Proper Use of Hiking Poles

Proper Use of Hiking Poles

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There is a lot of gear that can help you have a great excursion through the wondrous beauty of the vast outdoors. From hiking boots to backpacks, they all have a place in your gear.

One of these that often gets overlooked is the hiking pole. Designed to help alleviate strain on your body as you traverse those paths, it is a very valuable tool to have in your arsenal. But what is the proper use of hiking poles?

In this article, we will take a look at just that and hopefully help you see why they are such a great tool in the process.

How to Use Hiking Poles

The trick to the effectiveness of this piece of equipment is really understanding how to use them, and this starts from having them correctly setup. Here is how to use your hiking poles.


The first step is to ensure that your hiking poles are set up for you. This really just means getting them to the right height for you to use them comfortably. Note that this may change while using them as the terrain changes.

Next, you will want to adjust the wrist strap for comfort and security. You still want to be able to get your hand through easily but still have it feel slightly snug.

Now once you have done that, grasp the pole with your hand. The strap should go across your palm and wrap under your thumb. You are now ready to hit the trails.

Walking With Them

In truth, there is no one way to walk with these hiking tools. There are a few tips that will help you get the most out of them, though.

  • Make sure to keep your arm in a slightly bent but comfortable position. Once you have this stance down, use your shoulders to drive the poles instead of your arms
  • Try not to hold the shafts too firmly. It would be best if you were grasping the pole but not strangling it. Remember to hold the straps in the manner we discussed above for comfort
  • Use the baskets that many of the poles come with while navigating more challenging terrain. This will prevent the shafts from sinking into the ground and give you better stability and control
  • Also, look for poles with rubber tips. These will be very beneficial when it comes to grip and traction
  • Always use two hiking poles. This will give you better stability and allow for less stress on your body
  • Try to create a rhythm when walking, as this will help with your pace. Remember to walk normally, still allowing your arms to swing in their natural motion.

Now that you have a few tips, let's discuss actually walking with them. The way you use them will depend on one thing — whether you are walking uphill or downhill. Let us take a look at both of these and how the process differs.

Proper Use of Hiking Poles


When using a hiking pole going downhill, you will want to make sure you cautiously place the stick in front of you. This will help decrease the effects of the downward slope and protect you from falling.

It would help if you also shorten your stride as well so that you alleviate some of the stress on your knees. You can also opt to take the slope walking sideways to help lessen the chance of tumbling.


When headed uphill, you will want to adjust the height. Making it shorter by a small amount. Then you will use the poles to push off with not pull up with. Try not to plant the tip on the side of the trail before you move your lead foot. You will want to make sure the pole is close to your body so that you are not tempted to pull instead of push.

Final Thoughts

Like with any piece of equipment, the proper use will give you the best results. By understanding how to set up and use your hiking poles, you will be able to:

  • Decrease the stress on your legs and back
  • Keep your pace even
  • Have better stability and balance
  • Test the ground ahead of your for stability

These are all things that will ensure your safety and let you enjoy your hiking experience. We hope now you can see the benefits of using hiking poles and feel confident that you will be able to use them properly. All that is left for you to do now is to find a trail and get your adventure on.

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