Walking poles help you balance when crossing streams or when walking on uneven, sloping and stony paths especially scree. They are not a substitute for an ice axe when mountaineering and will not be strong enough to stop and hold your body weight in the event of a fall. Simply swinging the poles improves your momentum taking some strain from the legs and letting your upper body do some of the work.
One Pole Or Two?
A single walking pole, or staff can give you stability, especially on loose terrain or in crossing streams. It also can relieve stress on the joints. Walking with two poles can provide even more stability. In summary one is good, two are better!
Anti Shock Poles
Almost all brands we carry have some sort of shock system. Shocks are designed to absorb impact and reduce stress on your joints but are not beneficial for all activities. Such activities include alpine and telemark skiing where the energy lost in the shock can adversely affect your technique and increase the stress on your joints. So, if you are looking for a ski pole, make sure you can turn off the shock system in the pole.
Adjusting The Poles For The Terrain
On flat surfaces your arm should be roughly horizontal when holding your walking poles. When you are going downhill, and the path is below you, adjust the poles to a longer length. Going uphill the poles will need to be shorter, however do check that both poles are of the same length at all times.
Features that differentiate a trekking pole from a stick:
Collapsible poles are easy to store when not needed.
Lightweight aluminium is less likely to break than traditional materials.
Ergonomically-shaped grips make them comfortable to hold
Shafts may incorporate shock absorbers to dissipate force and reduce jarring.
Metal tips are durable and are designed to be stable in mud, rock, snow, or ice.
A telescoping pole can be extended to probe the depth of puddles or the strength of snow bridges or adjust to the topography of your walk
Benefits Of Walking Poles
This includes pack weight distribution to the arms, thus increasing endurance.
Makes keeping your balance easier as you cross rivers and streams as well as rough terrain.
Lowers stress on the joints, knees, hips and lower back.
Gives a more upright, hiking posture. This in turn will make breathing more efficient.
Helps you go up those steep inclines. Also helps you keep your balance on the declines.
Despite some drawbacks concerning them, the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks.
Trekking poles today are high tech in design and with adjustable telescopic features make them ideal for summer and winter. Most are made from materials such as aluminium or titanium.
Trekking poles have adjustable wrist straps and can have plastic or cork hand grips.
How to use your trekking poles is done by keeping your forearm parallel to the ground on flat terrain If you're ascending the poles will need adjusting. You will need to make them shorter, so you will not over reach. The opposite is also true as well. When going down a hill you will need to lengthen the poles.
Its very easy to use walking poles. Just walk naturally one arm forward with the opposite leg. The poles will soon become apart of you as you walk.
Despite their anodised finish, the internal surfaces of trekking pole tubing can still corrode if left damp for long periods - always ensure that if they have got wet (rain, stream crossing, etc.), that the pole's sections are taken completely apart and allowed to air dry internally before being stored. The tubing used to make walking poles is very strong for it's weight, but can still easily be broken under certain circumstances, most commonly if the tip gets caught between rocks (for example) and the pole is then subjected to a sideways force (due to stumbling, etc.). As such, care should be taken when using poles on very rocky ground. If you do break a section, most pole manufacturers have replacement sections available.