Older screw style trekking poles are notorious for getting stuck, but even newer poles have issues. Preventative maintenance helps, but what if your poles are already stuck? How do you fix a stuck trekking pole?
Fixing a stuck trekking pole is usually easy. Start off by trying to free it with your hands and move onto pliers if that doesn’t work. You might have to spray penetrating oil into the poles and let them set for a few weeks.
It shouldn’t take longer than 15-20 minutes to free stuck trekking poles. The only time you might run into problems is if the insides are corroded or parts of the pole went out of alignment in the shaft. I’ll go over all of the ways to fix stuck trekking poles in the rest of this post.
How To Fix Stuck Trekking Poles?
Trekking poles will occasionally get stuck if you put them away wet or store them in an area that isn’t temperature controlled. The metal sections start to corrode/oxide so that they are partially fused together.
It’s fairly easy to fix stuck trekking poles 99% of the time. You can usually muscle the poles apart, but you may need to spray them down with penetrating oil. If that doesn’t help you will have to pull out set of pliers and work the piles from each end. Here’s a quick guide explaining how to fix stuck trekking poles.
1. Make Sure You’re Turning The Poles In The Right Direction
Trekking poles are just like any other screw or telescoping rod. One direction tightens the pole and the other loosens it. Remember the old saying “Righty Tighty Lefty Loosy”. That applies with trekking poles. You want to screw away from your body with your left hand if you’re holding the tip of the pole on the left.
2. Use A Piece Of Wood To Knock On The Top Of The Stuck Trekking Pole
Hold the trekking pole vertically and take a chunk of wood and knock on the top of the stuck trekking pole. That should help break up any corroded or oxidized sections of the pole. Make sure you use wood to avoid damaging the grip.
3. Try Freeing The Stuck Trekking Poles With your Hands (Make Sure You’re Going in The Right Direction)
You can almost always free stuck trekking poles without any extra tools. I recommend spraying penetrating oil into the stuck section first to reduce friction, but that probably won’t be necessary. Don’t be afraid to put some muscle into it. Trekking poles can take more abuse than you think.
Hold the lower stuck section in your left hand and upper section in your right. Screw the pole away from your body with your left hand. If that doesn’t work try spray the pole with penetrating oil and try again.
4. Use Pliers On Both Sides Of The Stuck Section
Take 2 sets of pliers and place them on each side of the stuck section. You should be able to get better leverage since you’re not relying on your grip strength. Attach the pliers on the plastic sections of the pole so you can get a better grip. Hold the pliers in your right hand steady and push the pliers in your left hand forward.
5. Loosen Up Screws And Try Again
If none of the above methods work you might need to loosen up any screws in the pole sections and try again. That rarely solves the problem, but it’s a 30 second fix and it’s easier than soaking your poles in penetrating fluid which I’ll go over in the next step.
6. Soak The Inside Of The Shaft In Penetrating Fluid
The steps above should free up 99% of stuck trekking poles. The only time you might run into problems is if the expanders inside the shaft go out of alignment. You can usually break it free by pouring penetrating oil down the shaft.
Try knocking on the end of the pole with wood a few times and twisting again. That may be enough to fix the problem, but you might need to sock the shaft in penetrating oil for a few weeks so it can work its way through the corrosion.