Eine Frau beim Wandern, weiter unterhalb des Weges ist ein Stausee, in der Hand hält sie einen Wanderstock.


Hiking poles an overview

  • #Winter hiking
  • #Trekking
Marketing, Zurich Office
© Fotos

Whether you’re on a hike or trek, hiking poles ensure greater safety and protect your muscles and joints. How do you adjust the length correctly? Which material is the best to choose? Find all the key information here.

When I pack my backpack, I include provisions, a waterproof jacket – and hiking poles. As you head downhill, your knees carry your body weight many times. If you add this up over an entire hike, it often leaves your knees bearing several tons per trip. One advantage of trekking poles: depending on how you use them, they can absorb up to a quarter of this weight. However, it’s important to adjust the poles to the correct length and to adapt your walking technique, too.

These little helpers are often made of carbon or aluminium and are therefore very light. And because many poles can be folded up or extended telescopically, they don’t take up much space – you can even stash them on the outside of your backpack.

Hiking poles: setting the correct length

Hiking poles: setting the correct length

If you want make the most of your hiking poles, you need to make sure they’re the right length. To do this, stand up straight, with your arms by your sides. Now, if you hold your hiking pole, your arm should be at a 90-degree angle. This position is suitable for walking on the flat.

When hiking uphill, shorten the poles a little. If it’s time to head downhill again, you might want to extend them a tad. Keep in mind that the poles usually sink a few centimetres into the ground if there’s been snowfall. Telescopic poles or foldable hiking poles aren’t only a practical pick because they can easily fit in or on your backpack, but also because you can adjust their length to suit the terrain.

Before you set off, check that the poles’ clasps are properly locked in place so that they can support you properly.

Jemand stellt die Länge eines Wanderstocks ein.

Always adjust the poles to suit the path: shorten them when going uphill, extend them when going downhill.

Photo © Ruedi Thomi
The right way to walk with hiking and trekking poles

The right way to walk with hiking and trekking poles

Even though their technology may be simple, the poles do indeed reduce the strain on your joints and muscles when trekking or hiking. It’s important that you keep the poles as close to your body as possible: this is the easiest way to keep them under control and prevents them from getting in the way.

Think about how you use them. When you’re walking on flat terrain, your leg moves forward as the opposite arm does – you move bilaterally. On steep terrain, you might find it helpful to move both poles at the same time, usually every second step. Position the poles in front of you and pull yourself upwards powerfully with your arms. This is more of a unilateral movement. It’s also suitable for going downhill. Make sure you position the poles securely so they don’t slip.

Hiking and trekking poles

For traverses on a slope, set the pole on the slope side a slightly shorter. It’s easier to do this with a long-handled hiking pole. You can then grip the pole lower so both your hands are at about the same height.

If you’re using the hand straps, you need to be able to catch yourself quickly if you fall – you don’t want the poles to stop you from doing this. That’s why you shouldn’t have your hands through the loops when handling tricky downhill stints.

The advantages of hiking poles and trekking poles

The advantages of hiking poles and trekking poles

Poles made of aluminium, carbon or hemp

Poles made of aluminium, carbon or hemp

Most hiking poles are made of either carbon or aluminium. Recently, Leki has also been offering a model made of hemp. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of the different materials.



  • Very light

  • Ultra-stiff, which means it’s highly resistant to deformation


  • Breaks more easily than aluminium

  • Rather expensive



  • Usually cheaper than carbon

  • They bend under heavy stress, but they don’t break. This reduces the risk of injury.


  • Heavier than hiking poles made of carbon

  • Bend comparatively quickly


Leki has developed the world’s first hemp hiking pole, the Hemp Vario One. It is manufactured entirely in Europe. Almost all the parts of the pole are made of renewable raw materials: the tubes are made of hemp fibres, the baskets and handles of hemp and cork granules, the loops of linen.


  • High proportion of natural materials

  • Short transport distances during manufacturing

  • Very hard to bend or break


  • Heavier than aluminium or carbon poles

  • Not foldable, cannot be pushed together (made smaller)

Hemp One Vario
Leki Hemp One Vario
CHF 199,90
Hemp One Vario view
Various closure mechanisms for hiking poles

Various closure mechanisms for hiking poles

Regardless of the material used, there are different closures available. Lock systems, which compress the inside of the tube from the outside, are common. Foldable hiking poles often use this mechanism. Other poles are secured by rotation: a cone inside the pole expands and fixes the two interlocking tubes. In and of itself, this system holds up well, too, but is prone to freezing in winter.

Equipment for long-distance hiking

Equipment for hiking

  • #Winter hiking

  • #Trekking

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