Stay Safe on Uneven Terrain
Most poles have adjustable length, and this can really help on uneven terrain. Start with the basic ski pole position. Standing straight up, hold the pole grips with your hands and adjust the length so your forearms are parallel with the ground.
- Uphill—shortening the poles will position them to give you the most leverage for climbing.
- Downhill—lengthening the poles will maximize their shock absorbing capacity and allow you to maintain better posture for more comfort.
- Traversing a slope—for the most stability, shorten the uphill pole and lengthen the downhill pole
Improve Endurance and Adaptability
Regardless of terrain, trekking poles give you the ability to hike further and stay on the trail longer, especially when hiking with a heavy pack. Distributing some of the added weight and stress to the poles is less fatiguing than making your legs do all the work.
Trekking poles are also adaptable: in a pinch, some hikers have used trekking poles to replace broken tent poles and set up shelter with a tarp. They can also be used for protection against wild animals such as mountain cats.
Get A Better Workout
Even when you're not hiking on challenging trails, some people use trekking poles to improve their fitness. Rather than just walking, you can have a full-body workout by using poles to engage the muscles of your upper body.
It may take a short time to develop a rhythm and feel comfortable with your poles, but once you are used to them, they can actually become an important part of your fitness routine.
More: Get Fit With Hiking
Learn how to use trekking poles before your first hiking event.