Other than stability, walking poles aid the human body to stay upright for improving posture and fitness workout by encouraging different muscle movements while travelling over difficult terrains. It also helps reduce the stress load and impact on your back, knees, ankles, and other sensitive joints making your long-distance bushwalks enjoyable.
Most walking poles are compact, foldable, and lightweight to be easily strapped to your backpacking gear. Read below on what to consider when choosing the right walking poles:
Check out walking poles with a locking mechanism that enables you to adjust them at your preferred height. They should be long enough so that your elbow is at a 90-degree angle while walking.
Shaft materials of walking poles are usually made of either aluminium or carbon. Aluminium is slightly heavier and more durable in extreme weather conditions compared to carbon.
High-end walking poles tend to have a built-in shock absorption mechanism that gives a bit of bounce when you push the tip of the poles down onto the hard surface. It is not a necessity for bushwalkers, but it provides extra comfort and relieves pressure off your shoulders, arms, and hands. Also, it can be conveniently switched on and off.
Depending on your needs, grip handles tend be manufactured in 4 different materials:
- Foam – soft and most comfortable; absorbs water and tends to break down faster.
- Cork – moisture-resistant; comfortable and moulds to your hands; antimicrobial preventing stink; heavier than foam.
- Rubber – not as comfortable as foam and cork but they are more water resistant.
- Plastic – usually moulded in cheap walking poles and not comfortable as form, cork and rubber grip handles.
Rubber tips placed at the base of poles
Rubber tips serve as extra cushioning, propulsion, and secure placement to reduce unexpected skidding on hard surfaces such as slippery pavements or rocky ground.
Adjustable wrist straps make it easier to keep you holding onto the walking poles without having an extremely tight grip (i.e. resulting in sweaty hands) on the handles. Note: If you take a sudden fall or a trip over on the ground, you will not be able to easily drop the poles and land steadily with your hands.
One pole or two poles?
Two poles is the proper way to go in providing symmetrical support for balance. Using one pole is okay for situations when you have an arm, hand or shoulder problem on one side and the other side hands free to balance yourself off surrounding trees or rocks.
Where to find walking poles