Do You Hike with Trekking Poles? Avoid this Common Mistake.

August 19, 2014
Courtesy of activemsers.orgWrong grip (left), Right grip (right)

Trekking poles offer a slew of advantages—increased hiking stability, reduced knee compression, easier river crossings, ultralight shelter support, and more—but if you aren’t using them correctly, you’re not taking full advantage of their strengths.

One of the most common mistakes—and one of the simplest to correct—has to do with how you use the trekking pole straps. With rare exception, every trekking pole features those dangly straps that emerge from the top of the grip. Used properly, they take considerable pressure off of your hands and transfer it instead to your wrists, allowing you to effectively use the poles without the need to tightly clench them with your hands. Used improperly, they do little more than serve as a leash for your poles.

Here’s the error many people make. They insert their hands through the top of the straps and then grab the pole grip with the straps dangling loosely around their wrists.

The correct way is to insert your hand through the bottom of the strap and position it so that the strap runs across your palm and then up between the thumb and index finger. The final step is to tighten (or loosen) the pole straps so that they are snug yet comfortable—adjust them so that they connect to the grip slightly above the top of your hand.

The same advice applies for ski poles as well. Happy hiking!

Learn more:
Sticks and Stones: The Pros, Cons, and Uses of Trekking Poles

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.