How To Use Trekking Poles


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

More: How to Choose the Best Hiking Boots for You

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.

More: How to Hike Longer and Faster

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

Active logoLearn how to use trekking poles before your first hiking event.

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About the Author

Will Kuhlman

Will Kuhlmann is an avid distance runner who serves on the board of the Columbus Roadrunners Club. He also enjoys skiing, hiking, swimming and kayaking.

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