Best Trekking Poles Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker, or just starting out, having the right trekking poles can be crucial to your hike! Trekking poles are one of the most essential equipment you will need as a hiker. When considering trekking poles, you should know that there are many benefits to hiking and walking with them. They can help to provide stability and great balance! Hiking uphill and downhill while carrying a heavy backpack can be tricky, without trekking poles to help keep you balanced! They also will help keep your traction in mud and snow, leaving less chance for a fall and injury.
After researching and reviews I have found that trekking poles provide a greater level of comfort by moving some of the pressure to your arms and back, making hiking a lot easier on your other joints, such as your knees, hips, and ankles. Moving some of the pressure on your arms and back will also provide a full body workout! Steep hills, or flat land, trekking poles will also help to improve your hiking speed, by helping you establish and maintain a rhythm. They are also handy to have in case you have an encounter with a wild animal, or want to use them to move brush out of your way, especially those picky bushes!
- Hiker Hunger 100% Carbon
- Montem Ultra Strong
- Black Diamond Trail Ergo
- Optimal Grip
Some Poles are collapsible and lightweight, making them a breeze to bring along, even if you aren’t sure you will need them! Being much lighter than tent poles, you could use them to build your overnight shelter. They are also stronger than tent poles, providing better protection from strong winds. There are so many different brands and models of trekking poles out there, which can seem overwhelming to search through, especially to newcomers. This guide will effortlessly take you through the top rated trekking poles on the market today, and lead you to your perfect fit!
10 Best Trekking Poles
1. Hiker Hunger 100% Carbon
Take them on any adventure! They can be easily stored in a backpack when they are not being used. Opening and closing them is simple, and easy for anyone to do!
When changing trail surfaces it's important to have the right tips for the right traction! This product comes with Tungsten Carbide Tips, rubber tips, and rubber feet!
Cost and Value
Specifically designed to hike or walk just about any terrain, these poles seem to be a great value for their price, considering its about an average price for trekking poles. Throw in the fact that it comes with the interchangeable tips, nice bonus!
- Collapsible for easy storage
- Interchangeable tips
- Company provides great customer service
- Multi purpose for Camping while hiking
- Easy to use
- Can cause damage to trail
- Tips can fall off and get lost
2. Montem Ultra Strong
Dropping your polls is something you will never have to fear again! Nylon straps take these poles to another level, providing a safer way to walk or hike
Strong and Compact
Made with the aircraft aluminum, these polls are strong and will not snap! Its hard not to rave about the strength and durability of these poles!
Cost and Value
Getting more bang for your buck is an understatement when it comes to these ultra strong trekking poles! These are super budget friendly compared to other top rated trekking poles and are highly rated among users!
- Strong, made with aircraft aluminum
- One year manufacturer warranty
- Comes with clip to store poles together
- Carbide tip
- Manufacturer provides great customer service
- Carbide tips are not replaceable
- Poles sometimes rattle
3. Black Diamond Trail Ergo
Have a comfortable grip on your poles can make or break your trip! This product comes with a cork handle, at a 15 degree corrective angle! Its know to provide the ultimate comfort for gripping!
Don't be fooled by the lightweight design of the Trail Ergo! It's very versatile for all seasons. Along with hiking, these polls are popular for snowshoeing and using off trails!
Cost and Value
While this product is a little more steep in price than others, it does have some great features that definitely add up! Especially if you have ever struggled with finding trekking poles with a comfortable grip! Comfort is priceless!
- Most comfortable grip
- Lightweight and easy to store
- Has double flick locks
- Cork Grip helps to wick away sweat
- Easy to use
- Does not include rubber tips
- Not as compact as other poles
4. Cascade Mountain Tech
The quick locking mechanism makes it very easy to adjust the height of your polls while on your hike. If your about to head uphill or downhill, you can quickly adjust them, with ease!
Choose your handles
While lots would rave about cork handles, they aren't for everyone! The nice thing about these polls is you have the option to choose between foam handles or cork handles.
Cost and Value
This is one of the best priced set of trekking poles on this list! With Great reviews on durability and dependability you really can't go wrong with trying these out!
- Made with 100% Carbon fiber
- Built in anti shock system
- Comes with a lot of accessories
- Great Grip
- Carbon can shatter with rough treatment
- Heavier than other trekking poles
5. TheFitLife NordicTrekking
These trekking poles are designed with an antishock system, that will help to absorb any force put on them, being that they are made out of a very strong aviation aluminum.
Made of Aviation Aluminum
If you are looking for a tough trekking pole, resistant to impact, look no farther. These polls are crafted from aviation aluminum, making them some of the strongest pole out there!
