How to Choose the Right Trekking Poles for Your Hiking Style

April 17, 2019 4 Comments

How to Choose the Right Trekking Poles for Your Hiking Style

Words by Mydee Lasquite

Trekking poles are standard equipment for the determined individual taking their strides to a whole new level. A pair of reliable poles have proven to be strategic, operational and convenient for hikers, trekkers, backpackers, and snowshoers, because of its functional ability to provide support, safety, and stability during hiking trips.

Advantages of Trekking Poles

In a recent post, we shared the top reasons why investing in a pair of trekking poles is essential for any individual wanting to explore the outdoors. Key takeaways are as follows:

  • Stability
  • Safety
  • Support
  • Versatility
    • Operational tool
    • Self-Defense Tool

An old, yet still relevant study from The Journal Sports Medicine, trekking poles can reduce compressive force on the knees by up to 25%. This means that it displaces an enormous amount of weight from your lower body to your poles during treacherous climbs. They effectively help distribute energy to your body which significantly improves overall hiking endurance.

Now that you have an understanding of the importance of trekking poles, your next stop is understanding features as a guide to buying the most suitable trekking poles for your next adventure.

Basic Types of Trekking Poles on the Market

Standard Poles:

  • Basic trekking poles
  • Strong
  • Lightweight
  • Telescoping

These are your primary trekking poles. They provide a similar level of balance and support just like but without the anti-shock feature.

Shock Absorbing Poles:

  • Comes with internal springs
  • The shock on/off mechanism
  • Slightly heavier
  • More expensive

These poles come with built-in springs that absorb the shock as you go downhill. Anti-shock poles are recommended for trekkers or hikers suffering from weak or damaged ankles, hips or knees.

Staff:

  • Single pole support
  • Useful in long casual walks
  • Ideal for testing water depths or warding off insect attacks
  • Multipurpose - some use it as a center pole or monopod.

 Hiker Hunger Trekking Pole FeaturesHiker Hunger Trekking Pole Features

Trekking Pole Features

Hiker Hunger Trekking Poles

Handle Design

To the experienced hiker or trekker, they refer to this as the Grip. The shape and feel of grip vary by manufacturer. Some consider portability, others comfort. The material used for the handle design should provide comfort to your hands. Commonly used materials:

  • Cork:
    • Ergonomic design conforms to the shape of your hands
    • Moist resistant
    • Antimicrobial
    • Decreases vibration
    • stink resistant
    • Costly
    • Slightly heavier
  • Foam:
    • Soft and Comfortable to hold
    • Lightest material compared to all
    • Not ideal for cold weather
    • Standard make for lightweight poles
  • Rubber:
    • Water resistant
    • Ideal for winter activities
    • Heaviest in all materials
    • Causes hand chaffing over long periods when used in hotter climates

Wrist Strap

This comes standard with trekking poles. Mainly to secure your trekking poles from slipping or getting out of your hand. Some poles come with adjustable straps. The friction from constant contact can contribute to chaffing; it best to find padded or lined straps for better comfort.

Shaft

The shaft is the body of the walking pole. The material used in your trekking pole dictates its price in the market.

  • Carbon Fiber:
    • Lighter
    • Stiffer
    • Reduces vibration
    • Ideal for peak climbing or long-mileage
    • Easy to break once pressured by dent
    • High-priced
  • Aluminum:
    • Slightly heavier
    • Sturdy
    • Resilient  
    • Easy to repair
    • Economical
    • Ideal for a more strenuous pursuit

Locking Mechanism

The most common types of locking down your trekking poles:

  • Twist Locks:
    • Better suited for summer activities.
    • Light and easy to manage on the go.
  • Flick Locks
    • Ideal for winter pursuits
    • Easy to adjust even with gloves on
    • Sturdy and capable of withstanding sub-zero temperatures

Basket Size

The basket at the bottom of your pole is designed to prevent your trekking poles from sinking too deep into the ground, which usually happens when you encounter soft mud or snow. Wider baskets are ideal for winter trekking.

Opt for trekking poles with removable baskets, because they can be used for both winter and summer activities.

Pole Tips

Pole tips are for extra protection. They provide traction and control on most surfaces.

  • Carbide Steel Tips. Industry standard, without rubber support, they sound like chipping the earth surface.
  • Rubber Tip. It is added as an extra layer of protection for pole tips.

Things to Consider When Buying Trekking Poles

Hiker Hunger Trekking Poles          

 

 

 

 

We have discussed the essential features to look for in trekking poles. Below are additional considerations in picking the most suitable pole for your outdoor adventure.

Weight

Lighter is better because it’s easier to carry around.  However, we cannot discount the added safety and comfort of heavier materials especially if we require extra strength and more durable pole for longer, tedious treks.

Packability

Anyone who has experience in backpacking, climbing, and mountaineering will focus on this feature, mainly because, it is easier to carry around.

Versatility

In a separate blog, we mentioned a few things that make trekking poles useful when exploring the outdoors. Here, we refer to versatility as the ability of your trekking poles to adapt to what your activity requires. Shorter poles are more comfortable to carry around when climbing, because they are easy to breakdown. Anti-shock poles are great for well-traveled trails. Make sure that your poles are manufactured to withstand the test of weather, nature and your physical requirements.

The best trekking pole does not come from the expensive brands, but from the brands that combine all the essential elements of a useful, functional and reliable trekking pole. Experienced trekkers and climbers understand that functionality, safety, and comfort come together in finding a reliable trekking pole.




Customer Service
Customer Service

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4 Responses

Emily
Emily

April 24, 2019

Brent – great to hear your wife enjoyed our Carbon Fiber poles! From the sounds of it, you are a very experienced hiker and I would agree that hiking poles are a great addition to any hike!

Emily
Emily

April 24, 2019

Hi Joe! Great question. The top of each section or shaft should pull out relatively easy if the locking mechanism is loosened. I’m wondering if something is stuck inside, causing the bottom shaft to stick. I’d be happy to take a look if you send a picture to hello@hikerhunger.com

Happy Trails!
Emily

Joe Magruder
Joe Magruder

April 24, 2019

The bottom shaft on my poles tends to stick and is difficult to pull out. Any suggestions on how to fix this issue? I’ve cleaned them and use a light lubricant but with no real success.

Brent Booth
Brent Booth

April 24, 2019

Been hiking for about 4 decades both in the US and in Europe. Have completed about 800 miles of the AT over that time. Recently returned from a 8 day Grand Canyon trip. Bought a set of your Carbon Fiber poles several months ago for my wife to use on this trip. She really liked the lighter weight compared to her other poles. Poles held up well, given the harsh environment of the bottom of the canyon. Bottom line, we would not consider a hike without our hiking poles.

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