Hiking poles (also called hiking staffs and trekking poles) are a must-have tool for mountaineering, backpacking, trekking and trail walking.

Why use Hiking Poles?

They help provide support and enhance stability on difficult terrain. Plus, hiking endurance is improved because energy usage is better distributed.

Other benefits include the ability to lessen stress on the knees and helping to absorb shock.

Eight reasons to use hiking poles

  • Hiking poles rely on movement and force of the arms to help propel upward and forward, which means the average trekking speed on flat or inclined surfaces is increased.
  • By absorbing more of the impact on the hiking trail, less stress is caused to the feet, ankles, knees, and legs. This benefit is mostly noticed when walking down a steep hill. In most situations, the use of hiking poles will cut compression force to the lower body by about 25-30%
  • Use the poles to help clear a path through the overgrowth. Hiking poles care useful for swiping away spider webs or pushing away prickly bushes which should make the journey through the wilderness much more comfortable.
  • The poles let hikers get in a consistent rhythm which is beneficial for its ability to increase the average walking speed. This is most noticed when walking on the non-technical and flat trails.
  • Better traction is achieved on the more slippery trail surfaces (loose stones, snow, mud, etc.) because of the extra contact with the ground.
  • Hiking poles are great at improving balance when walking on slippery bog bridges, root-strewn areas, and river crossings. The extra contact points make it easier to move quickly and stay balanced.
  • Poles can double up as probing tools to discover more information about what might be in front of you. Use the hiking poles to probe for signs of quicksand, melting snow, and deep puddles.
  • Get a certain degree of protection from the local wildlife. Swinging the hiking pole overhead can often scare away animals and leave you in peace.

Read our Hiking Pole Buying Guide!

What are the main features?

Adjustability

Most of the popular hiking poles are designed to adjust in size (25 – 54 inches) to make them more versatile and better adapted for the different terrain conditions. For instance, a longer length is preferred for walking downhill, while a short pole is preferable when moving uphill.

Regular

A regular hiking pole is the least expensive and lighter edition. It doesn’t include extra features like shock-absorbing abilities. But, they are still effective and give the desired support on the trails.

Shock-absorbing

Poles built with internal springs are great at absorbing most of the shock when walking down a hill. The shock-absorbing feature can be turned on and off as required. The use of poles that absorb shock is more practical for those with injured or weak hips, knees, or ankles.

Ultra-light

An ultra-light pole (weighs less than 1 lb) is great for those wishing to keep the hiking supplies and weight to a minimum. Plus, the reduction in weight means the hands get less tired and less fatigued.

Read our Hiking Pole Buying Guide!