You might be thinking, “how does something we fill with clean water ever need cleaning?” But bacteria and mold are resourceful little buggers, and will inevitably find their way into your CamelBakPlatypus or other brand of hydration reservoir. Your best defense is to clean your system regularly. It’s not hard to do, but the shapes are awkward and it helps if you have the right supplies and know a few tips.

How to clean a hydration bladder:

  1. Gather your cleaner, plus dish soap, brushes and drying aids.
  2. Mix hot water and cleaner, then fill the system.
  3. Soak and drain, then scrub and rinse.
  4. Allow to air dry.

 

Video: How to Clean a Hydration Bladder

 

Hydration Bladder Cleaning Supplies

Supplies for cleaning a hydration bladder

 

You’re likely to clean your reservoir more often if you have the right supplies on hand. Special equipment isn’t required, but if you want to make the job easier and more thorough, it’s helpful to have tools designed for the task.

Reservoir Cleaning Supplies

 

Cleaning Solutions

You’ll need a mild dish soap, plus any of the following cleaning solutions:

  • Reservoir cleaning tablets: no measuring needed. Just pop in a tablet specifically formulated to remove deposits that can build up in your hydration system over time.
  • Baking soda: an all-around cleaner that’s effective against odors. Platypus recommends ¼ cup of baking soda in ¾ cups of water per liter of volume in your reservoir.
  • Household bleach: kills bacteria and viruses. Platypus recommends using 2 to 5 drops of unscented household bleach per liter of water. Note that you can combine bleach and baking soda together for a more thorough cleaning.
  • Lemon juice: helps neutralize really strong odors. Platypus recommends using ¼ cup of lemon juice per liter of water. It can also be combined with bleach and/or baking soda, but you need to point the reservoir opening away from you because lemon juice and baking soda produce a fizzy reaction.
  • Denture-cleaning tablets: Though not specifically made for a hydration system, these are used by some people as inexpensive alternative cleaning tablets.

Cleaning Tools

  • Cleaning brushes for reservoir and drinking tube: These can help you get into all the nooks and crannies more successfully.
  • Kitchen scrubbing pad or scrub brush: You probably already have these at home, but they may not get to all the hard-to-reach places.
  • A knotted cord: The cord has to be longer than your drinking tube and the knot should be large enough to fit snugly inside it. Simply pull the cord and knot through the tube a few times during the scrubbing process.

Drying Aids

The key is to keep the bladder fully open to allow air to circulate. It’s preferable to hang or place the bladder upside down so water can drip out.

  • Reservoir hanger: Most will fit any bladder, but a few are only compatible with certain reservoir models.
  • Clothespins: and a clothes hanger
  • Kitchen whisk: Slip it inside to hold the bladder wide open.
  • Paper towels: Stuff the reservoir with enough to hold it wide open.

 

Cleaning and Scrubbing a Hydration Bladder

This is a two-stage process. First, you mix and add the cleaning solution to neutralize nasties throughout the system. Then, you’ll wash with dish soap to help remove all residue of the cleaning solution.

Step One: Add the Cleaning Solution

Pinching the bite valve of a hydration bladder to ensure that the cleaning solution reaches the tube

  1. Fill the bladder with warm water (not so hot that it can scald you), add a cleaning tablet (or your home cleaning ingredients), seal it up and shake it.
  2. Lift the reservoir up, letting the tube drape into the sink; then pinch open the bite valve until you see water flowing out of it. This ensures the entire reservoir system is in contact with the cleaning solution.
  3. Set it aside and let soak. If you have reservoir-cleaning tablets, the instructions typically call for it to sit for five minutes; if you’re using a mixture of household ingredients, wait about 20 minutes. Then drain the system.

Step Two: Wash with Dish Soap, then Rinse

Scrubbing the inside of a hydration reservoir with a bristle brush

  1. Fill the bladder and tube again, this time with a mixture of warm water and a little dish soap.
  2. Scrub the interior of the bladder; then scrub the interior of the tube. This is easier if you remove the bite valve, which you can scrub separately.
  3. Thoroughly rinse everything.

Step Three: Air Drying

A hydration bladder drying on a rack while propped open with a kitchen whisk

  1. Disassemble all pieces (tube, reservoir and bite valve).
  2. Place your reservoir on its hanger, or set it upright to dry.
  3. Hang your tube and set the bite valve aside. Some hangers have a tube clip; you can also drape the tube over a clothes hanger or a horizontal bar.

