Best Trekking Poles for Walking Through Anything
When you see a hiker climbing a mountain, or walking downhill, or just making their way ahead, you can see them assisting themselves with poles. These so-called trekking poles are used to distribute your body weight, so you rely on your shoulders as much as on your legs (particularly knees). Done with the intro.
As for me, I was not compelled to use them: it was other’s mistakes I learned from. I’d rather spend my money on good trekking poles while I’m healthy than on even the best walkers when I’m worn out. That’s why I dedicate a part of my life to introducing you to the world of the best accessories: still, I make mistakes, but if others learn from it, they were not in vain.
In addition, collapsible trekking poles are multipurpose. They can be used as elements of a tent carcass or poles for fixing its corners. You can take them out with you if you’re into Nordic walking (I am not, so haven’t got much to tell). Finally, walking with trekking poles (strange as it sounds for unaware readers) helps you burn more calories, as it involves more muscles overall while reducing it for legs.
The Best Trekking Poles I Have Tried
It’s great to have access to various models of poles, so you don’t have to dedicate an entire room or attic to storing them. Luckily, I got my hands on some top-rated trekking poles to tell it firsthand (pun unintended). Well, if you spend most of your time hiking, you can afford making a warehouse out of your place; I just don’t like it, though. Luckily, in our online era, I know where to get new ones and what to do with the unnecessary (so do you).
As you might have guessed, trekking poles are usually sold in pairs. Along with poles themselves, the pack includes changeable tips for various sorts of terrain and baskets for mud and snow operating the same way as ski or snowshoes. There might be extra grips, straps, and other stuff you might need. In addition, today you’ll mostly encounter telescopic or folding trekking poles (I won’t even review non-foldable ones). There may be differences in technology, and I’ll highlight them through.
Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles: The Telescopic Hiking Pole to Select
A telescopic hiking pole cannot be used as an element of tent carcass; it’s the only aspect I’d prefer foldables for. In all the other aspects, this model is quite a solid, sturdy and comfortable one. Not the most lightweight (as 9.6 ounces, as little as it seems, is far from the lightest), these poles show their strength elsewhere.
As for Montem, the manufacturer of these poles, it’s quite a fresh name on the market. Only established in NYC in 2016 (that means yesterday), the company started off with just a trekking pole developed by hiking enthusiasts that knew their own needs better than any outsider. It took them even months, not years, to build a solid reputation. The company says it has no outside investors; they only earn by their sales. And, given the price that’s almost twice as high as most rivals offer, you may think there is some exceptional quality that makes people pay more for this quite heavy product. The shipping weight is still solid 1.4 pounds, including all the extras; heavier than rivals offer, but not that much.
And yes, there are redeeming qualities. This telescopic pole height can be adjusted from 24” to 53”, great for children and adults. Its minimum 24” length is great for carrying it in backpacks or bags. Poles are made mostly of Aluminum 7075, a special aircraft alloy. Tips are made of tungsten, and there are extra rubber tips you can buy separately. The grips turned out very pleasant to touch, and built-in straps make it harder to drop a pole.
The developers decided to involve no anti-shock system. It might be useful, but it smoothens the feel, so you have no real contact with the ground. Both poles with anti-shock or without it have their pros and cons. Instead, these poles have quick locks that make a pole feel solid rather than telescopic.
The price… Oh, it starts at almost $70, but the manufacturer provides a lifetime guarantee (unless you’ve been misusing the poles). I didn’t find them easily bendable; no matter how hard I sweated them, there was no problem with retraction. Last but not least: these poles come in nine colors, so you can choose yours, from black and white to orange and green.
- Made by hikers for hikers;
- Sturdy build;
- Greatly adjustable height;
- Quality tips and baskets;
- Support up to 350 lbs.
- A bit heavier than others;
- No anti-shock (if you need it).
Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles: The Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles to Try
When it comes to carbon fiber trekking poles, some hikers find it modern and technological, others reject the idea, relying on metal only. As for me, I have noticed some difference, but it’s not about good-old-versus-new-strange; it’s rather about the physical feel.
