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How To Use Trekking Poles (Advice From Reddit)?


by Nancey Lemmon



Trekking poles have become an essential accessory for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. These lightweight, collapsible poles offer stability, balance, and support while venturing through challenging terrains. If you’re new to hiking or simply looking to add an extra layer of comfort to your outdoor adventures, trekking poles can greatly enhance your experience. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using trekking poles and provide valuable advice from Reddit users on how to make the most of them.


Trekking poles can provide numerous benefits during your outdoor excursions. One of the primary advantages is the added stability they offer. By using trekking poles, you distribute the weight and relieve stress from your lower body joints, reducing the risk of injuries, especially during descents. They also provide an extra point of contact with the ground, offering stability on uneven or slippery surfaces.


Another benefit of using trekking poles is their ability to improve balance and posture. They can help you maintain an upright position, engage your core muscles, and reduce the strain on your back. This can be particularly beneficial during long hikes or when carrying a heavy backpack.


Trekking poles can also alleviate some of the strain on your knees and ankles. By transferring some of your weight to the poles, they can help absorb shock and reduce impact on your joints. This can be especially valuable for individuals with knee issues or pre-existing conditions.


Furthermore, trekking poles can enhance your overall hiking efficiency. They can increase your speed and power while trekking uphill, providing additional support and leverage. They also help to propel you forward during flat sections, allowing you to maintain a consistent rhythm. When trekking downhill, they provide stability and help to reduce the impact on your joints by absorbing some of the force.


In the following sections, we will provide in-depth advice on choosing the right trekking poles, adjusting their length, using them properly on different terrains, and maintaining them to ensure their longevity. The information included here is based on the advice shared by experienced hikers on Reddit, who have encountered various trail conditions and navigated through diverse landscapes using trekking poles.


Benefits of Using Trekking Poles

Trekking poles offer a range of benefits that can greatly enhance your hiking experience. Let’s explore some of the key advantages:


1. Stability and Balance: One of the primary benefits of using trekking poles is the added stability they provide. By using poles, you have two additional points of contact with the ground, which significantly improves balance. This is particularly advantageous on uneven or challenging terrain, such as rocky or slippery surfaces. The poles serve as a support system, minimizing the risk of falls or accidents.


2. Reduced Joint Impact: Trekking poles help to distribute the weight across your arms and shoulders, reducing the strain on your lower body joints, particularly the knees and ankles. By absorbing some of the impact, the poles can help to minimize the risk of injuries and alleviate stress on these areas, especially during long hikes or when carrying a heavy backpack.


3. Improved Posture and Core Engagement: Using trekking poles encourages proper posture while hiking. The poles help you maintain an upright position, which aligns your spine and reduces strain on your back. This also engages your core muscles as you support yourself with the poles. By actively involving your core, you strengthen these muscles and improve your overall stability and balance on the trail.


4. Enhanced Endurance: Trekking poles can increase your hiking endurance by sharing the workload with your upper body. The poles help to propel you forward and assist in uphill climbs, reducing the strain on your legs. This allows you to conserve energy, maintain a steady pace, and hike for longer periods without fatigue.


5. Added Support during Descents: When hiking downhill, trekking poles can provide invaluable support and stability. By planting the poles in front of you as you descend, you can maintain control, slow your pace, and alleviate pressure on your knees and joints. The poles act as reliable anchors, reducing the risk of slips or falls on steep slopes.


6. Increased Confidence: Having trekking poles in hand can boost your confidence on the trail. Knowing that you have the additional support and stability they provide allows you to navigate challenging sections with more ease. This confidence translates into a more enjoyable hiking experience, allowing you to explore new trails and push your boundaries.


Remember, the benefits of using trekking poles extend beyond physical support. They can also enhance your overall hiking experience by building your confidence, improving your posture, and allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural surroundings. By incorporating trekking poles into your hiking gear, you can take your adventures to new heights.


