choosing hike-trek poles

How to choose the right hiking poles?

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.

Adjustment system

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.

Hiking poles: for or against?

ADJUSTMENT: which system to choose

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:

How to choose the right hiking poles?
push-pin system

Push-pin

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.

pole - external lock system

External lock

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.

Screw system

Screws

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.

How to choose the right hiking poles?

HEIGHT: which size walking or hiking pole should I choose?

To choose the pole size you need, there is a quick formula:

Pole size = 0.68 * Your height

Example:
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

How to choose the right hiking poles?

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.

HEIGHT: which size walking or hiking pole should I choose?

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.

COMPACT DESIGN: foldable or telescopic walking poles?

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."

2 section pole

2 SECTIONS

2 sections is the minimum (75 cm compact).

3 section pole

3 SECTIONS

Most have 3 sections (55 cm compact) to go in a large 50 L bag and bigger!

5 section pole

5 SECTIONS

Some can even be 5 sections (40 cm compact) so they can be store in the side pockets of your backpack.

Choosing your pole handle

Comfort : which handle to choose?

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."

Weight: carbon or aluminium hiking poles?

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.

Forclaz hiking poles
Forclaz hiking poles

See all hiking poles

Now you should have everything you need to choose your pair of poles!

CHECK OUT OUR SELECTION OF TIPS

Why use hiking poles - title

Why use hiking poles?

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Internal extension pole

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Adjust push button stick

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Using your trekking pole’s external blocker

How to operate the anti-shock system of my trekking pole?

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hikers walking with poles

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