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Trekking Poles and Hiking Staffs: Find Your Perfect Fit

Monday, 30 October 2017  |  Admin

Hiking with a staff or a trekking pole can have numerous benefits, yet using a support that doesn't fit your height perfectly is both counter-productive and dangerous. That is why we have decided to put together this short and, hopefully, easily understandable guide that will help you find the right pole or staff for your height and individual hiking preferences.

Finding the Perfect Size

When picking your new hiking companion you need to consider three things: your height, whether you'll be spending most of the time hiking uphill or downhill, and your personal preferences. A properly sized pole should keep your arm bent at a 90° angle at all times, while the actual height will largely depend on your hiking style and terrain.

Generally speaking, the staff or pole should be the height from the top of your palm with your forearm held out in front of you at a 90°angle. The top of the handle should be at waist level, with your elbow at 90°. If, however, you have particularly long legs, you might find the height from the tip of your upturned thumb more comfortable, while people with shorter legs might find it more convenient to measure from the bottom of the palm.

Practical Guidelines

So what does this mean in terms of actual height? While it is always best to size the pole in person, the table below should provide you with some basic guidelines.

Height (cm) Suggested Pole Length
<155cm 100cm (39")
155 - 170cm 110cm (43")
170 - 180cm 120cm (47")
>182cm 130cm (51")

Going Uphill

When you are going uphill, the pole should be slightly shorter to increase the load bearing pressure. If the pole is too long, you might find yourself overstretching, which can lead to unfortunate injuries. 

Going Downhill

The opposite is true for when you are going downhill. In this case the pole should be slightly longer to take some strain off your knees. While the actual size depends on the steepness of the hill, the difference in length could be as much as 10 inches.

Adjusting the Length

Walking poles and staffs are available as fixed or adjustable. Fixed poles are generally made from wood and can be fairly easily shortened to fit your height. While they are usually more charming and can easily last a lifetime, they do require you to think about their use in advance. Will you need most assistance during general hiking, long uphill sections or long downhill sections?

Adjustable poles are great for beginners who are still trying to figure out their most comfortable size, while they are also incredibly practical for adjusting the height when going uphill and downhill. Adjustable poles are great for anyone who likes to explore new territories and come prepared for anything.

A Few Suggestions

If you are an experienced hiker and know exactly what you want, make sure to check out this beautiful Ash Hiker Stick with Natural Bark, or the charming Natural Bark Finish Chestnut Thumbstick Hiking Stick if you prefer a V-shaped handle. Both are 130cm (51") tall and can easily be cut to fit your height.

If, however, you prefer to keep your options open, the Black Trekking Pole with Shock Absorber, or the equally practical Height Adjustable Green Trekking Pole might be more to your liking. Both poles feature a multi-purpose handle that can be held either as a staff or a more traditional right-angled handle.

Have any questions, or something to add? You can leave us your thoughts in the comments section below!