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How to Size Trekking Poles


01/02/18

There are many benefits to using trekking poles, also known as walking poles or hiking poles. They can help you establish a rhythm and cover more terrain quicker, provide support on unstable ground and reduce strain on your knees. Using poles set to the correct height will enable you to achieve the most from your walking poles.

Determining Trekking Pole Height

The best height for trekking poles varies from user to user and is often down to personal preference. Always make sure you adjust the height of the poles to suit you.


Sizing Considerations

Height

Generally speaking, walking poles should reach the top of your palm when your arm is down by your side with your forearm held out in front of you at 90 degrees to your body. Essentially the top of the handle should be at waist or hip level and your elbow at 90 degrees.

If you have particularly long legs for your height you may find the height from the tip of your upturned thumb more comfortable and better matched to the length of your stride. Those with shorter legs might like to use the height from the bottom of their palm.


Terrain Considerations

The above applies if you are walking on flat ground. You may find you need to adjust your poles for different terrains.

How to Size Hiking Poles

Walking Uphill

Trekking poles should be shortened by a few inches when you are traveling uphill to increase the load bearing pressure. If they are too long you might also find that you are overstretching when trying to plant them.

Walking Downhill

When travelling downhill the poles will take some of the strain off your knees. You should increase the length of the pole so you aren't stretching out too much when placing it, this will help improve your balance. Depending on how steep the hill is this could be by as much as 10 inches.

Contouring

If walking round the side of a hill rather than going up to the top, and down the other side use a shorter pole on the rise side and lengthen the pole for the fall side to give you the best support.


Trekking Poles Are Available in a Range of Styles and Sizes

Hiking Pole Sizes Shop Trekking Poles

Adjustable Trekking Poles

Trekking poles are available as fixed or adjustable. Adjustable Trekking poles can be useful for beginners who want to experiment with the height of the pole to see what suits them, or if you’ll be using them on different terrains.

Adjustable hiking poles can vary in length from about 24 inches to 55 inches. You will see numbers on trekking poles that help you set the length to suit you.

How to Adjust Trekking Poles

Adjustable walking poles will have a number of different sections that can be twisted to adjust the length. To unlock you will twist the pole one way and to lock you will twist the opposite way, this will often be indicated by arrows on the poles.

When adjusting to your height as per above it is best to start with the lower section. Hold the middle section, twist to unlock and pull the lower section until the stop mark appears. If you need to lengthen or shorten the poles when on the move you can adjust the middle section which is easier to reach.

Make sure to tighten the sections securely so the poles don’t shorten as you walk. Try not to over tighten as many poles work on friction systems within the poles that can often become jammed.

Once you are happy with the height of your poles, it is a good idea to mark them with permanent marker or a spot of correction fluid so you can set them up swiftly next time you go walking.

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