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  1. #1

    Default Trekking pole straps - through the top or from the bottom?

    When I got my first set of poles (Rossignol BC Access), they didn't come with instructions, so I put my hand in from the top, hit the trail, and I have been using them that way ever since.

    I recently saw a BD video in which they suggest to put your hand in from the bottom of the straps, which seems to be the technique described in several webpages as well. So I tried it, but it seems to squeeze the ball of my hand rather than provide a sling for it, and I don't particularly care for this. Maybe I would get used to it, I don't know.

    What about you? Do you put your hands in your straps through the top or from the bottom? Do you have a preference, and if you do, why?

  2. #2
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    Bottom with the idea that the strap tends to keep the pole attached to your wrist. From the top is a more direct path to slip off your hand. But I'd wager in those situations where you might lose your grip on the pole its probably just as likely to come off with either method as those situations are likely not like standing there testing the two strap placements in your living room.
    If your hand is being squeezed I would think the strap is too small for you hand. Mine were just right and of such a length that the strap makes it easy to transfer weight to the strap.

  3. #3
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    I think the logic of hands up through the bottom of the strap is in case of a fall less chance of breaking a wrist.

    I use the black diamond alpine cork handle poles. Big uphill I'll grab the pole lower out of straps and not on the handles but lower on the black part. Then sometimes downhill again out of the strap and hand on top of pole/handle.

    Like you I used to always put my hand through from the top and like you said it makes for a nice sling for resting and pushing against for more power. I guess nowadays I don't have a 1 method I just go with what's comfortable at the time.

  4. #4

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    My poles are BD and I go up through the bottom. For about a decade I went through the top on my Leki poles and when I first learned about the bottom approach I tried it and didn't care for it. But my BD's have had better straps, they were more recent, and they are shaped to accommodate bottom entry plus they have been softer material. It helps too if the locking mechanism on the strap is firm. I don't have to adjust the strap length often but there's a sweet spot on the strap length that is ideal and then there's loose.

    Too tight and it can feel like a pressure point on your palm. If I recall correctly, my old Lekis it kind of felt like a knot under my palm.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossup View Post
    If your hand is being squeezed I would think the strap is too small for you hand. Mine were just right and of such a length that the strap makes it easy to transfer weight to the strap.
    The strap is narrower than the old one, but it is mainly the mechanics (maybe I'm just not doing it properly).

    Here is an image of my old poles on top (top entry), and the new poles on the bottom (bottom entry). With the old poles (top entry), the strap cradles my wrist perfectly, with the new ones (bottom entry) it doesn't.

    When you use the bottom entry, does your strap lay like it does in the bottom two images?

    PolesComp.jpg

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    My poles are BD and I go up through the bottom. For about a decade I went through the top on my Leki poles and when I first learned about the bottom approach I tried it and didn't care for it. But my BD's have had better straps, they were more recent, and they are shaped to accommodate bottom entry plus they have been softer material.
    I notice that the BDs have a wider section for the hand rest (and they don't have that projection at the bottom of the grip). I don't like the velcro that they use for adjustment, but maybe it would be a better fit for me.

  7. #7

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    I go up from the bottom.

    In your photo's, you have your hand quite far down the handle. All the palm and fingers should be up on the handle. Your little finger is fully below the handle. Most straps have an adjustment to tighten them up slightly once your hand is correctly on the handle. I don't tighten the straps much. Not like you are showing.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnycat View Post
    I notice that the BDs have a wider section for the hand rest (and they don't have that projection at the bottom of the grip). I don't like the velcro that they use for adjustment, but maybe it would be a better fit for me.
    I don't know what is standard with BD, but mine don't have velcro. They are my second pair of BDs and the straps on both were a lot nicer than my Lekis.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
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  9. #9
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    I don't use the strap at all. I don't want that lever tied to my arm if I fall,in case it is stuck somewhere,I don't want my body weight to break my wrist. Probably a pessimist sort of thing...

