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Whether trekking or hiking, poles let you distribute the provided effort over your entire body and can prevent you from slipping! What criteria should you take into account to find the poles that best suit you?
Follow the guide!
Walking and hiking poles have become essential equipment for many hikers. They have an important role in reducing muscle impact, increasing your endurance and stability.
We are sharing with you the main criteria for choosing hiking poles.
This is a key consideration because you will be using it regularly, so you need to be comfortable with the way it works.
Beginners: if you want to make life easy, the simplest and most reliable system is the push-pin. All you have to do is slide the tube and the push button will fit in the hole corresponding to the height that suits you.
Intermediate: in recent years, we have equipped our poles with external blockers (or levers). This is a more precise way to adjust the length since you’re not constrained by the spacing of the push-pin holes, yet remains very easy to use. Check that the lever screw is tight to prevent the pole from retracting under full load.
Finally, the screw systems are there to provide certain features such as shockproofing. But they can be more complicated to handle.
Additional info: The risk with adjustment systems is the pole collapsing in use. To avoid this, whatever system you choose, our models undergo compression lab tests. So they all meet the safety threshold we have set ourselves, which is the result of measurements taken in the field.
The benefits of hiking poles are that they provide additional support and reduce the weight carried by our legs. This can be a real advantage and be a great help. They relieve the knees which may not be used to distance, elevation or extra weight such as a backpack.
Using poles can have disadvantages, in particular depending on how they are used. The hiking pole should not become a crutch. Leaning forward on your poles can cause loss of comfort and balance when the poles can no longer be used (in dangerous situations such as screes or rocks for example). Not being secure can increased the risk of injury. As a result, our bodies are taught less to strengthen the deep muscles that stabilise our balance.
The pole can also be noisy so it's important to check if tips are included at the time of purchase. Some places have already made them mandatory.
Outfitters offer a wide range of poles with prices starting at around €6. Poles should not be neglected when buying your hiking equipment.
"They take up space!"
The poles become more comfortable with use. If you want to be completely free, there are compact poles available that attach easily to your backpack.
"They are complicated to use!"
We offer many tips and videos to help you use them so go and take a look.
Finally, the use of poles can often be essential for those with weak knees or for carrying heavy loads when trekking. Above all, the use of poles remains a personal preference.
This is a key criteria as you will handle the pole regularly to adjust the height for the perfect length so you need to be at ease with its operating system. There are 3 types:
If you want to make life easy, the simplest and most reliable system is the push-pin. All you have to do is slide the tube and the push button will fit in the hole corresponding to the pole length that suits you.
In recent years, we have equipped our adjustable poles with external locks (or levers). This is a more precise way to adjust the length of the poles since you’re not constrained by the spacing of the push-pin holes, yet remains very easy to use. Check that the lever screw is tight to prevent the pole from retracting in action.
The screw systems on the poles have shockproof cushioning. But they can be more complicated to handle. The screwing action between each section will adjust the pole to the desired length.
To choose the pole size you need, there is a quick formula:
Pole size = 0.68 * Your height
If you are 1.75 m tall, multiply 175 by 0.68 and you get the size you need.
0.68 x 175 =119 cm
The pole size to opt for is 120 cm
Adjusting your poles
We recommend you adjust the height depending on your practice terrain. The standard setting is to have the arm at a right angle.
On the climb, you can slightly reduce the height.
On the descent, you can extend them a little more.
Adjusting your walking stick style poles
To use a walking stick style pole, you will have a bigger opening (around 140°) as shown on the photo.
Being comfortable with your pole’s adjustment system is important because this is how you fold it away. All our hiking poles are compactable so you can attach them to your backpack when not in use, or carry them in your luggage for a trek.
The product engineer says:
"We often hear “more sections = more fragile”. That’s not completely true. What matters if you want a strong folding or telescopic pole is the connections between the sections. This is a major area of focus during our development work. It’s true that a telescopic pole requires smaller and smaller section diameters so that they overlap each other. Therefore, the last section is often the most fragile."
All our hiking poles are equipped with a foam or cork handle for a comfortable grip with bare hands and good perspiration wicking.
For all types of hikes the comfort of the grip is the third selection criteria, beyond the material, and it is recommended you pay attention to the shape of the handle.
For occasional use, a straight shape is all you need. On the other hand, for regular to intensive use, the comfort of a "moulded" shape, with lower hand support and index finger support, can’t be beaten in the long run.
In addition to the main handle, poles for intermediate and advanced hikers offer additional grip areas. The grip (foam sleeve under the handle) is very useful for positioning your hand in climbs and on slopes. A knob also lets you alternate the grip by grabbing the pole from above, especially when on the climb and downhill.
The standard grip doesn’t necessarily suit everyone, especially over time, which is why there are also poles with walking stick stylegrip. This means the handle won't break and better distributes the effort on the arm as it’s aligned with the pole.
The product engineer says:
"Foam or cork? Some people swear by cork, a natural, noble material. For my part, the main thing I like is that you can look after it easily. You can lightly sand it to remove the layer of dirt, fill the holes with wood putty, maybe apply a hydrophobic finish (linseed oil, etc.) and the handle is like new."
Finally, weight can be a selection criteria. Ultra lightweight is an essential criteria for some but not for others! It's particularly important for dynamic activities (fast hiking, trails) to have the lowest possible moving mass (around 160 g to 210 g / pole). In this case, a well-designed aluminium pole can reach a useful weight while offering good durability at a reasonable price. The most demanding will prefer a carbon model but it will be more expensive and less durable.