The manufacturer, Cascade Mountain Tech, operates from Preston, WA. It produces hi-tech camp equipment, and all its products are meant to be both practical and technological up to the sky. As for these poles, they are at least lighter than those by Montem: a single pole weighs just 7.8 oz (8.3 oz with tips). The difference matters as you have to carry them instead of letting them carry you. The shipping weight is 1.4 lbs; the collapsed length is just 26”, and if you disassemble a pole, it’s reduced to 21”. So, this carbon fiber makes these arguably the best trekking poles for backpacking unless you want to use them with your tent.
As for me, I didn’t notice a serious difference in weight with aluminum when using these carbon trekking poles on any terrain. The default tips are also made of tungsten. The construction is also telescopic, making it easier to adjust the height, with quick locks that turn out to be quite durable. The grips can be made of EVA or of cork; each option has its pros, but the final selection should be made according to how it feels (I preferred cork due to its ability to conform to my hand). Neither do these poles have an anti-shock feature. As for the user weight, my 270-pound fellow felt great with them; my weight is much less, and so I experienced no problem either.
As for the price, these are more affordable (though not the cheapest around). They also come with a complete set of baskets and extra tips, available in four color schemes.
- Grip options;
- Telescopic construction with quick locks;
- Easily transportable;
- Come with full assortment of tips and baskets.
- No anti-shock (if you need this);
- Not meant for mountain hiking.
Foxelli Carbon Fiber Poles: Telescopic Ultralight Trekking Poles
The manufacturer from Tualatin, Oregon, also offers its lightweight carbon fiber trekking pole model. These ultralight trekking poles are even lighter than the ones by Cascade Mountain Tech: 7.6 oz vs. 7.8. When packed, these poles are just about 24” long, its maximum height being 55”. Transporting length is 25”, shipping weight being 1.4 lbs (and transporting weight about the same).
There are almost no principal differences in construction: these poles are also telescopic, with a cork grip (no EVA-only option available; not that I complain, but others may) and an extended EVA sleeve that let you hold it firmly. If you prefer the EVA touch, you can just set the height above normal, so you can grab them by these extended sleeves. The locks are the same type here, quick to lock after adjusting height; still, you better read the instruction on the official site if you have any problem with it. They come with a standard set of accessories: asphalt tips, storage tips, mud and snow baskets, a carrying clip, and a carrying bag.
As for durability, these poles are great enough for urban conditions, for national parks with all the mud and dust they offer in excess, and even for mountaineering. I didn’t try to climb with these, but those who did, remained very satisfied.
The price, not the highest around, is still far from lowest. You may feel lucky if you find a pair for around $80; usually they are more expensive, both on Amazon and at foxelli.com. Still, the brand is known for good customer support, so they can replace your poles even in cases not covered by warranty (don’t expect you can abuse it, though).
- One of the lightest models around;
- Very durable and easy to use;
- Easy quick locks;
- Cork and EVA grips at the same time;
- Good customer support.
- Quite expensive;
- Larger than others when folded.
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
Black Diamond is quite a pretentious name; if it means that the vendor from Salt Lake City, UT, has a lot to offer for prices higher than the average, then it’s justified, though. The company operates since 1989 and has gained quite a good reputation, making lightweight trekking poles that many consider the best.
As for Trail Ergo series, these poles are 3-section telescopic, with aluminum shafts. It’s not carbon fiber, still, the manufacturer managed to make these poles quite lightweight: a pair weighs just 1 pound and 2 ounces. The length of collapsed poles is 27 ”; much longer than that of the poles above, though still transportable.
This pole features cork or foam grip as well as foam extension. Good to have this option; despite foam absorbing sweat better, I prefer solid cork feeling in my hand. But I know that many hikers think otherwise, and they will really enjoy Trail Ergo with their foam grips with foam extensions. Some consider it great to have grips bent at 15-degree angle. It’s a matter of habit; I feel okay with straight grips, but, again, angled ones also have their fans. As for such a necessary part of a pole as straps, this series features Solution Straps, very easy to both loosen and tighten.
Probably the most serious attention should be paid to locks that keep the adjusted length fixed and don’t let poles collapse when you walk. FlickLock is a system that keeps the length fixed as you set it. It takes a small hackwrench (included) to tighten the locks, but you don’t have to do it each time.
As for tips, they are made of carbide and said to be very durable; I haven’t used these long enough to see them wear out, but they feel quite sturdy. There are also dust and snow baskets in the package, durable and easy to replace. If you lose or damage any of them, you can order replacements separately.
