Trekking Poles

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles help you climb faster, descend safer with less fatigue and help you maintain balance on snow and on boggy terrain. When climbing you can push on the poles with your arms, gaining height faster and/or taking some of the strain off your legs. Using poles to descend can help stability and greatly reduce strain on your knees. Once thought of as being a bit weird or geeky, trekking poles are now recognised to be useful tools for serious mountain travel.

Almost all trekking poles are telescopic or foldable, comprising two, three or even four sections. Most have three sections - two section poles are lighter but are longer when compressed, while four section poles are compact but weigh more. Poles are usually made using aluminium alloy, carbon fibre tubing or a mixture of both. Carbon fibre offers exceptionally low weight can be easily broken if the tube takes a scratch off a rock, so be wary in rocky terrain: aluminium offers good reliability and reasonable weight.

Trekking pole sections are either telescopic or foldable. Telescopic sections are held in place by either internal expanding cones, or external levers that clamp the sections in place: both systems are reliable once correctly adjusted. Lightweight “trail” type trekking poles have sections that separate and fold one against the other. A central cord or flexible plastic runs the length of the pole inside the tubing sections and makes deployment simple and fast.

While trekking and ski poles share many similarities there are differences. Trekking poles need to be robust and tough enough for the job, but do not generally suffer the same abuse as ski poles. Trekking poles are often made using a lighter or thinner gauge tubing. You can certainly trek with your ski poles, but skiing with trekking poles could damage some models.
If walking on boggy ground then large ski-type baskets help support your weight, but these tend to catch between rocks or on vegetation. For general trekking it’s better to use smaller unobtrusive baskets, or even no baskets at all. Baskets can usually be readily added or removed by hand – they either screw on and off, or need to pushed onto the tip.

Most trekking poles have a replaceable plastic tip which itself has a steel or carbide tip that helps the pole grip on most surfaces. If you’ll be walking on roads, pavements or other hard surfaces then rubber walking tip protectors may be useful. These grip adequately on smooth surfaces, protect the tip from premature wear as well and removing that annoying “tap tap tap” sound as you walk!!

Trekking poles come with comfortable synthetic or cork handles and straps. It’s important to adjust the straps to the size of your hands, using them correctly saves a lot of arm strain since you don’t need to grip the poles constantly. 

When using poles the arms are bent at the elbows so there is already considerable shock absorption by the arm muscles, but should you find trekking poles tiring to use, or prefer more comfort then some trekking poles have a shock absorber fitted just below the grip in the top section. These introduce a small amount of “spring” with each step and help reduce fatigue.

Should you like any help selecting the best trekking poles for your needs then please get in touch – our experienced trekking staff are here to help.

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