Best Trekking Poles – Reviews and Guide 2020

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Last Update: 25.Mar.2020

Best Choice Go to Amazon Shop

Leki Micro Vario Carbon

Ideal for ounce-counting and space-saving hikers and mountaineers, LEKI Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles offer ultra-lightweight (16.9 oz/per pair) adjustable performance in pack-friendly dimensions. Incorporating an ergonomic angle that preserves a natural position for your wrists lightweight Aergon Thermo Long grips have an ovoid shape that can be palmed or held traditionally.
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Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork

Reliable and high-performing in all the ways you need them to be, these poles feature a natural cork grip that delivers a soft feel against your hand, as well as sweat-wicking performance that'll remove discomfort as a factor on warm days. There's also an extended foam grip for those times when you have to hoof it up steep and technical terrain.

by Willie Test

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Last Update: 25.Mar.2020

Trekking poles are a hiker’s best friend when in the mountains. These nifty metal poles can help your knees on a long downhill hike, keep you in balance, and make you more efficient on those burly uphill climbs.

Thanks to trekking poles, many hikers found the joy of the mountains with reduced knee pain, staying vigorous throughout the day. That being said, with so many different trekking poles out there, it can be challenging to find the pair that’s right for you.

To help you get started, we’ve put together the ultimate guide on choosing trekking poles for your next adventure. Further, we’ll discuss the advantages of trekking poles, their types and what you should be looking for in the top-rated trekking poles on the market. We’ll even answer some of the most common questions we get about trekking poles so you can be more knowledgeable and informed when shopping around.

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork

Enjoy miles of blissed-out trekking every season of the year with the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork trekking poles.
Reliable and high-performing in all the ways you need them to be, these poles feature a natural cork grip that delivers a soft feel against your hand, as well as sweat-wicking performance that'll remove discomfort as a factor on warm days. There's also an extended foam grip for those times when you have to hoof it up steep and technical terrain.
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Hiking

Shaft Construction

Aluminum

Grip Material

Cork

Adjustable

Yes

Locking Mechanism

External Lever Lock

Weight (Pair)

1 lb. 2 oz.

Gender

Unisex

Maximum Length (in.)

55 inches

Minimum Length (in.)

27 inches

Collapsed Length (in.)

27 inches

Maximum Length (cm)

140 centimeters

Minimum Length (cm)

69 centimeters

Collapsed Length (cm)

69 centimeters

Pros

Ergonomic, natural cork

Dual FlickLock adjustability

Interchangeable carbide Tech Tips

Cons

A bit longer when folded than other trekking poles

Leki Micro Vario Carbon

Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles use the SpeedLock2 adjustment system and an ELD release mechanism for an even friendlier knockdown and lockout experience when hiking.
Ideal for ounce-counting and space-saving hikers and mountaineers, LEKI Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles offer ultra-lightweight (16.9 oz/per pair) adjustable performance in pack-friendly dimensions. Incorporating an ergonomic angle that preserves a natural position for your wrists lightweight Aergon Thermo Long grips have an ovoid shape that can be palmed or held traditionally.
Go to Amazon Shop
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Hiking

Shaft Construction

High modulus carbon

Grip Material

Foam

Adjustable

Yes

Ultralight

Yes

Locking Mechanism

External Lever Lock

Weight (Pair)

1 lb. 0.9 oz.

Gender

Unisex

Maximum Length (in.)

54 inches

Minimum Length (in.)

44 inches

Collapsed Length (in.)

15 inches

Maximum Length (cm)

130 centimeters

Minimum Length (cm)

110 centimeters

Collapsed Length (cm)

38 centimeters

Pros

Ultralight carbon

SpeedLock2 system makes length adjustments quick

Air-textured wrist straps wick away moisture and dry quickly

Includes travel bag

Cons

Short range of adjustability

REI Co-op Flash Carbon

Ideal for quick-moving trips along troublesome trails, the REI Flash Carbon trekking poles boast lightweight design, easily adjustable length and versatile grips
The REI Co-op Flash Carbon is a lightweight and inexpensive carbon pole. It allows the user an affordable price point and makes it easier on the wallet in terms of breaking into the carbon fiber design realm.
Go to Amazon Shopa
  • Technical specs

Best Use

Backpacking, Hiking

Shaft Construction

Carbon upper and lower

Grip Material

Foam

Adjustable

Yes

Ultralight

Yes

Locking Mechanism

External Lever Lock

Weight (Pair)

14.8 ounces

Gender

Unisex

Maximum Length (in.)

