Sunday, September 23, 2012

How to select best trekking pole for kid hike

Also known as walking sticks, hiking sticks or walking poles, trekking poles are necessary for maintaining stability on uneven or wet surfaces and to help reduce fatigue. The latter makes them useful on even surfaces. By transferring weight to the arms, a trekking pole can reduce stress on knees and lower back, allowing you to maintain a better posture and to go farther.

As an adult with a baby or toddler on your back, you’ll primarily want a trekking pole to help you maintain your balance, even if on a flat surface, and to help absorb some of the impact of your step.

Graphite tips provide the best traction. A basket just above the tip is a good idea so the stick doesn’t sink into mud or sand. Angled cork handles are ergonomic and help absorb sweat from your hands so they don’t blister. A strap on the handle to wrap around your hand is useful so the stick doesn’t slip out. Telescopic poles are a good idea as you can adjust them as needed based on the terrain you’re hiking and as kids grow to accommodate their height.

The pole also needs to be sturdy enough to handle rugged terrain, as you don’t want a pole that bends when you press it to the ground. Spring-loaded shock absorbers help when heading down a steep incline but aren’t necessary. Indeed, for a short walk across flat terrain, the right length stick is about all you need.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.