  10. #10
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    I go up from the bottom. All sorts of ideas for why. Here is my reason. When straps are adjusted correctly, when you plant the pole, you can push down without even grabbing the pole. The weight is supported by the double strap against the pole coming up between your thumb and index finger and then distributed evenly over the large thumb muscle and back of your hand. The downward force pulls your palm into the pole grip. You need to only grip lightly while lifting the pole. On my first trip with pole I had read the pro/anti strap arguments. One day I hiked all day with and one whole day without. I decided I preferred to hike with straps. I agree good straps probably make a difference. On that first hike I used BD poles with delux chiral straps (chiral describes asymmetry that generates a left and right handed strap). They are wide and padded in the section on the back of your hand where the weight is distributed. I have since switched to Fizan poles with simpler but still effective straps.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    I don't know what is standard with BD, but mine don't have velcro. They are my second pair of BDs and the straps on both were a lot nicer than my Lekis.
    It showed them with the velcro in a promotional video by the company; I'm going to pick some up tomorrow and see how they perform, hopefully they don't have it. They do look like they have a wider area of hand contact vs. the Leki's plain strap. Do you use the cork or EVA tops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    The weight is supported by the double strap against the pole coming up between your thumb and index finger and then distributed evenly over the large thumb muscle and back of your hand.
    That is the part that I need to get used to; my current poles cradle my wrist, evenly distributing the weight across the wrist bones (like you, I never grasp the pole while in use), whereas coming up from the bottom puts the pressure around the muscle (especially noticeable on the thumb muscle). I will have to see how the continual pressure against my hand feels at the end of the day, but I guess if damn near everyone is using this technique it should be doable.

  12. #12
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    I find this discussion interesting, in that it is a discussion at all. It's kinda like debating whether you should wear a bicycle helmet backwards or not.

    To my knowledge, all reputable poles and straps are designed to be used with hands coming up through the bottom and have been, at least since my first poles in the 1960's.

    Two reasons:
    1) Safety. If you fall with you hand in from the top, you risk having your hand trapped and breaking bones. Coming up from the bottom, your hand is free to fall past or over the top of the pole with your strap loosely on your wrist instead of trapping your hand on the pole.
    2) Efficiency. With the hand coming up from the bottom, the strap cradles the base of your hand (assuming you adjust your strap correctly), so you can maintain a relaxed grip on the pole and still be able to push and get full support, which doesn't work when you come in from the top.

    Everyone I know has always made fun of people that didn't know how to use their pole straps correctly, kinda like making fun of people that wear their bicycle helmets backwards (yes, it's a thing, believe it or not).
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I find this discussion interesting, in that it is a discussion at all. It's kinda like debating whether you should wear a bicycle helmet backwards or not.

    To my knowledge, all reputable poles and straps are designed to be used with hands coming up through the bottom and have been, at least since my first poles in the 1960's.

    Two reasons:
    1) Safety. If you fall with you hand in from the top, you risk having your hand trapped and breaking bones. Coming up from the bottom, your hand is free to fall past or over the top of the pole with your strap loosely on your wrist instead of trapping your hand on the pole.
    2) Efficiency. With the hand coming up from the bottom, the strap cradles the base of your hand (assuming you adjust your strap correctly), so you can maintain a relaxed grip on the pole and still be able to push and get full support, which doesn't work when you come in from the top.

    Everyone I know has always made fun of people that didn't know how to use their pole straps correctly, kinda like making fun of people that wear their bicycle helmets backwards (yes, it's a thing, believe it or not).
    Yeah, trekking poles weren't really much of a thing for hikers until about 2000-2005, at least not in the States. You got snide comments for using them, guess it goes both ways. I traveled around out west two summers to many national parks in the mid-90s and can't say with any surety that I saw them much, although I do recall seeing a variety of mountaineering staffs. Rarely I'd see a hiker using two hiking sticks but as far as modern trekking poles, they seem to be offshoots of either "exerstriding" late 80s or "Nordic walking " late 90's. People would use two poles for winter activities and sometimes you would see a ski pole being used outside of winter. I guess you were an early adopter.

