When you have selected your set of trekking poles you should practice walking with them. The most important technique you need to learn is the proper way to hold them. Holding the poles with a death grip will only tire out your hands. The majority of the weight should be distributed on your palms through the hand straps. Another common mistake is to walk along swinging the poles back and forth with every second or third step. Although you're giving your arms a good workout, you're not getting any benefit from reduced strain or added traction. You should plant your pole and leverage off of it with each step you take.
Trekking poles are not a panacea, and there are several good arguments against using them. The first argument is they tie up your hands. Stopping to take a picture, get a drink of water, or even tie a shoe is a little more complicated when you are already holding two poles. If you decide you don't want to use them anymore out on a trek, you're going to have to stow them in or on your pack, and that means you are carrying wasted pounds. The surprise disadvantage is if you are using trekking poles properly, you will get tired out faster than normal. This is because both your arms and legs are being worked at the same time. Although your legs have it easier, you end up using more energy.
Of course the benefit of taking the strain off of your legs, especially your knees are huge. Not only does it help reduce long term damage to your joints, older hikers and climbers suffering from a touch of arthritis have found they can go further, faster, longer. If you are using your trekking poles properly you have the added benefit of toning up your arms as you hike.
Quality trekking poles, offering the critical features we recommended above, start around ninety dollars. Additional baskets and replace tips are inexpensive, costing about five dollars each. Aluminum poles should weigh around one and a half pounds per pair.
If you spend a lot of time on the trail you should seriously consider exploring what the Europeans already know. A good set of trekking poles protects your joints, makes climbing and descending much easier, and helps you enjoy the outdoors for years to come. When you compare the cost of a good set of trekking poles to a trip to an orthopedic surgeon, it may be one of the best insurance policies you can get.