Exploring the Benefits: How to Use Trekking Poles

How to Use Trekking Poles: A hiker's silhouette with trekking poles in the mountains at sunset

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Imagine walking through tough, uneven terrains and having some extra support and balance. That’s exactly what trekking poles offer—they can be your dependable friends while you’re on the trail.

In this post, we’ll unravel the many perks of using trekking poles and show you how to use them like a pro. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just getting started, this post is your key to making the most of your hiking experiences. Let’s get going.

Benefits of Using Trekking Poles

Trekking poles aren’t mere accessories; they offer numerous benefits that enhance your hiking. Explore why you should use these handy tools on your next trek:

  • Improved Stability and Balance: Trekking poles provide essential support on varied terrains, from rocks to steep slopes and uneven paths. They guarantee stability, preventing slips and wobbles.
  • Reduced Impact on Joints: Trekking poles can ease joint discomfort during long hikes by spreading your weight and easing strain on your lower body. This helps your muscles relax and reduces pain after hiking. Some sources suggest a 25-40% reduction in joint impact, but, as you know, scientists enjoy debating such numbers.
  • Increased Stamina: Hiking is a workout, but trekking poles step it up. They engage upper body muscles, boosting stamina and providing a cardiovascular workout as you explore the outdoors.
  • Pain Reduction: Knee, hip, or ankle pain? Trekking poles can help. They ease joint discomfort by sharing the load, turning a painful hike into a pleasant experience.

To sum up these benefits, a recent study found that walking downhill can harm your muscles and a tissue called cartilage, which acts like a cushion in your joints. Using trekking poles is recommended to reduce this damage and aid in the recovery of your muscles and cartilage after walking downhill.

How to Use Trekking Poles The Right Way

How to Use Trekking Poles: Hiker leaning on a trekking pole on a trail, looking at a scenic mountain view

Now that you understand the benefits of trekking poles, let’s dive into using them effectively.

Proper technique can greatly enhance your hiking experience. Here are essential tips to make the most of your trekking poles:

Adjusting the Length of Trekking Poles

First things first, let’s get those poles to the right height. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to trekking poles. Here’s how to do it:

Trekking Poles: A figure showing to use trekking poles
  1. Stand tall on a flat surface.
  2. Place the tip of the pole about 4 inches to the outside of your pinkie toe.
  3. Hold the handle and make sure your elbows form a 90-degree angle.
  4. Adjust the length of the pole so it matches this height.

Remember the measurement marker on the poles to avoid the need for constant re-measuring. Keep in mind that what works for one person may not be ideal for another.

How to Use Trekking Poles Efficiently

Now that you have the ideal height for hiking on relatively flat ground, you might need to adjust your approach if you encounter a steep incline or decline up ahead:

  • Going uphill: Shorten your poles by about 5-10cm. This helps with traction and reduces strain on your back, especially if you’re carrying a heavy backpack.
  • Going downhill: Lengthen your poles by about 5-10cm. This gives you better support and reduces the impact on your knees.

You can also check out our post specifically on the ins and outs of finding the right trekking pole height here.

Gripping Your Poles – No Death Grip!

Now that your poles are at the perfect height, let’s talk about how to hold them.

The handgrips of trekking poles are usually made of cork, rubber, or foam. Whichever type you have, here’s a handy tip: use the wrist strap.

Trekking Poles: How to use the wrist strap

Thread your hand through the strap from the top to avoid a tight grip. Keeping your grip relaxed is crucial for comfort and efficiency during your hike.

However, be cautious with certain types of straps on prolonged hikes, as they can cause discomfort or nerve sensitivity.

How to Use Trekking Pole Tips

Trekking poles usually have a basic metal tip that’s good for soft surfaces like mud, dirt, and grass. But, if you’re going to hike on paved roads, thick mud, or snowy paths, you’ll need some extra accessories.

Rubber Tips

Trekking Poles: Rubber tips

You can put these tips over the metal ones, and they make your poles land more softly and quietly on paved roads. It’s a little thing that can really improve your hiking experience.


If you’re often in muddy areas, consider getting special mud baskets for your trekking poles. These baskets not only prevent you from sinking too much into the mud but also keep mud from splashing onto your clothes.

Trekking Poles: Snow and mud baskets

Alternatively, if you enjoy winter hiking and tackle snowy trails, think about attaching snow baskets to your trekking poles. These baskets prevent your poles from sinking too far into deep snow. Snow baskets are typically broader than mud baskets, designed specifically for terrains with several feet of snow.


Trekking poles are your reliable companions on the trail, offering enhanced stability, reduced joint impact, increased stamina, and pain reduction.

We’ve offered key tips on adjusting pole length, gripping comfortably, and choosing the right tips for different terrains, ensuring you can explore all trails with confidence.

If you’re unsure about selecting the perfect pair, delve into our in-depth post for expert guidance. Now, go out there and apply all of this knowledge. Happy hiking!

Interested in ultralight trekking poles? You can also check out our TOP 5 Guide for the lightest trekking poles on the market.


How do you use trekking poles efficiently?

To use trekking poles efficiently start by adjusting their length to match your height and the terrain. Maintain a relaxed grip on the handles, utilizing the wrist straps for added support without a tight hold. Choose the right tips for the trail surface—metal for soft terrain and rubber for rocky or paved paths. When hiking uphill, shorten the poles by 2-4 inches and move your arms higher and in front of your chest. Conversely, when going downhill, lengthen the poles by 2-4 inches and keep them in front of your body to maintain balance.

Is it OK to use one trekking pole?

Using one trekking pole is absolutely okay! It can provide stability and support during hikes. When opting for a single pole, be sure to switch hands occasionally to balance muscular strain. If you have chronic pain in one leg, primarily use the pole with the opposite arm to ease the strain on the weaker or painful limb. Whether you choose one or two poles depends on your personal preference and the goals of your hike.

Spread the word →

Search Insights

Have any questions?

Follow us

More Insights

Suscribe to Our Newsletter

Follow us

hikinglite logo white
©2023 HikingLite - All rights reserved

Start your ultralight journey!

Subscribe now to stay ahead of the pack with the most up-to-date ultralight gear content.