A trekking pole is one of the most-used equipment by trekkers, hikers and backpackers. They are used to increase your stability and act as a scaffolding on any track. It is a must-have in your trekking gear.
Why do We Use Trekking Poles?
Trekking poles are most utile for people who have any sort of damage in their legs. These poles reduces the compressive pressure by 25%. Trekking poles are basically used to attain more balance while trekking. While you are going up-hill or down-hill, a trekking pole helps in reducing the stress and fatigue on your leg-joints. It also eases, crossing slippery surfaces like streams or snow patches, and also makes it safer. They can probe into the mucky areas, confirming if it is safe to walk over.
How to Choose the Perfect Trekking Pole
To choose proper poles, you will have to consider factors like its type, size, capacity, grip, etc. Let’s go through these factors one by one.
Type of Poles
1. Anti-shock Poles
Anti-shock poles consist of internal springs which helps in absorbing shocks and jerks on the trails. Also, these poles have an option to switch to a standard (without internal spring) trekking pole, when not needed. An anti-shock trekking pole is highly recommended for those who have any sort of a leg-joint or a hip problem. Anti-shock poles are a little expensive.
2. Standard Poles
These are anti-shock poles minus the anti-shock effect. These poles provide a good support and balance but are not as good as anti-shock poles. They are less expensive and lighter in weight.
3. Compact Poles
Compact poles are relatively smaller than the above mentioned poles. These poles are also known as ‘women poles’ as these have smaller grips addressing to the woman’s needs. They are light in weight and are very easy to carry.
4. Hiking Staff
Hiking staffs are single poles that are best used when the terrain is flat and you have no burden on your back. They are available with an anti-shock system and also with a camera.
Normally, lighter the poles are, the more they cost. They are easier to swing and easier to carry. Lighter poles facilitates quicker movements and less stress.
Depending on your reliability on a pole during trekking, you should pick your trekking pole. There are variety of brands and different price ranges for trekking poles. If the price is not a concern, pick an anti-shock-light-weight pole for trekking.
The grip of a trekking pole varies from brand to brand. A few brands have different poles for left-hand and for right-hand. Many poles also have an extended grip, which enables the user to have a lower grip position. This shortens the length of pole for an uphill climb.
The grips on the poles are made up of cork, foam or rubber. A cork grip adjusts with the shape of a hand easily, giving you a better grip. It also prevents vibration and moisture from sweaty hands. Similarly, a foam grip absorbs sweat and is very soft to touch whereas, a grip made out of rubber is harder, prevents your hand from vibration, and shock. However, during the summers these grips have been complained to cause blisters. Therefore, rubber grips are best used in winters.
It’s the shaft of the pole that you actually pay the money for. A shaft is usually made up of either aluminum or carbon. An aluminum shaft has an tendency to bend under high stress trekking, though it does not break easily whereas carbon poles are better at reducing vibrations. They are strong too, but they are more threatened to splint or break under high stress. So, choose whatever suits you, out of the two.
Locking mechanisms are adapted in poles to enable the user to adjust the length of the pole according to the slope and his height. There are four type of locks.
1. Stop Lock: This system prevents the lock from being unstable.
2. Flick Lock: This is very strong and easy to adjust. This lock is lever based.
3. Duo Lock: You can adjust the length of the pole here easily.
4. Super Lock: This locking system uses an expander to adjust the length of the pole. It is very strong and reliable.
Normally all the trekking poles have removable baskets. Baskets used in them are small.
Pole tips are made of carbide or steel and both are durable. However, buy a pole with a rubber-coated tip to protect your gear.
It is important that you clean your pole, specially the multi-locking area to prevent the locking system from slipping and corroding. I hope that the explanation above was of help. In the end, you should keep your needs in mind before the purchase. All the best!