The use and necessity of hiking poles is always a point of discussion. Some hikers love them, others hate them or only use them when it’s absolutely necessary. It is key to choose what suits you best. Try them out and see if they can help you. If correctly used, hiking poles can help you for many kilometres on the trails.
Why use hiking poles?
There are various reasons to use hiking poles. The most well-known reason is to unburden your knees during descents and to support your legs when climbing. By correctly using hiking poles you can decrease the strain on your knees and prevent pain or injuries. If you are familiar with knee problems using hiking poles is a must! Hiking poles not only support your knees, but will also increase your balance and stability. This will allow you to hike more efficient and thus use less energy. Lastly, hiking poles can provide you with more surefootedness giving you a more pleasing hiking experience.
Which type of hiking poles are out there?
Before you can start walking with your hiking poles, you need to decide with type of poles you want to use. There are different types of hiking poles available. Do you want telescopic or foldable hiking poles? Foldable hiking poles are generally more compact, but can be more difficult to attach to the side of your backpack. Most hiking poles are made of aluminium, titanium, carbon or a mixture. Get advice in an outdoor shop to find out what suits you best. Titanium and carbon hiking poles are lighter, but also more expensive. Choose a pole with a grip that feels comfortable for you and see if the pole has shock absorption and baskets. The baskets ensure that your pole won’t get stuck between rocks. When hiking through the snow, you need to choose bigger baskets to increase your grip.
How to use hiking poles?
Once you have purchased some hiking poles you need to use them. The first thing you need to do is to adjust the height correctly. Stand straight and position the hiking poles along your body. Bend your elbow slightly until it has a 90-degree angle. This is the correct height of your hiking pole on a flat surface. During long descents it is wise to make them slightly longer and during long ascents it’s easier to shorten your poles. When walking, and especially when descending, it is important to use your poles to decrease the loading on your knees. You can use the loop that’s attached to the handles for this. Put your hand through the loop from below and place your hand on the handle. This allows you to use it as extra support. The best way to make yourself comfortable in hiking with poles is to just start using them. You will notice that it will feel more natural along the way and that your poles will become part of your basic gear.