Trekking poles have become very popular with hikers, hill-walkers and technical mountaineers. When used properly, they can aid in balance and overall walking efficiency.
How to use them:
Firstly it is recommended that you use two poles and not just one to walk with. The reason for this is that if used singularly and especially while wearing a backpack, an imbalance in the shoulder muscles occur which can cause pain and cramping.
They therefore should be used as pairs and adjusted to the same height. When hiking on level ground, adjust the length of the poles so that when your upper arm is hanging straight down and your hand is on the handle, your forearm should be parallel with the ground.
When climbing up a steep slope, shorten the length so that the same rule applies, and lengthen them when descending a steep slope. When descending one can lengthen the pole, but do not exceed the max limit shown on the inside slider, or the strength of the pole will be compromised. For best use, at any angle, place your hands through the wrist straps and allow your arm to rest in them, while only lightly holding the handle-grip.
Some manufacturers supply rubber caps that fit over the bottom spike. These protect the spike when walking over rock and reduce erosion on paths.
There are basically two Locking mechanism systems:
Expanding Cone Type
The more common type has an expanding cone, where when twisted the cone expands into the tube of the larger outer shaft. These work well, but are prone to corrosion and breakages. If you are in the field and a shaft section in broken, bent or the mechanism fails, the entire pole is useless.
A better system is that used by Black Diamond called the “Flick-lock” system. On this system, a simple clamp is used on the outer, larger shaft of each section. It is not prone to malfunction and it means that if a shaft is bent or broken in-field, the damaged section can be broken off and then re-inserted into the larger shaft and locked again - a huge advantage on longer trips in remote locations. Black Diamond can also supply any spare parts including new Flick-locks and bottom spikes and snow baskets.
After use pull the shafts out and clean the locking mechanism with soap and water. Then dry properly and oil any moving parts and replace the pieces together again.
In the case of twist lock systems: when in the completely closed position, do not twist and tighten the mechanisms, as it makes it difficult to release.