Hiking poles: everything you need to know

Are you a trekking enthusiast and would you like to buy trekking equipment? In this article you will discover the different types, for a real guide to buying.

If until a few years ago it was rare to see them in Italy, today the trend has reversed: trekking poles have now become a faithful companion for every hiker or for those who love to take long walks. You might think that it’s just a matter of fashion but, in reality, the poles offer many advantages. First, greater support and stability during the walk, especially when going downhill, thus reducing the risk of falls and distortions to a minimum. In addition, part of the weight of the body and the backpack, which when we walk normally weighs on the knees and joints, is discharged on the arms. Finally, trekking poles encourage a more upright posture and improve breathing, because they allow a greater opening of the chest and an increase in lung capacity.
For those who want to try their hand at trekking and want to buy sticks, it is important to choose carefully which model to buy. Although they may seem very similar, in reality the types of poles on sale differ in a number of features. Here are some tips on how to direct your purchases!

Heavy or light trekking poles?

There are many aspects to consider, starting from the weight: if a trekking pole is light it will be even more manageable, and you will end up wasting less energy. Usually the weight depends on the material used. In case the pole is made of aluminum, therefore heavier, it is preferable to use it for simple excursions. The lighter carbon fibre pole is ideal for more demanding trekking routes. Aluminum poles, more common than carbon poles, are also cheaper.

Telescopic or fixed trekking poles?

Trekking sticks are available in both fixed and adjustable lengths (called telescopic sticks). Fixed-length poles are more robust and allow you to feel less ground vibration, but have the disadvantage of not being able to be adjusted in height, while variable-length poles can be shortened when climbing and stretched when facing a descent. Our advice is to always choose to fold trekking poles: the more sections there are, the easier it will be to fold and the less space it will take once you don’t use it.

Trekking sticks with screw or clip adjustments?

The adjustment system is another aspect to take into account: it is essential that a walking stick is suitable for your height. The height adjustment can be via a clip, called an external block; or by an internal adjustment, which works by means of a screw. The adjustment with the clip is safer and allows you to immediately understand if the stick is locked correctly. With the screw, on the other hand, there is a risk of not closing the adjustment correctly, or of overtightening it. Moreover, without the use of some tools, it is not possible to screw or unscrew this adjustment.

Handle

The handle can be made of three materials: cork, foam or rubber. The cork handles are resistant to perspiration from the hands, absorb less vibration and adapt to use. Foam is the lightest and softest material to touch; it absorbs hand sweat and keeps them cooler than other materials, but it is less suitable for winter because it absorbs water and snow. The rubber handle, on the other hand, is ideal for activities carried out in winter because it provides excellent insulation from the cold, while it is not recommended for summer because sweat can irritate the skin of the hands. Being the heaviest material, it greatly dampens vibrations and shocks and is ideal for those who practice demanding activities in the mountains.

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