Choosing the Right Trekking Poles

When it comes to selecting trekking poles, there are a few important factors to consider to ensure they suit your specific needs and preferences:


1. Material: Trekking poles are typically made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are more affordable and durable, while carbon fiber poles are lighter but come at a higher price. Consider your budget and the level of durability and weight you desire.


2. Adjustability: Most trekking poles are adjustable in length, allowing you to customize the pole height based on the terrain or your desired comfort level. Look for poles with a reliable locking mechanism that allows for easy adjustment and secure fixation.


3. Handle Grip: The type of handle grip can have a significant impact on the comfort and control of the poles. Common handle materials include cork, foam, and rubber. Cork handles offer excellent moisture-wicking properties and are known for their comfort, while foam handles provide cushioning and are ideal for hot climates. Rubber handles are more durable but can cause discomfort if used for extended periods.


4. Strap Design: Pay attention to the strap design of the trekking poles. Look for adjustable and padded straps that comfortably fit around your wrist and provide support without causing discomfort. Straps should allow you to easily release your hands from the grip without needing to remove the straps altogether.


5. Tip Type: Trekking poles come with different tip options, such as carbide tips, rubber tips, or interchangeable tips. Carbide tips are durable and provide excellent traction on rocky or icy terrain. Rubber tips offer better grip on soft or paved surfaces and help to reduce noise. Interchangeable tips allow you to swap between different types based on the trail conditions.


6. Weight: Consider the weight of the trekking poles, especially if you prioritize lightweight gear. Remember that lighter poles usually come at a higher cost, so find a balance between weight and budget based on your specific hiking needs.


Pro tip: It is advisable to test different trekking poles and handle them before making a purchase. This allows you to evaluate their weight, adjustability, and grip to ensure they feel comfortable and suitable for your hiking style.


By considering these factors, you can choose trekking poles that align with your hiking goals and provide the comfort and support you require. Remember that investing in high-quality trekking poles is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable hiking experience.


Adjusting the Length of Trekking Poles

Properly adjusting the length of your trekking poles is crucial for optimizing comfort, stability, and efficiency during your hike. Here are the steps to follow when adjusting the length:


1. Find a flat surface: Begin by finding a level surface where you can stand comfortably with your hiking shoes on. This will provide a more accurate measurement of the pole length.


2. Loosen the locking mechanism: Most trekking poles have a locking mechanism, typically a twist lock or a lever lock. Loosen the mechanism to allow for adjustment.


3. Determine proper length: To determine the correct length, position the pole vertically with the tip resting on the ground. Your elbow should be at a right angle (about 90 degrees) when you grip the pole handle. This angle provides a balanced position for your arm and distributes weight properly.


4. Adjust the length: Once you have determined the proper length, gently extend or retract the sections of the pole until it reaches the desired measurement. Make sure to adjust both poles evenly for optimal balance and symmetry.


5. Secure the locking mechanism: Once you have set the desired length, tighten the locking mechanism firmly to secure the adjustment. Test the pole by applying pressure and ensuring it does not collapse or shift during use.


Tip: It is recommended to mark the correct length on your trekking poles using a permanent marker or tape. This way, you can easily adjust the poles to the desired length in the future without having to measure each time.


Remember, the proper length of your trekking poles may vary depending on the terrain and personal preference. When ascending, you may prefer shorter poles for increased power and leverage. Conversely, longer poles may be preferred when descending to provide additional stability and support.


Regularly check the adjustment of your trekking poles throughout your hike, as they may gradually loosen over time. This will help maintain stability and prevent any unexpected collapses while on the trail. If you encounter steep or challenging terrain, readjusting the length of your poles accordingly can greatly enhance your performance and reduce strain on your body.


By taking the time to adjust your trekking poles properly, you can maximize their benefits and enjoy a more comfortable and efficient hiking experience.