Though using the bathroom is tempting because you don’t mind a few drips there, it’s best to find a non-humid, out-of-the-way location for drying. Then give everything in the hydration system plenty of time to thoroughly dry, because putting it away with even a small amount of moisture inside invites mold growth.

 

Related Articles

Hydration Basics

Hydration Basics for Trail Running

Hydration Packs: How to Choose

How to Treat Water in the Backcountry

Before you grumble about a gray forecast, it’s worth remembering that giant redwoods, colorful wildflowers and grandiose canyons were all made possible by the relentless pitter patter of a billion raindrops.

If you adopt the proper attitude, you can learn to love hiking in the rain. Proper prep helps, too. In this article we’ll cover the basics:

  • Gearing up: Consider adding a few key items for wet-weather comfort and safety.
  • Clothing tips: Learn what not to bring, and how to check your clothing for rain-readiness.
  • Trail hazards: Learn how to avoid common complications.

Gearing Up for Hiking in the Rain

a hiker wearing gaiters on a wet rainy trail

All trips should start with Ten Essentials. When rain is a distinct possibility, it’s also wise to adjust your gear list.

Protecting Your Gear: Because seams aren’t sealed, packs aren’t truly waterproof, especially in a downpour. In addition, all of the places that make gear accessible to you also provide a path for rain to seep in. Even zippers that are water resistant will let water sneak in eventually.

Added protection options for your pack include the following: 

  • Pack raincover. Some packs come with one, or you can buy a cover sized to fit your daypack.
  • Lightweight dry sacksYou can use these inside your pack for your most vulnerable gear.
  • Waterproof cases. Look for one that’s specially designed to fit your phone, helmet cam or other favorite gadget.
  • Ziplock plastic bags. These are inexpensive, though not unfailingly waterproof nor particularly durable.
  • Trash bags. On a rainy day, some might call this the Eleventh Essential. You can use the scissors on your multi-tool to fashion a crude pack cover out of one. You can also use one to double-bag important items for added protection. And it’s always a good move to use one to carry out trash you find along the trail.

Almost-Essential Wet-Weather Gear: The following items can make things easier and more enjoyable on a drippy day:

  • Trekking polesWhen footing is sloppy, poles can be a huge help, especially on creek crossings.
  • Handwarmers.Typically considered a winter sports accessory, these work when you tear open an outer foil pouch to produce a heat packet that lasts for hours. The added warmth can lift your spirts if your extremities are getting uncomfortable.
  • Extra blister supplies. Wet feet are more blister-prone feet. Read Blister Prevention and Care for more details.
  • Headlamp. Because it’s one of the Ten Essentials, you should be packing it. Consider using it before dark, though, if light conditions get extra gloomy.
  • Bandana or multitowelThese are handy for wiping or drying off wet gear. The bandana can be the token cotton item on your list. (Most multitowels are synthetic.)

Clothing Tips for Wet-Weather Hiking

a hiker suiting up with rain gear as the rain starts to fall

Before you head out with the possibility of rain in the forecast, take a closer look at your clothing, including outerwear and footwear, and assess how rain-ready they are. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Absolutely no cotton. This is key for next-to-skin layers because cotton holds water, including your sweat, and chills you. Go with wicking materials like wool, nylon or polyester clothing instead. Don’t think that cotton in briefs or a bra is OK either, because those are the first things search-and-rescue workers will cut off if there’s a possibility that you’re starting to get hypothermia.
  • Go with synthetic insulation in your jacket. Standard down loses much of its insulating ability if you get it wet. Water-resistant down and hybrids that combine synthetic insulation and water-resistant down are your next best bet. If you’re hiking in milder weather, you can pack a lightweight fleece or soft-shell jacket instead.
  • Evaluate your rainwearIf you’re considering an upgrade, read Rainwear: How to Choose. Going with bright colors can help brighten your mood on a relentlessly gray day. In an emergency, bright colors also help search teams locate you.
  • Renew your rainwear’s Durable Water Repellent (DWR). If you love your current raingear, see if drops bead up and roll off. If not, renew its DWR coating to restore performance. It’s a good idea to renew your DWR coating at the beginning of every hiking season.
  • Pack a rain cap. Even if your rain jacket has a brimmed hood, it does a poor job of keeping rain off your face or glasses. A rain hat should have a nice, broad brim. If you choose a ballcap-style hat, then you can wear it under the hood of your rain jacket.
  • Evaluate your footwear. Waterproof boots and shoes keep feet drier initially, making them a good option for colder conditions. Renew the waterproofing at the beginning of each season, or if you notice large dark spots forming when you splosh across wet terrain. Mesh footwear works well in milder conditions, as mesh drains and dries more quickly if you land in a puddle or creek. With either option you need deep lug soles to deal with mud and superior traction to deal with slippery rocks and logs.
  • Pack gaiters. They’ll shield your socks and the tops of your footwear.
  • Pack dry clothes. Extra clothing is already one of the Ten Essentials. Be sure dry socks are one of the extras you bring.

