|Along with a good pair of hiking shoes, trekking poles are essential|
for a day hike.
At its simplest, a trekking pole is its main part – a shaft. This is the long, stick-like portion of the pole that makes up its bulk. Most shafts on metal poles are adjustable, coming in telescoping sections. A locking mechanism can be turned so each section can be adjusted to just the right length. The advantage of an adjustable shaft is that you’ll be able to pack it up for ease. Most hikers, however, like to leave their trekking pole at the perfect height that they’ve found after some trial and error.
A subsection of the shaft is a shock absorber. This is a spring located in the hollow shaft. It offers the benefit of absorbing some of the shock that occurs when the pole strikes the ground. If you don’t have a shock absorber, then your elbow and wrist will absorb the impact.
Atop the shaft is a hand grip, which sometimes is referred to as a handle. A grip typically is made of rubber, cork, plastic or foam. Your fingers and the palm of your hand wrap around the grip when walking. At the top of the hand grip is a hand strap, sometimes referred to as a wrist strap. It usually is made of nylon webbing. The strap ensures you don’t have to hold the hand grip too tightly.
Some hand grips will unscrew. A camera then can be attached to the quarter-inch screw sticking out of the shaft, creating a monopod. This screw is known as a camera mount.
At the bottom of the shaft are a couple of parts. One is the tip, which like the tread of your boot is the part of the pole that contacts the ground. Usually tips are made of either rubber or carbide. Just above the tip is a ring known as a basket. It allows the trekking pole to “float” or not sink in snow and on muddy ground.
Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.