Using Trekking Poles Properly

Using trekking poles properly involves adopting the correct technique to maximize their benefits. Here are some tips to help you use your trekking poles effectively:


1. Grip: Hold the trekking poles with a relaxed but firm grip. Your hand should wrap around the grip from the top, with your thumb resting on top of the strap. Ensure the strap is snug around your wrist to prevent the risk of dropping the poles.


2. Planting: Plant the poles slightly in front of you, landing on the ground at an angle so that the tip points slightly behind you. This provides better stability and traction, especially on upward or uneven terrain.


3. Timing: Coordinate your arm movements with your steps. As you step forward with your left foot, plant the right pole, and vice versa. This creates a rhythm that helps maintain momentum and balance.


4. Adjustment: Adjust the length of your poles according to the terrain. Shortening them for uphill climbs allows greater power and leverage, while lengthening them for downhill descents provides stability and support.


5. Use Upper Body: Engage your upper body muscles when using trekking poles. This involves pushing down on the poles with each step and using your arms and shoulders to propel yourself forward, especially on flat or uphill sections. This distributes the workload and reduces strain on your legs.


6. Uphill Technique: When ascending, plant the poles slightly ahead of you and push down on them to propel yourself forward. This technique helps to engage your upper body and provide the extra power needed to conquer steep inclines.


7. Downhill Technique: When descending, plant the poles slightly behind you to provide stability and balance. Use the poles as anchors to prevent slipping and to reduce the impact on your knees and joints.


8. Flat Terrain: On flat terrain, use your trekking poles to maintain a consistent rhythm and increase your pace. Plant the poles slightly behind your body and swing them forward with each step.


9. Stream and River Crossings: When crossing streams or rivers, use your trekking poles for added stability. Extend your arms to widen your base and plant the poles securely on the riverbed or rocks to maintain balance and navigate the currents.


Remember, practice and familiarity with the proper technique will help you make the most of your trekking poles. Take the time to hone your skills and adapt your technique to different terrains, and soon using trekking poles will become second nature, providing you with enhanced stability, balance, and support on your hiking adventures.


Techniques for Uphill Trekking with Poles

Uphill trekking can be demanding, but with the right techniques and proper use of trekking poles, you can tackle steep inclines with greater ease and efficiency. Here are some techniques to help you navigate uphill sections:


1. Adjust Pole Length: Shorten the length of your trekking poles when tackling uphill terrain. This allows for a more upright posture and provides greater power and leverage as you push yourself forward.


2. Planting: Plant your poles slightly ahead of you, positioning them at an angle that provides stability. As you take a step forward with one foot, plant the opposite pole in front of you and push down. This technique helps propel you upward and distributes the workload between your upper and lower body.


3. Pushing Technique: Engage your upper body by using your arms and chest to push down on the poles as you step forward with each leg. This helps you gain momentum and power, making uphill climbs more manageable and less strenuous on your legs.


4. Breathing: Pay attention to your breathing as you trek uphill with poles. Take deep breaths, inhaling as you step forward and exhaling as you plant your poles and push off. Controlled breathing can help increase oxygen flow to your muscles and improve your overall endurance.


5. Pace Yourself: Uphill trekking requires energy and stamina. Pace yourself to maintain a steady rhythm, taking small steps and allowing your poles to assist you in moving forward. Consistency is key, and finding a pace that suits your endurance level will help you conquer steep inclines without overexerting yourself.


6. Choose the Right Line: Look for the most efficient path up the hill. Avoid excessively steep sections and seek out switchbacks or natural breaks that allow for a gentler ascent. By planning your route wisely, you can minimize the effort required and optimize the use of your trekking poles.


7. Take Breaks: If necessary, take short breaks during your uphill trek to rest and recover. Use your trekking poles to provide stability and support as you catch your breath and refuel. These short breaks can help prevent fatigue and ensure that you maintain a sustainable pace throughout your hike.


Remember, practicing these techniques will help you become more efficient and confident when trekking uphill with poles. With proper use of your trekking poles and mindful execution of these strategies, you can conquer even the steepest inclines and enjoy the rewarding views that await you at the summit.


