Trekking poles are a great piece of kit to invest in. Whether used in the mountains for support and to prevent injury, or out on the flat to keep pace and posture optimised, they work hard for you - in fact they take up to 20% of your body and pack weight off your ankles, knees and hips. Hiking poles come in a range of options designed for everything from strolling down an undulating cobblestone street abroad, to trekking across wind-whipped ice fields, to trail running through the mountains where balance is everything. Paddy Pallin stocks a range of both lightweight carbon hiking poles, and foldable alloy poles to easily fit inside a suitcase, as well as stiletto expedition trekking poles with an in-grip button for instantaneous adjustment. Our range of Komperdell and Black Diamond trekking poles will certainly get you thinking about your next adventure.
What are trekking poles used for?
Trekking poles’ primary function is to provide the hiker with support. This can range from increased stability while you find your footing on uneven ground, or stability with repetitive motion such as nordic walking, to taking weight off your ankles, knees and hips; absorbing up to 20% of your body and pack weight into the hiking poles will transfer the pressure while you’re descending a steep path. Trekking poles are considered a preventative measure to the overuse of joints and muscles. If you’re taking on a trail or terrain that is a new challenge for you, or if you’ve increased the pack weight you’re used to carrying, hiking poles will help prevent excess stress to your body and keep you out on your adventure longer.
What is the difference between alloy and carbon trekking poles?
Primarily, weight. Both alloy and carbon hiking poles are constructed for strength, though whereas carbon is constructed to be both strong and ultra lightweight, alloy is a mixture of aluminium (which is also ultra lightweight but not super strong in the density of hiking poles) and other metals to increase the strength of the trekking poles, though this adds a little more weight.
Carbon hiking poles have long been considered the go-to for the best weight to strength ratio, however their price point is marginally higher than alloy because of this winning combo. Alloy is still an excellent option, however not all alloy hiking poles are created equal, depending on the quality of materials the aluminium is combined with will determine the overall quality of the hiking poles - the best quality alloy trekking poles are constructed from Aluminium Alloy 7075 which is aerospace grade - light and strong.
Are telescopic or foldable hiking poles better?
It depends on the use you have in mind. Telescopic trekking poles have a quick-release lock at the top of each pole section, allowing you to release single sections or extend the hiking poles entirely depending on the height required. This makes hiking in steep terrain easier as you can adjust for the more extreme gradient. Additionally you can share your hiking poles with a friend who is a notably different height to you.
Foldable hiking poles have an internal cord, similar to the poles of a tent, that allow the sections to be relaxed from each other and folded. When slotted together and tensioned at a fixing point folding hiking poles are ready to use. Some folding trekking poles have a small section of telescopic adjustment added at the top section to allow versatility, other folding hiking poles are a fixed length.
Folding trekking poles fold down shorter in length making them easier to pack in a suitcase, while telescopic hiking poles take less time to set up. Both types of hiking poles come in multiple lengths to best fit your own height.
What are the extra features that come with some trekking poles?
Some trekking poles are hyper simplified while others come with all sorts of gadgets to optimise your experience.
All hiking poles have a lock to keep the sections fixed while in use, these range from internal twist locks to external quick-release locks or flick-locks. The type of lock you choose will determine the ease of use for you, as well as the ease of cleaning. The quality of the lock will also determine the longevity of your trekking poles too, as it is a high-use component.
The shape of the handle varies across styles, make sure to choose a shape that feels comfortable. Contouring, ribbing and the type of material used will determine the comfort and support for your own hand. Consider the climate you will use the trekking poles in too, would solid plastic, cork or foam channelling work better for you? The hiking pole wrist strap also comes in different materials too, for comfort and climate.
Some hiking poles come with an Anti-Shock feature that works to absorb jarring on hard surfaces.
Some expedition trekking poles come with a fast adjustment button in the hand grip, so you don’t even have to let go to adjust for the changing terrain.
And some trekking poles come with a hybrid of different metals in each pole section to give extra strength to the lower section for extreme terrains, while the upper sections are ultra lightweight.
All types of trekking poles come with a basket at the bottom section to help prevent your trekking poles from sinking into soft surfaces - Summer baskets will give you resistance in grasslands, scree and peat, while Winter baskets are wider to better resist sinking into deep mud and snow.
Our friendly staff in store can help you find the right hiking poles for you and your adventure.
How do I use the wrist strap on my trekking poles?
The wrist strap on your hiking poles is added to keep your wrist supported at the point where weight is transferred from you and your pack into the hiking poles. This juncture puts extra strain on your wrists if the strap isn’t used to absorb that excess. We don’t want to transfer the strain from ankles to wrists - we want the weight to transfer into the trekking poles. To get the best fit put your hand through from underneath the strap as it hangs, and then hold onto the grip. This allows both your wrist and the heel of your hand to be supported, while allowing a loose and comfortable hold on the grip, reducing strain. Also if you drop your hiking poles, the wrist strap remains around your wrist. Additionally make sure your trekking poles are at the correct height for you, otherwise your wrist will pull in the strap. The general rule of thumb is when holding the grip of your hiking poles while on flat ground, your elbow should be at a 90 degree angle.
What brands of trekking poles does Paddy Pallin stock?
We stock a wide range of hiking poles from two leading brands in the industry: Komperdell and Black Diamond. Both brands produce very high quality trekking poles. Komperdell has been developing hiking poles for a century! And developing trekking poles is their primary focus. Black Diamond was formed by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and has been at the forefront of developing and perfecting mountain equipment for decades. Both brands have excellent warranties and quality craftsmanship on all their models.
How do I care for my hiking poles?
Like with all outdoor gear, cleaning and maintaining your hiking poles will keep them working at their best for you. Dirt and grit has a way of getting into everything, and trekking poles are no different. After you come home from your adventure, unscrew or unlock your trekking poles and take apart the sections as much as is possible (if a part doesn’t want to move, do not force it). Telescopic pole sections come apart completely, and folding pole sections can be unscrewed, to a point. Give your loosened hiking poles a gentle tap to dislodge dust and dirt. You may also want to give them a bath in warm, soapy water, making sure to give them a good swish - but make sure to dry them out thoroughly before putting them back together. Hiking pole rubber tips will extend the life of your tips, and protect your gear if storing your trekking poles inside your pack. Hiking pole rubber tips, tech tips and baskets are all designed to be replaced as they wear out with use. Make sure your tips and baskets aren’t cracked, or one of your hiking pole rubber tips has gone rogue, before storing your trekking poles for the off-season - this way they’re ready when you are to hit the trails.
Can I use ski poles instead of trekking poles?
The short answer is no. Trekking poles and skiing poles are markedly different in design. Ski poles are a fixed length, and are designed longer than trekking poles to maintain contact with the ground further behind you to push a skier forward. They are also designed to transfer weight in a different manner: ski poles more flexible to work for highly dynamic movement, as such ski poles would not give the stability and rock solid support to hikers that trekking poles are designed to provide. Unfortunately they do not work well the other way around, either; trekking poles are too short and ridged to benefit skiers. Swapping hiking poles and ski poles for the opposite activity is ill-advised as it places the user at an increased risk of injury.