How to Choose Hiking Pole Length

How to Choose Hiking Pole Length

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If you are going on a hike, perhaps over a few days, you may want to bring hiking poles. Hiking poles offer many benefits, including keeping you stable on rough terrain and saving energy.

However, how functional, practical and comfortable those hiking poles depend on various factors such as their length

Choosing hiking poles is not difficult, but the length is crucial. Therefore, among the few other things, we’ll discuss how to choose hiking pole length. In addition, we have an in-depth guide on how to take measurements so you can get the best length hiking poles for your needs.

How to Choose Hiking Pole Length

When determining the length of a hiking pole, you must take a few measurements. A hiking pole of the proper length will create a 90-degree bend in your elbow when it is held in your hand vertically, with the tip touching the ground.

Stand upright with your back stretched straight and make a 90-degree bend in your elbow so that your forearm is parallel to the ground. Then measure the distance between the floor and your wrist.

This is the length your hiking or trekking poles should be, give or take an inch or two. However, this is something that you probably won’t be able to do on your own, so you will need someone to help you measure.

Moreover, you need to realize that the length of your hiking pole will depend on the terrain you are hiking, whether uphill or downhill. Finally, remember that the above measurements are for walking on flat ground.

However, if you are walking uphill, your poles should be about two or three inches shorter than walking on flat ground. You’ll find yourself over stretching if they are too long and won’t bear much weight. So, when traveling uphill, to help with the load-bearing pressure, the poles should be a bit shorter.

On the other hand, if you are walking downhill, the poles should be longer so they can take strain and pressure off your knees.

Therefore, to prevent stretching too much, the hiking poles should be between two and eight inches longer than they would be for walking on flat ground. If you are walking on a very steep hill, you might even need your poles to be a foot longer than they would be for walking on flat ground.

If you are walking on heavily contoured ground, with many ups and downs, you might want two lengths of hiking poles—one shorter and one longer.

Using Adjustable Hiking Poles

You may want to consider getting get adjustable hiking poles. In fact, most hiking poles are adjustable because sometimes we need them to be shorter and sometimes longer.

Moreover, remember that there are two different types of adjustable hiking poles: folding poles and telescopic poles.

Folding poles have a simple chord in the middle of the shaft so the pole can fold. This type of hiking pole is very lightweight and packable but sometimes not very adjustable. This is the pole you need for light and fast hiking.

On the other hand, telescopic or telescoping poles have two or three sections that fit neatly inside each other and can extend, retract, and lock at the desired length.

These are very tough and durable—much more durable than folding poles, and they’re very easy to adjust. However, they don’t contract into as small or lightweight a package, which means that they’re not as portable. So, you have a decision to make here.

How to Choose Hiking Pole Length

The Locking Mechanism

The locking system is another consideration when purchasing adjustable hiking poles.

There are two locking systems; the first has a twist locking system. These have a small piece that will expand with the shaft and lock it into place. When you need to tighten it, just twist it into place; it’s very user-friendly.

Then, the flick lock lever system clamps down on the shaft of the hiking pole. They are easy to adjust, even when wearing gloves. However, they aren’t as secure and often need to be retightened. If left in place for too long, they can also get stuck.

Final Thoughts

It all comes down to adjustable hiking poles that you can adjust to this required height, which are usually the best. Remember, you need a different pole length when walking on flat ground, uphill, or downhill. Therefore, being adjustable is the No. 1 feature to look for.

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