How To Use Hiking Poles (Expert Advice)

If you’re a regular hiker, you’ve probably heard of hiking poles. They’ve been around for ages, but they’ve gained popularity with the rise of ultralight backpacking and thru-hiking. 

They’re particularly useful if you’re carrying a heavy pack or if you have knees that don’t bend so well anymore (like mine!) But hiking poles are not just for hikers! They can be used by anyone who is active outside, including joggers, backpackers, kayakers and more. Here’s how I use hiking poles on my hikes:

How to Use Trekking Poles (Like a Boss)
Takeaways from “How to Use Hiking Poles: Expert Advice”
Hiking poles provide stability and can reduce joint impact.
Choose the right hiking poles based on factors like fitness level and terrain.
Adjust hiking poles according to manufacturer instructions.
Maintain hiking poles by wiping them down after each use and storing them in a dry place.
Hiking poles are not required for hiking, but they can enhance your experience.

To Secure A Tent When Backpacking

When setting up your tent for backpacking, you’ll want to use your hiking poles to secure it to the ground. Place one pole in each corner of your tent and make sure that it’s taut. 

Next, place a 45 degree angle on either end of the pole so that it secures the tent without digging into it or damaging its surface. 

If you’re using a freestanding tent (a lightweight two-person shelter), then you can simply stick these into pre-made holes at each corner and then clip them down with a stake or peg attached to your bag.

A poorly packed backpack can make hiking uncomfortable and even dangerous. Get expert advice on how to pack a backpack for hiking to ensure that you’re prepared for your next hiking adventure.

To Set Up A Tarp Shelter

When it comes to tarp shelters, you have two options: a single-wall shelter or a double-wall shelter. 

The difference is in the materials used to construct your shelter. A single-wall shelter is usually made with one layer of material, while a double-wall uses two layers that are sewn together at the seams. 

Single-walled tarps are generally lighter in weight than double walled ones because they don’t have extra fabric hanging off them for support. However, some people prefer using dual layers for strength and durability purposes. 

The choice between these types will depend on how long your trip is and how rough terrain you’ll be hiking in; if you’re just going out for an afternoon hike through your local park, then any old tarp will do!

As A Makeshift Tripod For A Camera Or To Stabilize Binoculars

Hiking poles can be used to prop up your camera, stabilize binoculars, or even to stabilize a cell phone or tablet. 

The other day I was at the beach and my family and I were taking in the sights while listening to music on our phones. 

The problem was that we couldn’t see our phones because they were being held up in the air by one of our hiking poles. They were literally propped up for us so that we could see them!

So don’t just use your hiking pole for walking use it for taking pictures too!

Once you’ve got your hiking poles, be sure to use them correctly! Unifiedhandy provides expert advice on how to use hiking poles to help you get the most out of your equipment.

To Check Depth When Crossing Streams

When crossing streams, use your pole to check depth and temperature. Plunge the tip into the water, then pull back and gauge how deep it is. 

If you’re going to need to wade through a stream, use a pole to test current strength and determine whether or not you should cross at all. 

If there’s a strong current that could sweep in an unforeseen direction, consider taking another route or waiting until conditions are safer it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to streams!

If you’re unsure about mud or rocks underfoot, try using your pole as a cane for stability while hiking across them (or around them). 

You can also probe ahead of yourself with one end of your hiking staff so that you can feel if there are any large obstacles before stepping on them. 

Sand may seem like something easy to navigate but just because sand doesn’t have sharp edges doesn’t mean that it won’t trip up unsuspecting hikers a good way of detecting potential pitfalls is by testing with your hiking staff first!

To Clear Spider Webs While Hiking In The Woods

If you’re hiking in the woods, it’s inevitable that you will run into spider webs. Spider webs are like walls: they block your path and make it difficult to navigate through them. 

To clear spider webs without getting bitten by spiders, use your pole to carefully push aside each strand of web as you pass by. 

Do not touch the web with your hands or use a stick to clear away all of the strands of web at once, because this can cause a spider (or several) to become startled and attack you for disturbing their home.

Hiking can take a toll on your boots, but they don’t have to stay dirty! Check out our guide on how to clean hiking boots to keep them looking and smelling fresh.

As An Emergency Splint For A Broken Leg, Ankle Or Lower Arm

If you’ve suffered a broken leg, ankle or lower arm, and your hiking poles are available, they can be used as an emergency splint. 

Make sure the splint is not too tight and that it is tied to the affected limb. The splint should also be tied to the opposite limb (e.g., if your left leg is broken, tie it up with both ends of the pole). 

If possible, tie one end of each pole to a tree at about waist height; this will help keep everything in place as well as provide additional support for those who are struggling with their balance after suffering such an injury. 

Once secured tightly enough so that nothing moves when you walk around on it   but never so tight that it causes pain   check to make sure that everything feels comfortable before moving on foot again!

