Friday, June 9, 2023

Trekking Pole Troubles: How to fix poles that don’t tighten

The 2 most common problems people have with their poles are:

  1. “I’m unable (or afraid) to take my poles apart.”
  2. “My poles won’t tighten.”

This post deals with #2.

There are different kinds of mechanisms that hold the poles together and tight.    ALL are a SIMPLE FIX if you know how.  Many poles come with instructions.  Please learn how BEFORE you head out on your hike 🙂

LEKI SpeedLock: Turn the round, clear dial with your finger or a dime to tighten.

LEKI Twist Style Poles: 2 types – single expander and double expander.  Both can fail if you over-loosen the poles.  If that happens, the section will twist and not tighten.  Easy (but different) fixes:

  • Single (Standard) expander (usually orange):  push the section that won’t tighten all the way in.   Push and twist at the same time – many times – until the expander “catches.”  Then adjust as usual.
  • Double expander (Super Lock system): A little trickier, but also easy when you know how.  This fix can be done with the poles apart or even where the expander meets the sleeve. The trouble happens if you OVER-LOOSEN the poles. Loosen JUST ENOUGH to move sections easily, then tighten. If you over-loosen then the expander will lock and it will not tighten. If you do not loosen just enough, the poles will not move freely. This takes a little practice and finesse, but ultimately it’s worth it because the soft anti-shock is SWEET.

Black Diamond FlickLock: Use a Phillips screwdriver to tighten just enough to hold, but not so tight it’s difficult to use.  Since all our adjusting on the trail is in the middle section, tighten the bottom tighter for your BASELINE length.   Finesse so that  the middle (adjusting) section is tight enough to hold on steep downhill, but loose enough to easily adjust.    Note:  when closing the FlickLock,  make sure it’s completely closed.   People often leave it just a little open.  This mechanism is either open or closed.  Not completely closed is OPEN.

Bottom Line: Before you leave the store with your new poles, learn TWO things:

  • How to take apart and put your poles together.
  • How to troubleshoot your poles (how to fix them if they fail to tighten).

Everything else you need to know is on the video.  We also show good technique and etiquette for taking poles apart and putting them together on the video.

More info on poles.

Addendum:  Here’s a YouTube post that shows fixing the LEKI expander.

My comment on this post: Nicely done! Failure to tighten is a problem!

It’s the Orange “rocket” that’s the culprit. When people over-LOOSEN the poles, the rocket gets STUCK on the bottom of the screw. What you’re doing by capturing the blue expander at the sleeve is affixing the blue so you can move the orange piece up the screw just a bit to release it. Knowing this is ESSENTIAL.

Please PRACTICE this! When it’s EASY, it’s right. Don’t force it.


47 Responses to “Trekking Pole Troubles: How to fix poles that don’t tighten”
  1. sylvia says:

    I have Lexi tour triple spring system poles and unable to tighten one pole. Should I be tightening the screw on top of the spring?

    • Push section in and twist until the section “catches” back onto the expander. The expander is in there, but by overloosening, the section has become detached from the expander.

      Good poles. Great adjusting system. Fast!

      Enjoy! Let me know how this goes!


    I have leki trekking poles! They are much better than a cane for posture and balance as I don’t have to lean to the side & down @ all, however, if they need readjusting, and just won’t “catch” it is a problem. I’ve asked other people -even men whom seem to be able to “just do it” to no avail.
    I keep them because it doesn’t happen often that they need adjusted, and I know it is just a matter of “catching it”. However, I’m not sure that I would buy another pair.
    Functionally with shock absorbers, they would have been a big help when I climbed Mt. McClaughen the year before I was diagnosed.

    • This happens because you loosen them a bit too much. Practice at home so you’re more confident.

      For the truly failed expander, you can GENTLY stretch it, then put it back together. A wise man at LEKI showed me this trick 🙂

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  3. Loo says:

    hi, i have just over-pulled/ overloosen the pole as I failed to read the word “STOP” which indicates the maximum length that i should pull. I can now see something like string in the middle of the pole.

    May I know what should I do in order to fix it? Thank You very much in advance! 🙂

    • I suggest you get really comfortable with taking apart and putting together your poles. Practice this.
      If you pull out almost all the way and it gets stuck, gently loosen until you can push it back in.

      All of this kind of thing should be EASY. If easy, then it’s right. Don’t muscle this because, although unlikely, you could break the expander.

      I’m not sure what you mean by a string, unless it’s one of those new attached poles. What model do you have?
      jayah 🙂

  4. Sue Craig says:

    I have a pair of REI Titanal hiking poles made by Komperdell. I cannot close the upper extension on one of the poles…any suggestions?

    • Take the sections apart and fiddle with the expander. Try this a few times, don’t give up quickly.

