How To - Setting The Height Of Hiking Poles
Your hiking poles are designed to enhance stability and provide support on a variety of trail surfaces. To get the most out of them you need your poles set at the correct height, which varies from user to user depending on their height, walking style and the gradient of the terrain they are trekking on.
Setting Your Pole Height
- As a general rule, the standard setting of your hiking pole should be such that your arm is bent at a 90-degree angle to a flat ground slope.
- Stand on flat ground, with your arms by your sides, and relax your shoulders. Bend your elbow so that your forearm is horizontal out in front of you at 90 degrees to your body with your palms facing in towards each other.
- Adjust your pole so that the top of the handle is at the same height as the top of your palm.
- If you have long legs for your height, it may be more comfortable to set the pole length to the tip of your outstretched thumb.
- If you have short legs for your height, it may be more comfortable to set the pole length to the bottom of you palm.
Adjusting For Slope
- Uphill: When moving up a hill, shorten the poles from your standard setting by approximately 5-10cm so that you are not overstretching. The exact adjustment length will depend on the steepness of the inclination and your walking technique, but as a basic guide, thigh height is acceptable.
- Downhill:When moving downhill, lengthen the poles from your standard setting by approximately 5-10cm so that you avoid bending too much. The exact adjustment length will depend on the steepness of the decline and your walking technique, but as a basic guide, chest height is acceptable.
- Contouring:When traversing across a slope, use a shorter length pole on the uphill side and a longer length pole on the downhill side. The exact adjustment length will again depend on the slope gradient.
- Typically, there are two adjustment system designs for changing the height of your poles: twistlock and speedlock.
- Twistlock System: To adjust your pole, simply untwist it in the direction of the open arrow to loosen the section. Set your length, and then twist the pole in the direction of the closed arrow to tighten it up again.
- Speedlock System: To adjust your pole, flip the lock lever to an open position with your thumb. Set your length, and then flip the lock lever back to its closed position.
General Tips & Notes
- If your hiking poles have multiple adjustable sections, adjust the lowest part first. Lengthen it as required until you have reached the maximum extension length, then move up to the next section. This method is quicker and easier to adjust when you are walking, as it allows you to simply make minor adjustments to the top part.
- While your hiking poles look similar, most pole sets have a specified left and right hand pole. Make sure you are using the correct side.