What should I consider when buying hiking poles?
Hiking poles, also known as trekking poles, walking sticks, or trail poles, are an often overlooked but highly useful piece of equipment for hikers and backpackers. Not only do they provide additional support and stability on the trail, but they can also offer a range of physical and psychological benefits that make your time on the trail more enjoyable and comfortable.
When shopping for hiking poles, there are a few key factors to consider:
- Material: Hiking poles can be made from a variety of materials, including aluminum, carbon fiber, and composite materials. Aluminum poles are generally the most affordable, but they are also heavier than other options. Carbon fiber poles are lighter and more expensive, but they are also more brittle and may not be as durable as other options.
- Length: Hiking poles are typically adjustable in length, and it’s important to choose a length that is comfortable and appropriate for your height and the terrain you’ll be covering. To determine the correct length, stand upright with your arms relaxed by your sides and have a friend measure the distance from the ground to your wrist. This is the ideal length for your hiking poles.
- Locking mechanism: Hiking poles have a mechanism that allows you to adjust the length of the pole and lock it in place. There are several different types of locking mechanisms, including twist locks, lever locks, and clamp locks. Choose a mechanism that is easy to use and reliable.
- Grip: The grip on a hiking pole is an important factor to consider, as it will be in contact with your hand for extended periods of time. Look for a grip that is comfortable, non-slip, and sweat-absorbent.
- Weight: Hiking poles can vary significantly in weight, with lighter options generally being more expensive. Consider the trade-off between weight and price, and choose a pole that strikes a good balance for you.
- Price: Hiking poles range in price from very affordable to quite expensive. Consider your budget and choose a pole that offers good value for the price.
- Other features: Some hiking poles come with additional features, such as shock absorption, built-in compasses, or built-in cameras. Consider whether these features are important to you and whether they justify the added cost.