Our Favorite Trekking Poles Fully Reviewed
If you’ve never considered hiking aids like these, either because you feel you’re too casual of a hiker or that they aren’t affordable, we’d like to encourage you to take a look at the list we’ve compiled of the best. Investing doesn’t have to be a burden and there are plenty of accessible options available that can fit anyone’s budget. Check out our custom criteria to see how each of these poles can benefit you or see our FAQ for any questions you may have. Happy trails!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
- Foldable for easy packing
- Quick and easy to extend
- Interchangeable tips for varying terrain
- Black Diamond Distance Z
- Leki Corklite
- Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
- Leki Micro Vario Cor Tec
- TrailBuddy Trekking Poles
- Montem Ultra Strong
- TheFitLife Nordic
- Cascade Mountain
- Alpine Summit
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Our Favorite Trekking Poles
1. Black Diamond Distance Z
- Foldable for easy packing
- Quick and easy to extend
- Interchangeable tips for varying terrain
- Length is not adjustable
- Abrasive wrist straps
Lightweight, compact and reliable, these fixed-length poles are perfect for packing and using on tricky terrain. The folding design is easy to extend and collapse on the go and can easily be stored away until needed.Read more
These folding poles have a fixed length and come in 4 sizes: 100 cm (39 inches), 110 cm, 120 cm and 130 cm (50 inches).
These poles are constructed of 100% carbon.
The EVA foam grips with extenders are comfortable and wick away moisture to prevent blisters.
Lightweight frames and grips weigh in at 9 oz per pole.
These Z-poles fold up easily for compact storage. The speed cone technology of the inner cord allows these to snap into place quickly when on the go. The poles can be used with carbide or rubber tips to best suit your terrain. The tips seem to be very durable, but being able to replace them as needed, rather than the entire pole, extends the life of these poles. This set also comes with wrist straps to keep poles close. However, some users note the fabric is a bit abrasive and causes discomfort when used for long hikes.
Price may range based on size and color but these poles do tend to run on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Most users find the sturdy design, convenience and lightweight frames of these packable poles to be worth the extra money.
2. Leki Corklite
- Very durable
- High quality locking mechanisms
- Signature cork and rubber grips provide excellent comfort
- Shock absorbing technology
- A bit expensive for aluminum
These lightweight trekking poles are built to last with high quality components and durable aluminum shafts. The sturdy support offered by these adjustable poles as well as the signature cork and rubber grips set these poles above the rest.Read more
These telescopic poles range in length from 26-53 inches. Unlike many adjustable-length poles, the speed lock adjustment holds very well without slipping and is easy to adjust on the go.
The shaft is made of very durable and sturdy aluminum.
Leki’s signature Aergon grips are made of a combination of natural ground cork and rubber. The slim but comfortable grip and ergonomic angle are a big selling point for these poles. The top of the grip is also rounded which many users find more comfortable for using as a staff or resting on.
Despite the slightly heavier aluminum build, these poles maintain a light weight of just 8.25 ounces per pole by decreasing the handle weight. These poles feel light and well balanced, reducing arm fatigue as you hike.
SAS-L Antishock technology in the lowest section provides some additional shock absorption. The comfort wrist straps and carbide flex tips help increase the feeling of security when using these poles.
The price is a bit high, especially considering they are made of lower-cost aluminum. However, many find the signature Leki cork grips and the quality construction of the locking mechanisms and carbide tips to be worth the extra money. If you are looking to invest in a high quality trekking poles that are built to last, these are your best bet.
3. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
- Cork grips wick moisture and absorb shock
- Extend to 55 inches
- Locking mechanism does not slip
- Longer collapsed length
These aluminum poles have a reliable double locking mechanism that does not slip as you hike, unlike many of the less expensive brands. They feature quality cork grips that wick away moisture and angle slightly for better ergonomic comfort. These sturdy poles offer the same reliable support as the high end carbon fiber poles at a lower cost.Read more
These adjustable poles extend to 55 inches and collapse down to 29 inches. The double locking mechanism is easy to use and provides more stability and durability than the less expensive options.