Wet Weather Trail Hazards

a hiker on a slippery rock surface on a rainy hike

A significant storm system can create dangers and health concerns. If you’re on the lookout, you can take steps to avoid unwanted complications.

  • Slippery surfaces. Tread carefully on muddy slopes, slimy rocks and rain-slickened logs.
  • Swollen creeks. Unbuckle your hipbelt before you cross, so you can easily get free of your pack if you slip and fall into a fast-moving current.
  • Flash floods. If you’ll be in canyon country, check the forecasts ahead of time and keep an eye out for quickly accessible higher ground.
  • Hypothermia. Watch for the “umbles”: mumbling, grumbling, stumbling and tumbling. Those are telltale signs that you need to stop, dry out and get some calories in you. And, in general, you need to eat and drink more often than you would in sunny weather. If rain discourages rest stops, drink and snack while you’re hiking.

Rainy Day Hiking Tips

looking up to the tops of trees and rainy skies while on a rainy hike

With the right mindset, a rainy-day hike can be one that you remember fondly for years to come. The air is cleaner and the solitude more profound. It will take an extra precaution or two to keep things on track, though:

  • Remember that staying dry is easier than drying out after you’re wet. Don’t wait to throw on your rain shell, or to take cover in a full-on rain squall.
  • Keep monitoring the weather. Weather forecasting is an inexact science.
  • Keep an eye out for lightning. It puts on a great show, which you won’t want to miss. However, it’s even more important that you know how to take cover. Learn more by reading Weather Basics for Backpackers.
  • Constantly self-assess. Add layers or grab a snack if you’re starting to feel a little cold. And gloomy light can sap your mental state, so poll your hiking crew to be sure everyone’s still having a good time.
  • Ditch destination fever. If a relentless storm makes things miserable or downright hazardous, turn around and call it a day. You’ll still have tales to tell and time for an extra hot cocoa or two to tell them over later.

Article used by permission. HWD is an REI co-op affiliate and earns a small commission from shopping links

Hiking boots are built to take muddy, gritty trails in stride. But that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to toss your mucky companions in the closet and forget about them. Clean them faithfully and you’ll enjoy many years on the trail together. If you’re too tired immediately after a hike, then clean ’em the following day.

Ignoring cleaning breaks down your boots in a couple of ways:

  • Every time your boots flex, particles of dirt, grit or sand creep deeper into their leather and fabric, grinding away like sandpaper.
  • Mud sucks moisture from leather as it dries, leaving your boots’ leather less pliable and speeding up its aging process.

What you’ll need for cleaning your hiking boots:

  • A special boot brush, an old vegetable brush or toothbrush
  • Specialized boot cleaner, saddle soap or a mild solution of dishwashing soap and water

Cleaning Hiking Boot Uppers

cleaning hiking boots
Remove laces prior to cleaning. Use a brush to gently remove dust and dirt. For a more thorough cleaning, add running water and whatever boot cleaner you have chosen.

Some additional boot cleaning tips:

  • Though most footwear cleaners can be used on a range of materials, always double-check to be sure your cleaner is OK for use on your boots—and be sure to read and follow the directions.
  • Do not use bar soap or detergents; many contain additives that can be harmful to leather or waterproof membranes.
  • To clean mold, use a mixture of 80 percent water and 20 percent vinegar.
  • Always rinse your boots thoroughly with clean water afterward.
  • Never put boots in a washing machine because it can damage them.
  • If you plan to waterproof your boots, do it while they’re still wet. Most boots are waterproof when you first buy them, so you don’t need to waterproof them until you start to notice that water drops no longer bead up on the surface. For details, read How to Waterproof Your Hiking Boots.

