some of our favorite pairs we’ve used so far. Many companies make trekking poles. Everyone has their favorite brand. Our favorites are Black Diamond, Leki, and Rei. A well-known and great brand is also Komperdell. Our favorite model, which we have been using for many months, is of great quality and has a reasonable price, is Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles.

What to consider when choosing trekking poles?

  • Please pay attention to the material from which the poles are made, affecting their strength and weight. The best are carbon fiber and aluminum.
  • The locking system is also important. It should be convenient, fast and reliable. You can adjust each stick model to your height thanks to the height adjustment. So, you set the height and block it. You have two ways to do this: internal and external.
  • The length of the trekking poles and how they are folded are also important. After folding them, the length of the poles is important so that they can be easily transported or attached to a backpack. So it is advisable to be as compact as possible. We can choose two-segment poles, three-segment, and four-segment poles. So far, we have used two and three-segmented ones and can recommend them.
  • The handle should be comfortable and pleasant to the touch, well-shaped. Therefore, in our opinion, cork handles are the best, which fit perfectly to the hand. And even in the hottest, when you hike to the Wave or other amazing hike in the heat, your hand won’t sweat.
  • Each model of trekking poles is equipped with straps on the wrists. Ensure that they are wide and pleasant on the inside and that they can be fastened easily and efficiently.
  • Spare tips, which are the element most exposed to wear. It would be best if you were sure that the seller had provided the option of purchasing spare tips and can be easily replaced. It is worth using rubber tip covers that will extend the life of the tip.

More you can read in this article.

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork

What are the best trekking poles?

The best budget trekking poles

Are the best hiking poles always the most expensive? No. Good trekking poles don’t have to cost a fortune. If you do not know yet whether you want to use them or are a beginner in hiking, you can buy cheaper but solid poles. If you don’t hike too often in terrain that requires trekking poles, we can recommend you a budget option.

Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are a great budget option. They are made from 100% carbon fiber material, which is known for its incredible lightness. They are straightforward to use and a breeze to adjust – locking them in place takes only a few seconds. The anti-slip natural cork grips absorb sweat and moisture and will keep your hands cool and dry during those challenging long-distance hikes. They are suitable for all conditions, and you will get interchangeable tips and a bag for easy transport in the set.

TrailBuddy Trekking Poles is also a great and inexpensive choice for beginners. They are made of tough aluminum, which is crucial if hiking on rocky terrain or supporting heavier weight. But they are still lightweight. Also, have Cork handles, which are comfy to use in both hot and cold temperatures. In our opinion, cork handles are the best. Changing the height is a breeze thanks to its lever-locks. You will get 2 pairs of rubber tips, 1 pair of connectors, mud baskets, and snow baskets.

The best trekking poles

We haven’t used many trekking poles because the ones we have are extremely durable and of great quality. So we don’t need to exchange them for other models. Of course, the choice is huge. We only recommend those we know personally.

PRO TIP: If you are looking for good quality poles and at an affordable price, be sure to check out Rei outlet offers online. They have great promotions.

Our favourite are:

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles. They are made of aluminum, so they are light. Moreover, they are perfect for all seasons. They have proven themselves on hard rocks, desert sands, and snow. They deliver on-the-fly adjustability and easy handling. Are durable and has a cork handle. Cork grips are super sturdy. Moreover, they have a 15° corrective angle that delivers optimal grip position, and you don’t feel the wrist’s pain after miles of hiking. They are ergonomic and offer a lot of stability on tough terrain. Cork handles make them easy to hold for miles. Cork is robust and solid, with no chipping or flaking. They are lightweight but so strong. What’s important, they have nice quality straps, with soft sides. Wrists do not rub. They are very comfortable. Finally, they are beautiful. Check the price and buy them here.

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

Leki Legacy Lite Cor-Tec Trekking Poles. They are solid as a rock in each terrain, also in muddy or rainy weather. Moreover, they add stability to snowy or uneven surfaces. They are lightweight & durable. And the handles are very comfortable. Light, low-profile SpeedLock Plus locking system offers fast, solid length adjustments, even when you’re wearing gloves. Furthermore, they have innovative, 2-component Evocon Cor-Tec grips with 80% natural ground cork that offer all-day comfort, support and control when you’re climbing and descending.

How to use trekking poles?

  • Above all, trekking poles need to be held firmly. To do this, put your hand through the loop of the strap from below, then grasp the loop and the handle of the stick together. Thanks to this, more force will be transferred to the strap of the trekking pole, and you will relieve the wrists. The best option, in our opinion, is cork handles – this material has a non-slip effect when your hands sweat during hot days. These handles are also very comfortable.
  • The number of segments and the length of the hiking pole are also significant. The best are three-segment trekking poles. They are more durable. Adjust the length to your height. With the trekking pole in your hand, your elbow should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Shorten the hiking poles when climbing, and lengthen them when descending.
  • There is no universal technique for walking with hiking poles. We can walk alternatively, putting your right leg forward and the left arm with a hiking stick forward, then the left leg and the right arm.
  • Be careful not to lean all your body weight on the hiking poles as it may break.
  • When crossing the water, put your poles forward first and rest on a firm surface, not slippery rocks. Examine the area so that the stick does not slip.
  • When you want to attach the poles to your backpack, let’s do it in such a way that in the event of a fall, you won’t hurt yourself on them. Or not to hit someone else with them. Fasten them so that they do not fall out, especially when climbing. When choosing a hiking backpack, check that it has special loops or straps and mesh pockets into which you can insert handles and tighten the upper part with a strap.
  • Depending on the surface, replace the tips of the poles. It is especially important when you are walking on snow or when the stones are slippery.
how to use trekking poles

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the van escape

Hi, we are Agnes & Chris! Welcome to The Van Escape! We are travelers, photographers, and bloggers. Our goal is to share travel & photo experience and inspire you to outdoor adventures through America. We love wildlife, off the beaten path places, soaking in hot springs, and van life. We also like cities by night and tasting local food & wine. We give you ready itineraries, hints, and essential tools to prepare you for your unforgettable lifetime journey. We only describe the places we have been, which we know and recommend without hesitation. All photos are also ours. We are so glad you’re here!



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