The shaft is made of aluminum.
The natural cork grips are perfect for wicking away sweat and they are set at 15 degree angles for a more ergonomic grip. Foam grips extend under the cork do the poles are easy to catch.
Very lightweight at just 9 ounces each, especially considering they are aluminum.
Wrist straps with 360 degree padding keep your poles connected to you without adding any friction or discomfort around your wrists.
These poles may seem a bit pricey for aluminum but the quality locking mechanism and ergonomic cork grips set it apart from the lower cost models.
4. Leki Micro Vario Cor Tec
- Folds down to 14 inches
- Exchangeable carbide tips
- Durable design
- Comfortable wrist straps
These high quality trekking poles have a 3-part folding design which makes them easy to pack and carry. Unlike other folding poles, the top section can be adjusted to allow for more customizable height. They are durable and provide reliably sturdy support.Read more
These poles have an adjustable top section that allows the length to range from about 43 inches to just over 51 inches.
The shaft is made from Aluminum 7075.
The lightweight Aergon grips are made of a contoured foam and are angled at 10 degrees for improved ergonomics.
At 9.25 ounces per pole, these are a fairly lightweight option.
These 3-part folding poles fold down to just 14 inches making them easy to pack and carry, even in small day bags. These poles also feature soft, moisture-wicking wrist straps that will keep poles attached to you without irritating your skin. Additionally, the carbide tips are replaceable, extending the life of your poles.
These poles run on the more expensive side, particularly considering they are crafted from aluminum. However, many users feel the compact, folding design and durable build make them worth investing in.
5. TrailBuddy Trekking Poles
- 7075 Aluminum shaft
- Lightweight but sturdy
- Telescoping poles
- Comes in multiple colors
- Cork handles that are weather resistant
- Removable mud and snow baskets and rubber tips
- Can be disassembled easily
- Optional rubber tips will wear out easily
These trekking poles from TrailBuddy are a super affordable option for those wanting something versatile on a budget. Removable baskets and rubber tips are great additions to take along, but if you’re short on space you can leave them behind. You can even fully disassemble the poles to make the most of the room you have with an easy to use telescoping shaft.Read more
These poles have three separate length measurements since you can easily disassemble or collapse them when not in use. The disassembled length is 21 inches, the collapsable length is 24.5 inches, and the full extended length is 54 inches.
The shaft is made from 7075 series aluminum which is more lightweight than 6061 series but is still sturdy.
Cork handles are soft and easy to grip while being weather resistant.
The total weight of these poles is 10.2 oz. Without the removable baskets or rubber tips, the weight is 9.7 oz.
The removable snow and mud baskets are a great option, as well as the optional rubber tips. The telescoping poles may be easier to operate while using than other twist and lock mechanisms.
At less than 40$ the TrailBuddy trekking poles are a real bargain. They have a solid construction and come in a variety of fun colors, perfect for you and your friends or family. They also come with plenty of little extras that make this price more than worth it.
6. Montem Ultra Strong
- Comfortable foam grips
- Sturdy build
- Adjustable size
- Not the most durable components
These aluminum poles are lightweight and initially as sturdy as the top brands for a very low price. The shafts seems to hold up well but the other components such as the locking mechanism and tips do not seem to be as durable. These are a great option for those new to using trekking poles.Read more
These poles have a telescopic adjustable length that ranges from 24 to 53 inches. Users find the adjustable bolt locks easy to use.
Made from Aluminum 7505, these poles are slightly heavier but more durable than those of carbon fiber.
Extended EVA foam grips are made to appear like cork but have the softness and durability of foam. Most users agree they are a comfortable size and material.
These poles weigh 9.6 ounces each.
These poles feature wrist straps.
The price tag is fairly low compared to many trekking poles. However, despite the strong aluminum build, some users find the durability to be a bit lacking. A few users noted bending with normal vertical pressure while a few others have complained about the tips breaking and being difficult to replace.
