How to Use Trekking Poles Correctly?

A man with an orange backpack demonstrating the use of trekking poles in the snow.

Say you’ve updated your outdoor equipment inventory and bought yourself a pair of trekking poles. You might be wondering: alright, so what now? If that’s the case, you’ve knocked on the right door. Today we’ll talk about the correct usage of trekking poles.

Not only that, we’ll cover everything that’s closely related to the subject. If you’ve read other articles, here at Outdoor Is Home, you know how it’s done. Now, let’s see what’s on the menu.

A single trekking pole is better than no pole. Still, it’s better you use a pair. Keep your arms in a neutral position and employ the soldiers to help you advance forward. Also, remember to loosen your grip on the poles. For maximum control, the straps should go across the palm and “wrap” under the root of your thumb.

What is trekking and how’s it different from hiking?

While many folks might trekking and hiking are synonyms, the truth’s a bit different. Okay, both activities have lots in common. For example, both give you the chance to enjoy some fantastic natural imagery. Also, both involve a great deal of walking.

First of all, let’s just say trekking’s a bit more challenging than hiking. Basically, we can define it as walking for more than a day. An average hike doesn’t involve that much of your time. So, why do certain folks walk for days? We can say it’s a way of challenging oneself, or an opportunity to enjoy some beautiful nature without being pressured by the clock.

Other (less obvious) differences

As you might know, hiking is mostly done in a pretty much safe environment. Most hiking trails are easy to handle and don’t really require you to invest any special efforts. Yours is only to enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Of course, we by no means want to discredit tougher hiking routes or any hiking lovers out there.

Trekkers, on the other hand, often choose mountainous and difficult terrain for their outdoor adventures. Not only do folks get to enjoy their surrounding, but they also have the opportunity to challenge their physical and mental/psychological capacities. Also, while trekking culture might differ from place to place, these were the characteristics you’ll find just about anywhere.

Are there different types of trekking?

As a matter of fact, there are! Let’s see what are the different types of trekking:

  • Easy trekking. As the title suggests, it’s the beginner’s mode. The focus is more on enjoying the natural scenery.
  • Moderate trekking. The transitional, intermediate mode. One enjoys nature while conquering a bit more difficult terrain.
  • Strenuous trekking. This type requires you to endure strenuous physical challenges. It’s mostly done in high-altitude regions. Also, a person should have some previous experience with the sport before trying strenuous trekking.
  • Difficult trekking. Fourth, and most challenging type of trekking. Usually done on steep slopes, and by professional trekkers. Requires a great deal of endurance and precision.

Why is trekking important?

There are many reasons why one should try trekking. We’ll show you some of the major ones:

  • Trekking greatly reduces the levels of stress. Basically, it’s like nature’s own therapy.
  • It’s mostly done in groups. In other words: it has plenty of social benefits.
  • Trekking gives you a better understanding of nature or different cultures.
  • Also, it will also help you develop certain survival skills. Who knows when they might come in handy.
  • Overall, it’s a satisfying exercise for both your mind and body. 

Okay, now that we’ve seen why everyone should try trekking at least once in their lifetime, let’s take a look at what’s the correct usage of trekking poles.

A couple holding onto their trekking poles.

How to use trekking poles correctly?

Trekking poles? It almost sounds like something a Polish trekking team would find too cheesy to pick as their name. Anyway, where were we?

As one can guess, trekking poles are used by numerous groups. Most notably: hikers and backpackers. There’s a good reason why that’s the way things stand. Trekking poles offer many benefits to walking enthusiasts of all sorts. 

Wait, what exactly are the benefits of trekking poles?

For example, trekking poles enable you to move faster across the terrain. Also, they provide extra support for your body. Subsequently, trekking poles reduce the amount of effort that’s needed to handle certain terrains. That being said, you’ll be able to achieve more during your nature walks.

