Though they may appear cumbersome at first, hiking poles can be a useful tool on the trail, especially if you’re carrying a heavy backpack.

In addition to helping you balance your load, hiking poles can also help reduce fatigue and improve your hiking speed and stamina.

Here are tips for how to use hiking poles on your next hike.

  1. Before you head out on the trail, make sure to adjust the length of your hiking poles. They should be long enough that your arm is at a 90-degree angle.
  2. As you hike, plant the poles in front of you rather than off to the side. This will help you maintain balance and keep your center of gravity over your feet.
  3. When going downhill, place the pole behind you and use it for stability as you descend.
  4. If you come across a stream or other obstacle that’s too wide to step over, use your hiking poles to help test the depth and stability of the terrain before proceeding.
  5. Going uphill? Plant your poles firmly into the ground and use them for leverage as you climb.
  6. If you need a break, prop your hiking poles up against something sturdy and lean into them for support.
  7. In areas with lots of brush, use your hiking poles to clear a path in front of you as you walk so that you don’t get scratched or scraped by branches and thorns.
  8. If you’re camping in an area with bears or other large animals, string up your food between two hiking poles to keep it out of reach (and smell) of potential scavengers.
  9. Need some light? Most hiking poles come with carbide tips that can double as mini lanterns when struck against hard surfaces in low-light situations.
  10. Having trouble finding your way? Many newer models of hiking poles come equipped with GPS devices and compasses, so you’ll always know where you are (and which way is north).


Hiking poles are a great tool to have on any hike big or small! By following these tips, hopefully, you feel more comfortable utilizing them on your next outdoor adventure!