    I have never found the falling and breaking your wrist less often argument particularly compelling, there's not a rash of people falling with trekking poles to begin with. On snow and ice, yeah ok falling is a little more prevalent. I have seen one study that found more energy was used with the poles than without, it was 5% I think. (I don't know if this was ever replicated.) I never noticed much difference in effort between the two grips.
    Last edited by Alligator; 05-22-2021 at 15:59. Reason: Sentence was in the wrong place.
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I find this discussion interesting, in that it is a discussion at all. It's kinda like debating whether you should wear a bicycle helmet backwards or not.
    I think some men have the wisdom to ignore conversations they feel are beneath them instead of mocking those who willingly expose their ignorance in an effort to understand a new concept.

  15. #15

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    Echoing the majority here, up through the bottom. This saves the user from having to grip the poles constantly as opposed to allowing the wrist to support weight and fingertips to guide them most of the time. Over the years strapping materials have gotten better (softer and wicking properties improved), which I recall my first set of poles the straps were narrow and had rough material that could cut skin. Straps today are a lot kinder and are typically made for and accommodate bottom up use.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnycat View Post
    I think some men have the wisdom to ignore conversations they feel are beneath them instead of mocking those who willingly expose their ignorance in an effort to understand a new concept.
    Hmmm. I never thought that mocking or ignoring people were the only two options, nor that providing information to someone who asked for it was beneath me.

  17. #17

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    None of the above. In the whites its very easy to catch a tips on steep descents. If you trip and catch a pole a shoulder injury is a distinct possibility. I remove my straps when I get my poles.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 05-22-2021 at 17:55.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Trek View Post
    I don't use the strap at all. I don't want that lever tied to my arm if I fall,in case it is stuck somewhere,I don't want my body weight to break my wrist. Probably a pessimist sort of thing...
    I'm with you. I did slide down a hill once and was glad I didn't have the poles attached to me; they fell away. I worry that, if I'd been using the straps, I would have broken a bone (versus just scraping my arm and wounding my pride...)

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    Hmmm. I never thought that mocking or ignoring people were the only two options, nor that providing information to someone who asked for it was beneath me.
    That's not how that translates, it's conditional. If the man (person) finds the conversation beneath them, then some men have the wisdom to ignore conversations instead of mocking those who willingly expose their ignorance in an effort to understand a new concept. He did quote nsherry61 when he said that and not you, and it was exactly what nsherry61 did.
    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61
    Everyone I know has always made fun of people that didn't know how to use their pole straps correctly, kinda like making fun of people that wear their bicycle helmets backwards (yes, it's a thing, believe it or not).
    Enough said about it though.

    Ask your questions away Johnnycat! I haven't had a set of EVA poles just cork and my older hard plastic Leki's. I like the cork a lot better. There was a recent discussion here where some people had some really chewed up cork handles I don't recall the thread just remember seeing the pictures.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    When straps are adjusted correctly, when you plant the pole, you can push down without even grabbing the pole. The weight is supported by the double strap against the pole coming up between your thumb and index finger and then distributed evenly over the large thumb muscle and back of your hand.
    Indeed, this is what I learned quickly when I first started using poles. The difference for me between my old "top mount" poles and the new ones is that the top mount poles cradled the base of my wrist, whereas the new ones cradle the hand; this creates a "squeezing" of the hand that I am not used to.

    I agree good straps probably make a difference. On that first hike I used BD poles with delux chiral straps (chiral describes asymmetry that generates a left and right handed strap). They are wide and padded in the section on the back of your hand where the weight is distributed. I have since switched to Fizan poles with simpler but still effective straps.
    The Leki straps are more flimsy compared to the BD straps, which are wider at the contact points and feel more "purpose built" like they are a sling instead of just a loop of strap. The BDs hold their shape better as well, whereas the Lekis are easily prone to folding over.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    I haven't had a set of EVA poles just cork and my older hard plastic Leki's. I like the cork a lot better. There was a recent discussion here where some people had some really chewed up cork handles I don't recall the thread just remember seeing the pictures.
    Both the cork and the EVA grips on the BDs are squishy, while the Leki corks are more firm (and are either a composite or have some type of coating on them). I do prefer the Leki corks over the BDs because they seem more durable, but since I don't tend to grip the pole, it's going to come down to strap comfort (and the BDs have the Lekis beat in this department). Thanks for the tip on the BDs BTW, as I mentioned to OMO above, I also found that the straps have a more natural feel on the hand than the Lekis.

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