You will agree with us when we say that having a pair of hiking poles could be a great addition to your outdoor gear collection and you might wonder what you ever did without them. The best hiking poles are the ones that will do the best job of helping you take the weight off of your back and legs and put some of it into your arms, and help keep you steady on slippery or rough terrain.
There are many different kinds of hiking or trekking poles with a wide range of prices, for everyone’s pockets. Not everyone thinks about hiking poles, what sets them apart, why some are better than others, and other similar aspects.
Once you understand what you want to look for in a hiking pole, you will be able to choose something regardless of their price tag. Now, regardless of your hiking experience and need for such poles, you’ll definitely know more about them when you finish reading this presentation.
In this article we will tell you what you need to consider before buying hiking poles, suggest some of the best products on the market today and go through the reasons why we think they are a great choice. But first, this is a short preview of the products you will read about here.
Our top picks
|Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock||Aluminum||Yes||27 - 55 inches||Check price on Amazon|
|Weanas Folding||Aluminum||Foldable||13.4 - 53 inches||Check price on Amazon|
|Black Diamond Alpine Carbon||Carbon fiber||Yes||34 inches||Check price on Amazon|
|BrainyTrade Image||Aluminum||Yes||27 - 54 inches||Check price on Amazon|
|Himal Folding||Aluminum||Foldable||13.4 - 53 inches||Check price on Amazon|
|BAFX Anti Shock||Aluminum||Yes||14 inches||Check price on Amazon|
|Leki Carbon Ti||Aluminum, carbon fiber||Yes||24.5 – 53 inches||Check price on Amazon|
|Leki Micro Vario Ti Cortec||Titanium||Foldable||15 – 53 inches||Check price on Amazon|
What to Look for Before Buying
The purpose of a hiking pole is to provide stability and traction and help distribute the stress of hiking activity over a greater area of your body. Most trekking poles are sold in pairs, although you can also buy them individually. When shopping, consider the following factors:
Many trekking poles are small (generally around 12 to 24 inches in length) when they are fully collapsed down, but include locking mechanisms to extend the poles to full length for use when hiking. This is an important feature because it allows you to stow your hiking poles in your pack or luggage when traveling and then extend them for use on the trail.
Additionally, as a general rule, you want to shorten your poles when you are going uphill and lengthen them when you are going downhill.
Some poles also include a shock absorbing component in the design of the pole’s shaft. This feature is very helpful for those with weak joints in their arms. Perhaps seniors will find these models best suited for them.
Obviously, with shock or impact absorbing features in your poles, the more expensive it can get. However, we like to think that it’s all worth the investment especially considering the benefits.
The material of the pole is another feature to take into consideration, especially if you care about the weight of the poles. If you are looking for a lighter weight pole, carbon fiber poles are generally lightweight but are more prone to breakage and splintering than the other commonly used hiking poles, like aluminum ones.
Aluminum poles are generally durable and are less likely to break than carbon fiber poles, although they can get dented or bend. Now, this will depend on the intensity of the usage. If you’re frequently taking a hike, aluminum poles might be the better choice.
Since you’ll be walking for miles holding your hiking poles in your hands, it is important that you choose one with a grip that feels comfortable to you. The material of the grip is important and most hiking poles feature a grip made out of one of three materials: rubber, foam or cork.
Cork is water resistant so it won’t absorb sweat as much as the more absorbent foam will. Cork is also malleable so it will conform to the shape of your hand over time. Rubber is great for insulation so that works well in cold weather.
Wrist straps are great because they keep the poles from falling if you let go of them for a short amount of time. Of course, this really helps a lot especially when you don’t have to bend down and reach the ground just to pick up your pole in case you lose grasp of it.
Comfort is also a good consideration when choosing a trekking pole with straps – especially when you’re up for a long hike. You also want a comfortable wrist strap so padded ones are a good option. Adjustable wrist straps are quite popular lately.