      Every person who purchases poles needs to be able to take them apart and put them together and troubleshoot their poles. Most poles come with some basic instructions and this is a good thing to practice before using them. If you have trouble still and/or again, I suggest you take them back to REI and have them show you.

      This brand of pole has a reputation of having problems and you may find that an upgrade might be a good option. If you look at the product recommendations on my website, you’ll see the models I think are best for hiking.

      Feel free to fill out the free purchase consultation if this is something you want to consider.
      I hike with a 12 year old pair of LEKI’s and ADORE them.

  5. arnold voth says:

    My problem is that my poles are stuck and I cannot separate them or even twist them in either direction. How do I get them loose again?

    • This sometimes happens if your poles get dirty. It’s why we are so pro-active on pole care.
      What brand do you have?

      • arnold voth says:

        They are Komperdell. I have since managed to separate one section of one pole only to clean it.

        • Margaret says:

          I just received a pair of Komperdell 3 section poles. The bottom section of one of them is stuck at the 110 position. They seem to be in very good shape, so I don’t think it is dirty, just jammed. Any suggestions?

          • Margaret says:

            Wow. As soon as I wrote to you it came un stuck! I’ve been twisting the pole section for 2 days. Thanks anyway.

          • Margaret says:

            Okay, now I’m mad. It re-stuck at the 130 mark. How can I un stick it and keep it moving freely?

  6. Igor says:

    I have a pair or Leki Makalu with the SLS lock which you show in your video. Both poles (three mechanisms out of four) failed completely. The problem is that the threads in the small red plastic parts are apparently broken. When tightening the section the red piece
    first moves up, but quite soon, the inner metal bolt starts to scroll, unable to move the red piece further up. I think the SLS design is bad. Leki claims that you can loose the lock turning a section by 360 degrees and it will still hold. This may be great but to achive this, they decreased the size of the thread compared to the classic system. Broking the thread in the red plastic piece is not easy but _very_ easy. My poles broke after just a couple of hikes. I would not recommend the SLS system to anyone.

    • The Super Lock System used to be called Easy Lock – it’s not that. This locking system is trickier than some. It requires finesse and a bit more time learning how to use it efficiently and how to troubleshoot failure.

      You will see on our pole recommendations that we highly recommend the LEKI SpeedLock system. It’s the best, the easiest and most intuitive system currently available. BUT, it’s a solid lock. To get their quiet anti-shock, you have to go with the SLS on the bottom. Fortunately, the way we teach baseline, you can leave that tight and only adjust the middle SpeedLock.

      I think all pole manufacturers and sales people need to rethink the way they tell people to set their poles. The half and half section is easy to communicate, but not most efficient.

      Everyone who has seen the video knows what I think about 90degrees and how that does not serve the joints.

      Thanks so much for your comment. Your LEKI poles have a lifetime warranty. LEKI is a wonderful company. If the mechanisms have truly failed, then I think they will take care of you. Don’t give up!

      • Igor says:

        I live in Moscow, Russia. Unfortunately, they do not have a lifetime warranty here. It is just one year. As a matter of fact, even if my poles broke within this period (they are a bit older than one year), they would not replace them as “the warranty does not cover mechanical issues”. What does it cover is a puzzle for me. Anyway, they also do not have _any_ service here, so repairing the poles on paid basis is not an option, either. This info is from the official Leki dealer in Russia, So Leki might be a wonderful company, but not in Russia 🙁

        BWT, my last poles are Leki Khumbu with the speedlock system. I used them in one recent hike, so far all is good.

  7. Sarah Hawkes says:

    I am unable to tighten my Leki poles & I cannot get the red expander to join with the middle section although I have tried tightening & untightening both poles several times. what am I doing wrong?

    • Sam Leyton says:

      I also have this problem the orange rocket is sitting at the bottom of the screw and when I try to get it to catch like in the clip shown the blue expander just keeps turning and turning and not catching…

      Any other tips to loosen the orange rocket back up the pole.


      • There are 2 ways to do this – one is simple:
        Take the pole section apart and run the rocket up the screw by holding the expander with one hand and twisting the section with other. If you try this several times and it does not work – GENTLY PULL THE EXPANDER APART TO STRETCH IT. This trick was taught to me by the guru at LEKI. Be gentle and make sure the expander is not too cold. These parts are replaceable.

        The other way is to almost take the poles apart and fiddle with the twisting until you release – this is more advanced and takes finesse. It’s also a bit more risky as you COULD break the expander if you are not careful. Try first one, try stretching and practice this way which, ultimately, is easier.

        Bottom line – you’re probably overloosening the section. This “SuperLock” system requires a bit of practice and finesse to learn so you can easily adjust your poles.

  8. Pat says:

    THANK YOU! I tried several times to tighten my poles but was not successful. I thought I would have to buy new poles. My expander is exactly like the one shown in the video. The video directions worked perfectly. THANK YOU!

