■ Put your hand up through the strap – rather than downwards through it – and hold lightly onto the handle. All your weight should be on the strap so there’s no need to grip tightly.
■ Look out for plastic buckles that can dig into your hand. Padded and contoured straps are usually more comfortable than standard webbing.
■ Cork, rubber, plastic or wood? It’s a personal preference, but cork and rubber compounds tend to be more comfortable than plain rubber or plastic.
■ Some poles also offer a foam section underneath the handle as an alterative grab point
■ To reduce the jarring when the pole hits the ground, many poles have an in-built anti-shock device.
■ All the manufacturers featured here make both versions. Those without will be lighter and cheaper. Some allow you to turn the anti-shock on or off.
■ All poles are adjustable but the better ones have a fliplock mechanism, which is normally quicker and less fiddly to use.
■ On relatively level ground the poles should be adjusted so that your forearms are horizontal to the ground, then shortened for ascending and lengthened when descending so you can place them in front of your feet to aid your balance.
■ Most poles come fitted with a small plastic ‘basket’ near the tip to stop them sinking too deep into the ground.
■ For snow, especially powdery conditions, a larger basket is better.
■ Carbide tips are standard as they are very durable.
■ Rubber bungs are optional additions for muffling the tapping sound with each strike on hard surfaces, as well as helping to avoid damaging sensitive environments and providing better purchase on hard ground.