How to get the most out of your trekking poles is one of the biggest concerns while considering buying a new pair or using your existing trekking poles. To get most out of your trekking poles, you need to consider two things: First, various "types of trekking poles" to suit your preference, style, ease of use and of course budget! Second, to know about various features of your trekking poles and how to use them effectively to get most out of them!
Before discussing the above mentioned points, let's see what exactly these trekking poles are.
Trekking poles, hiking poles or hiking staff are much similar to ski poles. Trekking poles are nothing but balancing sticks used for balancing the weight distribution and shock over four limbs (2 legs and 2 hands), instead of two (2 legs). Those who are experienced hiker or trekker already know that while trekking our two legs are not enough to maintain good stability on the uncertain tracks and we need extra balancing support to offset the load on our feet and legs.
Hikers and trekkers are using these trekking poles since years and therefore these are considered to be the traditional way to maintain good stability on uncertain tracks. According to many experts, trekking poles were very popular in many European countries for years, but nowadays many Americans have also realized their countless benefits and started using them. Some of their potential benefits are: pacing, balancing, guiding, stability, weight distribution and reduction to ease-out unnecessary pain in the legs and knees along with others. But when we talk about immediate benefits then trekking poles are designed to provide extra stability and to spread the load on your legs onto your arms. Trekking poles can substantially decrease pain in the legs and knees especially while going uphill or downhill.
Let's see various types of trekking poles. Frankly speaking, at their very basics, trekking poles can take many forms, ranging from single staves made from found wood (called primitive poles) to pairs of adjustable poles made from lightweight composite materials (called sophisticated poles, usually expensive ones!). In the age of fashion, style and technology, these days there is large variety available in the market to woo their customers. But, you should be very careful, focused and research oriented while buying a pair of trekking poles. Of course, it is better to seek expert advice if you aren't sure. Otherwise also it is better to buy some cheaper trekking poles in the beginning, so that you can see, judge and correlate their functionalities with your exact requirements. Never ever get seduced by the stunning features (usually unnecessary like camera mount and compass!) if you aren't sure what exactly they mean. In my view, it is not necessary to buy the most expensive models for such tangible benefits. However, if budget is not the problem, you can go ahead and buy these expensive models as well. Choice is entirely yours!
Well, when it comes to various features of your trekking poles and how to use them effectively, it becomes a little tricky. Needless to say a daunting task for the beginners!
Undoubtedly, it is very subjective in nature when it comes to use them effectively. Literally, you can get as much as you want from your trekking poles, it all this depends on your using techniques. Instead of using just one pole, always use poles in pair to improve usability, balance and stability. If you have adjustable trekking poles then set the length of the pole according to your height and working conditions such as when you are climbing uphill short length may be more useful and while coming down the hill, long pole may be more comfortable. Remember, nobody can tell exactly what is right or wrong length, so it all depends upon you and type of trekking poles you are using. Adjust to any length which is comfortable to you, so that you can walk in the most natural position without unnecessary bending and leaning. It is quite obvious to keep your trekking poles behind you when climbing uphill (to push you upward) and when going downhill keep them before you to balance your weight.
Guys! Don't get afraid of these trekking poles as these are to support you instead putting some extra ounce in your backpack. If you have got a pair of good quality trekking poles and you know how to use them then perhaps half of your battle is won. To suit your exact taste, preference, budget and other requirements there is a perfect pair of trekking poles available in the market. All it needs a fair ground work to find a suitable pair for you. You can reap different benefits from your trekking poles and they may prove more usable but all this is possible when you select the right pole according to your personality and physical requirements.
When you select your poles be careful because not all poles are created equally. Pay attention to the grip which is the point which is held by your hand. Similarly, there are many types of anti-shock systems available in trekking poles to absorb unnecessary shocks to your wrist. Another important consideration is the type of baskets used. Depending upon the type of trekking surfaces like hard, soft, mud, snow, there are different types of baskets available in the market. Baskets are fitted on the end of the pole and should always be used because the basic idea of using baskets at the end of the pole is to stop the pole sinking into mud, snow, ice and sand. If you prefer high end comfort then look for a pole with anti shock system. When you are adding trekking poles to your outdoor gear, there are many features you need to understand first (some of them are discussed above but list can go even further depending upon your requirements and the manufacturing company). Otherwise they will be nothing more than a burden on your back and a hole in your pocket.
All the best?have a happy trekking!