How To Use Trekking Poles

A Beginner's Guide: The Ins and Outs of Trekking Poles GearWeAre How To Use Trekking Poles

Do I, or Don’t I? This is the question that crosses the mind of the individual who enjoys exploring the great outdoors. The choice of standard hiking equipment for any experienced hikers who wish to enhance their stability and provide support for all types of terrain. But how you ask? Grab your favorite pair of trekking poles.

A pair of suitably sized poles can be the difference between calling it early or seeking further adventure with energy to spare. They provide a great deal of balance to not only your step but add stability on any inclines you decide to traverse. Once you’ve decided to enhance your experience with this equipment you won’t be turning back. Read on for our quick tip guide on How to Use Trekking Poles.

10 Tips for Trek Pole Use

The first topic I would like to dive into would be the immediate benefits of using trekking poles. Not only can they help you keep your stride, they are especially beneficial in any inclined you are attempting to traverse. From rivers and streams to the extreme mountain tops you desire, here are the top 10 benefits from using trekking poles.

  1. Stability and Balance

By far the most significant reason to use trekking poles when hiking is to compensate for the added stress on your back and your knees. If you want to learn more about proper posture, read our guide. With this equipment, you have gone from 2 points of contact to 4. Having this to rely upon when trekking tricky terrain is much easier, and safer. Whether it’s on more mellow ground or harsh, the confidence to negotiate a strong current or slippery rock makes the experience much more enjoyable.

  1. Redistribution of Weight

When carrying equipment such as a backpack, camera, or even food supplies, you’ve added weight to your body, and you immediately changed your center of gravity. An excellent way to counter this would be trekking poles. Training yourself to use the poles properly is a task in its own. But the long-term benefit for a day trek with poles can drastically reduce the stress in your legs and back. If you think about the number of steps you take in a day trek, redistributing that weight by even a little can be crucial.

  1. Keep Your Stride

Whether you spend time hiking more natural terrain or enjoy the more rugged appeal. Adding trekking poles to the mix gives you another element to your rhythm and helps you say focused. Once you find your groove and your pace matches your breathing, the miles can fly by.

  1. The Balance on the Extreme 

Sometimes the path less traveled can be more treacherous. You will more than likely spend time going through rivers and creeks over slippery rocks and debris. Having that extra extension can prevent those slips from turning into faceplants. Save your dignity with a pair of trekking poles.

  1. The Ups and Downs

Your knees and ankles are the names of this game. The most abused joints on these adventures that absorb the weight of you and your gear with every move you make. Whether you are going uphill or downhill, planting your poles will aid your stability with each step you take. Your legs do the most work on any incline. Taking the stress off your leg muscles will keep you moving over longer distances. If interested read more about Nordic Walking Poles, that can be an excelent choice.

  1. Avoid the Avoidable

When trekking the unknown, your most definitely going to come into contact with vegetation. Let us not forget any creepy crawlies that live there.  If you’re in an area with poisonous vegetation, avoiding them can be crucial to your health and your fun. With a pair of trekking poles, you now have a different approach. Gently push any irritation in your path out of the way and keep on trekking.

  1. Added Support

When you’re on a backpacking adventure, having reliable, lightweight poles will have more benefits than drawbacks. Even if you haven’t planned to stay the night, poles can be handy when you need to escape the elements. Whether it’s using your poles as a support for your tarp or to support your gear. Using your trekking poles to your advantage is the whole reason you acquired them.

  1. Sketchy Steps

From the low desert brush to the high mountain rocky terrain. If you have ever had concern for snakes or scorpions concealing themselves in the bush, this is your answer. When you see a potentially sketchy path, one thing is for sure. You will be lucky to have a pair of trek pols at your fingertips to test your footing. Being able to check the ground where your foot needs to be will help eliminate the wonder of a dangerous step.

  1. Self-Defense

Yes, most people have never experienced the need for self-defense while hiking. But unfortunately, this is something that every person should consider when hanging out in the middle of nowhere. Having an extra extension attached to your arm can be a lifesaver when confronted by the wild. Should you encounter a wondering animal on your path one, this is for sure. You won’t regret having Trekking Poles at your disposal to help keep your distance from danger.

  1. In Case of Emergency

Finally, but not least important, the worst-case scenario. Your hiking along and your path becomes hazardous. Despite your avid preparation and safety gear, the injuries were non-preventable. Having a lightweight and durable crutch for a possible sprained ankle is necessary. The extendable poles will also make a perfect splint for broken bones. When you’re in agony with miles to go.

 Use Trekking Poles Efficiently

The benefits of using trekking poles correctly are key. Just strapping a pair of poles to your arms and trudging along isn’t going to maximize your efforts. Being smart about how you traverse your trails and using your poles to your advantage is the most critical part of the whole journey.  Here we will talk about tips on how to properly use your poles to maximize your efficiency.

Before You Start

First thing you want to do when acquiring a new pair of poles is to remove the cap. At the base of the pole opposite the handle, you will see a nifty carbide tip covered with a cap.  This is used to provide you with the most amount of grip as possible as you dig your pole into the ground or stabilize your balance along the rocky terrain.


Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way. The essentials of how to properly grip your pole with the safety straps can mean the difference between a dislocated thumb or an enjoyable experience. The safety catch should hang down from the bottom of your wrist rather than form the top. If it is hanging over the top between your thumb and index finger as you grip your pole you’re doing it wrong. If you fall while holding it improperly, you’re at risk for further injury should you attempt to stop yourself arms out.


Staying smart while moving along is essential. Remembering the basics will help train your muscles to proceed with the poles as if they were a part of your arms. Keeping a solid 90-degree bend at the elbows is the most effective way to maximize your efforts to redistribute your weight. Trekking always becomes much easier and more efficient with 3-4 points of contact.

This method has multiple beneficial factors that will assist you as you continue your trek. They include conservation of energy, softer load on your knees and joints, more effective weight distribution. Weather on an incline or a decent keeping your balance is critical. Not to mention your long-term joint health will be thanking you later.

Asymmetrical Steps

Walking asymmetrically is the most effective way to propel yourself forward with your poles. You don’t need to exhaust yourself of energy to benefit from this way either. By placing your left pole down as you step forward with your right foot, you will gain a great deal balance and stability. You should aim to place each pole on the ground just next to where your back foot is. This will help maximize the thrust you can provide while not burning extreme amounts of energy. If you need power, check our guide on the best energy bars.

All About the Angle

Keeping the terrain in mind while hiking along should always cross your mind. If you’re on an incline, decent or level ground your tactics should change all the same. When on a flat surface, remember your poles should extend a specific distance. Each pole should be tailored to each person’s height and arm length. Maintaining a solid 70-degree angle with your poles will give you that forward momentum without robbing you of your vital energy.

When traversing up any slope, there are a few things you can do to make life a little easier. Shortening your poles to the correct length to maintain an excellent 90-degree angle with your arms is critical. This will allow you to maximize your arm strength and stamina to assist you on your incline.

There are also a few things to keep in mind to stay safe along your journey when traversing down. Again, you should lengthen the pols to maintain a good 90-degrees at the elbows while placing your palms on top of the poles. This method will allow you to reduce a significant amount of weight off your legs and into your hands. Remember to maintain 3-4 points of contact on any decent to avoid any unnecessary injuries.

We can observe that there are plenty of benefits to using trekking poles. While some may feel that they are not your style, they can most certainly give you a great deal of confidence. Any experienced hiker will know what a good pair of poles can do for you. All that’s left is for you to get a pair and start learning the benefits for yourself. Do you have any personal tips on how to use this hiking gear?  Share them with the community so we can keep making the outdoors even more enjoyable!