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Walking Poles

There are pros and cons to using walking poles / trekking poles / hiking sticks.

Let’s start with the cons and eliminate them immediately. Then, we’ll continue to focus on why you should use them and preferable have 2 at hand.

Cons

I always get aches and other annoying symptoms when I do use them.

You are not using them the right way.

I want my hands to be ‘free’ (for a drink, my phone or whatever).

You should try using the wrist straps the right way.

They make too much noise.

You should use rubber tips.

LEKI Cressida

Why use hiking poles?

  1. it will reduce the burden on your ankles, knees, hips and back by 30%. The burden is your body weight + your backpack weight + the length of the stretch your walking.
  2. they will help to keep your balance: not only during a normal walk (minor balance issues but very important to keep your posture right when you’re tired) but also during the occasional crossing of a river or steep hill you’ll welcome the additional balance.
  3. it will significantly increase your stamina and you will be able to walk longer stretches.

Extra uses of walking poles:

  • use as a tent pole to create a shelter
  • scare off street dogs (or scary men) if they get too close
  • point at the magnificent views
  • use as a camera stick (there are accessories out there to do this)
  • to move bushes or other things out of your way

Last but not least:
Make your poles uniquely identifiable. A simple mark with a marker can do the trick. There are a lot of poles out there and a lot of them will resemble yours or even be exactly the same ones.

How to buy the right ones

  • they should be adjustable in length (in general they all are in usually three parts) so you can adjust them to your size and re-adjust them if you are facing a particularly difficult or long climb/descent. There are speed-lock systems that will make it very easy to use the walking poles the right way.
  • the poles need to have a solid locking system you can rely on. A lot of cheap walking poles don’t have safe locking systems.
  • they should be as light-weight as possible while meeting all your other needs.
  • the grip should be made of material that will avoid chafing issues but should also match your hand’s size as good as possible. Try to avoid rubber.
  • they should have wrist wraps so you can slide into the wrap when you need to free-up your hand (taking a picture, drinking, eating, scratching…).
  • anti-shock system: not needed but might be good in particular cases
  • Buy two of them: if you walk with 1, especially if you carry weight, it will make  your walking pattern unbalanced and you will start to have all kinds of aches and possible injuries.
  • get a set of rubber tips. This will add extra shock-absorption, but it will also avoid the (VERY) annoying ticking sound while you walk.
  • make sure they have a basket attached. Some backpacks have loops to carry your poles. The basket will keep them from falling through.

We take all these things into account when selecting and measuring the right hiking poles for you. Check out our collection of hiking poles and give us a call!

How to get started

Start off by adjusting the expandable parts of the poles.

The number 1 rule is to simply always aim at keeping a comfortable 90 degree arm angle in your elbow.

When you first try out your poles just stand straight, preferably wearing the shoes or boots you will be using during your walk. Put the poles in front of you, keeping your elbows close to your body and the lower arm in a 90 degree position. Adjust the lengths of the middle and lower part of your poles accordingly until they have the right length.

Tip: take a marker pen and mark this baseline on the hiking poles, it will make it easier the next times you are adjusting them to get started.

Walking technique:

You have 4 legs now, so gear up! Your left leg moves with your right pole and your right leg moves with your left pole.

Shortening the poles when you go uphill, and lengthening them when you go downhill, lets you keep the proper arm angle at all times.

Practice your walking pole technique. It just needs time to get used to them, but your body will thank you for it!

Don’t be surprised to have some muscle aches in your arms the first time you use them, that’s normal.

Remember:

Using Trekking Poles helps distribute weight evenly and absorbs added shock to your knees and back when traveling different terrain.

The worst thing you can do is not using poles or use only 1 pole if you are carrying weight.

Buy good ones, your body is worth it!

Practice with them before you start your camino adventure.

Check the luggage conditions of your flight carrier as they usually are not allowed in the cabin.

General Care