Hiking poles are extremely beneficial, especially when you’re trying to get over those really steep inclines or down an incline without rolling down it at 100mph. However, you don’t always need them and when you’re on a flat and easy pace for long periods of time, it’s better if you can stow them away on your pack.

There are a lot of ways to do this. For instance, purchasing a pack that is designed with extra side straps, packing them down inside your bag, using whatever convenient straps are available on your current pack, or designing something of your own.

The beauty of a well-provisioned and organized hiking pack is in its versatility. Those extra straps have to have a use after all, right? Not only do hiking backpacks generally come with a lot of straps and a lot of options, but they also offer room for improvements.

Whatever you do, try not to allow your hiking pole to stick out too far in one direction or another, as it will be begging to catch on every tree limb, branch, and vine along the way and, depending on the circumstance, might be enough to drag you off your feet.

How to attach your hiking poles to your backpack

Photo by Louis Hansel / Unsplash

Attaching your hiking pole to your backpack shouldn’t be an exercise in genius-level engineering. It should be a simple and quick process that allows you to strap it down quickly and access it again quickly. Here are 5 ways to store them when they’re not being used:

  1. Pack it down in your bag
  2. Use your side straps
  3. Use the loops and straps on your backpack
  4. Use your own creativity
  5. Attach them to the top of the backpack

Let’s dive straight into the first way of storing your hiking poles.

1. Pack it down in your bag

This is one of your best options if you’re hauling a large backpack, especially one that is pretty deep or if your hiking pole is collapsible. In the scenario where you have a large pack, even if it is full to the brim, you will be able to slide some hiking poles down there.

Since a hiking pole is already narrow, it doesn’t take much to gain the wiggle room necessary to get it in there and since there is enough depth and/or it is collapsible, you won’t have any extra length of hiking pole sticking out of the top like you’re some Vietnam war-era radio operator.

Hiking poles take up next to zero space when loaded vertically so that’s advantageous as well, even if you are packed up pretty tight for the long haul. The only drawback to this method is that unless you have a double-jointed shoulder, you will have to drop the pack every time you want to retrieve them or put them away.

2. Use your side straps

That’s what they’re there for, after all. Many hiking packs have some extra side straps and if they cinch down pretty well, you shouldn’t have a problem properly securing your hiking pole to the side of your pack.

Even if the straps don’t tighten down far enough to lash the hiking pole up against the pack, you surely have a cup holder on the side of your backpack. If you don’t, it’s time to scrounge up that receipt and send it back for a refund.

The cup holder is the container in which you will set your hiking pole with the side straps serving as a stabilizing mechanism to hold it upright and hold it in place at the same time. The only potential drawback is that if the side strap is too loose, the hiking pole(s) will bounce around far too much and end up being a distraction.

3. Use the loops and straps on your backpack

Owning a hiking backpack is to get familiar with a number of strap assortments. There are typically straps and loops (some that are flexible like a bungee cord) all over the place, all of them with various uses.

Where there is a will, there’s a way. Oftentimes, you can just choose your own arrangement from the myriad options you will generally have. If you have plenty of loops on your pack, it’s easy to use the bungee effect of the cords to hold the hiking pole hard against the pack.

You can use any additional pockets or velcro at the bottom to secure the lower end of the hiking pole while the loops can secure the middle and upper sections. You don’t want to get too crazy with it because, at some point, you have to take it back off as well.

4. Use your own creativity

Compression straps, additional bungee cords with S-hooks, or paracord are all great options for fashioning something workable on your backpack that will secure and hold your hiking pole for long periods of time.

Another good use for all the loops is that they serve as good attachment points for S-hooks. Paracord is a great tool as well since you can form just about any knot imaginable, and it’s one of the most resilient materials you can hope to find for outdoor living.

Compression straps are a good option, especially if you need to hold the hiking poles hard to the side of the pack. Compression straps will allow you to cinch them down as tightly as you can, without worrying about tearing them, since they’re designed for that sort of use.

5. Attach them to the top of the backpack

You can always use the sleeping bag method to just strap your hiking pole down to the top of the pack. So long as you have some additional straps up there. Or, you could add your own paracord or compression straps.

If your pack has a closing flap on the top, you can also put it to good use by wrapping up the center of the hiking pole as a sort of stabilizing hold and using some additional side or top straps to secure the side sections.

What if your pack lacks the straps for your hiking poles?

If you don’t have the straps necessary to lock down a hiking pole, then you should either add them on your own by sewing new straps onto your backpack or purchase a new pack altogether.

Either way, if you don’t want to carry the hiking pole everywhere that you go, you’ll need another way to hold them.

Which backpacks are great for hiking poles?

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One of the more popular backpacks for hiking with a hiking pole is what is called the “daypack.” It’s a lighter backpack, in general, than what you would see backpackers wearing, or those who are going on multiple day and night hikes. However, it comes with enough side straps to offer support for hiking poles.

It’s also a much lighter backpack, as you aren’t expected to run these packs through the worst of the worst. Since they are smaller and lighter, it’s not much to add the weight of a hiking pole or two. If you have a collapsible hiking pole, daypacks make even more sense with the collapsible hiking pole requiring less holding or storage room.

ALICE packs are excellent packs for hiking poles simply because the only reason you would need an ALICE pack is if you are packing for quite the journey, in which case you will probably feel the need for the assistance of a hiking pole.

ALICE packs have a ton of room, extra pockets, and are practically covered in straps. However, traditional ALICE packs often have only standard straps to hold extra things down, so you will want to purchase some additional compression straps and sew them on or go for some various paracord innovations.

Much larger backpacks, such as the Arrio 30 have a few straps on either side that are really good for holding a hiking pole tightly against the pack so that it stays and you can depend on it to stay throughout the day until you are ready to use it.

Are collapsible hiking poles better to carry?

Trekking poles in a meadow.
Photo by Field Forest and Fire / Unsplash

The whole purpose behind collapsible hiking poles is that they are easier to lug around in various packs than traditional hiking poles are. They’re very simple to use and usually made out of aluminum. They retract easily, collapsing down to a small enough stick that they can easily slide into smaller backpacks.

However, the one drawback to collapsible hiking poles is that they lack the resiliency and durability of traditional hiking poles. They are far more prone to bending and breaking over regular versions of the hiking pole.

If you’re not planning on brutalizing the things by carrying them throughout a brutal hike that is one of those multi-day affairs, then you should stick with collapsible hiking poles since they are so much easier to put away when you don’t need them, rather than having to strap them down every time.

If you know you’re going to be putting your hiking pole(s) through the wringer, it’s best to avoid the collapsible and stick with a regular one, so long as you have a way to strap it down when you don’t need it.

Final thoughts

So long as you are going with a hiking backpack, in one of their many variations, you should have several ways in which you can store your hiking poles when you don’t need it. The good thing about hiking poles is that they are lightweight and difficult to get in the way unless you just want them to be a hindrance.

Collapsible hiking poles have their place as well and when you are prepping for a long hike, either one is worth careful consideration, along with how you are going to stash it away when not in use.