Once you start using them, you won't want to leave your hiking poles behind. Quechua is letting you in on some tips to get the most out of them!
Did you know that poles reduce the impact on your joints of your backpack and the load carried when hiking by 25%, especially your knees? They also help to achieve greater balance and reduce the risk of slipping, the top cause of hiking accidents. So even if walking with poles may seem difficult, awkward or unnatural at first, you won't want to leave them behind once you know how to use them properly. To help you get started, see here how to adjust and use your poles. Before you get started, if you are wondering about the advantages of using poles, we suggest reading this article: Why walk with poles ?
>> How to adjust your poles
Unlike skiing poles, hiking poles can be adjusted using screws or clips. Clips are "external", i.e. on the outer side of your pole. They clip quickly and easily and you can easily check whether your pole has been properly secured. The screw system is internal, it is trickier at first but weighs less.
Before setting out, always check that your poles are properly clipped or screwed. Screws must be tightened up firmly, without exaggerating. For example, do not use any tools to tighten them, or you may no longer be able to adjust them later. Be careful also not to pass the pole "stop line", otherwise they might break while you are using them.
As for the actual adjustment, as we explain in the video, the forearm holding the pole must be perpendicular to your body. Minor adjustments will be necessary depending on the terrain you'll be hiking through. We'll be explaining this in detail just below!
>> How to use your poles ?
When hiking over flat terrain, you have two options:
- use your poles to set your pace, alternating them, i.e. moving your left pole at the same time as your right leg and vice-versa.
- do without, and slide them in your backpack or secure them using the outer pole ties.
When going down, poles help to hold you back. You can alternate, as on flat terrain, or move both poles at the same time and plant them ahead of you, without getting in the way of your feet. This last solution is recommended especially when descending a sharp slope. At any rate, remember to lengthen your poles by about 5cm to offset the slope for more comfort.
When going up on the other hand, we recommend shortening your poles by about 5cm, depending on how steep the slope is. And when walking, either you place both poles ahead of you and press down on them to pull yourself up, or you use them alternately.
An extra tip Holding your bust in a more upright position helps to properly balance the effort between arms and legs as well as opening the thorax properly. This can help improve your breathing and walking pace.
>> What are wrist loops and how do you put them on?
Wrist loops help to propel you as you lean on the poles to walk, especially when ascending. Moreover, they reduce fatigue by relieving your hands. If you don't use them, you have to grasp the pole handle harder, which wears you out more.
To use them properly, we recommend you slip your hand through the wrist loop from underneath, place the top of the strap between your thumb and index finger and close your hand over the handle, as shown in the video above.
When descending, it is better to remove wrist loops. If you fall despite using poles,
you can jettison the poles more quickly if you are not wearing your wrist loops and you avoid catching your feet in them.
>> Is it better to walk with one or two poles ?
For short walks, over flat terrain, you can make do with one pole, providing you remember to change hands regularly. For longer hikes we warmly recommend walking with two poles, especially considering your balance, stability and muscle impact.
Happy hiking! And if you are not sure which of the many poles to choose, remember to read our article "How to choose the right hiking poles ?".