55

Minimum Length (in.)

41

Collapsed Length (in.)

27

Maximum Length (cm)

140

Minimum Length (cm)

105

Collapsed Length (cm)

69

Pros

Inexpensive

Lightweight carbon design

REI exclusive grips

Low-profile Powerlock 3.0 enables easy adjustments while out on the trail

Cons

Foam grips left much desired

Thin carbon lacks durability

Advantages of Using Trekking Poles

The funny thing about trekking poles is that until about a decade ago, you’d rarely see them out on the trail. For decades, dedicated hikers eschewed trekking poles, calling them a useless and expensive piece of gear that got in the way more than it helped. However, new research and changing trends in hiking demographics have led to the proliferation of the trekking pole in the outdoor world.

These days, you’re likely to see more hikers on the trail with trekking poles than without them. So, what are the advantages of using trekking poles, you might ask? Here are a few:

Increased Efficiency

When you use trekking poles, you become a more efficient walker. Without trekking poles, all of your propulsion in walking comes from your legs. However, with trekking poles, you can engage your arms and your core to help you move more efficiently uphill. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll move faster, it will make things easier on your body.

Decreased Impact

Any avid hiker understands the pain and suffering that can accompany a long downhill section of a hike. All too often, we place way too much pressure on our knees and hips as we stomp our way downhill at the end of a peak ascent or a long day int the mountains.

When we walk without hiking poles, our knees and hips take the full brunt of the impact with every step we take. With trekking poles, however, we can disperse some of the impact away from our knees and hips by absorbing some of the shock with our arms. Anyone who frequently hikes with a heavy pack can stand to benefit from the shock-absorbing properties of trekking poles.

Better Balance

Four points of contact with the ground are more stable than two, so it stands to reason that trekking poles help you with your balance as you hike. When you traverse over bouldery, slippery, or loose terrain, trekking poles can help you stay upright and stable. Plus, using trekking poles can act a lot like a mental support as you often feel more secure traversing exposed terrain with two extra points of contact.

Bushwhack with Ease

When you carry around trekking poles, you can easily push aside trees, bushes, spider webs as you walk. They can also help you get through shrubbery of dense forests, get a better look at the trail or the path ahead.

Pitching a Tent or a Tarp

While trekking poles are incredibly useful on the trail, they don’t go to waste in camp, either. Most trekking poles are super convenient for pitching tarps and acting as stakes for a tent in a bind. Plus, many ultralight tent designs rely on trekking poles to be used as their support system, thus cutting weight in your pack.

Trekking Pole Types: Telescoping, Folding, and Fixed

When you start shopping for trekking poles, you’ll quickly notice that there are a number of different models out there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s review some of the most common trekking pole types here:

Telescoping

Telescoping trekking poles are by far the most common poles out there. This type of trekking pole is built to have two or three sections, each of which collapses into each other for compact storage.

The main advantage of telescoping poles is that they are adjustable, which is great for use in different situations. Usually, you want your trekking poles to be slightly longer on the uphill and slightly shorter on the downhill to make you more efficient as you walk. Telescoping poles make this easy to do.

However, telescoping poles tend to be the heaviest poles out there because they need to have multiple locking systems to keep the different sections in place as you walk. Although you can get ultralight trekking poles in the telescoping style, they aren’t usually as light as the other options.

Folding

Folding trekking poles do exactly what you might think: they fold. Thanks to new trekking pole technology, some companies have started making fixed-length trekking poles that fold into smaller pieces for easy storage.

Some of the best ultralight trekking poles are made in the folding model as their fixed length often makes them lighter than their telescoping cousins. However, folding poles tend to break more often than other options, so they require a bit more care when in use.

