How to Choose Hiking Pole Length

How to Choose Hiking Pole Length

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If you’re just starting out with hiking (or are an expert) and want to use poles, it can seem a little tricky to choose the right length. There are various length options to choose from, and it can be slightly confusing. The length, of course, depends on how tall the user is.

Stick around, and we’ll let you in on how to select the right length for yourself and others.

Different Lengths for Different Purposes

The terrain that you are exploring will influence the length of your hiking pole. For the most part, you would likely be using one length and adjust the pole as needed.

Flat terrain will call for one length, and uphill or downhill walks will need another. Changing the length proves useful and makes your experience more comfortable.

Here are the most recommended lengths for the various terrains you’ll be using your hiking poles.

Flat Terrain

This is what you’ll likely encounter the most. For this, it is best if your poles are at a length that lets you bend your arm 90 degrees when you hold it straight up.

This will allow for the most comfort, and you’ll be using the pole correctly in this manner. When you are holding the poles at this angle, take note of the length you have adjusted it to. You will want to remember the centimeters.

Uphill Terrain

When you are taking on uphill terrains, it will be most beneficial for you to shorten your hiking poles. This will give you better traction, and it evens out the effort between your legs and arms. It is almost as if you are pulling yourself up the hill with your poles. If you are not carrying a backpack, this method will also save you backaches as a result of strain on the back.

Downhill Terrain

The opposite method of hiking uphill will work for when you are hiking downhill. You will want to lengthen your poles when you’re about to head down an incline. When you’ve made your hiking poles longer, it will be more comfortable for you since the ground will be a bit further away from you. You can place your weight on your poles and thus have a more comfortable walk.

This method will also reduce the impact that your knees have to take. In addition, if you’re carrying a heavy load, your back will thank you for lengthening your hiking poles.

There is no sure-fire way to determine the length at which your hiking poles should be when hiking up or down hills. There is no certain-degree method to remember. But you will notice that following the advice shared here will make it easier to find the perfect length for you.

The Maximum Pole Length

All hiking poles have a limit to how much they can be adjusted — it’s not an infinitely sized thing after all. But because adjustable poles makes them accessible to everyone, it’s better than a fixed-sized item. However, the maximum length can vary from one brand to the next. Keep that in mind when buying yours.

Taller people will benefit most from poles that are able to adjust at the very least to 50 inches. People taller than 6 feet need even more, naturally.

How to Choose Hiking Pole Length

The Minimum Pole Length

This may not seem important to most people, but the shorter a pole can be, the better it is for storage. You should be able to get hiking poles that can be adjusted all the way down to 30 inches. This makes it easier to put in a backpack or have it strapped to it on the outside.

Different Adjustment Methods

There are 2 ways that a hiking pole can be adjusted — you’ll get twist-lock poles or lever-lock action poles.

The lever-lock option is considered an easier option because it doesn’t take a lot of strength to adjust.

The twist-lock poles are a little tougher to adjust, but if you can open a stubborn mayonnaise jar, you’ll do just fine.

Whichever you choose depends on you and what you find to be the most comfortable.


Knowing how to choose hiking pole length is not an exact science, but it doesn’t have to be the most difficult thing either. Once you know the basic idea of what to do, you will find it easy.

Remember the 90-degree rule for flat terrain and work from there — longer lengths for when you’re going downhill and shorter for walking up a hill. If you stick to this simple ‘formula,’ you won’t have trouble with your hiking poles.

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