How long should my hiking sticks be

Adjusting hiking poles: How to find the right length

Length tables and online calculators only help to a limited extent so that your hiking poles are correctly adjusted for every terrain and activity. We give you additional tips for the optimal fine-tuning for your poles.

Mathematical formulas and online calculators as well as overview tables offer you a good first clue to determine the correct pole length for hiking, trekking or mountain tours. With this approximate guide value, you can now adapt your outdoor equipment to your body - your own body feeling is the most important measure!

In our instructions we give you answers to frequently asked questions and useful tips for the individual setting.

Rule of thumb for hiking sticks

"Body size x 0.68 = pole length" - that is the rule of thumb that we recommend in mountain times to roughly determine the length of hiking and trekking poles and Nordic walking poles.

With this formula, keep in mind that the calculated value only serves as a guide for the correct pole length. You only get the optimal length for hiking and trekking poles if you take your individual anatomy into account. In addition, the route profile, the discipline (hiking or speed hiking?) And, last but not least, the strength of the shoe soles play an important role. Therefore, in most cases you have to readjust your calculated value manually. Fortunately, it's pretty easy!

Judith Hackinger

A 90 degree angle at the elbow as well as from the wrist to the pole and from the pole to the ground: This is the basic setting with which even slight ascents and descents can be optimally mastered.


Determine the basic length of walking sticks

  1. First set up your hiking poles so that that it roughly fits. The calculation formula helps here, or you can use our pole length table below as a guide.
  2. Put on your mountain or hiking boots and stand with your sticks on a level surface.
  3. Hold the Enclosed handle and put the Point at a 90 degree angle to the ground on the ground. Now vary the length of the stick until it is too a 90 degree angle at the elbow between forearm and upper arm - and thus the optimal basic setting of your trekking poles.
  4. Fixate the Folding mechanisms or twist locks Of your walking sticks.

A right angle at the elbow joint is considered the basic setting for one optimal power transmission when hiking with moderate ascents and descents and on flat ground. In concrete terms, this means that this basic setting is usually sufficient on moderate trekking tours, pilgrimages and long-distance hiking. If, on the other hand, you are going on a mountain tour in steeper terrain, it makes sense to shorten the pole length on the ascent or to lengthen it for the descent.

Tip: Telescopic poles with variable length adjustment are particularly recommended for mountain hiking in steeper terrain.

Video: Adjusting hiking poles correctly

Adjust pole length: ascent and descent in steep terrain

  1. Shorten or lengthen you should only use your sticks on road on tour at a point on the way, whose Gradient roughly representative of the following section is.
  2. Put yourself in Direction on the slope and vary the length of the stick despite the incline at the elbow joint again a 90 degree bend for optimal power transmission. When descending, the angle can be a little smaller if necessary. As Guideline a range of +/- 5 to 10 centimeters, depending on the steepness.
  3. Special The setting is very individual for ascent and descent. A 90-degree angle theoretically delivers the best power transfer, but in practice it can feel strange, not least because the terrain is not equally steep everywhere in the end. The only thing that helps here is trying it out and adjust the stick length again if necessary.
  4. Close and fix the twist locks or folding mechanisms Of your sticks always carefully.

Judith Hackinger

Poles with variable length adjustment are ideal for longer hikes in steep terrain. With a short climb, however, you can also cope with the basic setting.


tip: Shortening or lengthening the length of the pole is particularly useful for longer sections in steep terrain or in particularly demanding places. For short passages that are a little steeper, you can usually get along well with the basic setting. Permanent fine-tuning costs time and, under certain circumstances, nerves - using poles should make the tour easier and fun for you!

Hiking poles for speed hiking

If you go hiking, Nordic walking or mountain walking at a higher speed, you can generally choose or adjust the poles a little longer in order to achieve more propulsion. The optimal length can only be determined through individual trial and error. Usually it is in the range of plus five to ten centimeters to the basic setting.

Mountain time

Longer sticks for more thrust: If you like it faster when hiking, you can try to lengthen the hiking stick by a few centimeters.


Crossing slopes: This has to be taken into account when determining the length of the pole

Slope crossings in steeper terrain are a special case in terms of pole length. Here you can certainly adapt both poles individually to the slope for long crossings. The length of the pole is different and enables a 90-degree bend at both elbows.

  • Tip: Those who have walking sticks with extended handles have an advantage when crossing slopes. The stick on the mountain hand is simply gripped a little deeper on the shaft at the handle extension without having to change the length of the stick.

Judith Hackinger

Trekking poles with extended handles can be easily grasped by the shaft when crossing slopes. In this way, the sloping terrain is simply leveled out.


Judith Hackinger

If you go steeply downhill, the sticks can be shorter. Again, a 90-degree angle at the elbow is ideal despite the sloping ground.


Overview table pole length

heightPole length * (rounded)
120 cm82 cm
125 cm85 cm
130 cm88 cm
135 cm92 cm
140 cm95 cm
145 cm99 cm
150 cm102 cm
155 cm105 cm
160 cm109 cm
165 cm112 cm
170 cm116 cm
175 cm119 cm
180 cm122 cm
185 cm126 cm
190 cm129 cm
195 cm133 cm
200 cm136 cm
205 cm139 cm
210 cm142 cm
Calculated according to the formula: height x 0.68 = pole length. Results rounded.

Telescopic poles vs. fixed-length poles: what difference does it make?

  • Hiking poles with variable length adjustment are called telescopic poles. They offer more flexibility for mountain walking, hiking and trekking and the possibility of adapting the length to the terrain or lengthening it for more thrust.
  • Fixed-length poles, on the other hand, are uncomplicated to handle, somewhat more stable and cannot accidentally slip together. They are ideal for tours in flat to undulating terrain and whenever a variable pole length does not play a role in the intended use.
  • At the Pack size Incidentally, a fixed pole length does not necessarily have a negative effect, since such poles are often folding poles.

Summary: Adjust trekking poles

A 90-degree angle at the elbow joint provides the best power transmission when standing on flat terrain when using hiking and trekking poles - therefore it is considered the optimal basic setting. The 90-degree angle is ideal for tours with moderate ascents and descents (e.g. hiking, trekking, pilgrimage and long-distance hiking). On steep ascents and descents on mountain tours, depending on the actual gradient, you can adjust the length of the pole and either shorten or lengthen it. The same applies here: The right angle at the elbow offers the best power transmission, but you will have to try something out here until you have determined your optimal pole length.

For trail running and speed hiking, the pole length can be chosen a little longer for more propulsion. Here, plus five to ten centimeters to the basic setting apply as a rough guide.

Two tips to finish off

  • When determining the correct length for trekking and hiking poles, it is important that the corresponding outdoor shoes be worn. The strength of the sole is particularly important when it comes to heavy mountain boots.
  • It is also well advised who to hire a proper locking of screw caps and folding mechanisms respect. This reduces the risk of falling!

Is everything set correctly? Then have fun on your tour! Are you still looking for the right hiking poles?

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