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March 2001

A Long Life For Your Trekking Poles

Keep your trekking poles clean and maintained with these tips.

Ed Fisher, an avid hiker from Buffalo, New York, handles returns, repairs, and replacements for LEKI USA. In the past few years he’s fixed, rebuilt, or otherwise resurrected hundreds of poles, and he has designed specific shop tools for the LEKI factory in the Czech Republic. His maintenance tips for endless pole plants:

  • Dings and dents are a problem only if they hinder pole adjustments. If this is the case, replace the damaged section, not the entire pole.
  • Length markings can wear off over time. You can etch or scrape your own markings into the shaft. Or use a waterproof marker.
  • Moisture might gather inside poles. Pull the sections apart to let them dry. This will prevent minor oxidation, but they shouldn’t rust, since most are aluminum with plastic expanding brake mechanisms.
  • Poles don’t need to be lubricated. Most adjustable-length poles lock with a friction mechanism that won’t function if oiled.
  • Pole sections that slip or jam need to be cleaned or the brake parts replaced. To be safe, replace the expanding brake after a year of heavy hiking.
  • Tips can break if caught between rocks. Some manufacturers offer flexible tips that bend before breaking. If these break anyway, they can easily be replaced in the field if you carry a spare tip.
  • Carbide tips withstand abuse and probably won’t wear out during the lifetime of the pole. If a carbide tip does chip or wear down, you’ll have to replace the flexible tip on some models and the whole lower shaft on others.

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