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Should I or shouldn’t I … use hiking poles

The science behind it

What to be mindful of These benefits, however, only apply if hikers use the right techniques for their trekking poles. Poles that might prevent injury from falling can just as easily dislocate the thumb if held in an unideal way. These techniques have to be learned and are yet another thing that one has to think about on trail. And even though you can use your poles as limb extensions to safely test the quality of the ground, check for animals or move plants or spiderwebs out of the way, you will no longer have your hands free which makes any quick adjustment, taking a picture or having some water, a little less convenient.

What to look for in hiking poles If you have read all the above and came to the conclusion that you’d like to give hiking poles a try then you might be wondering what to look for in a good pair. Prices differ vastly between different manufacturers and as always, you need to find what works best for you. Weight and material are obviously a big concern if you are trying to keep your pack weight down. Most commonly, poles are made of carbon fibre (or a carbon fibre and fibreglass mixture) or aluminium. As a rule of thumb, carbon fibre is most likely to weigh a little less than aluminium, aluminium is more durable than carbon fibre and might bend before it breaks. Material is also of importance when it comes to the grip of the hiking poles. Foamy grips are softer to grab but don’t absorb as much sweat as for example cork does. Plastic or rubber don’t absorb any sweat which might lead to rubbing. I, personally, find cork to be by far the least irritating on the skin and the most pleasant to hold. Also, pay attention to the material and padding of the straps and see if they feel comfortable for you. To reap all the benefits from poles, they need to have the right hight for your body. So you either need to find the right size if you go with stiff poles or you find yourself a pair of height adjustable ones. That might also be necessary if you’re using them for your shelter system. It’s also way easier to pack them away when they aren’t in use. If they are adjustable in height, the poles will come with a locking mechanism (clicking together, twisting or similar). Make sure this is sturdy and doesn’t fail you when you put a lot of pressure on the poles for example when going downhill or when you trip and catch yourself with the hiking poles.

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