How To Choose Hiking Poles

Woman hiking in trail of stones

I used to think that hiking poles or nordic walking poles were only for old people and now I wish I had added them to my hiking gear years ago!

Hiking trekking poles make your outdoor adventures the best they can be and are well worth adding to your backpacking equipment list. You’ll be working out your upper body and taking stress off your knees at the same time. So what’s the big deal with using hiking poles? Whether you are going winter hiking (they’re great for this) or any other time of the year they will:

  • Take more stress off your lower body joints.
  • Work your upper body. You’ll be working out more but feeling as if you’re working out less – what could be better than that?
  • Give you a great increase of stability and balance, especially over rockier terrain.
  • Protect joints especially when walking downhill.
  • Provides anti-shock system which decreases the impact on the knees.
  • Arms bear more weight providing a great toning workout for them.
  • Act as tent poles for tarp tents if you need them.Some brands also double as camera mounts.

It’s impossible to say which hiking poles are the best. The same principle applies when choosing the best hiking boots; it’s a very individual preference and choice.

For me, it came down to the handle. The choice for the hand grip is: cork, rubber or foam. I walked around the store with all three and knew right away the cork was for me.

When we hike we sweat, and that includes our hands of course. The foam will happily absorb all that sweat and when we’re hiking in very cold temperatures they can also freeze and turn into “sweatcicle hand grips”. But not everyone hikes in colder temperatures and the foam grip might feel perfect for you.

There is also an anti-shock pole choice. I don’t have it in my poles and I feel just fine when I’m hiking. But this is a nice feature to have for many people, especially if joints or knees are a concern.

Most hiking poles have adjustable lengths, which you need to adjust depending on whether you are hiking up or down hill. Each company has a slightly different way of adjusting the length of their poles. Try them out and choose the one that works for you.

Another great thing about nordic walking poles or hiking trekking poles is how compact, lightweight and collapsible they are. I would recommend looking at:

How to use trekking poles: If you decide to invest in trekking poles please learn how to use them and give it time when you head out on your first hiking trip with them. They do take a little getting used to and are well worth it!