Getting Trekking Poles Unstuck
The old screw-type expandable trekking poles from Leki are notorious for getting stuck. Preventative maintenance helps, but what do you do if it’s too late for maintenance and your poles are already jammed?
Here we uncover a few tricks for getting Leki and other twist-style expandable trekking poles unstuck.
The first step is to make sure that you turn each section in the right direction. I’m right-handed, and I’ve found that I like the pole tip on my lefthand side, with the pole grip on the right. With this orientation, I grab the lower shaft (the narrower one) with my left hand and the upper shaft (the fatter one) with my right. To loosen, spin your left hand away from you while holding firmly with your right. If this doesn’t work, then it’s on to step two.
Get a pair of pliers. Channel lock pliers work best, but needle nose pliers will work in a pinch, (and they’re common on most Leatherman tools). Vice grips, like those shown in the photo, will also work, but be VERY careful not to crush or deform your pole tip.
With your pliers, lock onto the plastic tip of the left-most shaft. Again, don’t squeeze too tight, or you risk crushing and/or deforming the shaft. Also, don’t ever grab the metal part of the shaft with the pliers – you can crush the metal, and at the very least, you’ll scrape up the finish.
With your pliers fixed gently (but firmly) on the plastic barrel, proceed with the same twisting motion mentioned above. Keep the fatter pole steady, while you gently twist the skinnier pole with your pliers. This usually does the trick for me.
If you’re still having trouble, then grab another pair of pliers and lock on to the plastic barrel on the right side shaft. Now, instead of gripping both poles with your hands, (and giving yourself crazy blisters), you use the pliers to twist instead. I’ve done this a few times and it always works. Note: It is possible to break the plastic barrels loose. If you have to twist this hard, however, then you have other problems that are much harder to address.
Sometimes your expanders will get stuck in the shaft and the poles won’t come loose no matter what you do. This happened to me a few summers ago. Thankfully, it only happened to one pole, but I had a heck of a time getting it loose. I ended up pouring Liquid Wrench into the shaft and letting it soak for a couple of weeks. I almost gave up, but then it suddenly broke loose. If you are having trouble with any of the steps above, sometime grease can help.
Have your trekking poles unstuck and are ready to finally use them again? We suggest checking out our guided and self-guided hiking trips in the Alps here, our Dolomites trips here, our Swiss Engadine trips here, or our Berner Oberland trips here. Happy trails!