If used correctly, trekking poles will plentily increase your pace. Needless to mention that will leave positive effects on your health. Your heart rate and oxygen intake will increase, without making you feel like you’re wasting vast amounts of energy. Also, the so-called workload will spread across various muscles and muscle groups, not only your legs.

Also, trekking poles give their users stability and support on uneven surfaces or any unfamiliar grounds. Those additional two points of contact with the ground you’re walking on will slightly boost your confidence. This is very important since you’ll probably feel a little fatigued near the end of your walk.

Lastly, trekking poles will significantly improve your posture. That’s especially critical if you’re carrying a load. Also, trekking poles increase your consciousness of being upright while you’re walking. People tend to slump forward when walking uphill. It shifts their center of gravity thus making them more prone to slipping or stumbling on difficult, uneven terrain. Trekking poles will keep your body in a more upright position, so you can move easier up the trail using your arms and shoulders.

These were the benefits trekking poles provide their users with. Now let’s delve deeper into the subject matter.

Alright, so how does one use trekking poles correctly?

To be completely honest, essentially there’s no correct or incorrect way to use trekking poles. Although, some methods of usage will prove more efficient than others.

It’s no secret most walkers/trekkers/hikers use their poles incorrectly. Wait, we meant to say: inefficiently. Anyway, they bend their arms at the elbow and use the pole as support by placing the tip a little in front of themselves. Here’s a better solution. You’ll want to keep your arms in a neutral position (with a very slight bend) and employ the soldiers to help you advance forward.

Also, try to loosen your grip on the poles. The strap of your pole should go across the palm and “wrap” under the root of the thumb. That way, you’ll ensure a better connection with the pole. In other words: you’ll maintain control over the pole more easily if your grip either becomes too slippery or you stumble.

Is it alright to use a single trekking pole?

Well, a single trekking pole is certainly better than no pole. Still, it’s more than recommended you use a pair. A pair of trekking poles will ensure you a maximum level of stability and control. Additionally, using a pair of trekking poles will positively affect your posture.

Now, let’s see some tips on using poles when walking downhill/uphill.

How to use poles when walking downhill

While going downhill, your trekking poles should be a bit in front of you, so they could engage the shock systems and minimize the impact of the slope. Also, try to shorten your stride, especially if you’re sporting a backpack. If the walking terrain’s very muddy or steep, it could help if you went down sideways, placing the tip of the trekking pole deep into the ground and putting your foot right next to it.

What about walking uphill?

When going uphill, you should slightly shorten the poles. Use them to push off, not pull yourself up the hill. Make sure you don’t plant the pole in front of your lead foot. Imagine if your tip’s too far ahead of you. You’ll have to use precious energy to push the pole downward, instead of backward. The trekking poles should be fairly close to your body, as that will improve your efficiency, too.

Bonus tip: How to choose the right pole length?

We’re getting near the end of the text. Instead of a quick summary, we’ve chosen to give you a bonus round of tips. Let’s see how one chooses the right pole length. Told in different terms: what you should know when buying a trekking pole?

If you’re buying an adjustable trekking pole

Folks taller than 6 feet (1.83 m) should choose a trekking pole that has a maximum length of 51 inches (130 cm). Shorter-than-6-feet fellows don’t have a thing to worry about. They can shorten most adjustable trekking poles to a length that suits their height.

If you’re buying a fixed-length trekking pole

Here we’ll show you something of a chart. We suggest folks:

  • shorter than 5 ft. 1 in. (1.55 m) use a 39 in (100 cm) pole.
  • whose height is between 5 ft. 1 in. (1.55 cm) and 5 ft. 7 in. (1.7 m) use a 43 in. (110 cm) pole.
  • whose height is between 5 ft. 7 in. (1.7 m) and 5 ft. 11 in. (1.8 m) use a 47 in. (120 cm) pole.
  • higher than 6 feet (1.83 m) use a 51 in. (130 cm) pole.

Final words

And that was that. Now you know how to use trekking poles correctly and you’re ready for the adventures that lay ahead.

For more trekking-related tips, click right here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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