The Hiking Pole: A Useful Tool For Hiking

Hiking poles are a great way to save your knees, ankles, and back. They can also help you ascend difficult terrain, which makes them ideal for beginners who don’t yet have the skill set required to hike without them. 

Hiking poles are also useful if you’re rehabing an injury or just want a more challenging workout than regular walking provides

Why You Should Use Walking Poles
Hiking poles are essential for balance and stability while hiking.
Proper use of hiking poles can help reduce stress on joints and muscles.
Train your muscles with cardio or strength workouts to prepare for hiking.
Be sure to pack your hiking pole and other necessary gear correctly.
Protect yourself from ticks and other insects while hiking.
There are various types of poles and staffs to choose from.
Hiking poles can be used for other purposes besides hiking.

Table of Contents

Hiking Poles Provide Balance

Hiking poles provide a lot of benefits, but the most obvious is that they keep your hands free. That’s convenient for carrying water bottles, snacks and other essentials. 

They also provide a counterweight to your body so you don’t have to rely on just your legs to keep yourself balanced on uneven terrain.

You’ll find hiking poles useful for all kinds of situations: crossing streams or creeks; navigating slippery rocks; navigating up and down steep hillsides; getting through mud puddles (or worse) without falling; walking over long stretches where every step could be your last if you lose balance and fall into the abyss below the list goes on! 

A hiking pole can make a world of difference in stability and balance while hiking. Be sure to pack a hiking pole and use it correctly. Check out our expert guide on how to use hiking poles correctly for tips and tricks to maximize the benefits of your hiking pole.

Hiking Poles Are Safer Over Rough Terrain

Hiking poles can be used as an aid in maintaining your balance on rough terrain, especially when ascending or descending steep hills. 

Hiking poles can also help to prevent rolling an ankle, which would be a painful injury that could end your hike prematurely. 

A fall is another way to get injured, and the presence of hiking poles may reduce your chances of falling over by providing extra stability.

As you might expect from their name, hiking poles are most useful in helping hikers walk on difficult terrain. They’re not necessarily useful for walking along flat ground or downhill slopes as they don’t offer much assistance with this type of motion.

Hiking Poles Support Your Body More Over Long Distances

Hiking poles can help you maintain a steady pace, a consistent breathing rhythm, a consistent heart rate, and a consistent energy level. 

Hiking poles can also help you maintain your blood sugar level. You should use hiking poles when walking over long distances because they support your body more than just the weight of your legs alone.

If you’re planning to go on a hiking trip, training your muscles beforehand is crucial. Train your muscles with cardio or strength workouts such as lunges, squats, and calf raises to prepare for hiking. Check out our guide on how to train for hiking for more tips on preparing for a successful hiking trip.

Hiking Poles Help You Train for Steeper Climbs

While hiking poles aren’t necessarily a necessity for all hikers, they’re definitely worth considering if you plan on tackling steeper inclines. 

They can be useful in helping you get used to climbing up steep terrain, which will make it easier when the time comes to tackle your hike with a full pack on your back.

One way to practice using hiking poles is by using them on an incline at home or at the gym. If possible (and safe), try using them while walking down an inclined treadmill until your breathing becomes labored and/or you begin to feel fatigued in order to simulate what it might feel like when walking up a similar hill outdoors. 

You may also want to try changing directions while walking down an incline this will give your body practice with balancing while leaning forward on two legs rather than being able to use one leg as support like when standing normally.

Hiking Poles Help You Go Uphill With Ease

Hiking poles help you go uphill with ease. They can also be used as a walking stick, and they’re useful for people who have difficulty balancing on uneven terrain. 

Hiking poles are especially useful for people with knee problems, or for those who simply find it hard to make it up steep hills.

Hiking backpacks should be packed with essential items to ensure a comfortable and successful hiking experience. Be sure to pack your hiking pole and other necessary gear properly. Check out our guide on how to pack a hiking backpack for tips on packing your backpack effectively.

Use Them as a Brake Going Downhill

  • Use them as a brake going downhill.
  • Use them to prevent a fall.

Use them to help you keep your balance while walking on uneven terrain or when the ground is wet and slippery (e.g., at the base of a waterfall). 

You can also use them as an extra arm or hand if needed but be careful not to over extend! 

The point here is that using your hiking pole can make any hike more enjoyable by helping with both balance and rhythm, which will keep you focused on what matters most: enjoying nature’s beauty!

Use Them as a Crutch if You Need It

Hiking poles can be a huge help if you are injured, tired or weak. If you don’t have the strength to move forward, but need to get home, use your hiking pole as a crutch for support and leverage.