- Very lightweight;
- Highly customizable in terms of materials;
- FlickLock Pro locks;
- Bent grip (if you prefer it this way);
- Premium materials.
- Long even when collapsed;
- Rubber tips advertised but not included.
Paria Outdoor Products: Collapsible and Adjustable Trekking Poles
Named after the canyon in Utah that impressed its founder, Paria Outdoor Products always means to produce affordable yet reliable hiking and backpacking accessories. Why is this pair of poles so much cheaper than others, half the price of the ones by Black Diamond? The most obvious answer is its height. These poles can only be adjusted from 39 to 47 ” (shorter version) or 45 to 53 ” (taller version). Giving up the one-size-fits-all idea, the developer offers size options instead. The former are advertised as the best walking sticks for hiking for those 5’8” tall or shorter (making it great womens’ hiking poles), the latter for those 5’9” or taller.
The construction is also different from those I reviewed above. This one is tri-fold, nunchaku-like (not usable as such, but why not). This means that, despite being adjustable trekking poles, these have a smaller height range than that of telescopic ones. On the other hand, they are much easier to fit into a backpack or a bad, since its length when folded is just 15”, its weight being just 9 ounces per pole.
The material of the shafts is ultralightweight carbon fiber. The knots, though, are made of aluminum. Finally, the tips and the baskets that the poles come with are made of tungsten carbide. They are the most losable parts of poles; so you can order replacements if you lose or damage them. There are special snowshoeing baskets that can be ordered additionally; Paria doesn’t include them by default.
As you connect the three sections, you can adjust (to some extent) the overall length. As for the upper section, it comes with a cork handle and a strap. The model has no EVA handle option. The cork, though, is high quality, and it even absorbs sweat (though not better than foam does). The overall construction feels way sturdier than it looks. Each size comes in black and red color versions.
- Very affordable;
- Extremely lightweight and easy to carry;
- Come in two sizes;
- More durable than they might seem;
- Stylish appearance.
- Low length adjustment range;
- No EVA handle.
TrailBuddy Trekking Poles: One of the Most Affordable Models
TrailBuddy, a small family-owned business from Hayward, CA, assure us that the best hiking poles are made of aircraft aluminum. No carbon fiber, they say. Only Aluminum 7075, the alloy that provides the best durability and remains lightweight. This company specializes in aluminum trekking poles (in fact, just one model that comes in different colors), so it makes the best of its properties. The weight of a pair is 1.6 lbs that makes this model one of the heaviest, or rather the least lightweight.
As for construction, it’s telescopic again. It allows for adjusting the height from 24.5 to 54 ” with no tools required. Disassembled, it’s just 21.5” long, fitting into most backpacks. It uses lever-locks, so adjusting the height is easy even when you’re wearing gloves. The feel is extremely sturdy; you can rely on these poles and transfer more of your weight on them with your shoulders. As for me, I especially liked straight anatomical cork grips.
Despite a very low price (almost twice cheaper than quite affordable ones by Paria), these poles come with a full set of accessories, from a bag and connectors to tips and snow and mud baskets. Yes, you can order extras, and you’ll probably need that more than once. The poles come in various colors with poetic names, from Raven Black to Bumblebee Yellow. Aqua Sky is among the most beautiful, and it will cost an extra buck; the rest are offered for the same price.
- One of the most affordable models;
- Sturdy build;
- Easy to adjust height;
- Comes in various colors.
- Not the easiest to carry;
- Tips get lost easily.
Trekology Trek-Z: Collapsible Trekking Poles
Trekology, operating from Sheridan, WY, is making various outdoor equipment, including poles. Trek-Z is a series that features tri-fold collapsible trekking poles. The model I review here has (guess what!) cork grips; at least it seemed until I learned it’s in fact cork-structured EVA. The grip extension is made of EVA as well; if you prefer a softer touch, you can set the height a bit higher and use these foam grips as default.
Like other foldable trekking poles, this one comes in two size options. The smaller one can be roughly from 39” to 47” (great for those 5’9” tall or shorter), the longer one can be from 45” to 53”, suitable for those 6’ tall or taller. Each pole is about 11 ounces; not the lightest ones around, but still quite easy to carry. When collapsed, the length of a pole is just 15”.