Cost and Value
These hiking poles, are some of the most affordable poles out there. A great price point for newcomers who want to try walking/trekking poles, without the risk of losing a lot of money.
- 100% money back guarantee
- Has anti skid mechanism
- Can help relieve joint pain
- Interchangeable tips
- Polls feature quick lock
- You should have maybe 2 cons
- Strap is prone to coming loose
6. Foxelli Trekking Poles
Weighing in at just 7 ounces per pole, the two combined weigh in at less than a pound! Very lightweight for such a strong product! Perhaps one of the lightest trekking poles on the market!
Conforming Cork Handle
The grip handle, being made of natural cork, conforms to your hand after a short period of time, fitting like a glove! Being natural cork, it also helps to cool your hand and is sweat resistant!
Cost and Value
Foxelli Trekking poles have a great price point being right around the average price of any set of good poles! WIth some of its great features, it seems like you will definitely be happy with what you are getting for such a great price!
- 3 year warranty
- Comes with carrying case
- Easily adjustable
- Money Back Guarantee
- Does not have anti shock absorbtion
- Locking mechanism can be tricky
7. Evocrest Carbon Fiber
These lightweight trekking sticks are very versatile! The two poles combined weigh less than one pound combined, but don't let that fool you, due to their tough aluminum material they are very strong poles!
These poles can adjust from 24 inches to 54 inches which makes them very versatile for different types of walks and hikes! They fold up nicely to fit in their bag or any backpack.
Cost and Value
These trekking poles are one of the highest quality products you will find at its very budget friendly price! Its slightly cheaper than some of the average priced polls, with most of the same great features!
- 2 year manufacturer warranty
- Comes with carrying case
- Comfortable cork grip handles
- Easily adjustable
- Shock absorbant
- Tips can easily dislodge
- Straps are hard to adjust
8. Cascade Mountain
Cascade Mountain offers a quick lock feature that users are raving about! Not only is it very reliable, but it makes adjusting your pole much faster and much easier!
These poles come with grip extensions, allowing you to adjust the grip for your own comfort! They also allow more variety for hand positions, taking these trekking poles to a whole new level!
Cost and Value
Being that these trekking poles are some of the lowest prices we have found, the cost is great! You definitely get more than what you pay for with these poles!!
- Tungsten carbide tips
- EVA foam and Cork grip handles
- Manufacturer offers warranty
- Made from aircraft aluminum
- No shock absorption
- They have a combined weight of 1.5 pounds
9. Carbofox Carbon
Don't let the fear of not liking them stop you from ordering! If your unhappy with these poles for any reason the manufacturer offers a 30 day money back guarantee!
Bear Extra Weight
Carbofox tests all their poles with extreme pressure in their lab before selling them! These strong polls are made to support you, and whatever you bring with!
Cost and Value
Coming in at an average price for trekking poles, these poles are worth it! They have great features, prove to be strong, and are still affordable.
- Easy to adjust
- Great Traction Replacement
- Very Light in Weight
- Grips can come loose
10. Mountainsmith Carbonlite
Is that even a word? Apparently it is and it's very cool! These polls were made with carbon fand 7075 aluminum providing a very strong pole that is very light weight!
Anti Shock System
The Carbonlite Pro trekking poles come equipped with a spring loaded anti shock system. This is a great feature that not all other poles have to offer!
Cost and Value
These tend to be slightly higher than the average set of trekking poles but with the carbonaluminum material, and other great features it seems that these polls may be worth the slightly higher investment.
- Compact, folding into 3 sections
- Versatile for any type of hike
- Twist lock double cam adjustment
- Easy to use
- Slightly higher price point
- Straps can get in the way
Above you have 10 great products that are sure to take you on any type of hike or walk you desire! Whether it be just down a couple city blocks, or up a steep mountain you have great options from which to choose! From carbon fiber to aluminum, slide locks to click locks, there are just so many different options for shoppers!! Shopping for the right poles for you could seem intimidating with all the options out there. Remember the key features to look for based on your needs! For avid hikers, choosing polls with an antishock system may be best! It’s important to find the right polls for you so that your walk or hike can be as comfortable and enjoyable as possible! It’s also important to keep your budget in mind. There are great options in each price range! Having such options makes hiking and walking with trekking poles an option for anyone!
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Trekking Poles
Trekking Pole Length
Choosing a properly sized trekking pole will not only help you maximize your treks but will help you to stay safe while on the trail. A properly fitted pole will place your elbows at a 90-degree angle while you’re holding the poles with the tips on the ground.
