Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How To Use Trekking Poles And Nordic Poles


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Blithe Reuter



When it comes to outdoor adventures, having the right gear can make all the difference. Whether you’re planning a challenging hike in the mountains or a leisurely stroll through the countryside, one piece of equipment that should be at the top of your list is trekking poles or Nordic poles.


While trekking poles and Nordic poles may seem similar, they serve slightly different purposes. Trekking poles are designed for hikers and backpackers, offering stability, balance, and support on uneven terrain. On the other hand, Nordic poles, also known as Nordic walking poles, are primarily used for fitness walking and offer a full-body workout by engaging the upper body muscles. Both types of poles provide numerous benefits that can enhance your outdoor experience.


In this article, we will explore the benefits of using trekking poles and Nordic poles, help you choose the right pair for your needs, teach you proper techniques for using them, and provide valuable safety tips. So, whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a novice looking to get started, get ready to learn how these poles can take your outdoor adventures to the next level.


Benefits of Using Trekking Poles and Nordic Poles

Using trekking poles and Nordic poles during your outdoor adventures can offer a wide range of benefits that enhance your overall experience. Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages:

  • Increased Stability: Trekking poles and Nordic poles provide additional points of contact with the ground, significantly improving your stability and balance. This extra support is especially beneficial when traversing steep and uneven terrain, reducing the risk of slips, trips, and falls.
  • Reduced Strain on Joints: The use of poles helps distribute the weight and impact of your body, reducing strain on your ankles, knees, and hips. This can be especially beneficial when carrying a heavy backpack or when descending steep slopes, as it helps alleviate the pressure on your joints.
  • Improved Endurance: By engaging your upper body muscles while using trekking poles or Nordic poles, you can offload some of the stress on your legs. This can help increase your overall endurance, allowing you to hike longer distances with less fatigue.
  • Enhanced Upper Body Workout: Nordic poles, in particular, are designed to engage your upper body muscles, including the arms, shoulders, and core. This provides a full-body workout while walking, helping to improve cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength.
  • Aid in Descents and Uphills: When descending steep slopes, trekking poles can provide stability and control by acting as anchors, reducing strain on your knees and preventing forward falls. When climbing uphill, poles can help propel you forward, providing additional support and reducing the effort required from your lower body.
  • Improved Posture: Using trekking poles and Nordic poles encourages an upright posture by engaging your core muscles and aligning your spine. This can help prevent slouching and promote better spinal alignment, reducing the risk of back and shoulder pain.
  • Increased Confidence: The added stability and support offered by trekking poles and Nordic poles can boost your confidence during challenging hikes. This can result in a more enjoyable and rewarding outdoor experience as you tackle new terrains and explore unfamiliar landscapes.

With these numerous benefits, it’s no wonder that trekking poles and Nordic poles have become essential gear for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual walker, these poles can significantly enhance your adventures.


Choosing the Right Trekking Poles and Nordic Poles

Choosing the right trekking poles or Nordic poles is crucial to ensure a comfortable and effective outdoor experience. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the perfect pair:

  • Material: Trekking poles and Nordic poles are commonly made from aluminum or carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are durable, affordable, and offer adequate strength for most hikers. Carbon fiber poles are lighter and absorb more vibrations, making them a preferred choice for those seeking maximum comfort.
  • Adjustability: Look for poles that offer adjustable lengths. This allows you to customize the height based on your preference and the type of terrain you’ll be traversing. Telescopic poles with adjustable sections are the most common and versatile option.
  • Grip and Strap: Consider the grip and strap design. Look for ergonomic grips that are comfortable to hold and have moisture-wicking properties to prevent sweaty palms. Adjustable straps are also crucial for maintaining a secure and comfortable grip.
  • Locking Mechanism: Check the locking mechanism of the poles. Most models feature twist locks or lever locks. Twist locks are easy to use and provide a secure hold, while lever locks allow for quick adjustment. Choose the option that best suits your preference.
  • Tip Type: The tip of the poles plays a significant role in traction and durability. Rubber tips are ideal for general hiking on trails, while carbide tips offer superior grip on rocky or icy surfaces. Some poles even come with interchangeable tips to accommodate various terrains.
  • Weight: Consider the weight of the poles, especially if you plan on carrying them for an extended period. Lighter poles are more comfortable to use over long distances, while heavier poles may provide extra stability but can be more fatiguing to carry.
  • Budget: Determine your budget and look for poles that offer the best combination of quality, features, and affordability. Remember that investing in a reputable brand and durable poles will ensure they last for many adventures to come.

