Trekking poles make a nice holiday gift for the avid hiker. They reduce stress on the knees, they offer added stability, and they increase stamina. How much stamina? A German physician discovered that each pole plant relieves approximately 18 pounds of pressure from the lower extremities when traveling on an incline. Consider that an average hiker makes around 45 pole plants each minute, and the total weight savings over the course of a hike becomes enormous. Trekking poles are a “must have” on all of our hikes.
Always buy two poles, one for each arm. And, make sure that your poles aren’t completely extended while walking on flat ground. You want some length left in reserve so that you can extend the poles for added reach on the downhills. The object is to shorten the poles on climbs, and then extend them for the descents. You should rest somewhere in the middle on flat/slightly undulating terrain. The following charts from Leki offer advice.
If you have sore joints shock-absorbing poles could be the perfect aide for you. Trekking poles with shock absorption will soften the impact on your knees when you’re going downhill. A couple of the setbacks for shock absorbing poles is a loss of power and less assistance hiking uphill and less stability while hiking downhill. With some higher-end models, you are able to turn the shock absorbing feature on and off. These poles are usually a bit heavier than a standard trekking pole so if you are trying to pack light they may not be ideal.
Use these sizing charts when shopping around for the perfect pair. The idea is to shoot for a 90-degree angle at the elbow when gripping the pole, and then make minor adjustments based on personal preference.
Click image for larger size.