Trekking poles come in adjustable lengths or in fixed lengths. Adjustable options offer the hiker the ability to adjust the height of the pole to account for different types of terrain. A shorter pole will aid in uphill sections of the trail while longer pole lengths will help when it comes time to go downhill. Fixed length poles are comprised of fewer parts and mechanisms which make them a more lightweight option for hikers who want some stability and balance without too much added weight.
If you’re worried about choosing the wrong length of the pole, the adjustable poles might be a desirable option so that one can use trial and error to find the right size. It’s recommended if you’re taller than 6’ to choose a trekking pole that is at least 51 inches tall. If you’re shorter than that, you should be able to adapt most adjustable poles to make them work for you.
If you choose to purchase a fixed-length pole, follow these general guidelines for choosing a length that’s right for you:
If you’re under 5’1” – 39-inch pole length
If you’re 5’1” to 5’7” – 43-inch pole length
If you’re 5’8” to 5’11” – 47-inch pole length
If you’re 6’ and taller – 51-inch pole length
The makeup of the pole shaft will largely determine the overall weight of the pole.
The most common material used to make trekking poles is aluminum. They tend to be the most durable and cheapest options on the market. That said, however, aluminum does tend to bend under very high stress but is unlikely to break. It is also easy to bend it back into shape if it’s been bent. Aluminum will be a heavier option than carbon fiber, so that’s something to take into consideration if you’re sensitive to extra weight. It’s also important to note here that aluminum trekking poles are bound to cause more vibrations than carbon fibered poles because aluminum is not stiff like carbon fibers. Without shock absorbers on your poles, the vibrations may become annoying.
Another shaft material option is carbon fiber. This type of material is very lightweight and offers the user a bouncy feel. Carbon fiber also tends to absorb vibrations better than aluminum. That said, this material is more fragile. If carbon poles are subject to sharp edges or rough rocks, they’re likely to develop weak spots which make them more prone to break, where aluminum material is more likely to just bend. Another important thing to note about carbon fiber is that if they fail, it often comes on suddenly with a total and jagged break. Reports of broken carbon fiber trekking poles are more common in the ultra-light models.
It’s worthwhile to take into account the types of terrain you might be using your trekking poles on. If you tend to favor well-worn trails, carbon fiber would be an okay fit for you. If you are a bit on the wild side and often find yourself vaulting off of boulders and rocks or frequently leaning onto your poles, aluminum might offer you more of the durability you’re looking for.
Different Pole Designs
In addition to there being different pole length options on the market, there are also different styles as well.
The strongest and most durable design for trekking poles features a two-section telescoping mechanism. These are well-suited for winter activities like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing and a great option for people who have been known to be rough on their poles. They are often heavier than other pole designs and will take up more space than other options as well, making them less convenient for hikers or climbers who need something that can shrink to fit into their bags.
The most common type of trekking pole design is the three section telescoping pole. This type of pole usually folds down small enough to be conveniently strapped to a backpack or packed inside a suitcase. They are usually more lightweight than two section poles but aren’t made to be quite as durable. They do tend to last longer than folding poles (to be discussed later), though, and offer more adjustability that will suit the needs of hikers, backpackers or climbers.
Some poles are shock-absorbing. These poles feature springs inside that aid in shock absorption on downhill portions of the trail. Some poles that have the anti-shock mechanism offer the ability to turn off the feature when it’s not necessary, such as uphill portions. Though some people swear by shock absorbers, others find that this option is more of a gimmick than anything. Shock-absorption is a nice feature to have for hikers who have issues when their joints get jolted or for people with bad hips, knees or ankles.
Another popular trekking pole option is a “tentpole” style. These are the newest style of trekking poles. They featured a shock cord in the middle and fold up just like camping tent poles. They are among some of the most lightweight trekking pole options on the market but often aren’t as long-lasting as their telescoping counterparts. They are easy to pack, take up much less space in a backpack and are quick to maneuver, making them a great option for climbers.
All trekking poles feature a locking mechanism which helps to ensure the poles won’t slip in and out while they’re being used. This is to ensure safety on the trails as well as comfort and durability.
For poles that aren’t adjustable, they will lock and unlock so they’re extendable to full length for when you’re using them and collapsible when you’re storing them. Poles that are adjustable are similar, but their locking mechanisms often allow you to adjust the length of the interlocking sections. This allows the buyer to adjust the poles to their height as well as to the terrain.
Most trekking poles will feature one of four different locking mechanisms.
