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The Navigational Trek Pole helps the elderly and disabled find their way through national parks by using traditional methods.

Prompt: Design a product to help people with an injury, illness or reduced capabilities that wish to still pursue recreational activities they enjoy.


Visitors that suffer from a partial disability or have a hard time hiking trails, miss out when going to national parks. There are only a limited amount of accessible paths they can hike that provide nice views to appreciate. Navigating to these trails are also time consuming and take away from the experience.


In the summer of 2019 my dad came to visit me and we decided to take a day trip to Yosemite National Park.

Even though we had a great time there, we noticed that there were not many trails he could hike as he is elderly and navigating those trails took some time.


Needless to say, having the map easily accessible was necessary to finding our way.



  • There are 61 national parks in the U.S. and only about 26 are accessible.

  • People over 60 with disabilities U.S.: 35.2%

  • People over 60 afflicted with an ambulatory disability: 22.5%

  • People with disabilities that visit national parks: .7 %

The fact that the percentage for people with disabilities who visit national parks is so low goes to show that their is a definite need in designing a better option for those who enjoy hiking in national parks.

States with national parks


Pain points

  • Exclusion of hiking to popular areas in the national park


  • Losing track of where you are


  • Numbness of feet after walking for long periods of time


  • Not using the most of one’s time hiking


  • Loss of balance on uneven terrain


  • Muscle aches and soreness



Based off of the statistics stated above, most national parks are not seen as places that are accessible and may deter those with disabilities to visit. Only .7 % of people with disabilities visit national parks.

If national parks want to become more inclusive they need to be more time efficient, have easy to understand products, and a better system for assisting the elderly or partially disabled.

Refining the idea

After sketching out different concepts I started to hone in on designing a trek pole and point out more aspects that enhanced the idea.

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Exploring concepts

I started sketching up various concepts to explore ways to help the elderly and disabled along the trail and noted on the of the positive features based on feedback.

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built-in map

compass in handle

natural materials

Mock-ups & Testing

After building some mock-ups for the trek pole I got to test some of the ideas from my concepts sketches.


I wanted to test the idea of unfurling a sleeve that would hold the park map.

Exploring ways to make the trek pole compact and more portable.

Experimenting with how the user would look at the compass in the handle.



The navigational trek pole is height adjustable, compact and uses minimal technology.

This trek pole can be used by those who are registered as senior or partially disabled on the national parks services website. It would be distributed at every gate entrance along with a map of accessible trails inside the sleeve.

Even those who are not partially disabled or seniors can pay a small fee to use the navigational trek pole. So everybody can use it!

The look

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Orthograthic View


1 in.


27 in.

5 in.

18 in.

Adjustable heights


47 in.

39 in.

51 in.

43 in.



The top area has a compass that sits in a
burrowed slot at the top of the trek pole. It can detach by simply snapping in or out easily.

Para cord is adhered and wrapped around the inset section of the handle so that it sit flush with the exterior walls.

The handle adjusts in angle by twisting it 180° as it snaps into place.

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The wrap holds the map in place so that the user can easily unfurl it if they need to find an
accessible trail.

The hiker simply unhooks the sleeve strap to
unfurl the sleeve to reveal the map. The user can also unzip the top to store more maps inside.

The materials used in the sleeve is a water
resistant canvas and a clear vinyl.

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Internal Track


The lower part of the poles provides

adjust-ability for the hikers height and uses a easy twist snap system that locks it into place.

In order to adjust the height the hiker uses the marked lines on the metal pole to line it up against the bottom of the bamboo exterior.


They then twist the notch into the track until it snaps into place.

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Assembling the pole


Please view process book here.

Thank you!

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