Taking the time to choose the right trekking poles or Nordic poles that meet your specific needs and preferences will maximize your comfort and performance during your outdoor excursions. It’s worth trying different options and consulting with experts to find the perfect pair for you.


Proper Techniques for Using Trekking Poles and Nordic Poles

Using trekking poles or Nordic poles effectively involves mastering the proper techniques. Here are some essential tips to help you make the most of your poles:

  • Adjusting Pole Length: Start by adjusting the length of your poles. For trekking poles, hold them upside down, with the grip on the ground, and adjust to a height that allows a 90-degree angle at your elbow when your arms are bent. For Nordic poles, adjust the length to be slightly shorter than trekking poles, around waist height.
  • Gripping: Hold the poles with a relaxed grip, ensuring that your wrist is aligned and straight with the pole shaft. Avoid gripping too tightly, as it can cause fatigue and discomfort.
  • Planting: Plant the poles slightly ahead of you, angled backward, and pointing downhill. When walking uphill, plant the poles slightly behind you, angled forward, and pointing uphill. This helps maintain balance and provides forward thrust during ascents.
  • Applying Pressure: Apply downward pressure on the poles as you walk, using your arms and upper body muscles to engage them. This helps with stability, balances your weight distribution, and takes some strain off your leg joints.
  • Stride and Timing: Sync your pole movements with your stride. As you step forward with your left foot, plant the pole with your right hand, and vice versa. This rhythm creates a natural and efficient walking motion.
  • Uphill and Downhill Techniques: When hiking uphill, shorten your poles and use them to push yourself up, taking some of the strain off your legs. When descending, lengthen your poles and plant them firmly to provide stability and prevent slipping.
  • Nordic Walking Technique: For Nordic poles, focus on using your whole body, swinging your arms in sync with your stride. Push off the ground with your poles as you walk, engaging your upper body for a full-body workout.
  • Practice and Familiarize: Before embarking on a challenging hike or long-distance walk, practice using your poles on different terrains and gradually increase your speed and intensity. This will help you become more confident and comfortable with the techniques.

Remember, using trekking poles or Nordic poles is a skill that improves with practice. Pay attention to your body’s movements and adjust your techniques as needed. With time and experience, you’ll find the right rhythm and efficiency while using these poles to optimize your outdoor adventures.


Adjusting and Maintaining Trekking Poles and Nordic Poles

Adjusting and maintaining your trekking poles or Nordic poles is essential for their optimal performance and longevity. Here are some tips to help you in this regard:

  • Adjusting Pole Length: Before each hike, double-check the length of your poles and ensure they are properly adjusted based on the terrain and your comfort. Make any necessary adjustments to find the right fit.
  • Locking Mechanism Inspection: Regularly inspect the locking mechanisms of your poles to ensure they are secure and in good working condition. Loose or damaged locking mechanisms can compromise the effectiveness of your poles and pose a safety risk.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance: After each hike, take the time to clean your poles. Wipe off any dirt, mud, or moisture with a damp cloth. If the poles become excessively dirty, you can use mild soap and warm water. Avoid using harsh chemicals that may damage the pole materials.
  • Inspecting Wear and Tear: Regularly inspect your trekking poles or Nordic poles for signs of wear and tear, such as bent or damaged sections, broken tips, or frayed straps. Replace any worn-out or damaged parts to maintain the integrity and safety of your poles.
  • Storage: Store your poles in a cool, dry place when not in use. Avoid leaving them exposed to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight, as this can weaken the materials over time. Consider using pole bags or sleeves to protect them during transport or storage.
  • Replacing Pole Tips: As you use your poles, the tips may gradually wear out. Keep an eye on the condition of the tips and replace them when needed. Most poles have replaceable tips that can be easily swapped out.
  • Regular Check-up: It’s a good practice to give your poles a thorough check-up periodically, especially if you’ve been on challenging or long hikes. Inspect the lower sections, grips, and straps for any signs of damage or wear that may affect the performance and safety of the poles.
  • Manufacturer’s Guidelines: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific care and maintenance instructions for your trekking poles or Nordic poles. Different brands and models may have different requirements, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the recommendations provided by the manufacturer.

