How to Use Trekking Poles

There is plenty of information on the internet on the topic – why you should use trekking poles? But there is very little information on how to use trekking poles correctly for your mountain adventures. This article describes a methodological and systematic way on how to use trekking poles correctly to your advantage to make your hiking easier and more efficient.

Adjust the Pole Length

In order to properly learn how to use trekking poles, first, you need to make sure that they are neither too short nor too long. The poles need to be of optimal length.

  1. For general use, you need to set the pole height in such a way that when the tip is on your feet, your elbow should make a rough 90 degree bend. By setting the height a little short, it is easier to clear plants or rocks with less lifting.
  2. On a usual 3 tier pole, set the top adjuster in such a way that the upper section is telescoped halfway. Then you need to fix the lower section in order to achieve the desired height. Make any required adjustments by using the top adjuster.

What is the reason behind these particular adjustments? It is because it is quite hard to load the poles with your arms overly extended or bent. You can generate a much higher force at the 90 degree angle that you can at 180 degree or 0 degree. By setting the pole segments as is suggested above, you can change the pole length by using only one adjuster, the closest one which is least likely to be muddy and/or contaminated with poison oak or ivy.

Attaching The Poles

After adjusting the pole length, you need to connect it to the original equipment. This is how you should do it:

  1. For every pole, put your hands through the base of the strap loop then hold the grip and pull the strap down.
  2. The length of the straps should be adjusted such that your fingers land exactly where they fit on the grips.
  3. The grip should be held loose. It is not required to close your bottom three fingers around the grip. In order to avoid soreness in your wrists or hand, just change how your fingers hold the grip.
  4. Elbows should be kept to your sides.

Why are these necessary? Basically, you are making a joint using the strap as a tireless, strong ligament. By gripping tightly, you hands and wrists will unnecessarily stress. By keeping your arms along your sides, you conserve energy and keep your poles traveling in the path which is most likely to be clear, i.e., in the center.

Uses of Trekking Poles

The primary use of trekking poles is for endurance, reducing injury and for building upper body strength. But there are many other functions as well:

  1. Checking for critters in high bushes.
  2. Poling a tarp tent
  3. Making noise to avoid wild animals and other un-welcomed encounters
  4. Moving poison ivy/oak and other objects that are unsafe to touch
  5. Defending yourself when attacked
  6. Marking a trail temporarily
  7. Probing the depth of mud and water
  8. Making a stand for a gravity filter or dromedary bag
  9. Stabilizing cameras
  10. Probing for obstacles in the dark.

How to Move Trekking Poles Forward

After the limbs have been attached, we need to move it forward while hiking. The correct way to do so is by jogging the forearm slightly up causing the pole to swing forward and back down to plant at the tip. You can also move the pole with a slight flick of the wrist.

Movement Patterns

There are a few movement patterns that you should follow –

  1. Alternate Legs – A pole goes forward when the opposite feet goes forward. This pattern retains balance and lets your arms swing naturally.
  2. Parallel Legs – The poles go forward with the leg on the same side going forward. This method is very easy going on your legs thus this pattern can be effectively used to relieve foot fatigue and stress.
  3. Double Pole – Both of the poles move forward at the same time which is very useful for stepping up or down.

Overall, it can be said that trekking poles are more than just a necessary item that you need for hiking trips. It is required for you to maintain proper balance and take load of your legs during extended walking sessions.

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