Here is the best specialized boot cleaner

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Cleaning Hiking Boot Outsoles

Though caked-on mud won’t damage your boots, removing it will restore them to full traction. Also, having clean outsoles prevents you from transporting invasive species from one hiking area to another.

Brush the outsoles vigorously and dislodge pebbles that are stuck. For stubbornly caked-on dirt, soak just the outsoles and then use a hose to power-wash the gunk away.

Hiking Boot Drying and Storage Tips

drying hiking boots after they've been cleaned
  • Remove insoles and let them air-dry separately from the boots.
  • Dry boots at normal temperature in a place with low humidity.
  • Do not use a heat source (fireplace, campfire, wood stove, radiator, heater, etc.). High heat weakens adhesives and prematurely ages leather.
  • For quicker drying, use a fan.
  • You can also stuff newspaper into the boots to speed drying; change the paper frequently (whenever it’s damp).
  • Store boots where temperatures are stable and normal. Do not store boots in attics, garages, car trunks or any damp, hot or unventilated place.

Conditioning Your Boots

Use a conditioner when your boots’ full-grain leather (leather that looks smooth rather than rough on the outside) appears dry or cracked. Other types of leather—suede and nubuck—don’t require conditioning. Conditioner can also be used if your new full-grain leather boots need to be broken in quickly.

Use a conditioner judiciously. Healthy leather functions best when moisturized. Too much conditioner, though, makes boots too soft, reducing the support they provide.

Do not use Mink Oil or similar oils designed for industrial boots; it over-softens the type of dry-tanned leather used in hiking footwear.

Article used by permission. HWD is an REI co-op affiliate and earns a small commission from shopping links

Trekking poles and hiking staffs are standard equipment for many walkers, hikers, trekkers, backpackers and snowshoers. The reasons why are simple: They enhance your stability and provide support on all types of terrain.

To get the most out of trekking poles or a hiking staff, follow these steps:

  1. Single or double? You’ll start by choosing between a pair of trekking poles or a single hiking staff.
  2. Find the right length: You’re aiming for a 90-degree bend at your elbow when pole tips touch the ground.
  3. Choose features: Adjustability, foldability, shock absorption, weight and locking mechanisms (for adjustable poles) are just some of the features and options that will guide your buying choice.
  4. Learn tips for using poles: Knowing a few handy tips, like how to use poles to get around obstacles in the trail, will get you on your way.

Types of Trekking Poles

Trekking Poles: Sold as a pair and used in tandem, trekking poles enhance your stability and can reduce force on your knees while hiking and backpacking. Most are adjustable in length and some include internal springs that absorb shock to further reduce impact.


Hiking Staff: Sometimes called a walking staff or travel staff, this is a single pole that’s most effective when used on relatively flat terrain and with little or no load on your back. Hiking staffs are adjustable and some include a shock-absorbing feature. They may also include a built-in camera mount under the handle so the staff can be used as a monopod.

Trekking Pole Length

hiker demonstrating the proper elbow angle for determining the correct trekking pole length

Properly sized poles will put your elbows at a 90-degree bend when you hold the poles with tips on the ground near your feet. Many trekking poles come in adjustable lengths, which makes this easy to achieve. However, some are sold in fixed lengths or in ranges of sizes. Use these guidelines to help find the right length poles for you:

For adjustable-length trekking poles and hiking staffs:

  • If you’re taller than about 6 feet, choose a hiking staff or trekking poles that have a maximum length of at least 51 inches.
  • If you are shorter than 6 feet tall, you’ll be able to shorten most adjustable trekking poles and hiking staffs enough to make them work for you.

For fixed-length trekking poles:

Use the chart below and consult the manufacturer’s size chart that’s specific to the poles you’re looking at.

Height Suggested Pole Length
< 5 ft. 1 in. 100cm (39 in.)
5 ft. 1 in. – 5 ft. 7 in. 110cm (43 in.)
5 ft. 8 in. – 5 ft. 11 in. 120cm (47 in.)
6 ft.+ 130cm (51 in.)

Adjusting Pole Length

If you have trekking poles that adjust in length, it’s important to know what height to set them at. Improperly adjusted trekking poles can cause distress to your arms, shoulders, back and neck.

For general hiking, adjust the length so that when you hold the pole with the tip on the ground near your foot, your arm makes a 90-degree bend at the elbow. This will be the right length for most of your hiking.

If you have poles with three sections, it’s helpful to set the top adjustment so it’s in the middle of the adjustment range and then set the bottom adjustment to the length that puts your arm at the correct angle. Then if you need to make adjustments while hiking, you can use only the top adjustment to fine-tune the length.

