Pole Tips for Hiking. Watch video


California Newt & Pole Tip


Clarkia & Pole Tip

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Don’t stab your buddies. Be aware. Pole tips are sharp.

I’ve often stepped aside rather than be stabbed. If I’ve asked someone several times to be cautious and they don’t get it, I chose not to hike with that person again.

People hiking behind you need to keep a safe distance, especially on steep uphill. Swing your pole back to demonstrate the needed distance and warn that hiking too close can put out an eye.

On flat or downhill, keep enough distance so you don’t stab your buddy’s Achilles tendon.

Leaders: I’ve been asked over and over to encourage leaders to caution hikers to use good hiking pole etiquette.



Pole racks can be overwhelming.
Get good gear, learn optimal technique and then use your poles like crazy.

What separates one model from another is FEATURES.

Poles have different: grips, straps, tips, weights and some are anti-shock. For our comprehensive discussion on features & benefits, see our Pole Buyers Guide.

When we fit a person for poles, we look at height, hand size, issues & goals. It can take 5 minutes or it can take an hour to learn what poles feel and work best. Sometimes a person has to try one pole in one hand and another model in the other hand. During our field seminars we offer a variety of models so people can get this instant feedback and determine a preference. When it’s right, the connection between a hiker/walker and his/her poles can be profound ☺

Before you leave the store, learn these 2 things ~ everything else you need is on one of the DVD’s ☺:

  • How to take your poles apart & put them back together. If you have to struggle - if it’s not easy, then you’re not doing it right.
  • How to trouble shoot your poles (how to fix them if they fail).

Rubber tips:

On new poles, use a little powder inside your rubber tips to make them easier to take off. Carry your rubber tips with you when you hike so you can pull them out when you get to pavement. Your buddies will be clanking and dulling their sharp tips; you’ll be getting an upper body workout. Use your rubber tips when you store your poles.

Cost: Weigh your comfort & proper fit against a few extra dollars.

In our Hiking DVD, we have a tip on how not to lose your poles (or anything else). Well cared-for gear will last many years. Pole care is easy, and critical to keep your poles functioning properly.


Pole Care

Hiking in the Rain – Looking for Newts – What Fun!

Do not collapse your poles when they’re damp or wet.

Take them apart so the insides of the shafts will dry. See DVD - Tips Section/Pole Care. This is VERY important.

  • Wipe poles down after hiking, especially if they’re dusty.
  • Clean poison oak/ivy residue with either soap & water (be sure to rinse thoroughly) or rubbing alcohol (enough alcohol to cut the oil, not just move it around)
  • Never lubricate your poles (if they’re sticky, they’re dirty).
  • If your poles get sticky and you cannot get them clean by washing them, there’s residue on the inside of the shafts. You can get an inexpensive gun cleaning kit from your local sporting goods store to clean the inside of the shafts. The proper size brush should slide into the shaft. Do this outside. After reaming out the shaft, tap the shaft onto newspaper to remove any residue. Some manufacturers have special pole cleaning kits.
Taking apart a pole

Photo from the DVD on taking apart and putting together poles.

Notice my elbows are in, creating a short lever movement.
We focus on using our bodies in the most efficient way.
Keeping the elbows in helps to prevent shoulder impingement.

You need to practice this BEFORE you purchase your poles.
If you cannot take them apart and put them together, you cannot keep them clean and functioning well.

Get Good Gear, then take good care of it!


I take my poles apart for travel. Make sure the expander is secure (if you have the type that comes off) and pack them separately along the hard straight edge of the suitcase. If you don't have rubber pavement tips, use your travel tips.



(continued from DVD)

Finger Swing

Not much more to add here, just practice! If you lose your form or feel any effort at all in your joints, review the Level 2 learning progression.

Swing Assist

There is a really good description on DVD; to progress, try the quick step (in tips section) with the downhill SA technique.

Plant Push

Once you get grooving on this and tune into your triceps and lats, straighten your arms just a tad. Add some attitude to bring your obliques into your movement. This gentle rotation lubricates your spine. Gently externally rotate your shoulders to help your posture and shoulder joints.

If you’re having trouble learning to keep your poles behind you on the uphill, here’s a trick I’ve learned. Lengthen them way too long. It will be very hard to yank yourself up the hill with poles that are too long. Remember we said that you can hiking uphill with poles that are too long? Your arms are in the same position, but your poles are farther behind you.

Check Step – FAQ:

Do you plant on the same side or the opposite side, once per step or twice per step???

The answer is YES.

Use the Fast Flick drill to learn how to keep the poles in front of you on the downhill.

Look for the “magic word” in the DVD that will help you when all else fails.

Once you get the feel of the poles in front of you, see if you can lock your forearms into your hips (this brings more of your rectus abdominus into the movement).

Note the alternative downhill techniques in the tips section (Terrain Tips) of the DVD.

Practice these only when you're comfortable with gentle downhill.

Cruising Mode

This is the ultimate transitioning technique.

Use mostly in baseline length (flat & uphill) because a long lever can strain your wrists.

Try in tall grass or on overgrown trails, gently externally rotate your hand (from the base of your shoulders) so pole tips come together a bit behind you. This modification is in the 2008 version of the DVD.


Tiburon Mariposa Lilly & Pole Tip



Poles Section Won’t Tighten?

Welcome to the finesse of trekking poles. Understand this problem and how to solve it so you're not dealing with it in the middle of a hike.

It’s a simple fix if you know how. As mentioned above, know this info before you leave the store. Different models adjust and tighten differently depending on the mechanism. Don’t wait until you’re hiking to know how to adjust, troubleshoot and maintain your poles.

Why do you adjust your Pole Length so frequently?

You cannot change the terrain; you can only change your response to it.

Optimal length gives you optimal benefit, which is:

  • Ease of use on the flat
  • Power & Endurance on the up
  • Support for your joints on the down

EXPERIMENT with different combinations and length.

Get used to changing length frequently and easily. Both DVD’s have step-by-step instructions on how to efficiently and quickly change pole length.

How long do I adjust my poles on downhill?

Long enough so you don't have to shift your weight forward as you put the poles out in front of you. Learn to get a feel for this instead of focusing on numbers.


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