Walking Poles – Essential for Hiking? Or Not?

November 15, 2018

Why use a Walking Pole

The benefits of walking poles have been well documented: using poles engages your upper body strength when hiking. This can be especially useful when trekking up hill.

They of course provide that extra bit of stability. Essential for rough terrain, but also if you are carrying a large pack on your back.

However, holding poles all the time is not always practical, so it’s a good idea when choosing your day sack or back pack to pick a model where you can strap the poles to when not in use.

Another advantage of taking poles with you is the ability to make a quick shelter if you have taken a lightweight tarp with you. You’ll be glad of this if it’s raining and you want to stop for lunch.


The Problem with Walking Poles

Personally, I don’t use them that often.

I’m usually with the kids, and the small ones like to hold your hand – something they can’t do if you have a walking pole and they’ll soon loose some motivation and start slowing down.

However, there has been times when a pair of walking poles would have been useful.

If you are also looking to buy a backpack then look for some that have loops for walking poles. You can then take them but not have them in your hands when you don’t need them (btw, if you are into outdoor photography the the loops on some backpacks are also useful for a tripod or monopod).


Telescopic Poles and Shock Absorbers

Nearly all walking poles today are telescopic, so they can easily adjust to your height. They also tend to have a strap for your wrist, soft hand grip, and a rubber foot that can be removed to reveal a spike for when on soft terrain.

Poles range from the basic to the more advanced lightweight models. Some even have built in shock absorbers to lessen the impacting on your joints.


Walking Poles for Kids

Because poles are telescopic, adult poles will shrink down fine for older children. However, if you want poles for younger children then you’ll want to get a pole specifically designed for children, as they tend to have a smaller hand grip and are smaller, making it easier for them to manage.

When our kids were younger, the poles helped in providing a bit of motivation and having their ‘own’. As the kids have got older and have more energy, they like to scramble unaided.

Children's walking poles

Replacement Rubber Feet

You’ll end up loosing those little rubber feet at some point. Guaranteed.

This is not too much of a problem, but the spikes aren’t as effective on tarmac or hard stoney ground. Fortunately you can get replacements.

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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