There are several materials that pole tips are commonly made of, including carbide and rubber. Carbide is good for traction on the trails or in the snow, but these metal tips can undergo wear and tear quickly when used on hard or paved surfaces.
To minimize this damage, you can purchase rubber tips to cover up the metal ones when needed. Many hiking poles include the rubber tips with the poles themselves. Tip covers can also help protect your gear when you stow poles in your pack or luggage.
Another accessory for pole tips is a basket which you can take on and off your poles. The basket protects your pole from sinking into snow or mud because it helps increase the surface area of the end of the pole and works much like a snowshoe does. Not all poles are sold with baskets, or even designed to use them.
As you can see, there is a lot of variation between trekking pole designs even though they are all designed for one purpose. Now that you know what to look for, here is a list of great hiking poles and their features.
Best Products on Today’s Market
At this point, you should have a slightly better idea on how to shop for trekking poles that would fit your needs and requirements. If somehow you need more help with shopping, we have thrown in a couple of highly recommended products for you to check out.
Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Poles
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Length: 27 – 55 inches
Specific features: 360 degree padded wrist straps, interchangeable tech tips with WaveLock technology, rubber or carbide tips
Best use: Backpackers or day hikers looking for a high quality, trustworthy hiking pole set
Description: Black Diamond is known as a trusted manufacturer of quality outdoor gear, and for their price these Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Poles are average priced for the products included in this review. The Trail Pro Shock poles feature aluminum shafts for lightweight use without skimping on the strength of the poles.
You can adjust the length from 27 to 55 inches depending on your height and whether you’re going uphill or downhill. Length adjustment is done through the FlickLock Pro mechanism so you can easily change the length of the poles as needed.
Another great feature of these poles are their interchangeable Tech Tips. You can switch between rubber and carbide tips depending upon the terrain you’re hiking on.
Carbide tips are designed for terrain where you need more traction such as ice, and the rubber tips are used on hard ground like asphalt and for storing in your pack so they don’t scratch up your other gear. These are an excellent option for quality trekking poles from a trusted manufacturer.
- Can be used for hiking, skiing, and backpacking
- Hand specific
- Double Flick Lock Pro
- The shock absorbing feature is always on
Related: The Black Diamond Distance Z Poles are hand specific, use a ribbed grip area, and are super lightweight and they bend without breaking.
Weanas Folding Trekking Pole
Weight: 0.65 pounds
Length: 53 inches
Specific features: EVA foam handle, aluminum alloy shaft, tungsten steel rod tip, ABS lock
Best use: Someone looking to try out hiking poles and see if they like using them or not
Description: The Weanas Folding Trekking Pole is a very inexpensive option for a trekking pole, but keep in mind that you might want to buy two of them. This design extends to 53 inches in length, but can fold down to 13.4 inches for storage in your pack or home.
The fully extended length for use can range from 45 to 53 inches. The tips of the Weanas pole are made of tungsten steel but come with removable rubber tips for travel and storage. The handle’s material is EVA foam and includes an adjustable wrist strap that is double shock corded. The shaft is aluminum alloy to help reduce weight.
The particular aluminum alloy used is 7075 aluminum alloy, which is known for being durable and not subject to deformity and dents, which is particularly important for hiking poles which become almost useless once they are bent badly. For such a low price, this product is a good option for someone wanting to try out trekking poles on their hikes to see if they like using them.
- Adjustable wrist strap
- Not a pair
- Bottom section is sometimes tricky to lock into position
Related: The Ohuhu Folding Trekking Poles are great for those in need of more support when hiking downhill because the shock-absorbing mechanism makes descending easier on weak joints and wrists.
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles
Weight: 1 pound
Length: 34 inches
Specific features: Carbon fiber shafts, FlickLock Pro adjusters, cork grip
Best use: Hiking, camping, trekking
Description: Another Black Diamond product, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles are more expensive than the Trail Pro Shock poles we covered earlier. The shafts on these trekking poles are made of carbon fiber, while the shafts on the Trail Pro Shock was aluminum.
The carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum and has better shock absorbing properties. However, they are also more likely to break and splinter than the aluminum poles.
The length of the poles ranges from 25 to 51 inches and each pole weighs about 8 ounces. Like the other Black Diamond model, the tips of these poles can be switched between carbide and rubber Tech Tips.
The cork handles are great because it is more moisture resistant and helps with vibration reduction. Cork is also relatively malleable and will eventually form to the shape of your hands. These poles also include interchangeable baskets; standard ones for the trail and larger baskets for snow or mud.
- Non slip EVA foam grip
- 100% carbon fiber construction
- The poles are marked for left and right
- The rubber tips must be ordered separately
Related: The Leki Corklite Trekking Poles should be bought by those who plan on climbing ice, go skiing, walk in snow, or go for a hike: not all the poles can be used for all these activities.
BrainyTrade Image Hiking Sticks
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Length: 27 to 54 inches
Specific features: 7075 aluminum, cork grip, 3 section telescoping design
Best use: Hiking, trekking
Description: The BrainyTrade Image Hiking Sticks are another low cost option for hiking poles. The shafts are made of 7075 aluminum to help reduce weight, and at only 10 ounces per pole they’re a good lightweight option.
They come with carbide tips but can be changed out with rubber tips, as well. They feature a locking system so you can change the length of the poles as you cross terrain; they range from 27 to 54 inches in length.
The hand grips are made of cork and include a foam extension which is useful for when you need more traction on the grip for uphill sections of trail or slippery terrain. These Image poles feature a telescopic design for collapsing down for storage and are 27 inches long when fully collapsed.
It also features a built in anti-shock system to reduce stress on the user’s joints. Another good option for someone who does casual hiking and is looking for a good option for shock reduction, these trekking poles come with a one year warranty.
- Ergonomic cork grip
- Affordable price
- Anti Shock mechanism
- The anti shock mechanism can’t be turned on or off
- Tricky to lock them into position
Related: Some people really like the OuTera Antishock Trekking Poles because they’re ultralight weight, thanks to the aviation grade aluminum used in their making. The shock absorbing system is an added bonus.
Himal Folding Trekking Pole
Weight: 0.68 pounds
Length: 13.4 to 53 inches
Specific features: Foam handle, aluminum alloy shaft, tungsten steel rod tip
Best use: Day hikes
Description: The Himal Folding Trekking Pole is another inexpensive option for a hiking pole. When folded, it collapses down to 13.4 inches and when fully extended can range between 45 and 53 inches in length.
The tip of the pole is tungsten steel and rubber, and the shaft itself is made of 7075 aluminum alloy for that lightweight durability that should be a top consideration when choosing trekking poles. The grips are manufactured from EVA foam. Foam grips, unlike cork grips, absorb moisture.
EVA foam in particular is resistant to stress cracks and is similar in softness and flexibility to rubber. It’s also used for padding in bicycle seats, ski boots and fishing rod handles. The shaft itself is comprised of sections connected by elastic, much like the design of tent poles. One attribute of the Himal trekking pole is that the locking mechanisms between sections of the pole work well so that the sections are less likely to collapse into one another.
- Ergonomic orthotic grip
- Can be used in winter too
- Not a pair
- The sections need screwing too, after they snap into position
Related: Have a look at the Himal Scalable Trekking Poles too because they have foam handles, a shock absorbing system that can be turned off or on, and tungsten steel rod tips to extend their durability.
BAFX Anti Shock Trekking Poles
Weight: 1.5 pounds
Length: 26.5 to 53 inches
Specific features: Carbide and rubber tips, ribbed grips, padded wrist straps, baskets included, aluminum shaft
Best use: Someone looking for comfort in their hiking poles
Description: The BAFX Anti Shock Trekking Poles has a unique design because it features an anti shock spring inside of each pole to help absorb vibration and shock. BAFX put a lot of thought into the comfort of the user when designing these poles, and the grips are designed as “ribbed” to help minimize slipping hands on the grips.
