11 Best Trekking Poles Fully Reviewed
Many lifelong hikers know about the great benefits of using trekking poles, but with the ever-advancing innovation in outdoor gear trekking poles are looking better than ever. For serious hikers and outdoors enthusiasts, they are an easy way to increase stability on the trail and relieve pressure from joints in the lower body. They are helpful for backpackers carrying a heavy load and people who have prior injuries or issues with their ankles, knees, and hips. If you’re a lifelong hiker yourself or plan on spending your years hitting the trail they can prevent falls and issues down the road, particularly for runners whose knees and ankles take a regular beating.
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 trekking poles. Investing in trekking poles doesn’t have to be a burden and there are plenty of accessible options available that can fit the budget of even the most thrifty backpacker. If you’re not entirely convinced, 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!
- Black Diamond Distance Z
- Leki Corklite
- Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
- Extends to 55 inches
11 Best Trekking Poles
1. Black Diamond Distance Z
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.
- Foldable for easy packing
- Quick and easy to extend
- Interchangeable tips for varying terrain
- Length is not adjustable
- Abrasive wrist straps
2. Leki Corklite
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.
- Very durable
- High quality locking mechanisms
- Signature cork and rubber grips provide excellent comfort
- Shock absorbing technology
- A bit expensive for aluminum
3. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
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.
- Cork grips wick moisture and absorb shock
- Extend to 55 inches
- Locking mechanism does not slip
- Longer collapsed length
Kelty Range 2.0
The full length of these poles extends to 135cm (53in) and the minimum size is 69cm (27in).
The shaft is made from series 6061 anodized aluminum.
The all-weather grips on these Kelty poles are made from cork and EVA foam to prevent slippage and provide comfort
The total weight measures out to 571g (20 oz).
These have anti-shock springs and carbide tips so you can confidently plant your pole and not worry about slipping or discomfort. To set the length you use a twist lock mechanism which, unfortunately, may be a little more difficult to manage while you’re hiking, especially in less than ideal weather. The padded wrist straps add a little more stability.
These poles settle in the low-cost range compared to most trekking poles but are pretty comparable to other options on our list. The anti-shock springs and durable carbide tips are just the additions you need for this to be a reliable investment.
- 6061 Aluminum construction
- Cork and EVA handles
- Anti-shock springs
- Non-slip carbide tips
- Padded wrist straps
- Anti-shock does not lock
- Twist lock mechanism
- Spring system can be noisy
4. Leki Micro Vario Cor Tec
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.
- Folds down to 14 inches
- Exchangeable carbide tips
- Durable design
- Comfortable wrist straps
5. TrailBuddy Trekking Poles
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.
- 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
6. Montem Ultra Strong
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.
- Comfortable foam grips
- Sturdy build
- Adjustable size
- Not the most durable components
7. Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber
Quick flip locking mechanism makes these easy to adjust with the length ranging from 24 to 54 inches.
The lightweight shafts are composed of 100% carbon fiber. This design is durable with vertical pressure but may be susceptible to breakage when lateral pressure is applied.
These poles have a cork grip with foam EVA extension grip below. This grip extension is helpful in steep terrain and switchbacks.
Lightweight, carbon-fiber shafts make these poles only 7.6 ounces.
These poles collapse down to 24 inches to make for easy storage.
These poles are a good mid-range option. About double the price of budget aluminum poles but still almost half the cost of the higher end. They do not seem to hold up well to high intensity use but for those in need of lightweight support on mild terrain, these provide comparable support for half the price.
- 100% Carbon Fiber
- Cork and EVA grip
- Not suited for high intensity hiking
8. BAFX Products
These telescopic poles range in length from 26.5 to 53 inches. The locking mechanism works well for moderate use but users find it begins to slip when full weight is placed on it.
The shafts are made of durable but lightweight aluminum
Rubber contoured and ribbed grips are easy to hang onto but can cause a bit of friction on longer hikes in the heat.
These poles are a bit heavier, weighing in at 12 ounces each.
Unusual for budget poles, these poles contain springs for added shock absorption. They also come with carbide tips and exchangeable rubber tips.
These are some of the least expensive poles out there. While there may be some quality issues with the locking mechanism, the price is still great to help ease pressure on the joints.
- Springs for shock absorption
- Very inexpensive
- Carbide tips
- Not the most durable design
- Longer collapsed length
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.
- Cork grips
- Not the highest quality
These telescopic poles can range from 25 to 53 inches and are easily adjusted with the flip lock mechanism.
These poles are made up of aluminum 7075.
EVA foam grips have an ergonomic design and wrist straps to make them comfortable and easy to use.
These poles are fairly lightweight at only 8.7 ounces each. Some users find them to be a bit top heavy.
They come with alternative tips for easy hiking on a variety of terrains. These poles also collapse down to 25 inches for easier storage and packing.
These poles are very inexpensive when compared to others on the market. The aluminum shaft feels very durable but some users note issues with the rubber tips breaking or the locking mechanism dysfunctioning.
- Easy to adjust
- Some quality issues with locking mechanism
- A little top heavy
The Metrics We Used to Determine the Best Trekking Poles
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.
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.
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 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.
Price ranges widely on trekking poles. 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.
Other Things to Consider
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.
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.
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.
Q: How long do my trekking poles or hiking staff need to be?
A: 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?
A: 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.
- How to Choose Hiking Poles and Trekking Sticks, Web Page, ,