External lever locks are a clamp-like mechanism that is convenient to adjust on the go. The tendency for the pole to slip in the locked position is reduced using this type of locking mechanism. The downside of the clamp system is that they are a little bulky, which can become problematic when it becomes time to store the poles. They are a newer technology also, so poles with this feature can be a little more expensive than poles with other locking options.
Push-button locks are another type of locking mechanism featured in some trekking poles. This type of lock will snap into place and lock with one pull. There’s a push button present to release the lock and to collapse the poles.
Twist locks use an expander and screw system that has been said to be strong. However, twist locks are often prone to slipping, can be unreliable and not as durable as other locking mechanism options. They are also difficult to grip when you’re wearing gloves.
A fourth locking mechanism option is a combination lock. Some trekking poles use a combination of the above mechanisms to attempt to reach a balance between strength, lightweightedness, and accessibility. As an example, a trekking pole might feature the external lever lock on the upper part of the pole and a twist mechanism on the lower portion.
The shape of the pole handle helps to determine how comfortable the pole will be for the hiker. Some poles feature ergonomic grips with a 15-degree corrective angle. The purpose of this is to aid the trekker in walking in a neutral position to ensure they stay safe and pain-free on their adventures.
The grip can be made from many different types of materials.
Cork grips will shape to your hands through time and offers moisture-absorption for sweaty hands. This type of grip will also decrease the number of vibrations you feel as your poles strike the ground. Cork is chafing-resistant so it’s a great material option to choose if you plan to trek in warm weather and it also features natural antimicrobial properties to resist that smelliness that can often come over time.
Rubber grips offer the cold weather trekker more insulation than cork. They’re not as comfortable or conforming as cork grips, but they’re the most water-resistant which makes them a great companion for people who want to do their trekking in the winter months. They don’t hold up as well as a cork in warmer weather.
Another grip option is foam. This type is the lightest and the softest material to the touch. Foam grips will also help to wick moisture away from sweaty hands. It is also, however, the least durable of the three grip types listed here. Foam grips will lose their shape the quickest and break down the fastest of the other options.
The tips of trekking poles are typically made of carbide steel. This is because this type of material provides great traction, even on ice. Carbide is a more durable metal than aluminum so that’s something else to take into consideration when choosing your trekking poles. The carbide tips can often be noisy, however, and they don’t provide the best traction on harder surfaces.
It is often recommended to also have rubber tip protectors to help extend the lifespan of the steel tips. Rubber protectors will not only protect the metal tips of the poles but will also shield your backpack or suitcase from being destroyed by the sharper steel tips. Rubber tips are also helpful in environmentally-sensitive areas so as to reduce the impact on nature.
Baskets are the round rings that are found at the bottom of trekking poles. The baskets ensure that the poles will not sink into the ground or snow. The baskets are removable and are usually quite small so they won’t get caught in any undergrowth on the trails. One can swap out the summer basket for a powder basket, often shaped like a snowflake, when it comes times to trek in the snow. Larger, more solid baskets are a great option to use when the terrain is muddy.
Many trekking poles feature adjustable wrist straps. Properly fitted straps offer the user support that aids in diminishing hand fatigue. Many people who use poles without straps will find that they grip the pole too tightly, resulting in fatigued hands that will ache the entire trek or increase the likelihood of injury.
When the strap is worn correctly, it will offer your hand support through your strides and will allow you to transfer your weight to the pole, helping you trek smarter.
Strap material varies so it’s important to choose a material that is comfortable and feels right for you. Bare nylon can chafe your hands, but a fleece or cozy chamois liner on the inside can help to take away some of that rough friction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are trekking poles safe for the environment?
A: Many environment-conscious hikers wonder if their trekking poles are harming the environment. The answer is complicated. There was a study done in 2002 by Jeffrey L. Marion, Teresa A. Martinez and Robert D. Proudman that found that the use of trekking poles has been shown to cause some damage to vegetation and soil and does increase the rate of erosion and likelihood of trail wash out. | That said, there are ways to ensure that you’re being ecologically smart during your hikes with trekking poles. To minimize the harm done to the environment one needs to make sure they’re using common sense while hiking. Don’t use your trekking poles off trail or in the local vegetation. Think about investing in pole tips made of rubber to minimize rock scratching. Remove the pole baskets unless you’re hiking in snowy areas. If you’re hiking in an area where the potential for adverse environmental impact is higher than usual, put the poles away entirely.
Q: Will my trekking poles help me become fitter?