7. TheFitLife Nordic
- 100% Carbon Fiber
- Comfortable design grip
- Not suited for high intensity hiking
When you are looking for a good set of trekking poles for your outings, TheFitLife Nordic is a great place to start. These poles are basic in design and not too fancy or flashy but they are a great option for beginners or as a back up everyday use set for the more experienced trekkers out there.Read more
TheFitLife Nordic poles are adjustable and can be set to the height that works best for you which is a must-have in a good set of trekking poles.
These poles are designed with comfortable hand grips and adjustable wrist straps. The lightweight design is stylish and basic but does what it is supposed to do and does it well hour after hour.
The adjustability of the TheFitLife Nordic can take it for 26 inches all the way to 53 inches. With adjustability like that, it is easy to see why they are a popular choice for trekkers of all shapes and sizes and experience levels.
The poles weigh just over a pound and are easy to take along with you anywhere you want to go. You can pull them out and adjust them to whatever height you need without a lot of trouble and hassle.
The TheFitLife Nordic trekking poles are good for all skill levels and are made for men and women alike. Their lightweight design, comfortable grips, shock absorbing tips, and overall stylish design make them a popular choice for trekkers everywhere.
8. Cascade Mountain
Easy to adjust on the go
Some durability issues reported
Aluminum composition can dent easily
The Cascade Mountain trekking poles are a great choice for anyone who enjoys this kind of workout. If you are looking for new gear or an upgrade to what you currently have then these are great poles to consider.Read more
The Cascade Mountain poles are designed for trekking and use over long distances for long periods of time. They are lightweight at less than a pound each and can be set to any height ranging from 26”- 54” for a fully customized experience.
These trekking poles are simple in design but are made to last. Users love the grips on the handles ad the quick and easy way they can be adjusted on the go!
The telescoping action of the Cascade Mountain trekking poles is one of its biggest selling pints and gives users a wide range of custom heights so finding the perfect set up for your needs is easier than ever.
Lightweight yet durable, these poles are made to last and are great for beginners and hobbyist as well as more experienced trekkers.
You get several replacement parts and a handy carrying bag when you buy the Cascade Mountain trekking poles. These poles are very affordable and are a popular choice for a beginner looking to get started with their own trekking adventure.
- Cork grips
- Not the highest quality
The Foxelli trekking poles are an inexpensive option for those seeking carbon fiber poles. They are highly rated by users for the compact and lightweight design. The locking mechanisms seem to hold up better than many of the lower cost options but the carbon fiber shafts are prone to breakage.Read more
These retractable poles can be adjusted from 24 to 55 inches.
The shaft is made of 100% carbon fiber material.
All natural cork grips are great for wicking away moisture. Soft EVA foam extends beneath the grips as well.
Weighing in at just 7 ounces each, these poles are some of the lightest weight poles on the market.
These poles do have wrist straps and can be fitted with alternative tips.
These poles are very inexpensive, about half the price of some of the better-known brands. However, they do not seem to be as reliable and a few users noted issues with them breaking under little stress.
10. Alpine Summit
- Aluminum construction
- Cork and EVA handles
- Anti-shock springs
- Spring system can be noisy
The Alpine Summit trekking poles are a great choice for someone who is looking for a basic set of trekking poles or who want a back up emergency pair on hand. These are also a decent option to consider for beginners as well.Read more
The Alpine Summit trekking poles are designed for long distance use and made to be lightweight yet durable and able to be used for hours on end. They are fully adjustable so it is easy to find the height that works right for you.
The natural cork grips on these poles are comfortable and are designed keep your hands dry all day which is a big deal when you are walking around in the snow and ice for hours at a time.
Quick Fliplocks make the Alpine Summit trekking poles easy to adjust. You can set the height anywhere that you want from 25 to 53 inches. These pols are perfect for everyone from the short to tall.
