Choosing the height of your hiking poles

How to choose the height of hiking poles?

Find out how to choose the height of hiking poles, adopted by many walking enthusiasts to improve comfort and performance

Hiking, power walking and Nordic walking have become increasingly popular in recent years. And with good reason: practising these activities offers a privileged link with nature, guarantees many magnificent discoveries, and provides a real break from the daily routine.
Although it's not compulsory, many walkers choose to equip themselves with aluminium or carbon hiking poles. What are the advantages of this equipment for hiking? How to choose the right height of hiking poles? Decathlon gives you its advice in this comprehensive guide.

Choosing the height of your hiking poles

Hiking is a sporting activity with many benefits

Accessible to people of all ages and abilities, hiking has many benefits for the body and mind.

- Keep in shape gently: To stay fit and healthy, regular exercise of any kind is obviously essential. However, some sports have the disadvantage of 'traumatising' your body, which can eventually weaken your joints and possibly cause joint pain. That's why walking and hiking are excellent alternatives, especially for older people or those with health problems. Walking lets you energise your whole body gently and at your own pace. Your bones, muscles and joints are gently kept active.

What's more, regular hiking helps to strengthen your heart muscle, considerably reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes or even high blood pressure.

- An incomparable feeling of well-being: Like any outdoor activity, hiking soothes the mind by giving you the opportunity to switch off from your daily routine. For a few hours, you can forget the incessant noise of the city, as well as your professional and personal obligations. Walking is an excellent way to relieve stress. It can also improve your self-control.

Why use hiking poles?

Before we look at how to choose the right height for your hiking poles, it's important to remember how this equipment can help you during your activity.

Improving your performance: If you're a regular walker who spends a lot of time on the trail, it's a good idea to get hiking poles. They provide greater comfort and, above all, help you adopt reflexes that will guarantee you a rapid improvement in your performance. Using hiking poles will ensure:
- A significant improvement in your walking posture
- Breathing regulation
- A gradual increase in your walking pace without causing you pain
- A reduction in any impact on your joints
- Consolidation of your balance
- A better distribution of muscular fatigue between the upper and lower parts of your body

Increased safety: As well as helping you to improve your walking performance, hiking poles can also help to ensure your safety. For example, your hiking poles will let you:
- Cross a number of obstacles that you may encounter on your way (rivers, rocks, tree trunks, icy passages, etc.)
- Check the stability of the terrain to be crossed
- Keep animals at a distance if you encounter them
- Move aside various items that may be in your path
- Avoid slipping on terrain that is not easy to walk on

Finally, although it’s possible to use only one hiking pole, it’s preferable to have two. This gives you greater stability and distributes the weight of any loads (backpack, bivouac equipment) more evenly across your body.

Choosing the height of your hiking poles

Two poles are better than one!

Finally, while it's possible to use just one hiking pole, it's better to have two. Oh yes! You may have the image in your head of the hiker with their single wooden pole carved with a pocket knife at the bend in the path. With two poles you’ll have greater stability and the weight of any loads (backpack, bivouac equipment) is distributed more evenly across your body.

How to choose the height of hiking poles: pole features

As you can see, anyone who enjoys Nordic walking, power walking, hiking or trekking needs to invest in a quality pair of hiking poles.

Carbon, compact, ultralight... are all walking poles the same?

Although the design of walking poles seems to be pretty much the same everywhere, each model has its own features depending on its intended use and terrain. Available in carbon or aluminium, foldable or telescopic (with easy pole adjustment), the poles also have features common to most models. It's these features that we're going to focus on, because they're the key to recognising a "well-equipped" walking pole. If you see a walking pole that doesn't have one of these features, then don't bother.

Pole baskets and tips:

The baskets at the bottom of the pole prevent it from sinking too deeply into ground that is difficult to walk on (snow, mud, sand, etc.). This also makes it easier to free a pole stuck between branches, roots or rocks. To make these baskets more effective, you can choose them according to your chosen terrain. On the other hand, this means having several types of basket; this option is therefore reserved for the most dedicated hikers.

The tips are at the end of your poles. They are in constant contact with the ground as you walk so they need to be hard-wearing and have excellent grip. While the durability of your pole tips is an important factor in your choice, it's still advisable to change them regularly, especially when you notice wear.