A: The use of trekking poles increases the muscle-building and aerobic benefits of hiking. This means that your poles can not only help you become stronger physically but they can help your heart to become stronger as well. When you use your trekking poles, upper body muscles that don’t normally experience engagement in everyday activities (such as biceps, latissimus dorsi, and pectorals) will become activated. Once these upper body muscles become engaged, hiking transforms into a full body workout.
A study done by the Cooper Institute found that participants who participated in Nordic Walking, a type of exercise using trekking poles, had significantly increased levels of oxygen consumption and caloric expenditure compared to people who walked without the poles. This ground-breaking study proved that implementing an upper body component to hiking significantly increases caloric burn.
Q: What is the purpose of trekking poles?
A: The purpose of trekking poles is to help hikers improve their stability and posture while out on the trail. With proper implementation, the poles can also help to alleviate common causes of injury while hiking, such as slipping in the mud.
Q: How do I wear the pole strap correctly?
A: To wear the strap correctly, first begin by putting your hand through the strap from the bottom so it sits snugly around your wrist. It’s important to note that the straps are hand-specific, meaning that one is designed for the left and one for the right wrist. Once the strap is around your wrist, grasp the grip of the pole as well as the top part of the strap. A properly fitted strap is not so tight that it’s hard to take off or that it cuts off circulation to your hand. It needs to be just tight enough to support your hands’ weight on the pole.
Q: Should I use one or two poles?
A: This is entirely up to you. It may take some trial and error to find a system that works well for you. You may also find that you prefer using one pole for certain types of treks or terrains and two poles for different types of terrain or lengths of the hike. You may need to experiment with both to find a method that works best for your needs.
From a body mechanics standpoint, it is worthwhile to note that using just one pole may increase incidences of muscle imbalances. If you’re trekking downhill using one pole in front of you and twisting simultaneously, there is a chance to create torque in your spine. Using just one pole can relieve some of the pressure one may feel in their knees when going downhill but it raises the risk of torqueing your spine while also creating the potential for added stress in other joints in your body. Generally speaking, one pole may be sufficient enough for trekkers traveling over easy terrain with not much of a load.
When you’re using proper technique, trekking with two poles can help you to not only strengthen the muscles in your upper body but also keep your spine health in check through elongation and activation. Using two poles on your treks is especially helpful when traversing over varied terrain or carrying a load as it will help to provide you with the support and stability you need in such situations.
Q: How do I know when to adjust my trekking poles on my hike?
A: In order to prevent injury, it is important to not only ensure that you have correctly adjusted the trekking poles for your height but also to periodically do a form check while using your poles to make sure you are using them optimally.
For a typical hiking trail with a gradual elevation, your trekking poles should be adjusted to a height that ensures your arm has a 90-degree bend.
When you plan on trekking a steeper trail, the poles will need to be shortened to help you gain more leverage. A good rule of thumb is the steeper the slope is, the shorter your poles should be. The goal here is to have your trekking poles assisting you to a point where they are helping you move upwards without fatiguing your shoulders. You should never feel pain in your shoulders or that they’re in an unnatural position. If this occurs, it’s time to shorten the poles even further.
When you’re descending, poles may need to be lengthened in a way that extends your arms further than 90-degrees. This ensures that the impact of the descent will be better absorbed through the trekking poles and will help to keep your body in a more upright position to aid with your balance.
If you’re climbing a mountainside, use the poles as a tool to keep you stable and upright. It’s not uncommon to have your poles at two different lengths when traversing a mountainside. It helps to keep the pole on the uphill side shorter than the pole on the downhill side.
Q: How do I know if I am using them in the right way on each terrain?
A: When you’re trekking on a typical hiking terrain, the poles can assist you by adding to your stride length and helping you to increase your walking pace. The important thing to remember is to try to plant the poles at an angle pointing behind you. This will help to make sure you’re really propelling yourself forward with each stride. Remember to not just focus on your elbows, but to ensure that you’re flexing and extending from the shoulder joint as well.
If you are traversing over uneven terrain, you might find yourself needing more support from your trekking poles. This is when you’ll want to focus on using your poles in an upright position for optimal balance and support versus propulsion.
- Backcountry, How to Choose Trekking Poles.
- Best Trekking Poles Reviews, Trekking Pole Grips.
- Outdoor Places, Trekking Poles 101.
- Trail Space, Trekking Poles: Parts Explained (Part 2).
- Wikipedia, Trekking Pole.
- Appalachian Mountain Club, Trekking Poles.
- The Cooper Institute, Nordic Walking Study.
- Adventure Buddies Blog, FAQ: Poles For Hiking: Are two poles better than one? Yes!
- Head to the Hills, How to Use Poles.