By regularly adjusting and maintaining your trekking poles or Nordic poles, you ensure their reliability and longevity. Proper care and upkeep will enhance your hiking experience and help you get the most out of these invaluable outdoor tools.


Safety Tips When Using Trekking Poles and Nordic Poles

While trekking poles and Nordic poles can greatly enhance your outdoor adventures, it’s important to prioritize safety when using them. Here are some crucial safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Practice Before Tackling Challenging Terrain: Before attempting difficult hikes or challenging terrains, ensure you have practiced using your poles on easier trails. Familiarize yourself with the techniques and gain confidence before venturing into more demanding environments.
  • Choose Appropriate Terrain: Consider the terrain and conditions when deciding to use trekking poles or Nordic poles. They are most beneficial on uneven and steep terrain where stability and support are needed. Avoid using them on level or paved surfaces where they may become more of a hindrance than a help.
  • Use Pole Straps Correctly: Properly adjusting and using the pole straps can prevent accidental drops and ensure a secure grip. Thread your hand through the strap from underneath and hold the grip from the top. This allows you to relax your hand while still maintaining control of the poles.
  • Be Mindful of Others: When using trekking poles or Nordic poles in shared spaces, be considerate of others. Give hikers, walkers, or trail runners enough space to pass, and avoid swinging the poles wide and causing potential collisions.
  • Watch Your Footing: While poles offer stability and support, it’s important to remain focused on your footwork. Pay attention to the trail ahead, watch for obstacles, and be cautious of loose or uneven terrain. The poles can assist, but they should never replace careful foot placement.
  • Adjust Pole Length on Descents: When descending steep slopes, it’s a good idea to shorten your poles to provide better balance and control. Adjust them accordingly to match the terrain, ensuring you have a secure footing and maintain stability throughout the descent.
  • Be Wary of Slippage: While trekking poles and Nordic poles provide extra stability, be cautious of potential slippage. Wet rocks, icy surfaces, or loose gravel can cause poles to lose traction. Adjust your technique and pole placement accordingly to prevent slips or falls.
  • Stay Aware of Overhead Obstacles: When using poles, be mindful of overhead branches, low-hanging tree limbs, or other potential obstructions. Keep your poles close to your body to avoid getting snagged or hitting obstacles above you.
  • Stay Hydrated and Pace Yourself: Using trekking poles or Nordic poles can provide additional support, but it’s still crucial to stay hydrated and pace yourself. Take regular breaks, drink plenty of water, and listen to your body. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits or ignore signs of fatigue or dehydration.
  • Check Weather Conditions: Before heading out on your adventure, check the weather forecast and be prepared for any changes. Trekking poles and Nordic poles can be particularly useful in inclement weather, but ensure you have the appropriate gear and are mindful of changing trail conditions.

By following these safety tips, you can make the most of your trekking poles or Nordic poles while minimizing the risk of injuries or accidents. Prioritizing safety will allow you to fully enjoy your outdoor experiences and explore with confidence.



Trekking poles and Nordic poles are valuable companions on outdoor adventures, providing stability, balance, and additional support. Whether you’re hiking through rugged mountains, exploring scenic trails, or getting a full-body workout during Nordic walking, these poles offer numerous benefits.


By using trekking poles or Nordic poles, you can experience increased stability, decreased strain on joints, improved endurance, and an enhanced upper body workout. These poles can boost your confidence, improve your posture, and give you the ability to tackle challenging terrains with ease.


When choosing trekking poles or Nordic poles, consider factors such as material, adjustability, grip, locking mechanism, and tip type. Taking the time to find the right pair that fits your needs and preferences will ensure optimal comfort and performance.


Remember to practice and master the proper techniques for using your poles, adjusting them according to the terrain and your comfort. Regularly maintain and inspect your poles to ensure their longevity and reliability. Always prioritize safety by being mindful of others, watching your footing, and staying aware of your surroundings.


With trekking poles or Nordic poles as your trusted companions, you’ll have the confidence to conquer new trails, enjoy longer hikes, and fully immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.


So, whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a beginner looking to enhance your outdoor experience, embrace the power of trekking poles or Nordic poles, and let them elevate your journey to new heights.