Trekking pole straps have a very specific purpose: they take the pole loads from your hands and distribute the load between your hands and wrists. Just as trekking poles distribute loads between your legs and upper body when used properly, wrist straps further distribute loads. Proper use will make your pole use more effective… and enjoyable. Let’s take a few minutes to explore the best way to use hiking stick wrist straps.
Most trekking poles are equipped with wrist straps and the better ones have adjustable wrist straps. It is my opinion that wrist straps are an integral part of the pole and can increase its effectiveness in distributing loads by over 20 to 35%. It does take a minute to properly adjust them, and then learn how to use them. We will walk through all of that.
Adjusting the Straps
The graphic below illustrates how to adjust the strap on most hiking poles. Remember that you will need to adjust as shown below and then try the straps on as shown in the next graphic to make sure you have good fit. Just remeber to lengthen the strap, pull on the end of the loop. To tighten your wrist strap, pull the running or loose end of the strap.
Putting on your Wrist Straps
The graphic below illustrates the proper way to put on your wrist straps. You will begin with your hand coming up through the bottom side of the strap. Bring your whole hand through, until the hiking stick strap is around your wrist as shown in One. Next, wrap your hand around the pole grip, etting the strap settle between your thumb and index finger as in Two. Lastly, firm up your grip and let your weight rest on your wrist in the strap as in Three.
Some hikers will find it takes time to get used to using wrist straps. Most hikers agree, that once they grew accustomed to proper use of the wrist straps, they felt it made their hiking poles much more effective. However, there are a few that just do not care for the wrist straps – some even to the point of cutting them off their poles.
I would encourage you to experiment with your straps and try loosening and tihtening them, then using them for a bit with new settings to find your sweet spot. The straps can make your poles much more effective, so do give them a chance. I think in the long run, you will be glad you did.
Another bonus of using wrist straps is they help keep your poles secure in tough terrain and situations. It is no fun to drop a piece of gear and having it go careening downhil, or getting it lost in deep snow. Wrist straps can prevent that from ahppening to your trekking poles. They also help the sticks offer more stability because they are more firmly attached to your hands.
Over time you will most likely come to love your wrist starps and become adept at adjusting them to meet your needs for different terrain and differents kinds of hiking. I am hopeful our basic primer has helped you find greater utility and satisfaction from your poles. Enjoy your time out in nature.