How To Use Hiking Poles And Trekking Poles
These days, hiking is all the rage. Many people choose these activities as their habit and work out as well. Are you a hiker? Yes? This blog will bring your hiking adventure to a new level.
Hiking poles or trekking poles are designed to assist trekkers, walkers, and backpackers with more certainty and stability. Having a set of poles can address your problem with mountainous hiking trails or challenging topography.
Many hikers do not know the right way to use hiking poles to take advantage of it. I’ll help you to have the answer of how to use hiking poles and trekking poles effectively in the following categories:
Hiking Pole – What Is It?
First of all, we’ll look up to the definition of hiking poles:
Trekking poles are an everyday hiking accessory that helps the trekker with the rhythm and stability needed to hike over a hard surface.
Trekking poles are similar to ski poles for their resemble features: baskets at the bottom, wrist strap, and handle. The length of the pole ranges from 85 to 135 cm.
Hiking poles have two or three parts that can easily be lengthened and pulled back, helpful when you store it in a backpack and hand around. It is usually manufactured from lightweight aluminum poles or carbon fiber.
Generally, there are two types: collapsible hiking poles and telescoping poles. Hiking poles use a tri-fold design with a tension cord so that you can fold them. While the other types have parts that slide into each other, the function is to adjust the length.
Due to research and some reports, walking poles should be used every time you have a walking holiday or walk on hilly and challenging hiking trails.
Hiking Poles vs. Trekking Poles
Hiking and trekking pole is the same due to some features:
- It can be both used for hiking and trekking purposes.
- The designs, materials, uses, roles,… are familiar with each other.
- Hiking and trekking poles can be used as the same in every context.
Overall, in another way, hiking poles are also trekking poles. It is simply synonym of each other. The only difference between them is the name. So you can call it hiking poles, or either trekking poles are still OK.
The Benefits of Using Hiking Poles
Are you questioning the advantages of hiking poles? Keep on reading to find out about it with the following explanations:
Move across the uneven terrain
As I’ve mentioned before, walking poles will be your best “supporter” when hiking through steep slopes or any painful area. It will give you extra lateral stability and reduce the effort to grip on the surface and move faster.
Also, it can protect your “poor” knees by easing the stress on your joints, particularly waking up or downhill. This is greatly beneficial if you are struggling with osteoarthritis, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis.
On the other hand, if you hike in flat and flowing terrain, it can be an exercise for you from the trip; I mean I burn more calories by workout for the upper body and legs simultaneously.
A measurable tool
Hiking poles can be valued to measure the depth of mud and water. Plus, it can also help you stabilize and stay balanced against the flow of water, which is an excellent tool for stream crossings.
Speed improvement and not getting tired
When you use poles, it will gain your speed surprisingly, especially when going downhill. Because of that, it will save your health. Your heart rate and oxygen uptake will be rising without getting exhausted(although you’ve burned a lot of energy).
When you encounter a steep hill or walk for long distances, you should retract one pole shorter than the other to make your trip happen on the ground. The two points interacting with the environment can erase your tiredness, and fatigue and improve endurance.
Additionally, the effort and workload will be divided across different body parts and muscles, not only the legs. You don’t have to worry about your legs anymore!
Trekking poles can be an excellent accessory for you to keep an upright posture while walking. When you’re going uphill, your entire body would slump forward, which can switch the center gravity, increasing the opportunity to grip on the steep.
Build a shelter
Yes, you don’t take it wrong. Trekking poles can REALLY set up a place for us to survive despite sounding quite CRAZY! Let’s dive deeper into the details:
Many backpacking tents are intentionally using trekking poles as tent poles. For that reason, it can also be taken advantage of to set up a Bivouac shelter.
Promote walkers to go hiking in some “awkward” weather conditions
How can it help? I’ll discuss cold weather for a typical example. Hikers are usually restricted to hiking when it’s snowing because of the slippery trails. With a set of poles, they can make everything WAY easier and use it year-round.
The Design of Hiking Poles
Are you wondering about the detailed design of the walking poles? I’ll let you get the hang of it from A to Z.
Grips have a wide variety of shapes, materials, and widths. There are also the ones called “women’s” versions that have smaller grips. There are 3 materials of grip: foam, rubber, and cork.
Foam can absorb if your hand is sweating which allows you to grip it. On the opposite side, it will cool in hand in boiling weather. So it can harmonize both wet and hot climates, though. However, because of its absorption, your hand will cold in the winter.
In general, foam is solid, but it is the least long-lasting material depending on the components and prices. There are many different prices at various qualities. The one which is made of premium foam can cost a whole lot more than a spectrum one.
The rubber grip is an enduring ingredient and can clutch strong in cold weather. If you have a sweating hand, it may be a bit smooth to hold it. In that case, you can wear gloves to prevent them from slipping out of your hands.
Rubber grips that have good quality have silicone on them to give a good grip on rainy days. Many hikers, skiers, and snowshoers tend to rubber poles in winter because rubber doesn’t absorb water like foam.
There is a wide range of costs in the market today. PLEASE stay away from rigid and tough surfaces rubber as they will get out of your hand when it is moist like a piece of cake! Choose the one which is soft and spongy instead, which can work out in any condition.
As the saying goes, “Save the best for last” cork is considered the best material in overall features and performances. It is made of polymer, which can last for a long time.
The most significant advantage of cork is that it absorbs a little water, making it a good choice for sweaty people (like me). Besides, it is cool in the hand when it is hot. Connecting two pros, cork is the combination of rubber and foam, making it the “king” of grip types.