Techniques for Downhill Trekking with Poles

Descending steep slopes can be challenging and put strain on your knees and joints. However, with the right techniques and the assistance of trekking poles, you can navigate downhill sections with greater stability and reduced impact. Here are some techniques for downhill trekking with poles:


1. Adjust Pole Length: Lengthen your trekking poles for downhill sections to provide additional stability and support. This longer length allows you to plant the poles farther below your body, creating a wider base and reducing the strain on your knees.


2. Planting: When descending, plant the poles slightly behind you, which provides stability and balance. Plant them firmly to secure your footing and help control your speed as you descend.


3. Weight Distribution: To relieve stress on your knees and joints, transfer some of your weight to the poles. As you step forward with one leg, lean lightly on the opposite pole, distributing your body weight evenly and reducing the impact on your lower body.


4. Shorten Stride: Take smaller steps when trekking downhill, allowing for better control and balance. Shorter strides help avoid putting too much pressure on your knees and minimize the risk of slips or falls.


5. Engage Arm and Core Muscles: Utilize your arms and core muscles to aid in balance and control. As you descend, actively engage your core and use your arms to help stabilize yourself by pushing down on the poles. This will assist in maintaining control and reducing the strain on your lower body.


6. Use Poles as Brakes: To control your speed, press the poles firmly into the ground as you descend. This action acts as a brake, helping to slow your descent and maintain your balance. Adjust the pressure on the poles based on the steepness and terrain of the downhill slope.


7. Maintain a Relaxed Posture: Keep your body relaxed and upright as you descend. Avoid leaning back too far or leaning too far forward, as both positions can compromise your balance and control. Maintaining a natural posture will help you negotiate the terrain more effectively.


8. Select the Right Line: Choose your path carefully when navigating downhill sections. Look for stable footing, avoid loose or slippery surfaces, and opt for natural steps or switchbacks if available. Planning your descent can help minimize the impact on your joints and ensure a smoother, safer journey.


Remember, practice and experience will improve your downhill technique with trekking poles. Take your time, be mindful of your footing, and adjust your pace according to the terrain. With the right techniques and proper use of your trekking poles, you can confidently conquer downhill sections while preserving your joint health and enjoying the scenic views along the way.


How to Use Trekking Poles on Flat Terrain

Trekking poles can be beneficial even on flat terrain, providing additional stability, balance, and a more efficient walking rhythm. Here’s how you can make the most of your trekking poles on flat ground:


1. Grip and Positioning: Hold the trekking poles with a relaxed yet firm grip, positioning them slightly behind your body as you walk. This helps to create a natural swinging motion with your arms.


2. Planting: Plant the poles slightly behind you, planting them firmly into the ground as you stride forward. This creates a slight resistance that propels you forward with each step, helping you maintain a consistent rhythm.


3. Arm Swing: Coordinate your arm swing with your opposite leg. As your right foot steps forward, your left hand and pole should swing forward, and vice versa. This coordinated movement helps to maintain balance and a smooth walking pattern.


4. Apply Pressure: Apply slight downward pressure on the poles as you stride forward, especially if you’re looking to increase your walking speed. This pressure assists in propelling you forward and engaging your upper body muscles.


5. Engage Core Muscles: As you walk with trekking poles on flat terrain, engage your core muscles by maintaining an upright posture. This helps with balance and stability, supporting your spine and reducing strain on your back.


6. Cadence and Rhythm: Establish a comfortable cadence or rhythm with your poles and footsteps as you walk on flat ground. This can help you maintain a steady pace and increase overall stability.


7. Utilize Resistant Surfaces: Look for surfaces with a bit of resistance, such as grass or packed dirt, to improve the pole plant and maximize the energy transfer. Firm, solid ground allows for better grip and push-off.


8. Vary Your Technique: Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you on flat terrain. You can try a double plant, where you plant both poles at the same time, or alternate between poles with each stride.


