Have I convinced you that you need trekking poles to save your joints, especially your knees? If not, then you may want to take a look at this article I wrote explaining why I love my trekking poles. You’ll learn all about why I take them along on all of my long day hikes, every backpacking trip, and of course on trekking adventures!
If you own a pair (or are borrowing a friend’s pair) of trekking poles, you can optimize them so they can serve you well in varying terrains.
Trekking Pole Mud Baskets
Most trekking poles come with mud baskets. If you’ve used trekking poles in muddy terrain without mud baskets, then you may have already experienced your trekking pole sinking deep into the mud, similar to what would happen in snow.
The mud baskets help provide a bit of flotation so your poles don’t sink so deeply into the mud. As an added bonus, mud baskets help prevent mud from splashing up on your adventure apparel! I lost a mud basket while hiking through some poison oak last May, but picked up a replacement pair.
Trekking Pole Snow Baskets
Trekking pole snow baskets can convert your trekking poles into snow poles! Snow baskets prevent your trekking poles from sliding down several feet into the snow. Instead, they only go into the snow a few inches and provide flotation, just like snowshoes.
I use my snowbaskets on my REI Peak Ultralight Trekking Poles for snowshoeing trips. Snow baskets come in a couple of different sizes based on the snow you’ll be snowshoeing in. Here’s the rule of thumb: The softer the powder, the bigger the basket. I only have one pair of snowbaskets (the smaller size) and they have suited me just fine on countless snowshoeing adventures.
Trekking Pole Rubber Caps
Rubber caps are what you can slip onto your trekking poles in rocky terrain, such as Joshua Tree National Park in California.
I have climbed to some of the unnamed (but numbered!) peaks in Joshua Tree, and while there is typically a lot of scrambling involved, and therefore no need for trekking poles, I have used them on descents along the rocky trails. Without the rubber caps, however, trekking poles are useless in terrain like that. The metal of the trekking pole tip slides right off the rocks, creating a dangerous situation!
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Hi Paulette, great question.
Trekking poles should be able to help you because they will eliminate some of the pressure on your ankle. By using two trekking poles instead of one cane you’ll be able to use the arm strength from both arms to help you, rather than just one arm.
As far as snow baskets, they will probably not be necessary since I am assuming that the driveways and parking lots will be plowed. Snow baskets help keep poles from sinking in to deep snow, primarily for people who snowshoe. Note, that it can’t hurt to have them on for your purposes, they just won’t do anything unless there is deep snow.
Also, most trekking poles are sold only with the built-in metal tips at the ends of the poles. In snow/ice, this will be fine, but if you are using them on dry pavement I’d highly recommend purchasing a pair of rubber caps shown above. This way the metal tip at the end of the pole won’t slip and slide against the pavement!
Good luck with your recovery!
I am a senior and broke my left ankle last Fall. My physical therapist recommended that I use trekking poles (instead of a standard cane) due to Michigan’s snow/icy weather. This is not for recreation, merely to get from driveways or parking lots to inside buildings. How can the pole(s) best be used? Should I attach the snow basket(s)?
Great question. Not all poles have that little clip to hold them together when not in use. What brand are you poles? I’d contact the manufacturer and ask them. Good luck!
Hello, i bought my trekking poles in Yosemite several years ago. after all these years i just lost the little clip that holds the poles together when they are not in use. do you know where i can find another clip ? or even what it is called ?
The best way to train for hiking and mountain climbing is to do those activities! Your ideas of using a treadmill’s hill program and an elliptical are good ones. I’d also recommend some standard body weight exercises like squats and lunges (be sure to have proper form) to strengthen your quads. Working out at least 3-4 times a week would be ideal, and be sure to pace yourself and stretch/do yoga following your workouts and hikes.
If you have any knee weakness, be sure to always hike with trekking poles. Plus, by using trekking poles and reducing some of the strain on your knees (especially on the downhills), you’ll strengthen your arms at the same time.
Lastly, exercises that strengthen your core will be important, since balance is crucial for mountain climbing. Hiking over uneven terrain and rock scrambling definitely require good balance. If you are able to sign up for a pilates class in your area I’d highly recommend it.
Good luck! I know you’ll be able to do it 🙂
Can you tell me the best way to condition oneself for mountain climbing?
I’m thinking a treadmill set on hill programs would be beneficial .
I’m a 58 year old female and started hiking late in life and find myself having a hard time. Do you know anyone that has started late and has improved their stamina? It would help inspire me!!
Thanks for the question. I’m sorry to hear that you have fallen on hard tarmac roads! Hope you haven’t suffered any injuries from the falls. My two favorites are listed at the bottom of this page about Trekking Poles. Both of those are older styles…the latest one of the pair I use is are these carbon fiber poles, which are nice because they are lightweight and also have the secure locking mechanism. If you do a lot of walking on paved surfaces, you’ll want to get a pair of the rubber caps shown above. Hope that helps!
I have been a walker for many years but these past few years have fallen several times on hard tarmac roads , can you please recommend which walking poles should I purchase?
Great question! I’ve had that one before. I like to collapse them down and then strap them to my pack. Most packs have side pockets and straps, which are sufficient to hold them in place. You can always buy an accessory cord to strap them down if your pack doesn’t have exterior pockets and straps.
Here’s what I wrote to a reader in the past: https://hikinglady.com/hiking/how-do-i-attach-my-trekking-poles-to-my-backpack/
we are new to hiking and will be doing half dome in yosemite in august. i purchased trekking poles but is their some way to clip them to my back pack when i am not using them? Or do I just collpase them and stick them in my day pack (with the top sticking out)?