The wrist strap is also padded and wide. A wide wrist strap is important for comfort because the more surface area the strap has, the less pressure it puts on one small area of your wrist. The locking system on these poles is a twisting locking system, and the poles show marks of various lengths between 26.5 and 53 inches for adjustment.
The poles come standard with carbide tips, but also include four rubber tips and a basket to help prevent sinking into snow, mud or other soft surfaces. Although you are provided with two extra tips when you purchase the trekking poles, it is a good idea to order more right away so that you are not caught without them when you need them most. BAFX also includes a one year warranty on these trekking poles.
- Inner anti shock spring
- Can be used in snow or mud
- Not hand specific
- The compass is not very well attached
Related: The Alpine Summit Trekking Poles are low priced, extendable, and ultralight walking poles. Some hikers might be interested in them because they’re made with Tungsten tips.
Leki Carbon Ti Trekking Pole
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Length: 24.5 to 53 inches
Specific features: Aluminum upper section and carbon fiber lower sections, snow/mud basket, foam handle
Best use: Long distance backpacking and trekking
Description: The Leki Carbon Ti Trekking Pole is a higher end, versatile trekking pole that is unique from other designs reviewed here because of the design of the shaft of the pole. Instead of the entire shaft being manufactured from one material, the Carbon Ti has an upper section made of aluminum and two lower sections made from carbon fiber, making it very lightweight in comparison to other designs.
Another thoughtful design feature is that the tips of the poles are designed to break first in case of high pressure instead of breaking the pole itself, because the pole tips are much less expensive to replace than an actual pole section.
It isn’t as compact as some of the other designs out there but you can strap it to the outside of a pack if it does not fit inside. It also includes a basket for mud and snow travel. Overall, this is a great lightweight trekking pole.
- Sold as pair
- Very strong
- Aluminum with carbon fiber
- Not very compact
Related: The Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles are a good alternative if you want poles made of carbon, an adjustable handle, and an extended grip.
Leki Micro Vario Ti Cortec Trekking Poles
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Length: 15 to 53 inches
Specific features: Titanium, speed lock system, carbide tips
Best use: Light hiking
Description: The Leki Micro Vario Ti Cortec Trekking Poles are a very durable titanium design with a comfortable cork grip. The locking mechanism for these poles is called the “SpeedLock 2,” which is a new feature for Leki poles.
You can make all adjustments with your hands and not have to worry about a special tool for adjusting them. They pack down to 15 inches, which is a little longer than some of the other poles reviewed here so keep that in mind if you’re planning on traveling with them or stowing them away while you’re hiking.
While the majority of the grip is made of cork, it also includes a rubber section below the cork which is great when you need a better grip for slippery uphill climbs. The poles also includes a basket for travel in snow and mud, which can be interchangeable.
At about $140, this is another more expensive, higher-end design for trekking poles but its durability and comfort ensures that you will be able to get a lot of mileage out of these poles.
- Light hiking
- The price tag
- They come undone if not properly secured
Related: We also recommend the Leki Wanderfreund Speed Lock 2 Single Walking Pole because of its ergonomic handle and elegant look given by the black and gold color combination. It can also be used by the seniors needing walking support.
We slowly reached the end of this article and we hope we helped you learn something new, especially on how to choose a good pair of hiking poles. If you aren’t ready to go all in and purchase one of the higher-end carbon fiber poles, there are plenty of lower cost products to choose from.
Hiking poles can be a great asset to anyone going on a hike or backpacking trip. They can help take stress off of your knees and hips and distribute weight more evenly across your body, as well as help improve traction and stability as you hike.
What are your favorite hiking poles and how do you use them? If you think other brands or models should have been included, please tell us which in the comment section below! Happy hiking!