How to use trekking poles the proper, improper and …… my way

In 2016, I thru-hiked tha Appalachian Trail in a short window of 100 days. One of the biggest reasons I was able to complete my journey was how I used my trekking poles to stay free from pain and injury.

This video I will demonstrate the “Proper” and “Improper” techniques as well as my unconventional way.

A few recommended Trekking Poles:
Men’s Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock:
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork:
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z:

Most Affordable:
Black Diamond Trail Back:

Leki Carbon Ti:
Leki Micro Vario Carbon:
Leki: Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC:

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(Pledge as little as $1 per month to help supporting my upcoming Thru-Hikes that I hope eventually lead me to the PCT soon)

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Equipment I filmed this video with:
– Camera –
Olympus O-MD E-M5 Mark II-

– Lense –
12-50mm –

– Sound –
Rode Videomicro Shotgun Mic –

– TriPod –
MeFOTO Carbon Fiber Roadtrip –


Link to my Finalized Appalachian Trail Gear List:

Link to my $1500 Complete Ultralight Gear List:

Link to my A.T. Affordable Gear List:

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Alex Pietrarosso says:

Thank you

sarah wakely says:


Colby Pass says:

Bigfoot, I’ve hiked thousands of miles and never realized that I was using my poles incorrectly.  Bigfoot, you’ve added another fan.–Colby Pass

fukthegoog says:

A shout out to patient, steady-handed cameralady. Cheers for the vid. I guess I should stop cutting the straps off….

El Rey says:

Useful – thanks

Jason The Human says:

Thanks for making and sharing. Cheers

Serafin Hikes says:


nicoveil says:

Excellent video. I started following your channel a while ago and I really like the quality of your videos. Now I feel like a dumbass because I’ve had my Black Diamond trekking poles for about 5 years now, been using poles for over 8 years… And I just found out that they have a left and a right side. Keep up the good work.

Teresa Vatan says:

Thank you

David Kish says:

Bigfoot, really appreciate your videos! Off topic, what is that chest pack you’re wearing?

MrMage1104 says:

THANK YOU!!!! Ive had quite a bit of knee pain while hiking the AT. Never knew there was a different way other than the death grip!

Jessy Bee says:

Let me get your advice on this: my left hand has issues due to a childhood accident. I recently started using one pole for my right hand…. is that a big No? Should I avoid It? I see many people on trails using just one, are they doing it wrong too?

Jonathan Langdale says:

My understanding is that this type of strap grip can possibly dislocate your thumb if you fall on the ground.

timothyg1982 says:

What is the difference between cheap trekking poles from Walmart and the expensive ones from sporting good stores?

Myśli złote albo niezłote says:

thanks a lot, great video, very informative

wagdog2 says:

Study designed to demonstrate whether or not people using trekking poles can hike faster and have fewer injuries:
Take 200 hikers using poles, 200 hikers not using poles, travelling over the same route during the same time of year. Both groups should be about the same composition regarding age, sex, body weight, physical conditioning, hiking experience, pack weight, and footwear. Exclude anyone who sells trekking poles or works for a company that makes them … and family members of such people. Compare the two groups in terms of trip duration and injuries.Catalog the types of injuries in the two groups.

Tahir Hanif says:

Excellent video, thank you

bad to the bone says:

would using th trekking pole lead to lower back problems with the bending forward to stick them in the ground?
could you just use more grippier shoes and keep your back straight

Ant Sara says:

good stuff, thanks man:)

Fernando Rondon says:

Good tips, Bigfoot. Using straps correctly is especially important for snowshoeing. But, you left out the circumstances in which you should collapse the poles and strap them to your backpack — rough terrain where you need your hands free to grab rocks, trees, etc for support. If you stay on major trails like the AT, poles are great, but I’m always amazed when I see hikers stubbornly trying to use poles when scrambling over boulders, scree fields, fallen timber, etc.

Edgekin says:

For a while, my favourite trekking poles have always been a pair of bamboo poles I made myself. They are plain, but heat-treated so stupidly hard. Watching your guides encouraged me to add a paracord strap to each of them.

Michael Foley says:

Just shared your video on my blog (with a link back),

The Hoge Home Place says:

Having suddenly lost the vision in my right eye, I decided to try poles rather than a cane. I’m on a learning curve & your video was super helpful!

tien nguyen says:


cockergrabber says:

trekking poles are a detriment overall, because how can carrying extra weight help?
and why not use your legs?
why you want to be like a bat or paraplegic.

Jeffrey Bavis says:

I apologize if you’ve covered this in other videos…this is your first video that I’ve seen…what brand of chest bag/harness is that? I’m looking for some sort of organizer for my camera, map, compass, etc.

Debra Golding says:

Great video! But after watching it, I realize I have 2 left handed straps.

Steven Band says:

I thought those things were just for moving rattle snakes off the trail…..

Monica Wolf says:

Dude! Thank you for these great tips on proper trekking pole techniques! Came in handy yesterday especially on the descent of a very slippery trail …lots of snow melt, and mud. Remembered this video about pole position and weight distribution

Colin F says:

Followed your tips and it works great for me, thanks. Its made a huge improvement to my hiking.

Joe Maxant says:

good input. Technics described are normally used by skiers, cross country and downhill but good to review nonetheless! Thanks!

Jonathan Brown says:

Thanks! There isn’t a more important topic about the AT. I mean, it’s how to hike when you’re hiking. Yet I haven’t seen anyone else cover it.

Dave Wofford says:

Excellent pointers! You might mention Skiers’ thumb or Gamekeeper’s thumb which is a thumb fracture-dislocation that requires surgery to correct. it happens when your thumb is on the other side of the pole from the fingers, pushing the thumb out of place.

Nora Lee says:

Since my hands got caught up with my poles I was unable to catch my fall and face planted on a rock. I won’t be using my straps anymore because of this.

Dan Stephens says:

Great video. Just bought two sets of trekking poles for me and my son but we were thinking about taking them back. After watching your video, I think I’ll keep them.

Nathan Griff says:

Thanks for an excellent video. I learned a lot from watching this (a few times actually…slow learner here). I live at the top of a hill and there are steep streets that are on cobblestones at times and not that easy to walk up or down, especially when wet! Sometimes there are stairs as options on some of the streets, too. I wanted to ask you what you think about using the steps instead. I generally don’t like the steps because they aren’t evenly made and were just done poorly. It is safer and easier going down though but maybe I’m better off going down with poles over these stairs even? What do you think, Bigfoot? Thanks for the help, bud. I appreciate it a lot. I’m 60 and I have some Black Diamond Z trekking poles that are really nice so I’d like to use them as smartly as I can and keep from leg/back pain or related problems as best I can.

lsc193 says:

Its funny! I have been doing it the Unconventional way you describe the whole time! Up and Down leaning on the straps going in from the Top, I guess I figured it out intuitively by necessity… I didn’t know of the “conventional” way until a previous video I just saw, after seeing this, it reassures me I was doing it okay, so I’ll keep doing it that way… Though I may try the Conventional way just to see how it feels.

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