I have never fancied using a stick or pole for hiking. With a heavy backpack, its always tiring to walk, especially on an ascend.

Last weekend it was the same east side story for me. Seeing me struggling, a friend of mine handed me a stick that he had make-shift made from a strong but dead bush, with all its branched cut. He thought that would help me with the load and make my limbs and knees feel better to walk, I felt the same. But I couldn't actually figure out how it would, and how am I supposed to use it.

How should a walking stick/pole be used on ascend and on descend?


1 Answer 1


Here is a pretty useful article on the correct way to use poles.

There are several aims in using a pole. In my opinion, the primary one is to reduce strain on the knees and ankles. Additionally they provide extra stability on rough ground and can make going uphill easier. The disadvantage is they result in extra weight and may increase total energy consumption, although hiking may still seem easier as the extra energy is coming mainly from your arms.

When holding your pole you should aim to have your arm horizontal with a 90 degree bend at the elbow. This allows you to generate maximum force in the pole. If you have an adjustable pole adjust it so that it is the correct length, otherwise just adjust your grip position.

When hiking you want to plant the pole so that you can load it with force to either propel you or lessen the impact downhill. For flat/uphill walking this means placing the pole angled slightly forward with the bit on the ground pointing towards your body. This makes it easier to push forward on the pole. Going downhill, do the opposite. Point the pole away from your body, then push on the pole, lessening the impact on your knees as your foot lands.

  • 3
    Good information. Just thought I would add to this for reference, proper walking poles are better than a stick as they are sprung to lessen the impact on your arms and make hauling yourself up, or down, easier. Oh, and one can cause more problems that in helps. Two are needed.
    – Dynadin
    Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 14:17

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