How to Buy Trekking Poles

There are many rea­sons why the use of women’s trekking poles by female hik­ers, back­pack­ers, and snow­shoers has increased dra­mat­i­cally in the past decade. By trans­fer­ring some of the weight into your arms, they make uphill climbs eas­ier. By offer­ing sta­bil­ity on down­hills, they reduce stress on your joints, espe­cially your knees and ankles. They also pro­vide bal­ance when you ford­ fast-moving rivers.

Beginner hikers always ask the same question. How many trekking poles do you need for a hike? Since you have two legs, it makes sense to take two trekking poles. Your knees will thank you for it. Also, two trekking poles will provide more traction than one when fording rivers or hiking over ice and snow. A single trekking pole is ideal for short excursions on easier terrain.

This women’s trekking pole guide will intro­duce you to a few top­ics that will help you choose the best women’s hiking poles for your needs.

Types of Women’s Trekking Poles

Trekking poles can be bro­ken into three pri­mary types: stan­dard, shock absorb­ing, and Staff. The one that’s right for you comes down to what type of ter­rain you expect to be traversing.

Standard

Stan­dard trekking poles are typ­i­cally strong, light­weight, and tele­scop­ing. The tele­scop­ing fea­ture is essen­tial for any hik­ing or back­pack­ing uses, when you want to strap your poles to your pack and go hands-free. There are two types of pole adjust­ment lock­ing mech­a­nisms. There are lever locks, and there are twist locks. Twist locks are not rec­om­mended for ski­ing or snow­shoe­ing because it can be dif­fi­cult to adjust them with gloves on. Lever locks are intended for all-around use. You can also find stan­dard poles in both two and three sec­tions. Two sectioned-poles are gen­er­ally stur­dier and bet­ter for ski­ing, while three sec­tioned poles are best intended for hik­ing or backpacking.

Shock Absorbing

Shock absorb­ing poles have inter­nal air pis­tons that com­press coiled springs. They add weight and cost, but they do help alle­vi­ate extra stress on your joints, espe­cially on the knees and ankles. The spring on most shock absorb­ing trekking poles can be locked so it can trans­form into a tra­di­tional rigid pole when needed.

Springs are integrated into the telescoping shaft joints, such that they absorb some shock otherwise absorbed by your elbow and wrist joints. Most poles don’t incorporate them, but you can purchase them separately.

Staff

A hik­ing staff is a sin­gle pole and it’s an old tra­di­tion. They are typ­i­cally taller than most other trekking poles and they offer sta­bil­ity while not occu­py­ing both hands. They’re very use­ful for casual walk­ing, but can also be excep­tion­ally use­ful when ford­ing rivers or when walk­ing down steep ter­rain that requires large steps over boul­ders. Some staffs can also serve as a cen­ter pole for light­weight tent setups on back­pack­ing trips or pro­vide the hiker with a sta­ble mono­pod for tak­ing photos.

Women’s Hiking Poles Shaft Material

The two most com­mon types of mate­ri­als used in trekking poles are car­bon fiber and aluminum.

Car­bon Fiber

Car­bon Fiber is the light­est mate­r­ial you can find for your trekking poles. The only draw­back is that car­bon fiber can bend under extreme stress. With rea­son­ably care, they are durable enough to last for years. Hik­ers also appre­ci­ate car­bon fiber’s unique abil­ity to reduce vibra­tion, and because it’s so light, it will actu­ally reduce the energy expen­di­ture that it takes to use them, mak­ing car­bon fiber par­tic­u­larly desir­able for climb­ing peaks, bush­whack­ing through tun­dra, or other long-mileage pursuits.

Alu­minum

Alu­minum is the go-to choice for an eco­nom­i­cal and durable trekking pole. Alu­minum poles are typ­i­cally con­structed with high grade 7075-T6 or 7075 alu­minum mak­ing them extremely tough. They are only a few ounces heav­ier than car­bon fiber poles and they are notice­ably more resilient under stress. For this rea­son, any activ­ity that demands rugged use, such as moun­tain climb­ing, snow­shoe­ing over a lot of steep ter­rain, or cross­ing rivers, alu­minum is the mate­r­ial of choice.

Women’s Trekking Poles Straps

Trekking pole wrist straps let you relax your grip slightly and transfer some of the pressure to your arm. This can make a difference on a long trek. All wrist straps should be adjustable. For long-distance hiking, having some padding on the strap can be nice. Having the option of letting your trekking poles hang from your wrists also allows you to go on all fours during a particularly steep scramble.

In conclusion, the appendage stress associated with using poles should not be on your hands and fingers, but on your wrist and arms. If your poles have straps, and you use them, it isn’t necessary to grip the handle so tight, such that you experience white knuckles.

Women’s Trekking Poles Grips

Grips give the trekking pole a sur­pris­ingly refresh­ing sensation. Hard rubber and cork seem to mold to the hand well and are very durable.

Cork

Cork grips are breath­able in warm weather, while still insu­lat­ing your hands in the cold. It takes some time to break them in, but once you do they fit the mold of your hand.

Rubber

Rub­ber grips do not retain mois­ture and they are the best insu­la­tor. This makes them the grip mate­r­ial of choice for win­ter or cold weather pur­suits. They also are best for reduc­ing vibra­tion, so it’s a good choice for high impact activ­i­ties like moun­tain climbing.

Foam

Foam grips are a good choice for warm weather hik­ing. They absorb sweat and have a nice tex­ture to hold. As with rub­ber, foam grips can at times pro­duce fric­tion blis­ters or red hotspots from repeat­ing rubbing.

Women’s Trekking Pole Baskets

Trekking pole baskets are the round parts at the ends of the poles. Select trekking poles with large (at least 3-inch diameter) baskets if you’ll be hiking through snow. For non-winter treks, smaller baskets are less cumbersome. In some instances, you can get your poles fitted with new baskets, but you’ll need to take them into the shop to ensure that the pieces will work together.

In conclusion, in non-snow terrain, your typical ski baskets tend to get in the way. They get caught in brush, wedged between rocks, and are difficult to use in crossing fast water.

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