Fixed

Fixed poles neither fold nor collapse into a smaller size for storage, which is one of their main drawbacks. However, thanks to their design, fixed hiking poles tend to be some of the best lightweight trekking poles because they have no folding or telescoping systems to add weight.

What to Look For When Buying Trekking Poles

Although trekking poles may all look similar to the untrained eye, there’s actually quite a lot of technology that goes into making the best walking sticks for hiking. So, when you’re out shopping for the best hiking sticks, here are some things to keep in mind:

Shaft Materials

The materials used to make trekking poles directly correlate with their weight and durability. That being said, there are two main materials used to make trekking pole shafts: aluminum and carbon fiber.

Aluminum is the original trekking pole material, chosen for its good mix of durability and reasonably lightweight. While aluminum isn’t the lightest material around (especially when compared to carbon fiber), it is much less likely to break and is much more affordable.

Carbon fiber, on the other hand, tends to be found in the best ultralight trekking poles. This material made waves when it first arrived in the trekking pole world because it allows hiking poles to be much lighter than they used to. However, this light weight comes at the cost of both decreased durability and increased price.

Locking Mechanisms

When you buy a pair of telescoping poles, you’ll have to choose between a number of different locking mechanisms. While each company makes its own locking mechanism, they come in two main types: twist and lever-action.

Twisting locking mechanisms require (surprise!) that you twist a lock to secure the pole in a specific position. These are easy to use and are found on the cheapest poles, but they tend to be less secure and less durable than the lever-action alternative.

Lever-action locking mechanisms are often the best choice for trekking poles. are tThey are tend to be more durable and easier to use in dusty environments. While lever-action poles can break, they are often fairly easy to fix in the field with the right tools.

Trekking Pole Grip Construction

Trekking pole handles are of the utmost importance because an uncomfortable handle can make for a bad trekking pole experience. Trekking pole grips come in a number of different styles, though most use some form of rubber, foam, or cork as their base material.

Rubber is the cheapest handle option for trekking poles thanks to their heavy weight, but it is often the least comfortable. They can feel warm and sweaty on a hot day, but since they don’t absorb any water, they are preferable on a rainy day.

Foam trekking pole handles are more comfortable and lighter than the rubber alternative but tend to cost slightly more. Finally, we have the cork handle, which is considered the gold standard in the world of trekking poles. You’ll certainly pay a pretty penny for cork grips on your trekking poles, but you won’t be disappointed with their incredibly light weight, comfort, and quality.

Weight

Since you have to carry trekking poles in your hands, the last thing you want is to lug around a set of bricks. Thus, whenever we buy trekking poles, we need to keep weight in mind. The lightest trekking poles are going to be made of carbon fiber with cork grips, but these will be pretty darn expensive and not very durable.

On the other hand, the heaviest poles will be aluminum with rubber grips, which will be durable and cheap. Thus, it really comes down to what you value in your trekking poles.

Packed Size

If you ever have to carry your trekking poles on your back, you’ll prefer to have a pair of poles that collapse down to a small packed size. For the most part, folding trekking poles will be the most compact, with three-piece telescoping poles following in a close second. Two-piece telescoping poles and fixed-length poles usually have a pretty large packed size, which can be a drawback in certain contexts.

Durability

The durability of a trekking pole comes almost exclusively from the materials it’s made with. As we’ve mentioned, rubber grips and aluminum shafts are the most durable materials for trekking poles, so if this is a matter of concern for you, pick a model with these materials, as opposed to the lightweight carbon fiber and cork options.

Shock-Absorbing Poles

Some poles are designed with an integrated spring to help absorb shock in your elbows as you walk. Depending on your needs, shock-absorbing poles may be a good investment, but expect to pay more for this luxury. Plus, shock-absorbing poles are almost always heavier than other options.

Conclusion

Ultimately, trekking poles are a great addition to any hiking gear list. From increased stability to decreased pressure on your knees, the best trekking poles can be awesome out on the trail. That being said, be sure to take the time to research the trekking poles that are right for you, so you can get the pair that meets your needs. Happy hiking!

 

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