Sizing Your Hiking Poles

Pole Length

The height can varies from user to user and is based on personal preference.
When holding the poles your elbows should have a 90-degree bend with tips on the ground near your feet.

For adjustable-length trekking poles and hiking staffs:

  • If you’re taller than about 6 feet, choose a hiking staff or trekking poles that have a maximum length of at least 51 inches.
  • If you are shorter than 6 feet tall, you’ll be able to shorten most adjustable trekking poles and hiking staffs enough to make them work for you.
Height Suggested Pole Length
< 5 ft. 1 in. 100cm (39 in.)
5 ft. 1 in. – 5 ft. 7 in. 110cm (43 in.)
5 ft. 8 in. – 5 ft. 11 in. 120cm (47 in.)
6 ft.+ 130cm (51 in.)

Adjusting Pole Length

Improperly adjusted hiking poles can cause distress to your arms, shoulders, back and neck.

For general hiking, adjust the length so that when you hold the pole with the tip on the ground near your foot, your arm makes a 90-degree bend at the elbow. This will be the right length for most of your hiking.

If you have poles with three sections, it’s helpful to set the top adjustment so it’s in the middle of the adjustment range and then set the bottom adjustment to the length that puts your arm at the correct angle. Then if you need to make adjustments while hiking, you can use only the top adjustment to fine-tune the length.

For long uphill sections, you can shorten each pole by about 5–10cm to get more leverage and more secure pole plants. The steeper the slope, the more you shorten your poles. Your hiking poles should assist you in moving uphill without causing strain or fatigue to your shoulders and your shoulders should never feel as if they are in an unnatural, lifted position or as if they are being pushed up into your backpack straps. If so, you need to shorten your poles even more.

For long downhill sections, try lengthening each pole by about 5–10cm from the length you set it at for general hiking. Doing so will keep your body more upright for better balance.

If you’re on a long traversing section, you can shorten the pole on the uphill side and lengthen the pole on the downhill side as needed to improve comfort and stability.

Black Diamond Distance Z Pole Length for trail runners and day hikers.


Height Range Suggested Black Diamond Pole Length
< 5 ft. 1 in.  (<154 cm) 100cm (39 in.)
5 ft. 1 in. – 5 ft. 7 in.  (154-171 cm) 110cm (43 in.)
5 ft. 8 in. – 5 ft. 11 in.  (172-182 cm) 120cm (47 in.)
6 ft.+  (183 + cm) 130cm (51 in.)

How to measure:
For Walking, hiking and backpacking: Stability and support matter most. Size up if you’re right on a size cusp.
For Running: Uphill propulsion matters most. Size down if you’re right on a size cusp.