While hiking, it’s essential to protect yourself from ticks and other insects. Check out our guide on How to avoid ticks while hiking for tips and tricks to minimize the risk of exposure to ticks and prevent the spread of Lyme disease.

Use them to Cross Rivers and Streams

Hiking poles can be used to test the depth of a river or stream. If you’re unfamiliar with this technique, it involves placing one pole in front of you and another behind/beside you, then stepping forward as if you’re going to wade across. 

The pole in front should touch the bottom before your foot does; if it doesn’t, turn around and look for another way across (or backtrack if necessary).

You can also use trekking poles as an aid when crossing slippery rocks. It’s much harder to lose your balance when there’s something solid supporting most of your weight on either side. 

This technique is especially helpful with steep inclines you’ll want to use two poles instead of one so that both sides are weighted evenly during each step up or down.

Use Them To Check for Stinging Insects and Poison Ivy

Hiking poles are useful for more than just support. You can use the pole to sweep away insects and other creatures, saving your hands. 

Part of this is common sense: don’t want to get stung or bitten by a spider or snake, after all! But there’s also another reason that using a hiking pole is smart: it helps you avoid touching poison ivy with your bare hands.

Poison ivy grows in long vines that can be difficult to spot under leaves and other vegetation, so it’s important to keep an eye out for them as you walk through the woods. 

If you find yourself near poison ivy vines when walking through the woods with poles (e.g., if it’s growing from trees), use these tips from The Wilderness Society: “If possible move around it by going uphill on either side.” 

Then again: “It’s important never ever touch any part of this plant including its leaves, roots or fruit—with skin because contact causes an allergic reaction.” 

Finally: “Wash off any exposed skin with soap and water as soon as possible after exposure.” This video shows more about treating poison ivy rashes once they happen

A hiking trip can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to ensure proper safety measures are in place before hitting the trails. Check out our guide on how to get to Havasu Falls without hiking for tips on making the journey safe and enjoyable.

Hiking Poles Are an Aid in Mountain Climbing And Mountaineering

Hiking poles are an essential tool for mountain climbing and mountaineering. They help you ascend hills with more speed and less effort, they prevent you from falling down, they establish a rhythm to your movement, and they relieve stress on joints by allowing you to take more weight on your feet. 

Hiking poles are also useful in that they can probe creeks or streams (to see if it’s safe for humans) or act as a camera mount for taking photos of the scenery around you.

Use them when you ned to stop a fall or slide downhill

To stop yourself from sliding down a hill, place the hiking pole against the ground and press down on it. 

This will slow your descent and allow you to regain control of your body if it had been in danger of losing stability.

This can also be used when walking down a cliff or steep incline. If you are holding onto the pole with one hand, use your other arm to grab onto anything that might help steady yourself as well (rocks, trees). The extra support will increase confidence in going downhill safely.

Use A Hiking Pole To Relieve Stress On Your Joints

A hiking pole can be a valuable tool to help you relieve stress on the joints. When you have some weight in your pack, it’s important to use hiking poles to help take some of that weight off your knees and hips. 

By using them properly and effectively, they will help relieve stress on joints by taking some weight off of them as you walk along.

While hiking with just one pole for balance is possible (and sometimes necessary), two are better than one! 

Not only does this give you more stability when traversing steep terrain, but it also allows for a more natural stride when going downhill or walking on flat ground.

Use Hiking Poles To Aid In Climbing

Hiking poles are helpful for many reasons. They can be used as a balance aid while walking across sloping terrain, they can help you get up and down steep hills and rock faces, and they can also help you navigate mudslides.

Use Hiking Poles To Establish A Steady Rhythm

Hiking poles help you establish and maintain a steady rhythm while you hike. They’re helpful in this regard because they can provide a sense of stability, which leads to greater comfort on the trail (and increased enjoyment). 

This may sound like an obvious benefit of using hiking poles, but it’s actually something that I didn’t think about much until I started using them regularly.

Use Hiking Poles To Prevent Falls

Hiking poles can be used to help you maintain balance and prevent falls. As you walk, the pole should be in front of you, close to your body, but not too close that it gets in the way of your foot placement. 

This will allow for more stability as well as a wider stance for balance. It’s also important that your hands are relaxed on the hiking poles so they don’t tense up when using them to brace yourself against a potential fall.

When crossing streams or slippery surfaces such as snow or ice, it is important to use both of your hiking poles together for added stability. 

If there is one side that is more slippery than another (like when crossing an area with snow), try positioning one pole slightly behind the other (on either side) so that if one slips out from underneath you at least one leg has something gripping onto it!