Lightweight yet durable, these poles weigh up to 4 ounces less than many other trekking poles on the market. This is a big difference considering you will be taking thousands of steps by the time you are done with your day’s trek.
The Alpine Summit trekking poles are good for use on a wide range of terrain with the tungsten-tipped ends, removable anti-shock rubber tips, mud/snow combo baskets, and carrying bag.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Trekking poles are available in adjustable and fixed length varieties.
Having adjustable length is ideal if you are planning to share poles with a partner. However, many avid hikers also prefer to vary the length of different parts of the hike. Some find having shorter poles less cumbersome on the ascent and longer poles more supportive during descent. If you are new to using hiking poles, having an adjustable height is helpful, as you can test out different lengths to find where you are most comfortable. The biggest downfall of adjustable poles is the stability of the locking mechanism. Based on many trekking pole reviews, we found that the locking mechanism malfunctioning is much more common than the shafts themselves breaking. Some users find they are unable to retract the poles after a few hikes while others find the mechanism slipping and the poles collapsing as they apply pressure. Although there are a few options with reliable locking mechanisms, fixed length poles typically offer a bit more stability and support throughout your hike.
When it comes to finding a good style the shaft of the pole is the key feature to consider.
The shafts of hiking poles are typically made from two materials: aluminum and carbon composite. Aluminum poles tend to be slightly heavier but are often less expensive. They are also very durable. Aluminum may be prone to bending under a lot of pressure but are unlikely to break. Poles that feature carbon are usually a bit lighter in weight but will typically cost a bit more. Carbon fiber resists bending more than aluminum and is extremely durable when pressure is applied down the shaft. Unfortunately, carbon fiber has a tendency to break or splinter with lateral pressure which may occur when falling or even just knocking it against a rock.
Grip comfort and the ability to adjust how the pole is used is a big factor, particularly for those planning long journeys.
Hiking pole grips can be made of a variety of materials to benefit hikers in different situations. Cork is one of the most common materials used as it is naturally lightweight, absorbs some shock and resists moisture. Moisture from sweaty palms can lead to blisters, so cork is a great option for hot weather hiking. Rubber, on the other hand, is ideal for cold weather as it insulates hands against the cold and vibrations from the ground. It does nothing to wick away moisture, making blisters a higher possibility if you are not wearing gloves. Foam is another great option for warm weather hikes as it absorbs moisture. Foam is also easily contoured and feels softest in the hand. Unlike cork and rubber, it does not absorb much shock on its own so you may feel the vibrations traveling up the poles when hitting hard ground.
In many poles, you will find additional innovations for making the grips more comfortable and easy to use. The most common addition is an extended foam grip below the main grip that allows you to choke up on the pole during switchbacks. Some of the more sophisticated poles will also offer grips that are shaped to the contours of the hand or have a slight positive angle for improved wrist ergonomics.
Weight is an obvious concern for backpackers and travelers who take pains to limit every ounce that goes into their pack.
However, even when planning to hold your hiking poles for the entire hike, weight can be an important factor. The constant carrying and swinging of the poles can lead to arm fatigue when the weight is too heavy or even just unbalanced. Heavier poles will still do their job in taking pressure off the joints in the lower body but they may be more burdensome to carry with you. The shaft material is typically the biggest factor when it comes to weight, however, grip composition, locking mechanisms, tips, and accessories can also contribute a significant amount to the weight and balance of your pole. The balance of these components is often where more expensive poles outshine your budget brands.
Additional features are an important consideration when choosing hiking poles.
This is is another area, where the high-end poles seem to diverge from the basic budget brands. Standard hiking poles will help with balance and take pressure off the joints but some poles also offer springs that help to absorb shock. Other helpful features include wrist straps to help you keep track or your poles in a scramble as well as interchangeable tips to suit any terrain. Tips are often the first things wear down on any hiking pole so having the ability to replace your tips may extend the life of your poles by years. Finally, some poles are designed with packing in mind, so features such as folding or even telescoping to a very small size can be very beneficial when taking your poles on a trip.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
The wrist straps not only stop you from dropping your trekking pole is you lose your grip but it offers additional support. You should always place your hand up through the bottom of strap and not down through the top. This gives you extra support.