For long uphill sections, you can shorten each pole by about 5–10cm to get more leverage and more secure pole plants. The steeper the slope, the more you shorten your poles. Your trekking poles should assist you in moving uphill without causing strain or fatigue to your shoulders and your shoulders should never feel as if they are in an unnatural, lifted position or as if they are being pushed up into your backpack straps. If so, you need to shorten your poles even more.

For long downhill sections, try lengthening each pole by about 5–10cm from the length you set it at for general hiking. Doing so will keep your body more upright for better balance.

If you’re on a long traversing section, you can shorten the pole on the uphill side and lengthen the pole on the downhill side as needed to improve comfort and stability.

Trekking Pole Features

backpacker with a pair of adjustable trekking poles strapped to her pack

Depending on how you plan to use the poles, you may want to consider poles with some of these features:

Adjustable: Many trekking poles adjust in length to enhance stability on different terrain. They generally adjust from about 24 to 55 inches long. Typically you’ll want to shorten the poles when going uphill and lengthen them when going downhill.

Non-adjustable: Some trekking poles don’t adjust in length. These fixed-length poles tend to be lighter weight than adjustable poles because they operate with fewer parts, making them popular among the ultralight crowd. They are great for activities where you know you only need a certain length.

Foldable: Foldable trekking poles function kind of like tent poles rather than collapsing into themselves like adjustable poles. Foldable poles are typically the most packable and often are very lightweight and quick to deploy. They are especially popular among ultrarunners and fast hikers.

Shock-absorbing poles: These offer internal springs that absorb shock when you walk downhill. With most poles, this feature can be turned off when it’s not needed, like when you’re walking uphill. Shock absorption is a nice feature for any hiker, but is particularly recommended if you have unstable hips, knees or ankles or have had any previous injuries to those joints.

Standard poles: These do not have a shock-absorbing feature and are lighter and less expensive as a result. While they don’t absorb as much impact when going downhill, they do provide a similar level of balance and support as shock-absorbing poles.

Ultralight: Ultralight poles offer the advantage of less swing weight, which makes them easier and quicker to move. Over the course of a long hike, this means less fatigue. Ultralight poles are also easier to pack. The pole shaft’s material is a key determinant of the pole’s overall weight. REI classifies ultralight poles as those that weigh less than 1 pound per pair.

Camera mount: Some trekking poles and hiking staffs include a built-in camera mount under the handle, enabling the pole to be used as a monopod.

Trekking Pole Locking Mechanisms

Whether adjustable in length or not, all trekking poles have locking mechanisms to keep the poles from slipping in length while in use. For non-adjustable poles, the mechanisms lock and unlock so you can extend them to full length for use and collapse them for stowing. Adjustable poles operate in a similar way, but the locking mechanisms also let you adjust the length of the two or three interlocking sections. This adjustability (which typically ranges from 24 to 55 inches) lets you adapt the poles to your height and the terrain.

Most poles use one of these four types of locking mechanisms:

External lever lock: A lever-based, clamplike mechanism that is quick and easy to adjust, even when wearing gloves.

Push-button lock: Poles with this locking mechanism snap into place and lock with a single pull. Press the push button to release the lock and collapse the poles. Some of these poles do not adjust in length.

Twist lock: Uses an expander and screw setup that is consistently strong and durable.

Combination lock: Some poles use a combination of the other locking mechanisms to achieve a balance of strength, light weight and ease of use. For example, a pole might use an external lever lock on the upper shaft and a twist lock on the lower shaft.

Trekking Pole Shaft Materials

The pole shaft’s makeup is a key determinant of the pole’s overall weight.

Aluminum: The more durable and economical choice, aluminum poles usually weigh between 18 and 22 ounces per pair. The actual weight (and price) can vary a bit based on the gauge of the pole, which ranges from 12 to 16mm. Under high stress, aluminum can bend, but is unlikely to break.

Composite: These poles feature shafts that are made either entirely or partially from carbon. The lighter and more expensive option, these poles average between 12 and 18 ounces per pair. They are good at reducing vibration, but under high stress, carbon-fiber poles are more vulnerable to breakage or splintering than aluminum poles. If you hike in rugged, remote areas, this is something to keep in mind.

