Like any good piece of outdoor gear or equipment in general, trekking poles require regular care and maintenance. If you’ve been a user of internal lock trekking poles, you probably know that every once in a while your trekking pole may not lock. But no worries, it’s something you can fix in a few easy steps.
It’s good to understand what’s going on inside your trekking poles so that you understand what you’re fixing or what the issue is. An internal locking trekking pole has a locking mechanism inside the shaft of the trekking poles. This mechanism works by putting pressure on the inside of the pole shaft wall to lock the pole in place and keep it from sliding around.
If your trekking pole or hiking poles is not locking in as you turn it, the easiest thing to do to fix this issue is to pull the section out that isn’t locking all the way. You’ll see a stop mark on many poles (usually a white or gray line) and you’ll just need to go a little bit beyond that line. What you’re doing is pulling the locking mechanism down to the thinnest part of the pole. From there you can start to turn your pole, just like you were locking it in. You’re going to feel it start to tighten up and you can simply back your pole off and lock it in where you want to.
This barely happens, but if your pole doesn’t lock in after trying the technique above, you might have some debris or dirt caught in the pole. In those very rare instances, the easiest thing to do is actually separate the two parts of the hiking pole. When your trekking pole sections are apart, you want to clean the locking mechanisms and clean the threads at the top of the post with a damp paper towel. If you detect corrosion on the metal threads that go into the plastic expansion plug, then it’s time to dismantle and clean the pieces. Do not use a wire brush as it will remove whatever corrosion-protecting finish remains on the threads. Instead, wipe the threads with a soft cloth lightly moistened with WD-40 or alcohol.
Warning: Do not get lubricants like WD-40 or oil onto the plastic expansion plug itself, or on the inside of the tubes. Put a trace of oil or, better, silicone grease on the threads to prevent additional corrosion. Reassemble your pole following this cleaning and test the locking mechanism again.
No matter what your locking mechanism type it’s important to remember to never lubricate the pole behind the locking mechanism. This will only cause slippage and your trekking pole will keep collapsing during your hike!