Use Your Hiking Poles To Probe Creeks And Streams

It’s important to know the depth of streams and creeks before you step into them. If you’ve ever fallen through thin ice, you’ll know what I mean.

Use your hiking pole as a probe to check for depth. Push it into the water up until about 3 feet from the tip then feel for resistance with your hand. 

That will give you an idea of how deep it is underfoot so that when your foot goes in there’s nothing nasty waiting for them (like rocks). 

If there are no rocks or debris on top of the water that might break through at higher flows, then probing is unnecessary.

You can also use your hiking poles to check for water flow by holding one vertically in front of you as if pointing forward over an obstacle—you know, like a creek crossing! 

Use Your Trekking Poles As A Camera Mount

Use your trekking poles as a camera mount. If you want to take pictures, try using a camera strap or tripod mount.

If you don’t have any of these options, use one of the many straps that come with hiking poles or attach it directly onto the bottom of the shafts.

Use Your Trekking Poles As A Crutch

It’s a good idea to use the trekking poles as a crutch or walking stick if you need it. If you’re hiking on an uneven surface or if there are roots, rocks and branches in your way, using your trekking poles can help keep you balanced.

When walking downhill, keep them close to your body so they don’t get caught on anything. When going uphill always have the curved end of the pole pointed forward so that it doesn’t catch on anything behind you as well as helping with balance when negotiating steep slopes etcetera!

Use Your Trekking Poles As A Packing List Reminder

It’s easy to forget what you need on a hike. Use your trekking poles as a packing list reminder.

Write down the items you need to remember on a small piece of paper and secure it with a rubber band to one of your trekking poles. Attach this with either clip or carabiner (like the ones used for keys).

Use Your Trekking Poles As A Small Step Ladder

If you’re ever in the woods and need a boost, use your trekking poles as a small step ladder.

To climb up onto a rock or log, place one end of the pole against its side and then push down on it with your foot. As you do this, move your other leg over so that it’s on top of the obstacle.

To climb up onto a tree stump, brace one end of the pole against its side and then place that same foot on top of it while pushing down with your other leg until both feet are firmly planted (and don’t forget to grab onto something if you can!).

To ascend boulders or large rocks without risking injury by falling off them, place one end of the pole across two sides at an angle (like an “L”) so that there is enough space between each side for someone’s feet; then step over them using this makeshift bridge! Make sure not to place too much weight though because they could slip out from beneath us!

If none of these options seem feasible due to time constraints/personal preference/lack thereof then simply use our original tip: stick with snowshoes instead since they’re easier than trekking poles anyway so why not go ahead?

Use Your Trekking Poles As An Immediate Splint

If you find yourself with an injured limb, there are a few things you can do with your trekking poles to help stabilize and support that limb.

First, use the trekking pole strap to hold the injured limb in place. If necessary, you can use your hiking shoes as extra padding or even cut some excess fabric from your shirt and wrap it around your foot or hand for added protection.

Second, use the tip of one of your trekking poles to stabilize an improvised splint against the injured limb: if possible, keep it pressed against bone if there’s no bone nearby (such as at a joint)

Press it firmly against soft tissue instead and try to keep everything nice and tight so that the injury doesn’t move around on its own during transportation back home or into town for medical treatment. 

And thirdly: if you have two hiking poles lying around while trying this trick out, try holding one in each hand as though they were crutches!

Use Your Trekking Poles As Leg Raises In Camp

As you hike, your legs are the primary muscles keeping you upright. But when you’re sitting in camp for hours at a time, those same legs can start to get stiff and sore. 

To stretch them out, use one trekking pole to support your body and another as a stand for your feet. 

Hold onto the trekking poles firmly with both hands and slowly lift each leg off the ground as high as it will go without pain. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds before switching sides.

Use Your Trekking Poles To Clear Spider Webs And Overgrowth From The Trail

You can also use your trekking poles to clear spider webs and overgrowth from the trail. If you come across a spider web, simply open up your hiking pole and use it as a broom, sweeping the web away from your path. This will leave you with a clean path for walking!

Similarly, if you are hiking through overgrown weeds or bushes along the trail, use your hiking pole like an axe to cut them down so that they don’t get in your way. You can even use it to clear branches off of fallen trees if needed!

And finally: if there is snow on the ground during winter months when hiking in colder climates (like Colorado), using trekking poles is also an excellent way to remove snow from around you while still being able to walk comfortably with them on – no more getting stuck trying not to trip while wearing heavy winter boots!

Use Your Trekking Pole Tips To Mark Trails And Routes

When you’re hiking through a new area, it’s helpful to mark the trail so that you don’t get lost. You can use anything from a Sharpie to small flag on a stick, but my favorite way is by marking the ground with your trekking pole tip. 