Using trekking poles on flat terrain can help you maintain a steady pace, engage your upper body muscles, and enhance balance and stability. It may take some practice to get used to the technique, but once you find your rhythm, you’ll enjoy the added benefits that trekking poles provide on even ground.


Tips for Maintaining and Taking Care of Trekking Poles

Maintaining and properly caring for your trekking poles is essential to ensure their longevity and optimal performance. Here are some tips to help you take care of your trekking poles:


1. Clean and Dry: After each hike, clean your trekking poles with a damp cloth to remove dirt and debris. Make sure to dry them thoroughly before storing to prevent rust or corrosion.


2. Store Appropriately: Store your trekking poles in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. This prevents any damage or weakening of the materials.


3. Inspect Regularly: Regularly inspect your trekking poles for any signs of wear, such as bent or damaged sections, loose locking mechanisms, or worn-out grips. Replace any worn or damaged parts as needed to ensure the poles remain in good condition.


4. Lubricate Locking Mechanisms: If you notice the locking mechanisms becoming stiff or difficult to adjust, apply a small amount of silicone lubricant or graphite powder to ensure smooth operation. Be sure to wipe off any excess lubricant.


5. Check Tip and Basket Condition: Inspect the trekking pole tips and baskets regularly. Replace worn-out or damaged tips to maintain optimal traction, and ensure the baskets are securely attached to prevent them from coming loose during hikes.


6. Use Rubber Tips: Consider using rubber tips on your trekking poles when hiking on paved or delicate surfaces. Rubber tips provide better traction and help minimize noise while protecting the tips from unnecessary wear.


7. Adjust Strap Tension: Check the tension of the straps regularly. Ensure they are snug around your wrist without restricting movement or causing discomfort. Adjust the tension as needed for optimal comfort and support.


8. Trim Straps: If your trekking pole straps are too long, consider trimming them to a more suitable length. This prevents excess strap material from getting caught and causing inconvenience while hiking.


9. Carry Protective Sleeves: To prevent damage to your trekking poles during transportation, consider using protective sleeves or placing them in a padded bag. This will help protect them from scratches or impacts.


10. Keep Spare Parts: It’s always a good idea to carry spare parts such as extra tips and baskets in your hiking gear. These can come in handy if replacements are needed while on the trail.


With proper maintenance and care, your trekking poles can withstand regular use and provide you with continued support and stability throughout your hiking adventures. Taking the time to inspect, clean, and address any issues will ensure that your trekking poles remain in excellent condition and ready for your next outdoor excursion.



Trekking poles are invaluable companions for hikers, offering stability, balance, and support on various terrains. By utilizing trekking poles properly, you can enhance your hiking experience and minimize strain on your body. From uphill treks to downhill descents and even flat terrains, trekking poles provide numerous benefits.


Choosing the right trekking poles based on your preferences and needs is crucial. Adjustable poles made of durable materials with comfortable grip handles and reliable locking mechanisms are ideal. It’s important to adjust the length of the poles to suit the terrain — shorter for uphill climbs and longer for downhill descents.


Using trekking poles properly involves the correct grip, planting, and technique, whether you’re trekking uphill, downhill, or on flat ground. Engage your core, adjust your pace, and coordinate your arm movements with your steps for optimum results. Trekking poles act as a stabilizing force, improving balance, distributing weight, and reducing joint impact.


Regular maintenance and care of your trekking poles are essential to ensure their longevity. Clean them after every hike, inspect for wear and tear, and lubricate the locking mechanisms when necessary. Consider using rubber tips on delicate surfaces and store your poles in a cool, dry place.


In conclusion, incorporating trekking poles into your hiking gear enhances your overall hiking experience. They provide stability, support, and balance, reducing strain on your body and enabling you to tackle challenging terrains with greater confidence. By following the techniques and tips outlined in this article, you can make the most out of your trekking poles and embark on many memorable outdoor adventures.