Trekking Pole Grips

Some poles and staffs include ergonomic grips that have a 15-degree corrective angle to keep your wrists in a neutral and comfortable position. Also, some hiking staffs have grips that look like the grip you’d find on a walking cane. This shape provides good support for casual walking and very light hiking.

Grip Materials

Grips come in a variety of materials that affect how the poles feel in your hands.

Cork: This resists moisture from sweaty hands, decreases vibration and best conforms to the shape of your hands. If you sweat a lot and will be hiking in hot weather, go with cork grips.

Foam: This absorbs moisture from sweaty hands and is the softest to the touch.

Rubber: This insulates hands from cold, shock and vibration, so it’s best for cold-weather activities. However, it’s more likely to chafe or blister sweaty hands, so it’s less suitable for warm-weather hiking.

Men’s, Women’s, Kids’ and Unisex Trekking Poles

Some trekking poles are marketed specifically for men, women and kids, but the majority are considered unisex. The primary things that differ among men’s, women’s and kids’ poles are length, weight, grip size and color. In the end, buy whichever poles fit you best and have the colors and features you want.

Other Trekking Pole Considerations

Wrist straps: It’s actually pretty common to see hikers using their trekking pole wrist straps incorrectly. To use them the right way, put your hand up through the bottom of the strap and then pull down and grab the grip of the pole. This technique supports your wrist and heel of the hand and allows you to keep your hand relaxed on the grip.

illustration of how to properly use the wrist straps on trekking poles

You can adjust the length of the strap so that when you bring your hand down on the strap it lines up with where you want it to rest on the grip. Proper strap adjustment allows you to let go of the pole to take a picture, grab a snack or adjust your backpack and then easily grab the pole again in the right place.

Note that many trekking poles have right- and left-hand specific straps, and that some have padded or lined straps to help prevent chafing.

Baskets: Trekking poles usually include a small, removable trekking basket at the tip end. Larger baskets can be substituted for use in snowy or muddy ground.

Pole tips: Carbide or steel tips are commonly used to provide traction, even on ice. Rubber tip protectors extend the life of the tips and protect your gear when poles are stowed in your pack. They are also good for use in sensitive areas to reduce impact to the ground. Angled rubber walking tips (usually sold separately) are for use on asphalt or other hard surfaces.

Tips for Using Trekking Poles

three hikers on the trail with trekking poles

Fortunately, there’s a quick learning curve when it comes to using trekking poles. With a handful of tips and suggestions, you’ll be on your way.

Alternating Your Poles and Legs

Most hikers take to using trekking poles quickly and fall into the proper rhythm of planting the opposing trekking pole in time with the opposing foot (right foot, left pole, left foot, right pole, etc.) If you fall out of the rhythm, just keep walking while lifting your poles off the ground for a moment so you can reset. Start planting the poles again as soon as you’re ready. Soon this will become completely natural and you won’t even have to think about it.

Double Planting

Occasionally you might want to plant both poles at the same time and then take two steps, plant both poles again and continue. This can be beneficial on steep climbs or descents where you need the stability of both poles on the ground at the same time.

Walking Naturally

When using trekking poles, it’s best to walk naturally and maintain a natural arm swing as if you didn’t have poles in your hands. The poles may be angled slightly behind you so that as you plant them you can push off to aid your forward movement.

Negotiating Obstacles

Trekking poles can be very helpful when you encounter obstacles in the trail.

Stream and river crossings: Trekking poles provide much-needed stability when you have to wade through water. Make sure each time you plant your pole, it’s secure on the bottom before moving forward. If the water is deep, lengthen your poles.

Puddles: You can maneuver around them, using your poles for stability, or you can do a “pole vault” to the other side by planting both poles and hopping over.

Large rocks: For getting up and over large rocks, poles can give you a helpful push. To do this, plant both poles in the ground and as you step up on the rock, push on the poles to get you all the way onto the rock.

Logs: To step over a log, simply plant the poles in the ground and use them for stability. If you’re walking on a log to get across water, you can use the poles to improve your balance by reaching them out to both sides (picture a tightrope walker using a large pole for balance).

Using Poles with Your Tent

Some lightweight tents and tarps require trekking poles for proper pitching. If you own one of these, make sure you have poles that work not only for you but also for your tent or tarp. Most often, adjustable poles will work best for tents and tarps because you can fine-tune the length to make setup easier.

Video: How To Choose Trekking Poles

Article used by permission. HWD is an REI co-op affiliate and earns a small commission from shopping links