The material used for these poles is Aluminum 7075 (already familiar to us); the default tips are made of tungsten carbide, and the grips are of cork-like EVA. The locks provide high durability due to a new construction the manufacturer uses. They add to the overall weight, though, making these poles heavier than others.
All the necessary tips and baskets, the bag and the connectors are included. The price is now as I’m writing it about the same as that of the ones by TrailBuddy, though the regular one is closer to the price of poles by Black Diamond.
- Very affordable;
- Compact size when folded;
- Come in two size options;
- Attractive design;
- Good suppor.
- Too heavy if you care for each ounce;
- The build is a bit too big;
- Straps unpadded.
Hiker Hunger Aluminium Poles: Ultra Lightweight Trekking Poles
Hiker Hunger is such a great name! Established in New England in 2015, this is also a small family business that manufactures various outdoor equipment, including poles. The model I review is made of Aluminum 7075 (you have already memorized the name, right?), and it’s quite a standard though nice one.
These poles are telescopic, 3-section (like all the telescopic ones I reviewed), and though the company advertises them as best walking poles, they are so maybe just for the price. The height can be adjusted from 24” to 54” (21” when disassembled), the weight is 9.4 ounces per pole – not the lightest even among aluminum ones. Flip locks make no revolution; they just do their job.
The accessories included are standard: a bag, a pair of connectors, tips for asphalt and rocks, storage tips, mud and snow baskets. Rubber tips, though, are not the best around; sometimes they slip, sometimes they get worn out so the original tips start knocking the asphalt and producing noise. So I’d recommend getting an extra pair along with these poles. Given their price under $50, it’s logical.
- Lightweight model;
- Easy lever locks;
- One size fits all;
- Sturdy feel;
- Heavier than others;
- Rubber tips are not the best quality.
Buyer’s Guide on Selecting the Best Trekking Poles
Now that you have read my trekking poles review, there is a question: how to select the ones that are best for you? Most parameters are similar, but some of them make difference, and first of all it’s the material.
Aluminum vs Carbon Fiber Trekking Pole
The general rule is that carbon fiber is a bit lighter than aluminum. The consequence is that carbon fiber seems less durable, and sometimes it is. If you’re deliberately after the best ultralight trekking pole, you better explore carbon fiber models. But beware: if you are a heavy person (above 250 lbs), you better choose durability.
As for aluminum, it’s considered heavy but more durable. My best hiking sticks have always been aluminum-made, as I don’t mind carrying a couple of extra pounds. Hardly is there any other difference that matters.
P.S. Yes, I know there are also titanium trekking poles, but they are not as popular, so I decided not to search for them just in order to include into a review.
How to Choose the Right Trekking Poles
Hardly there are any really bad trekking poles nowadays (except for some Chinese no-name models, and even they grow decent gradually). As you’re looking for the best trekking poles, I’d recommend minding the following:
- Your height and weight. If you’re taller than 6’, you need to select higher poles, especially if you prefer tri-fold ones. Weight matters when selecting materials: the more you weigh, the more advantage aluminum has over carbon fiber.
- Transportation. Tri-fold ones can be disassembled and fit into backpacks and suitcases better than telescopic ones. On the other hand, telescopic models are usually lighter.
- Grip, It’s your hand that constantly touches the pole, and it should be comfortable. EVA grips absorb the sweat better; but the cork ones feel more solid and fit your hand better when used. I’d recommend you try both options until you feel with your skin what’s more important to you.
The Final Instruction
I’d like to put it on into one word: TRY. No description will pass you the experience of your knees unusually unloaded, and your shoulders getting their share of the work while you’re walking. The feeling of having your poles adjusted right when you feel them like your external body parts. A sudden change in the feel after you change the tip or attach the basket. All these feelings are just physical; all I can recommend is trying.
But, prior to selecting the right model, you should get familiar with the feel itself. If you feel that I’m-too-young-for-crutches repulsion, I’d recommend you compare this feel to the treadmill in your gym. It also lets you redistribute the weight, so you can spend more time running on it than at the stadium; at least, for me, it’s so. It’s your hands on the handles used to measure your heart rate; not that you rely on them too much, but, slight as it is, this redistribution makes you more durable. Adjusted to the conditions, its assistance grows fantastically.
Want to share your own experience or your opinion on any of these? Welcome to the comments; I’ll be glad to read from you.