    • The beauty of this system is also the drawback. It requires finesse. The reason it failed is that you overloosened it. To tighten, you don’t need to tighten all the way – try it and practice and you’ll end up being happier with your wonderful LEKI poles 🙂

  9. stan says:

    rei trecking poles and have a broken lock can it be replaced and if so who sells the parts

  10. Bob & Charlotte Hood says:

    We were ready to trash the pole until we watched your site. Great information — fixed the pole within 1 minute. Thanks.

  11. Davilyn Eversz says:

    I have a ancient pair of Leki Makalu that wouldn’t tighten so I put them away in the barn about 15 years ago. I need to use them now so was trying to fix them. I am pretty handy with stuff but after thirty minutes was ready to JB weld the pieces where I wanted them to be. Then I did a Google. My poles don’t have a locking piece like in your video – just a giant spring in both pieces. I pulled the pole out, twisted the pole to retighten the spring – then did it to the bottom piece. In all, took about thirty seconds. Thanks a bunch.

    • You’re very welcome. As with many things, it’s easy when you know how and devastating when you don’t. When I teach, I stress the importance of things being easy. When they’re not easy, I ask participants to find a way to make it easy (vs. saying it’s wrong) 🙂

    • Julie Gimblett says:

      I too have an ancient pair of Leki Makalu with the giant springs in both pieces of the poles. I’ve tried the quick fix on here but to no avail. Any suggestions?

      • What is actually wrong with them? The old style LEKI spring has 3 settings – on, partly on and off. Are you saying that the poles don’t tighten? The shaft has become detached from the expander. Push and twist to catch the expander and then they will tighten again. Good Luck.

        Alternatively, you can call LEKI – their customer service department is the BEST in the industry.

  12. Leanne says:

    I have just come back from a walk and one of my Leki instructor poles will not untighten and is stuck at 110 position. Is there anything i can do to get this returned to the lower position? The poles are not dirty or wet. Any help appreciated.

  13. Leanne says:

    Yes these are the twist poles and they are nordic poles.
    I’ve tried gripping them and undoing them. Also using wd40 to see if that helped and nothing worked.
    My partner also tried as he is stronger.
    I’ve resigned myself to the fact that they will have to stay locked in that position. Luckily the right height for me anyway. Unless there is something else I can try?

  14. Gemma says:


    Thank you for this article and video, I fixed my poles.

  15. Peter says:

    My Leki makalu antishock poles are about 15 years old now; they’ve performed excellent service, but one of them is no longer locking. it uses the simpler single orange type expander. I’m aware of the “push fully in and twist from there” cure, but even that does not do the trick any more. The problem seems to be that the screw that goes inside the orange expander is no longer pushing the flanges of the expander apart at all except when screwed down to the maximum, and screwing down to the maximum no longer causes the pole to lock, except when in the shortest position. Is there a trick to narrow the interior part of the expander, so that the screw will once again push apart the locking flanges, or, alternatively, is it possible to obtain a replacement expander.

  16. Ck says:

    My Leki pole expander is stuck inside pole on its own. I tried pulling it out but it just got pushed in further. Does anyone knows the best way to take out the expander?

  17. OMC says:

    Thank you, thank you. I have a Leki Explorer, a twist style-double expander. It’s been sitting in the closet for sometime because my husband and I thought it was broken. Followed your video and it worked. It was a little tricky pushing the middle pole in but now I’m able to tighten it.

    • Yeah! That mechanism is called “Super Lock.” It requires a bit of finesse, but it’s pretty cool. Tighten the bottom section securely and use the middle as your adjusting for length section. You will notice that you don’t have to tighten it all the way for it to hold (unless it’s cold). Play with it so that adjusting becomes second nature and you’ll find yourself at the optimal length for the terrain you’re on.

      Thanks for reading the blog!

  18. John says:

    Hi, I am an adjustable pole newbie and it seems I have already destroyed my pole. It is an off brand with twist expanders. (Brand name NightStar–it has a flashlight in the handle.) The rubber grip on one section has come loose and the section it was attached to has gone all the way into the section above. I have no way to grip and turn the section that is stuck inside the adjacent section. Any solution other than tossing it away? Many thanks.

    • You get what you pay for; sorry! So many people order poles on line without “test driving” them. I like to FIT people – it’s an art. Sorry for your experience.

  19. Rick Miller says:

    Thank you for the instruction to fix my Leki poles. Very simple like you said, but it works.

  20. Julie Gimblett says:

    I too have an ancient pair of Leki Makalu with the giant springs in both pieces of the poles. I’ve tried the quick fix on here but to no avail. Any suggestions?

  21. Alex says:

    Brilliant! Got me sorted in no time, and a very simple fix. Thanx


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