Cork has numerous choices ranging from mid-priced to premium ones depending on its traits and features.
Many grips have index finger bumps that support holding the pole. Some grips are also molded with a fixed knuckle between the fingers. If you don’t fit in, say bye to your grip and pay for another one.
Poles are designed with a tiny ledge molded into the bottom of the grip to keep your hand in the correct position. There are also angled grips that give your wrist a rest.
It is often made from nylon, located at the top of the grips, and it can be flexible in length. Straps play an indispensable role as poles for many walkers, with the function to support your weight instead of holding a grip to bear your gravity.
Furthermore, straps can take it easy to suit the pole with your walking cadence and avoid it to move out of your bare, especially when walking downhill. Materials of qualified straps can comfy your skin, such as airbrushed nylon, microfiber, and neoprene.
Plus, a wrist strap can support your wrist so that your hand won’t get tired of the grip.
In particular, a strap is an optional part on hiking poles. Many walkers find it annoying to have them, so they don’t use them and cut them off. Wear fingerless gloves if you get blisters from strap rub.
We’ll go through two models:
A lever lock is a cam locking mechanism to grasp three poles together. It consists of 3 sections: the lever, the collar, and the tension adjuster.
When the lever is closed, the operating principle is that squeeze two poles together and one pole inside the other, making the resulting joint stronger than its own.
You should pick a metal lever lock rather than a plastic one as they are more reliable to save your poles and keep them from slipping when they are in use.
Twist locks allowed the advancement of the lightweight, three-piece pole. The disadvantage of a twist lock is it can hurt your hand when turning to lock the pole, and the dirt may be stuck inside the poles that can’t be adjusted.
Overall, locking mechanisms assist you in enlarging and minimizing the length of the hiking poles. The adjustability can be ranging from 61 cm to 140 cm in general.
The pole’s shaft is a significant element of the overall weight. Let’s have a look at two materials below:
Aluminum poles can be stable and economical, weighing between 510 grams and 623 grams per pair. Aluminum walking poles can be curved under physical pressure and stress but are good enough to be broken.
It is mainly made from carbon. It is lighter than the aluminum ones, which is about 340 grams to 510 grams per pair. Also, it can lessen vibrations very well. However, it is expensive and can easily be broken under extreme stress simply because carbon fiber is weaker.
Because of vulnerability, you should consider not using carbon fiber poles in rural or long-distance hiking trails.
Tips are usually made from carbide or tungsten metal, which can be used on rugged trails for many years. Pole tips commonly provide traction in many surfaces such as ice, rock, wood,…
There are rubber tip protectors that can expand the longevity of the pole and protect the things when you store hiking poles in the backpack as well.
Typically have round or snow-flake-shaped plastic pieces placed above the tip joint. The primary function is to avoid the poles from a dip in the soft area such as mud and snow. Baskets can easily be removed with no needed tools.
A trekking basket is small, while snow baskets are much more significant for usage on muddy, snowy, or sandy surfaces.
How To Use Hiking Poles And Trekking Poles?
Hiking with trekking poles can bring us many pros for our hiking adventure. But do you know how to use it correctly and efficiently? Keep on reading, and I’ll tell you how.
First of all, you need to consider the length of your pole. If you have a strap on your pole, place your hand up through it and hold the pole with your thumb over the strap.
You should grip the poles in a relaxed way and rotate them between your thumb and index. By relaxing your hand, it can be more simple to move the pole. Take it easy!
Your elbows should stay near your sides when you hike using the walking poles. Flick the opposite side of the pole forward after each move. Continue to drag the pole and move forward NATURALLY.
You can also use the plant or push technique to gain stability. It can push you to go up the hill or break when you go down. Plus, the swing and drop technique can be helpful when going up or down a steep by flicking double poles forward and continuing hiking.
Note: When you are walking down the hill, ALWAYS loosen the straps or don’t use them. When going upstairs, shorten the length of your poles and have a little push-up to move forward.
Reputable Brands of Hiking Poles
Have an outstanding appearance, is lightweight, has a good grip, and is easy to pack. The cons are not affordable, not last longer in comparison with other aluminum poles.
With a compact and light design, it is at the top of the must-buy brand. It has an added foam grip below the handle. Also, the locking mechanism is simple, durable, and can not be broken as fast as Leki.
Because of the compact feature, Black Diamond tends not to last long. The locking system is AMAZING, but the outlook is not perfect compared with Leki. Finally, there is no anti-shock gadget provided.
REI is chosen to be the best-rated hiking poles. It is an affordable trekking pole that varies in many hand sizes. The shaft material is aluminum which can be stable even under heavy stress. The wrist strap is adjusted and has soft finishes on hand, …
It has a no-frills design which is the biggest drawback and makes professional hikers not very happy since it can’t be used in complicated topography.
Can I use just one hiking pole?
Of course, you can. You can use a hiking stick only to have a free hand for mapping and looking for the hiking trails. Two poles in the case that you need more stability and force.
How can I choose a suitable hiking pole?
First, consider if you are using a single or double pole. Second, adjust the correct length. Third, choose features like weight, locking system, and adjustability,… Last but not least, read some tips to gain knowledge.
How can I attach hiking poles to my backpack?
You can attach it with the trekking pole attachment on your backpack. You just simply unfasten and open the attachment, then put the trekking pole in the right place and close the fastener around the pole,
What is the purpose of hiking sticks?
Absolutely. It can minimize the strain and provide you with more stability to conquer every hiking route. It plays an essential role in making you feel stronger and not feel tired of long trails.
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