Strands and straps:

The strands are used to fold and/or adjust hiking poles. Poles can have one, two or three strands. Poles with two or three strands are very versatile and can be adapted to all types of surface. They are also easy to carry in a backpack. Single-strand poles, on the other hand, offer excellent resistance but are heavier and can’t be adjusted.

Straps take the strain off your wrists by transferring your weight while using the poles. These adjustable components also make it easier for you to grip your hiking poles.

The tightening system:

Particularly present on telescopic poles, the tightening system (also known as the locking system) connects the strands together. Locked in this way, your hiking poles guarantee you the best possible stability for safe, high-performance walking.

What are the criteria for choosing the right height of hiking poles?

Height is an important factor when choosing your hiking poles. It contributes greatly to your comfort when walking. It also guarantees your stability and the propulsion of your forward movement. We'll explain how to choose the right height depending on how you use your poles, whether you're hiking for a few hours or trekking with your poles for several days.

1/ The most important criteria: your height!

Your height is the most important factor to consider when buying your new hiking poles. Before making your decision, we recommend that you go and try them out in store. While standing, take the pole in one hand and place it straight on the ground. As you hold the pole, your elbow should form a right angle (90°). This is the optimum grip for getting the most out of your hiking poles.

How to calculate and adjust your walking or hiking poles according to your height:

To find out the ideal size for your trekking or hiking poles, multiply your height by 0.68 cm. Here's an overview of the different ways in which your height and the size of your poles correspond:
- A 1 m pole for between 1.50 and 1.52 m tall
- A 1.05 m pole for between 1.53 and 1.56 m tall
- A 1.10 m pole for between 1.57 and 1.65 m tall
- A 1.15 m pole for between 1.66 and 1.72 m tall
- A 1.20 m pole for between 1.73 and 1.80 m tall
- A 1.25 m pole for between 1.81 and 1.87 m tall
- A 1.30 m pole for taller than 1.88 m

Do you need a longer walking pole depending on your level?

Beginners should opt for a slightly smaller pole size, while more experienced walkers can opt for a slightly longer pole. Finally, if the result of your calculation is between two sizes, we recommend that you go for the shorter pole size.

2/ Second criteria: The type of pole used

To know how to choose the height of hiking poles, you also need to consider the type of pole you want to use. As we've just explained, the size of a standard pole is calculated from a simple formula and depends on your height. However, you can opt for a telescopic hiking pole. When testing in store, make sure that the range of the telescopic pole is appropriate for your height, especially if you are very tall: adjust the poles as many times as necessary, using the locking system, until you reach that beautiful right angle seen above.

This type of adjustable pole adapts to your needs and can be adjusted to your required size. The advantage is that you can adjust its height during your hike, depending on the obstacles you encounter and the terrain you hike.

Finally, the telescopic pole is retractable and stays securely in place thanks to its locking system, making it practical to carry and store on your backpack.

Choosing the height of your hiking poles

You might also be interested in these tips:

How to choose hiking glasses


Walking in forests, excursions on glaciers or walking with the family… If you like all forms of hiking, you will understand how important it is to have a suitable pair of sunglasses. Almost as important as your boots, hiking sunglasses provide visual comfort and protect your eyes, even during intense physical activity!Here are a few tips to help you choose…

List of essential items to prepare your backpack - title

List of essential items to prepare for your backpack

With the help of its Mountain Guides partner, Quechua has drawn up a list of essential items for your backpack.

How to choose a portable shower

Which portable shower should you choose?

Between camping, bivouacking, and road-tripping, Decathlon helps you to maintain impeccable hygiene by guiding you in choosing your portable shower.

Choose the right isothermal backpack

How to choose an isothermal backpack?

Are you planning a hike or camping trip? Find out what you need to know about isothermal backpacks to conserve your food.

Choose your backpack: criteria to take into account

Choose your backpack: criteria to take into account

You’ll find in this guide everything there is to know about hiking and trekking backpacks to carry your belongings with ease.

Which camp bed should I choose?

Which camp bed should I choose?

Find the ideal camp bed with Decathlon! Below we offer advice on how to choose the right model to suit your individual needs and your sporting activity.


How to choose your hiking or trekking boots?

Your hiking or trekking boots should be chosen according to 5 criteria. Here is our guide!

How to choose the right water bottle

How to choose a hiking water bottle?

Find all our tips to choose the right water bottle or water pouch for hiking