Hikers, both veteran or just frequent hikers, might want to level up their hiking “career” by adding tools or items in their arsenal that will help optimize their hiking.
One such helpful item is hiking poles.
Hiking poles are an accessory for hiking that helps people maintain a better sense of balance. At the same time, it also helps create stability for hikers when there’s uneven ground. Additionally, it can also improve one’s pace and better muscle use while hiking.
With that said, if you’re interested in purchasing a pair of hiking poles for yourself, then you need to consider several factors first.
In this article, there are seven important factors highlighted to let you know which ones you have to look into to find the best hiking poles for you. Check them out below:
Price and weight
You might be wondering why price and weight are under the same subheading. The reason for that is because usually when the price is higher, it entails a lighter hiking pole.
A lighter hiking pole is ideal for when you’re hiking because it means you don’t have to bear the strain of the weight of your hiking sticks as you swing them in your stride. Another advantage to lighter hiking poles is that they are much more portable and they are easier to bring with you.
With these benefits to hiking poles that are lighter, it’s no wonder these are the ones that cost more money.
A key part of hiking poles is their locking mechanisms. These are used as a way to hold the length of the poles after you’ve adjusted them.
Aside from that, the locking mechanism also dictates how the poles are kept from slipping away when you’re using them. With that said, there are four main types of locking mechanisms in hiking poles:
- External Lever Lock
- Push-Button Lock
- Twist Lock
- Combination Lock
These locks have different ways of locking length adjustments in place. Aside from that, the maneuverability of these locking mechanisms also differs when you’re wearing gloves so make sure that you take that into account when testing them out.
What the shaft of the hiking pole is made out of can influence its weight. Aside from that, it can also indicate how durable the hiking pole will be against strain or weight. Additionally, the stiffness of the shaft material will also indicate how energy efficient it is.
On that note, hiking pole shafts are made up of two common materials. It will either be made up of aluminum or carbon fiber. Depending on which, the durability, stiffness, and weight of the hiking pole will differ.
Aluminum is heavier than the carbon fiber pole so it isn’t as maneuverable as the other one. However, it is quite durable so it doesn’t break as easily as carbon fiber does. Furthermore, aluminum will be much less energy efficient because it’s not as stiff as carbon fiber poles.
Aside from the material that makes up the shaft, you should also consider the materials that make up the handle or the grip of the hiking pole.
What you should be looking for in your hiking pole handle is the shape and design of the grip. You want it to be as ergonomic as possible.
Cork material is great and ideal because as it ages, it adapts to your grip more. Aside from that, it is a very durable material too, so you’re sure it won’t break down before your hiking pole does. Also, it doesn’t absorb as much water and is quite smooth to the touch.
Another common grip material is rubber which is best for colder hiking weather because it’s warmer to the touch. However, rubber can be less durable and is too malleable during hotter weather.
Foam, on the other hand, is a light grip material and absorbs a lot of moisture so it’s better for hotter weather, unlike rubber grips. However, its durability is shot as it can wear out quite fast.
A vital part of a hiking pole is the wrist strap because it helps you feel less strained from constantly having to grip your pole.
Make sure your hiking pole has a good wrist strap that isn’t too tight because it can cut off circulation.
A comfortable wrist strap will help improve your pace, as well as offer better stability and helps you not leave your hiking pole behind.
Trekking pole baskets are attached on the pole tips. This helps them not sink into some terrain like snow or mud. Large baskets are great for preventing sinkage in snow. On the other hand, the smaller variety is best used for sleek, and muddy terrain.
Your hiking poles’ tips are the parts of the hiking pole that will break down most often. That’s because it gets the brunt of your force, as well as the impact with the terrain you’re walking on.
Thus, you should make sure that you buy hiking poles that have replaceable tips. Otherwise, a broken pole tip will leave you having to buy an entirely new hiking pole.
These factors should be the ones you consider when buying a new hiking pole. Don’t forget these and use this article as a buying guide for your next hiking pole shopping plan.