- First position: For flat trails, adjust your poles so your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Going up: Shorten your trekking poles to compensate for the incline.
- Going down: Take the pressure off your knees and prevent slippage by lengthening your poles.
- At a slant: For an extended traverse across a slope, lengthen the pole on the downhill side and shorten the other pole to give you more stability.
- Taking a toad off: On short breaks, lengthen your poles, plant them about an arm’s length in front of you, and bend at the waist so the upper portion of your pack rests on the tops of the pole grips.
Trail-proven ways to keep your trekking sticks healthy and strong.
Your trekking poles will perform better and last longer if you periodically remove dirt and debris. Here’s how, plus other recommendations for long life:
- After each trip, wipe off mud and dirt with a damp rag. If your poles are submerged during a stream crossing, take the shafts apart and dry them.
- After hiking in the salty environs of coastal trails, rinse and dry your poles thoroughly.
- At least once a year, separate the pole sections and use a long wire brush (get a soft brass version at a gun-supply store, or fit a wire hanger with a swab soaked in soap and water) to scrub the insides of the shafts. While the pole Is disassembled, clean the brake parts with warm water and a toothbrush. Rinse and dry everything before reassembling.
- Don’t hang heavy items, like a food bag, from a horizontal pole. They aren’t designed to withstand perpendicular pressure.
- Resist the urge to tighten twist-locks until you can’t tighten them any more. This can damage the interior mechanism.
- Don’t lubricate your poles. Most adjustable-length poles lock with a friction mechanism that won’t function if oiled.
- Contact the manufacturer or your local outdoor retailer for replacement tips and brake parts.
SCOREBOARD TREKKING POLES
Final Price Weight grade (oz.; mfr./BP) Alpina Masters Adventure 4.2 $70 8/11.5 Garmont Supreme 3.7 $89 11/11 Komperdell Contour Grip 3.6 $119 8/10.5 MSR OverLand I 3.5 $120 11/11.5 REI Haute Route II 3.2 $90 12/11 Leki-Sport Absorber 3.2 $99 10/10 Leki USA Super Makalu 3.1 $129 11/11 Life-Link Aide-de-Camp 3 $100 11/11 Handle/ Durability Ease strap of use Alpina Masters Adventure 4 4.5 4 Garmont Supreme 3.5 4 3 Komperdell Contour Grip 3.5 2.5 3.5 MSR OverLand I 3.5 3.5 4 REI Haute Route II 3.5 3.5 3.5 Leki-Sport Absorber 3 3.5 2.5 Leki USA Super Makalu 2.5 3 2 Life-Link Aide-de-Camp 2.5 3 3 Shock Support/ Sticking absorption stability power Alpina Masters Adventure 3.5 4 4 Garmont Supreme 3 4 4.5 Komperdell Contour Grip 3.5 3.5 4 MSR OverLand I 3 3.5 3.5 REI Haute Route II 3 4 3 Leki-Sport Absorber 4 4.5 3.5 Leki USA Super Makalu 3.5 4 3.5 Life-Link Aide-de-Camp N/A 3.5 3
Are these poles worth their price tag? Did they improve your hiking experience? Note: This rating represents the tester’s overall, gut-level reaction to the poles and is not an average of the other scores.
Manufacturer’s suggested retail for one pair in the United States.
Are ounces, for one pole. The first number is from the manufacturer; the second (in bold) is from BACKPACKER scales.
How well does the shape of the handle suit your hand, with and without gloves or mittens? Does the handle material chafe or otherwise hurt your hand during long days? Does the grip stay grippy in wet weather? Is the strap comfortable and easily adjustable?
Do the shafts bend? Are there premature signs of wear and tear? How does the twist-lock hold up to sand, grit, etc.? Does the tip wear down, split, or crack?