To Fend Off Wild Animals!

Bears: As anyone who’s ever seen a bear knows, they’re huge and terrifying. If you see one while hiking, you should obviously try to avoid it. 

But if there’s no way around it, don’t panic and start running around like an idiot that’ll just make them want to chase you even more! Instead, hold your trekking poles out in front of you like this:

Mountain lions: Mountain lions are basically the same as bears but smaller and faster and meaner looking. 

Fortunately for us humans (and unfortunately for mountain lions), their main diet consists of deer rather than human flesh, so we usually don’t have much to worry about if we see one on the trail but if we do have to fend one off with our poles, remember that it works best when wielded by both arms simultaneously!

Wolves: Wolves are similar in appearance to dogs; however their behavior patterns are markedly different from those of domestic canines. 

Like most wild animals that prey on mammals such as deer or sheep, wolves tend not only towards packs but also towards other social forms such as mating pairs or family units containing pups during their first year of life–so don’t be fooled when encountering one alone! They still pose a threat!

Breaking in hiking boots can be a painful and frustrating process, but it’s essential for a comfortable hike. Read our expert tips on how to break in hiking boots to make the process smoother and more comfortable.

To Explore Tide Pools Off The Coast Of Maine Or Oregon

Exploring tide pools is a great way to get up close with marine life. To explore tide pools off the coast of Maine or Oregon, find a public beach with rocky shores and explore during low tide. Look for crabs, starfish, sea anemones and other creatures that are hiding in little holes in the rocks. 

See if there are any small fish swimming around you. If you find something interesting looking, try to touch it very gently with your hand so that it doesn’t swim away or get scared off by your presence!

When exploring tide pools, try not to step on any of the animals living there even if they look like rocks! 

You don’t want them feeling threatened by your presence because they may hide from future visitors by going deeper into their holes or burrowing farther into their rock crevices.

To Reach Items On High Shelves At Your Home

If you’re looking for a way to reach items on high shelves at home, look no further. Hiking poles can be used as makeshift fishing rods, but they also have several other uses in your day-to-day life. Some of the ways people use trekking poles include:

  • Using them as makeshift fishing rods
  • As an extra hand when reaching items on high shelves or getting things out of hard-to-reach places like under your bed or wardrobe
  • As a walking stick

Ticks can be a major nuisance while hiking, and even pose a risk to your health. Protect yourself by learning how to avoid ticks while hiking with our guide, based on real-life experience.

To Stabilize Yourself On Ice And Snow

There are a variety of ways you can use hiking poles to improve your stability on ice and snow.

To stabilize yourself when crossing a slope, dig the pole into the snow on one side of your body so it’s facing diagonally towards you and use it as an anchor for your other hand. This will help keep you from sliding down the hill if you lose your footing or balance.

To climb up a steep slope, plant both poles into the ground in front of you to create two stable platforms. 

Then put all of your weight on these two points as you grab onto them with both hands and use them to pull yourself up onto level ground. 

The same principle applies when coming down steep slopes: plant one or two feet firmly in front of you (depending on how much traction there is) before placing all of your weight on that foot/leg, then bring up another foot/leg until all four feet/legs are planted firmly underfoot while still gripping onto their respective hiking poles with both hands. 

As A Weapon In Self-Defense (Not Recommended On Day Hikes)

Pole violence is a topic that comes up a lot in hiking forums, but it’s an understandably touchy subject. 

Hiking poles are solid, long objects that can make a formidable weapon if you have to use them to defend yourself against wild animals or other people. 

It’s not recommended to use hiking poles as weapons on day hikes because they’re too much of a hassle to carry around while hiking; however, if you do find yourself in an emergency situation where you need protection from another person or animal, these bad boys can put up quite the fight.

There are two scenarios where this might happen: either someone else approaches you with bad intentions on their mind and wants your stuff (this happens more often than we’d like), or any kind of aggressive animal attacks either one of us (which also happens more often than we’d like). 

In both cases, we need something sturdy with which to defend ourselves and what better choice than our trusty hiking poles?

As A Makeshift Walking Stick To Climb Steep Inclines Or Cross Rocks And Logs

Hiking poles can be used to climb steep inclines and cross rocks and logs. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to use the poles as a walking stick, try these techniques:

To help you balance while climbing an incline, place your hand on top of the pole, with your arm straight and elbow locked.

To pull yourself up an incline (or across a rock), place one foot against the pole with your knee bent, then extend your other leg behind you as if taking off on a step in ballet class. 

Then pull up using both arms and legs the pole will help with leverage!

To push yourself up an incline (or across a log), place one foot against the pole with your knee bent so that it’s parallel with the ground while holding onto both handles at chest level. Then extend your other leg behind you as if taking off on a step in ballet class. 

Use both hands to push forward until your body is upright over top of that leg; keep pushing until all weight is transferred onto it; then repeat steps 1 through 3 above for each successive leg/foot placement until reaching flat ground again!

