Whether you are an experienced or beginner hiker, trekking poles can make your hike a lot easier. This is due to the improved stability, balance, and comfort they provide. It’s a lot easier to tackle tricky terrain with trekking poles and this is why they are popular among hikers, trekkers, backpackers, snowshowers, and walkers.
Getting the best out of your trekking poles involves adjusting the height of the poles to suit you. Two people of the same height may require different lengths of trekking poles due to personal preference.
This article focuses on how to properly size your trekking poles. Continue reading to learn more.
Trekking Pole Length Depending on Your Height
As a rule of thumb, walking or trekking poles are supposed to put your elbows at a 90-degree bend when holding the poles on the ground near your feet. Manufacturers are increasingly designing trekking poles to have adjustable lengths and this makes it easy for hikers to properly size their poles. However, there are still several fixed-length poles on the market. Some poles are also designed to be adjustable in ranges of sizes.
Fixed-length poles have an advantage over adjustable poles as they are more compact and lighter due to having fewer parts. Backpackers and hikers that are ultra concerned about weight tend to prefer fixed-length poles. However, fixed-length poles are only great in areas where you need a certain height. So, fixed-length poles cannot be used for every terrain.
There’s a quick and simple formula you can use to know the exact length of trekking poles you need. Yes, I know you weren’t too keen on mathematics in school but I promise you this is an easy one.
What you need to do is to get your height in centimeters (cm). Then you multiply your height (in cm) by 0.68 and round off the answer to the nearest whole number.
Required Pole Length = (Height in cm) * 0.68
Let the result guide you to the required pole length. Ultimately, the required pole length is the one that puts your elbow in a comfortable 90-degree angle when the poles are held with the tips down on the ground near your feet.
|Height (ft in)||Height (cm)||Suggested Pole Height|
How to Adjust Trekking Poles
Except you have a fixed-length trekking pole, you can always adjust your poles within a certain range. For many pole models, you just have to twist the poles and loosen them. Then you can retract or extend the poles to your desired height. You’ll find arrows on the poles indicating the direction to twist to unlock and lock the poles.
Some trekking pole models come with a small lever that you can easily flick open with your thumb. You’ll be able to adjust the length of the pole after opening the lever. When you have reached the desired length, flick the lever back closed and you are good to go.
Adjusting Trekking Pole Length Depending On The Terrain
Some terrains will require you to adjust the length of the pole to facilitate easy navigation on them. We’ve already discussed the pole length for general hiking below and that’s the (height in cm) * 0.68 formula.
When hiking uphill, you’ll need to reduce the length of the poles to get more leverage and increase the load-bearing pressure. If not, you’ll always be over-stretching when you plant the poles.
The steeper the slope, the more you’ll need to shorten the poles. So, there’s no general pole size or formula for uphill hiking. It depends on how steep the terrain is. Trekking poles should not cause or increase fatigue to your shoulders when going uphill. Also, you should never feel like your shoulders are in a lifted or uncomfortable position. If this is the case, you’ll need to further reduce the length of the poles.
Hiking poles are very useful when hiking downhill as they can make navigation easier by taking some of the strain off your knees. You’ll have to increase the length of the poles to ensure you aren’t over-stretching yourself. How much you increase the length of the poles will depend on how steep the poles are.
When walking on a contour terrain such as around the side of a hill, you’ll use a shorter pile on the rising side. The pole on the fall side will be longer to ensure you get the best support.
You only have to use trekking poles once to know of the benefits they offer hikers. However, it’s important that poles are appropriately sized to your height and the terrain you are hiking on.
By using this guide, you are going to get more from your hiking poles which will translate into more enjoyable hiking sessions. Explore the outdoors to your heart’s content while having your trusty poles by your side.