As you decide on which hiking poles to purchase, one of the features you will need to consider is whether or not you will need a pole that has the ability to adjust its length. Known as both telescopic poles and adjustable poles (telescopic sections referring to the pole’s ability to go into itself like a telescope), these sticks have different benefits that may make them preferable to those that are going to go out on a long hike or walk.
Benefits of an Adjustable Length Pole
- Poles that can be reduced inside are much easier to store with you when you are on your walk. Should you want to stop using the pole temporarily, for example, you can reduce its length dramatically (often to around 2 feet) and stick the pole in your backpack of by your side. Poles that do not reduce in length will hang from wherever you are storing it and may get caught in the terrain.
- Adjustable length poles are far more likely to be the perfect length for your everyday use, since you can simply add or subtract inches if you need additional pole to help make your hike more comfortable. In addition, if you are climbing uphill you may want your pole to be shorter than if you are climbing downhill and using the pole for balance, depending on the way you trek.
- Poles that are going to be used by more than one individual are going to clearly benefit from a hiking pole that can change its size, so that anyone that ends up using the pole can adjust it to a more comfortable fit.
Weaknesses of Adjustable Length Poles
- Because these poles are not entirely straight and connected (meaning, there is some “give” implied by the fact that these poles can be compressed), they may represent a danger for particularly large/heavy men and women, as the pressure from their weight could push the pole into itself. This could result in injury depending on the area you are climbing or walking.
- It can be difficult to change the length of some of these poles due to the method of locking it in place – often with a screw or some type of difficult to handle metal object.
- Two telescopic section poles do not compress to as small a size as three section poles, so depending on the type of pole you purchase, it may not compress to a suitable size for you.
In addition, telescopic section poles are generally more expensive, and may not represent a cost that is worth the benefits, especially if you can find a single length pole that is suitable for most of your needs. Comfort and safety are still the most important aspects of any pole to consider.
Still, there are many benefits of using an adjustable hiking pole, and if these benefits will help make your trek more pleasant, they may be worth the nominal cost increase.