To Support Yourself During Rest Breaks

Hiking poles can be used in a variety of ways to support yourself during rest breaks. The most common use is as a makeshift chair, but they can also be used to prop yourself up when sitting or even standing.

To use your hiking poles as a seat, place them on the ground and then sit on top of them with your legs hanging down. 

This will allow you to relax for a few minutes without having to worry about slumping over or leaning against something unstable. 

If there are no trees nearby, you can also set up your tent so that it faces away from the wind and then use this technique as an alternative way of sitting inside it.

Using Hiking Poles During Rest Breaks

Rest PositionHow to Use a Hiking Pole
SittingUse two hiking poles to create a makeshift chair – wedge the handles into the ground and rest your bottom on the straps.
SittingUse one hiking pole, with the handle securely in the ground, to prop yourself up, especially if you’re on a slope.
StandingIf you’re standing, lean on the hiking pole to take pressure off your feet and legs.
LeaningLeaning on a hiking pole can give you a break from carrying a backpack, as it can transfer some of the weight to the pole.

To Identify Plants And Animals You Encounter Along The Trail

Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac look similar to other plants. When you are hiking in an unfamiliar area, it can be difficult to tell the difference between these poisonous plants and others. 

For example, poison ivy has three leaves per leaf stem whereas Virginia creeper has five leaves per leaf stem.

Knowing what plants are edible is helpful if you become stranded or need food for survival purposes.

Learning about the wildlife in your area will keep you safer on the trail. For example, raccoons can carry rabies; black bears may attack humans so it’s best not to surprise one with your presence; rattlesnakes may bite when stepped on or startled by noise; and skunks spray their foul-smelling musk when frightened.

In Lieu Of A Parasol To Protect Yourself From Rain And Hail

A hiking pole is a great way to protect yourself from rain and hail. It’s also a good idea to use your hiking pole as a parasol if you’re planning on going out in the sun. 

This will help keep you cool, protect your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun, and give you some shade from any passing clouds.

When using a hiking pole as a parasol:

Hold onto one end with one hand. Use this hand to raise it up over your head and let go when it’s at full extension; then repeat with the other hand until both poles are above your head.

To lower them again, simply let go of both ends simultaneously—this will cause them to fall downward slowly so that they don’t hit anyone who might be standing nearby (including yourself). 

If there are no other people around when lowering them down again or if there are but they aren’t paying attention try waving them around wildly while saying something like “Ahahaha!” or “Yayyyy!”. 

This will keep others distracted so they won’t notice what’s happening until after it’s already happened!

Using a Hiking Pole for Protection

SituationHow to Use a Hiking Pole
RainHold the hiking pole overhead to keep rain from hitting your head and shoulders.
HailUse the hiking pole as a shield by holding it horizontally in front of your face and upper body.
SunHold the hiking pole at an angle in front of you to create a parasol effect and shield yourself from the sun.

Hiking Poles Are Useful Beyond Just Hiking

Hiking poles are an excellent tool for hiking. They can also be used in a variety of other ways, including:

  • Setting up a tent
  • Checking depth when crossing streams
  • Clearing spider webs from your face (the latter is best done when no one is looking)
  • As an emergency splint in case you break your leg on the trail (and if you’re reading this, that’s not going to happen)


Hiking poles can be a great way to increase your enjoyment of the outdoors and help you maintain balance when walking on uneven terrain. 

They are particularly useful when you’re carrying loads of gear or taking a long hike with children who may get tired easily. 

You can use them to help stabilize yourself as well as provide extra support for your knees and ankles while going downhill or up hills. 

The best part is that hiking poles are available in a wide range of styles so there’s sure to be something for everyone!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources for further reading on hiking equipment and techniques:

How to Use Walking Poles: Learn about the benefits of walking poles and how to use them effectively with this guide.

Trekking Poles and Hiking Staffs: Expert Advice: REI provides expert advice on choosing and using trekking poles and hiking staffs.

How to Use Hiking and Trekking Poles for Stability: Verywell Fit offers tips on how to use hiking poles for stability and endurance.


What are hiking poles used for?

Hiking poles are used to provide stability, reduce the impact on your joints, and improve your overall hiking experience.

How do I choose the right hiking poles?

Consider factors such as your fitness level, the terrain you will be hiking, and your personal preferences when choosing hiking poles.

Can I hike without hiking poles?

Yes, you can definitely hike without hiking poles, but they can provide many benefits, especially on uneven or steep terrain.

How do I adjust my hiking poles?

Most hiking poles come with adjustable lengths to fit the height of the user and the terrain they will be hiking. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to adjust the hiking poles.

How do I maintain my hiking poles?

To maintain your hiking poles, wipe them down after each use, store them in a dry place, and check them for any wear and tear. Replace any worn-out parts to keep your hiking poles in top condition.