KEEP IT STEADY: HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST TREKKING POLES
Not all campers need trekking poles. They’re not as essential as other camping gear like tents and sleeping bags. However, they are definitely a must-have item if you’re outdoor adventures will entail a lot of walking or hiking. Trekking poles will provide you with stability and support — especially if you’re traversing rough terrain. Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing the best trekking poles.
TYPES OF TREKKING POLES
You can choose between two types of trekking poles. The standard trekking poles are usually sold as a pair. They’re suitable for hikers and backpackers as they provide better balance and footing. When you use trekking poles, you also reduce stress on your shoulders, back, arms, legs and joints. Though two poles offer more stability, you can opt to use a single trekking pole.
The second type is a hiking staff. It’s a single pole that’s best used when walking on flat terrain. A hiking staff is also more effective if you’re carrying minimal or no weight on your back.
Length is, perhaps, the most important factor to consider when choosing the best trekking poles. Trekking poles are the ideal length if your elbows bend 90 degrees when you hold the poles firmly on the ground. Some trekking poles come with a fixed length, while others can be adjusted from 60cm to 140cm.
As a guideline, you should choose trekking poles with a length of 100 cm if you’re below 5ft 1in. For those who are between 5ft 1in and 5ft 7in in height, a length of 110 cm is ideal. For those who are between 5ft 8in to 5ft 11in in height, choose trekking poles that have a length of 120cm.
Lastly, if you’re 6 feet or taller, choose a trekking pole that’s 130cm in length.
Adjustable trekking poles have an added bonus. You can adjust the length to suit the terrain you’re traversing. If you’re going uphill, shorten your trekking poles from 10 to 5cm. On the other hand, if you’re going downhill, lengthen your trekking poles from 5 to 10cm. These adjustments will provide better balance and reduce strain on your body.
WEIGHT AND MATERIAL
When choosing the best trekking poles, it’s also important to consider their weight and material. Fixed-length trekking poles are lighter than adjustable poles. Furthermore, foldable poles are lightweight, compact and easier to use. When hiking long distances, it’s best to go with ultralight poles. It’ll allow you to move easily and at a quicker pace.
When it comes to material, trekking poles can be made from either aluminium or carbon. Aluminium trekking poles are durable and weigh about 500 to 650gm. Carbon trekking poles are lighter at around 350 to 500gm. Though they’re more expensive, they’re less durable than aluminium trekking poles.
Trekking poles with an anti-shock feature are heavier and more expensive than standard poles. However, they come with a spring mechanism that absorbs the shock when you’re walking downhill. It can be turned off when going uphill. This feature is most suitable for those who have problems with their wrists, hips, knees or ankles.
Adjustable trekking poles are available with different locking mechanisms such as lever lock, twist lock, push-button lock and combination lock. These allow you to adjust the length of the trekking poles’ two to three interlocking sections.
Trekking poles also feel differently in your hands depending on their grip style. Cork handles are suitable if you have sweaty hands. They’re light, decrease vibration and conform to the shape of your hands.
Trekking poles with rubber handles are durable and repel water. They also provide insulation in cold weather. On the other hand, rubber handles can cause blisters if you have sweaty hands.
Lastly, foam handles are soft and absorb moisture. They’re best suited in dry conditions. When the foam becomes wet, it can feel slippery and slimy.
Some trekking poles have additional features. Wrist straps offer more support so you can have a more relaxed grip. Baskets are round parts at the end of trekking poles. They’re useful when traversing terrain with snow or mud. On top of that, you can also opt for pole tips which provide more traction and reduce the impact on the ground. There are even some trekking poles with a camera mount.
Walking and hiking are two of the most popular activities when camping. If this is your usual kind of outdoor fun, it’s time to invest in trekking poles. There is nothing like a great pair of trekking poles for a long hike. That’s my opinion.
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