It’s easy and quick, plus it makes a nice groove in the dirt that helps keep the water from washing out your markings.

To do this, hold up your pole with one hand and press down gently with the other hand until your pole tip hits about an inch into the ground (this works best if there are rocks or roots nearby). Then twist it around for about 3 rotations so that it makes some nice grooves in the dirt below.

Trail Marking with Trekking Poles

Trail MarkerBenefits
SharpieCan mark trees or rocks, but may take time for the ink to dry.
Flag on a stickHighly visible above ground, but may be bulky to carry.
Trekking pole tipEasy to see for hikers behind you, and doesn’t require carrying any extra materials.
Ribbon or tapeEasy to find when hung on trees or branches, but can be an eyesore in natural surroundings.

Using Support Straps On Your Trekking Poles Eases Nerve Impingement.

While trekking poles can help relieve some of the pressure on your hands and wrists, they are not a cure-all. 

For example, if you have nerve impingement in your hand or wrist, using support straps on your trekking poles can help ease the pain and numbness in these areas.

The best way to use support straps is by placing them over the top of each hand when gripping a trekking pole handle at chest height or higher. 

his allows you to apply even less pressure directly onto the nerve while still maximizing gripping strength with both hands.

If your symptoms are worse when using just one arm at a time (as opposed to having both arms outstretched), try using only one arm with each hand holding onto their own pole handle instead of reaching across with two separated hands holding onto one pole handle together as shown above

Using The Right Length Hiking Pole Can Help You Find The Right Pace.

The right length hiking pole will help you find the right pace. With a short pole, you may feel like you need to walk faster than you’d like. With a long pole, your stride tends to be longer and less natural.

The right length hiking pole will help you maintain a good rhythm as well. If your stride is too long or too short for the terrain, then it will be harder for you to keep up with others on the trail (or even yourself if there are multiple days involved).

Hiking Pole Length and Pacing

Hiking Pole LengthEffect on Pacing
ShortMay feel like you need to walk faster than you’d like.
LongStride tends to be longer and less natural.
Proper lengthHelps you find a comfortable pace that fits your natural stride.

Using Two Hiking Poles Will Help You Preserve Shoulder Strength For Lifting Gear And Food

When you have two hiking poles, you can use them for better balance and stability. This is especially helpful when you’re carrying a heavy load or climbing steep terrain that requires you to use your upper body strength to keep yourself upright.

The added support provided by two poles will also help you move faster over long distances, as well as improve your endurance and reduce fatigue in your legs.

If there are any dangers along the way – such as loose rocks, tree roots or other obstacles – having trekking poles means that they will give additional protection against falls or injuries when crossing rough terrain.


I know that the list of ways hiking poles can be used is extensive. I hope this article has helped you to make the decision on whether or not you should use them on your next hike. 

If at all possible, try them out before buying any so that you feel comfortable with them and know how to use them properly. 

This way if something does happen while using your poles, such as spraining an ankle or falling over something because it wasn’t clearly marked by someone else, then hopefully using these tips will keep everyone safe!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to learn more about hiking poles:

11 Uses for Trekking Poles Besides Hiking – This article explains various other ways to use trekking poles besides hiking, such as setting up a shelter, crossing bodies of water, and as a pointer or defense weapon.

The Benefits of Trekking Poles for Hikers – This article discusses the benefits of using trekking poles for stability, balance, and reducing stress on joints and muscles.

Trekking Poles & Hiking Staffs: How to Choose – This article provides detailed information on the various types of poles and staffs, how to choose the right kind, and how to use them effectively.


What are hiking poles?

Hiking poles, also called trekking poles, are two adjustable poles made of lightweight materials such as aluminum or carbon fiber that hikers use to help maintain balance and reduce the impact on joints while walking.

When should I use hiking poles?

Hiking poles are recommended to be used when the terrain is uneven, slippery or steep, and when carrying heavy loads. They can also be used to maintain balance while crossing streams or walking on unstable ground.

How do I choose the right hiking pole?

When choosing the right hiking pole, consider the material, length, and grip type. Adjustable poles are ideal as they can be customized to fit your height and the terrain you will hike on.

How do I use hiking poles?

First, adjust your pole’s height to your comfort level, keeping your arms with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Next, place the poles in front of you at a 45-degree angle and apply pressure with your arm as you walk. The poles should be moved in sync with your feet to maintain balance.

Can hiking poles be used for other purposes besides hiking?

Yes, hiking poles can be used for various other purposes besides hiking, such as setting up a shelter or crossing bodies of water, and as a pointer or defense weapon.