In this guide, we’ll be looking at the importance of using a hiking pole as well as showing you some of our top picks for seniors. If you’re not sure where to start, then our handy guide on what to look for in a hiking pole will give you a good idea of what to look for.
Do I Really Need A Walking Stick Or Hiking Pole?
The reality of it all is that nobody really needs a hiking pole or walking stick to take part in hiking or trekking. You can most certainly do these activities without one. However, they do have a lot of advantages. Think of it in the same way as trying to eat a bowl of pasta without a fork; you could do it but a fork makes it so much easier.
Additionally, you should keep in mind that hiking poles and walking sticks are designed to improve your stability, especially when walking over uneven, rocky, hilly or otherwise less than flat terrain. As we age, our balance and stability naturally deteriorates, and that’s OK. There’s certainly no reason that you should let this stop you from exploring the world.
But having hiking poles will help you to retain your balance and much more. Since you will be able to put a lot of weight into the poles, you’ll find that your legs become less fatigued and you’ll be able to go further.
Moreover, since a lot of older adults suffer with joint problems, your walking stick or hiking poles will be indispensable. You see, they absorb far more shock so that your joints are put under as much pressure every time you take a step.
Hiking Poles For Seniors – Our Top Picks
It would appear that the whole world is getting more and more active and that’s nothing but a good thing. However, it also means that manufacturers are putting out more and more equipment so you’ll find that, when looking for hiking poles, you’ll be inundated with options. To make things simpler, we’ve put together this list of our top picks!
What To Consider When Choosing A Hiking Pole For Seniors?
It’s essential to know what you are looking for when choosing a walking stick or set of trekking poles. While the concept of each product is largely the same, they do come in various forms so it’s worth looking over the features to make sure the walking stick will be right for you.
There are two main reasons that you will want to adjust your hiking poles. Firstly, you will need to ensure that they are set to the correct height. Generally speaking, this means setting the poles to a height so that your elbow forms a 90° angle when the pole touches the ground. Failing to do this will mean that you don’t get the most out of your poles and your posture won’t be as upright as it should. This may result in pain.
Secondly, hiking poles are designed to be used on uneven terrain and this often means going up and down hills. When ascending a hill, you will need to shorten your hiking pole between 5cm and 10cm according to how steep the incline is. On the way back down, you’ll want to lengthen the pole by the same amount.
Almost all hiking poles are collapsible and they’ll normally fold into two, three, four or even five pieces. If you’re going on a multi day hike then it’s worth looking at this as you won’t always need to use your poles; for example, when walking on flat ground, you may find them more of a hindrance. Being able to collapse and stash them is essential.
Having poles that are quick and easy to adjust but that stay in place and lock once you have adjusted them is essential.
Generally speaking, there are two different types of locking system for hiking poles and there are pros and cons to both. Flip locks feature a little lever which clamps the two parts of the pole together. On the other hand, a twist lock is twisted and a threaded section joins the two pieces of pole together.
Flip locks are very secure for the most part but they do make the poles look a little more bulky. Twist locks tend to give the hiking poles a much more streamlined appearance but many people complain that they are prone to coming loose which is the last thing you want when hiking on uneven ground.
If you’re off on a lengthy adventure, the last thing you want are trekking poles that will weigh you down. At the same time, you don’t want them to be so light that they feel flimsy. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that you assess the weight before buying.
Typically, hiking poles are made from either carbon or aluminium. Both of these have their pros and cons however, carbon is the lighter option. The downside of this is that if they break, they do it in style. Unlike an aluminium pole which will bend, a carbon pole will shatter. So once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Carbon fibre poles also tend to be much more comfortable to use whereas aluminium ones can feel a little clunky. But then, they certainly offer far superior durability so if you’re heading out on very rugged trails, they are worth considering.
It’s important to weigh up your own needs and where you’ll be walking as this will allow you to make a better choice on the type of material and weight.
Grip And Straps
You won’t find many hiking poles that don’t have a wrist strap. This is a feature that almost all products have, although there are a few that don’t. But when shopping for hiking poles for seniors, it’s a good idea to go for one with a wrist strap as this will ensure that the poles don’t get away from you.
The wrist strap should be made from material that does not chafe and it can be helpful to look for those that are moisture wicking, especially for summer use.
Moreover, you should check that your trekking poles have a good, comfortable grip. It’s essential not to confuse trekking poles with Nordic walking poles. While the two are very similar, there are some differences that make each more appropriate for its given activity. One of the key differences is that hiking poles have a contoured grip and this will be far more comfortable when hiking over rough ground.
Moreover, grips come in a choice of materials as follows:
Rubber grips are incredibly durable and the material acts as an insulator. This makes them great for use in winter. However, in summer, your hands may sweat and the rubber is not moisture wicking so this may result in blisters.
Foam grips are very comfortable and will absorb moisture. That said, it is the least durable of all the choices.
Cork grips are considered some of the best as they offer good durability and will wick away moisture. Moreover, they will mould to your hands so you’ll find them to be much more comfortable.
While your hiking poles will absorb some of the shock, there are some that are designed with a built-in shock absorber. If you have arthritis or another condition that affects your joints, this is something well worth considering.
What’s great is that this internal spring can be activated and deactivated as necessary. For example, many people find that they need additional shock absorption when moving downhill whereas going uphill isn’t such an issue.
When you’re buying hiking poles, it’s important to look at whether they come with any accessories. It’s always good to have a storage bag, especially where you’re buying collapsible poles, which is almost always the case with hiking poles.
However, a lot of products also come with a range of tips that you can attach to the end of the pole depending on the type of terrain you’ll be walking over. For example, some come with mud tips and tips that are used on concrete. If you’re planning to walk in winter then it also pays to look for trekking poles that come with snow baskets.
Staying active is an essential part of getting older but it’s also really important to make sure that you have the right equipment when getting out and about. If hiking or trekking is something you enjoy and you’re not afraid to get off the beaten track then a good set of hiking poles or a walking stick might be just what you need.