Trekking Poles

Trekking Poles


A descendant of the common walking stick, trekking poles have been commercially manufactured since the 1970s. I however stubbornly held off using them for some time; I was worried that they would be more of a hindrance then a help in Australian scrub.

It wasn’t until I set off on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016 that I first tried them for a few reasons: I was concerned of the long term impact on my knees, ankles and feet, I knew I would require them walking through the snow and I was comforted by the well-maintained trails I would be walking on and well assured that they wouldn’t be getting me tied up in undergrowth.

Trekking poles assist walkers and runners alike with rhythm and stability on uneven terrain. I noticed when I began to use poles I had less pain and inflammation in my knees, ankles and feet. They are extremely useful crossing streams and rivers, not only are you more secure during such crossings you can also use them to gauge depth.

They assist going up and down hills. Up hills they work as leverage much in the same way a handrail does going upstairs and downhill not only do they provide support and safety to catch yourself falling they also prevent long term overuse injuries.

With poles becoming a popular piece of equipment for walkers and trail runners alike there are plenty of options available. It is important to choose the right poles for you and how you intend to use them. When looking at buying a pair of poles be sure to consider the following points.


Generally the length of your poles should be two thirds of your height or at a height that when holding the handle upright your elbow and forearm sit at a 90 degree angle. It is important to also consider the terrain you will be walking along, if you are going up-hill you will want to set your poles to a shorter length, if you are going downhill they should be longer. You may also want each pole set to different lengths if you are traversing across a slope. Keep in mind that not all poles are adjustable, many of the collapsible poles are fixed length.


Masters Trekking Poles



If you are counting your grams, poles can hold a surprising amount of weight. However, it is important to make sure the materials of the pole are right for what you need, a pole that is too light may not be strong enough. In recent years manufacturers have honed in on reducing weight and size without sacrificing performance and strength.

An example of this is the Masters Speedster Calu with a closed length of 52cm and a weight of 219g per pole. Most poles will be made of either aluminium, carbon fibre or a combination of both which is usually a thin aluminium shaft wrapped in carbon. Although carbon fibre has an incredible weight to strength ratio it is not as strong as aluminium.

A carbon pole is more suited to trail runners who carry less gear and are more concerned about the weight of the gear they choose to carry. Carbon poles could be used for day walks carrying small day bags, but it is important to note that they have a tendency to crack under pressure and heavier weights. An aluminium or aluminium/carbon combination pole is more suited to a hiker particularly with a heavy pack.


Masters Trecime Carbon Adjustable Trekking Poles


Shape and Packed Size

Most collapsible poles will pack down shorter than other poles with a twist or clasp lock (telescopic). For example, the collapsible Masters Trecime Carbon Adjustable Trekking Pole (above) has a pack size of 35cm, compared to the telescopic Leki Khumbu Lite Trekking Pole (below) which packs down to 67cm. While having a smaller packed size is convenient particularly if you need to pack your poles into luggage it is important to keep in mind that a collapsible pole is not as strong as a telescopic pole. Twist lock poles in comparison to clasp lock poles offer a more streamline pole. This can be handy strapping them to the outside of your pack as well as walking in undergrowth as they will not catch on any scrub.


Leki Trekking Poles



Most handles are made from rubber, EVA foam or cork. Rubber handles while often cheaper have the disadvantage of a slippery grip when wet and the potential for blisters. EVA foam is a good option for its soft touch, weight and grip. Cork handles also have a good grip, durability and weight.

Pole Tips

All quality poles have tungsten carbide tips which apart from being incredibly durable offer a good grip on a variety of surface. Avoid cheap pole with steel tips as these wear out quite quickly.


Not good for scrub and bush bashing. It has to be said that poles can indeed become an encumbrance when bush bashing, climbing over fallen trees or hiking on overgrown trails, in these scenarios I strap them to the back or side of my pack.


Sometimes trekking poles can leave a visible impact on the trail, the tips can leave scratches on rock, to avoid this you can use rubber tips. The poles can also leave visible holes in the ground which can damage vegetation, this can be in direct conflict with the Leave No Trace principles of low-impact outdoor recreation. Users should be conscious of this and as much as possible mindful of where they place their poles.


Trekking poles help with rhythm and proficiency particularly on uneven terrain. They are particularly useful and reassuring on river and stream crossings. They are also used in conjunction with many forms of shelters.

I consider myself a lightweight hiker who indulges in luxuries. Even though I often have my poles strapped to my pack I still believe that they are worth their weight, ultimately making me a more efficient hiker. They are an effective safety measure to avoid falling and long-term injuries.

With trekking poles I can do longer days if required but more importantly I have more energy and time at the end of each day to enjoy my environment, whether that entails a game of frisbee with my fellow hikers or going the extra literal mile to be perfectly situated for a sunset dinner.

Written by a Bogong Staff Member


Questions? Visit usemail us or call us (03 9600 0599).

More Articles