Use your trekking poles to probe water depth this will help you avoid stepping in too deep of water and will also tell you the firmness of the bottom.
Other Factors to Consider
Trekking poles range in price from $20 to well over $200. With such a difference in price, it is important to consider what you are getting with basic, inexpensive poles and what features may be worth paying extra for. To help you make these decisions, we broke it down into the following criteria. There are some very affordable options available that provide great basic support for low-intensity usage. However, the more expensive models have added innovations and higher quality components that may make them worth the investment for avid hikers or those in need of truly reliable support.
Adjustable vs Fixed Length
Adjustable poles are very convenient if you are unsure what size to get or if you plan on adjusting the length for ascent and descent or to share with a partner. However, if you are set on your pole length and don’t plan to adjust, fixed length poles can offer a bit more stability and the absence of locking mechanisms reduces the weight and possibility of malfunction.
Trekking poles can benefit hikers and walkers of all skill levels and ages. Many lifetime hikers turn to trekking poles to take some pressure off their joints after years of wear and tear. Many individuals with troubled balance also choose hiking poles as a more agile alternative to canes and walkers. Then others opt for poles to carry through their hikes or trips for use during challenging descents or even creek crossings. Consider what your objective is when purchasing these poles to determine what the most important feature may be to you. Those putting their poles through rugged terrain and harsh conditions may consider paying more for some tougher poles and hardware. While those just looking for a bit of assistance on lower intensity walks may find the more basic (and less expensive) poles are more than satisfactory.
The terrain you are hiking in is another important factor when choosing your poles. Most poles work great on well-groomed trails and pavement. If you know you will be walking mostly on pavement or you will be using your poles on steep descents, then look for poles that help absorb shock through springs and rubber or cork grips. If you are putting your poles through rugged terrain and think they are likely to take a beating, consider investing in more durable poles that can take some abuse. Consider the weather you are planning to hike in. Grip type and varying tips can make quite a difference in comfort and stability when you are trekking through the snow versus hiking in the desert.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How long do my trekking poles or hiking staff need to be?
To properly use these walking aids you want to have a 90-degree bend in your elbow when the pole tips are touching the ground. If you are over 6ft tall you will want poles that reach at least 51 in or 31 cm.
q: What are the different tips for?
Most poles come with hard metal or carbide tips which provide more traction when used on dirt trails or snow. However, these tips can leave marks and suffer damage when used on hard surfaces such as rock or pavement. Rubber tips are used to protect your carbide tips and can help lessen the vibrations and noise of metal tips against hard surfaces. Additionally, most poles can be used with baskets. These work like a collar that sits just above the tip of your pole and prevents it from sinking too deeply into snow or sand.
q: I want to start hiking to help with my recovery from a physical injury. Are trekking poles a good option for me?
Absolutely! Trekking poles and hiking staffs can definitely help those who deal with back, hip, and leg issues or those who want to ease the pressure on their body long-term. The extra stability and support can reduce strain and, in tandem with casual hiking or walking, can help with posture, muscle strength, and mobility.
If you’re looking into hiking or walking to help recovery from an injury or as a form of physical therapy, consult your doctor or physical therapist to make sure that this type of activity is right for you. They can help you set goals, choose the best type of activity, and advise on whether trekking poles are right for you.
q: How should I care for my trekking poles?
As with any good investment you want to take care of it and treat it well. When you are not using your trekking poles make sure they are properly stored and put away so they are not damaged. While you are out using them be sure to adhere to any guidelines and instructions included with your poles. As a general rule, inspect the before and after each outing to look for signs of wear and tear or damage. Also, know what your poles are designed for and what terrain they are suited for. Using them in the wrong place at the wrong time can also damage them.