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 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 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.
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 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 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 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 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 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.