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Trekking Poles - Footnotes
Walking poles massively reduce the loading on your knees, aid stability on tricky terrain and help to move more efficiently by using your upper body muscles. If you are yet to try a pair of walking poles now is the time. The less strain you put on your body, the longer it will continue to perform. Take a look at Pete's Pole Page for lots more walking pole information.
What to look for in a Walking Pole:
The handle of the walking pole controls the movement of the pole so it needs to be held lightly in the fingers. Forward-angled handles are more comfortable to use, but they cost more and also make the walking pole longer as the tubing in unable to slide up inside the handle. Cork and rubber compounds are the most comfortable, while plain rubber is better than plastic.
Walking Pole Length
It a trekking pole is too long, it will protrude from your rucksack and snag on stuff, plus you'll have to raise your arms high in the air if negotiating an ascent. Too short, and it may force you to lean forwards when descending. Your forearm needs to be roughly horizontal when you are holding the walking pole by the handle, with the tip on the ground. You should have about 5cm adjustment either way for going up or down hill.
Antishock Walking Poles
To reduce the jarring effect on the arms when the tip hits the ground, many trekking poles (such as the Leki Antishock) have an anti-shock mechanism. Some people like this feature, while others reckon it makes pole placement less stable.
To stop walking poles sinking too far into the ground, most come fitted with a small plastic bucket. But on snow a larger basket is needed to prevent the pole from sinking too deep. These show baskets sometimes come free with the pole or they may have to be purchased separately - so check.
The hand should goup (rather than down) through the wrist strap and then down onto the handle. The strap should pass under the thumb and across the back of the hand. Basic webbing in cheap and usable, but plastic buckles can dig into your hand. Better straps are padded and contoured.
Carbide tips are standard issue. They last well on hard ground and can usually be easily replaced when worn. Rubber ends are also available to muffle the constant 'tick', 'tick', 'tick' from pole tips striking rock.
All walking poles use very similar materials for the tubing, with 7075 alloy being the best. Try adjusting the length to see how easy the sections are to hold and adjust (most poles have internal locking devices). Some trekking poles are easier to grip with cold and wet hands than others.