The Best Trekking Poles – Reviewed
If you’ve ever tried hiking before, then you know the importance of trekking poles. The right set of trekking poles will enhance your stability when carrying a heavy load and make it easy to scale uphill trails.
They also help to set the rhythm for a long-distance trek by reducing the strain on your knees, hips, and ankles when you have to go downhill.
Thanks to recent technological advancements, we have witnessed more practical designs of walking poles being introduced to the market, making an easier case for hikers when they venture into the open spaces.
In this post, we will consider the best hiking poles that you can buy for your oncoming outdoor adventures.
Categories of Trekking Poles
There are three main types of trekking poles that you can find in the market. These include:
Telescopic Trekking Poles
These are the most common type of poles out there; they feature two or three sections and are known for being user-friendly and durable.
Due to such attributes, they are preferred by everyone from mountaineers to day hikers and backpackers.
Each of the sections on the pole expands from the joints via a locking system that can be opened and securely adjusted to accommodate different walking heights.
It’s also important to note that these points of connections may also be the pole’s greatest weakness if you don’t find the right quality of locking mechanism.
Folding Trekking Poles
Just like the poles used in setting up tents, these trekking poles can be dismantled into separate pieces and packed down into a compact size.
They come with thin shafts and may have adjustable or limited lengths.
Folding poles bear less weight compared to their telescoping counterparts, and as such, they are favored by fast hikers, climbers, travelers, trail runners, etc.
They will also go easy on your arms as far as fatigue over a long-distant trek is concerned.
Fixed Trekking Poles
The last category is fixed trekking poles. These have a straight shaft and a fixed-length design.
They are also the least used because their rigid length makes it difficult to transport or store. Furthermore, they can’t be adjusted for uphill or downhill travel, making them cumbersome to use on such trails.
Best Trekking Pole- Buying Guide
There are numerous choices for you when it comes to selecting a trekking pole to use on your next hiking expedition. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’re an amateur outdoors person that has never used one before. The following features will prove crucial in determining a trekking pole that provides the best value for money:
Aside from the trekking pole type, the locking mechanism is another aspect you’ll want to pay close attention to. The classic-style poles use a twist-lock mechanism to tighten and lock the segments into place. However, such poles are dogged by inconsistent performance and issues with collapsing. Generally, they have grown out of favor with hikers and you’d be wise to avoid poles with this kind of locking mechanism.
Most trekking poles are built using aluminium or carbon fibre Aluminium is the heavier option, although more durable, and it doesn’t break; rather, they tend to dent or bend.
On the other hand, carbon fibre poles are lighter but more expensive. They tend to break and can be more difficult to repair compared to aluminium poles.
While choosing the shaft material for your trekking pole, you might want to balance between weight and durability.
The materials used for the pole grips are usually foam, cork, or rubber. Cork seems to be the material of choice since it wicks sweat well and is ergonomic in the hands.
Foam is the next preferred option when it comes to wicking sweat, while rubber is mostly used on budget poles.
Generally, rubber grips are not the best option for sweaty hands.
Weight is a very important factor to consider as it determines your level of comfort during the expedition.
A lightweight pole will tire your arms less quickly, which is just what you want when setting out on distant treks on sloppy terrain.
You may not notice the difference in weight on short treks, but you’ll realize just how important a lightweight pole is on a day-long hike. However, be careful not to go into the ultralight category that compromises the durability of the pole.
This may not be at the top of your priorities but can be a useful consideration for those planning to pack the poles inside their backpacks or suitcases for transportation.
Collapsible poles will be quite suitable for this purpose and make it easy to store alongside other luggage. They can be folded to as little as 13 inches and easily be carried inside a daypack.
The durability of a trekking pole is closely hinged to its weight. A thinner pole with a small diameter will weigh less but flex more under pressure, proving to be less durable than a thicker and heavier pole.
Another feature that affects the durability of a trekking pole is the material used to make it. Although aluminum may not be as sturdy as carbon fiber, it is more durable since it is less prone to breaking.
Depending on what you’re willing to spend on a set of trekking poles, the price will always remain an important concern for any buyer.
If you’re looking to buy on a budget, the cheapest poles will fall in the range of under 20 pounds while the more premium models will cost you as much as 100 pounds, if not more.
The cheaper designs will fit anyone who doesn’t plan to stick to trekking as a long time hobby, but if you plan to keep on hiking for years, I suggest buying poles with at least a 100-pound price tag.
Best Rated Trekking Poles
Black Diamond Alpine FLZ
The Black Diamond FLZs will blow you away with their performance on the trail. Weighing just under 20oz as a pair, they are conveniently lightweight, meaning you won’t have to cut short your adventure due to premature fatigue.
They come with an ergonomic cork grip handle, as well as dual-density and moisture-wicking straps that ensure your comfort during hiking.
These trekking poles can quickly be collapsed into a compact size that will effortlessly fit into your 18-liter backpack. This makes the Alpine FLZs suitable for backpackers on the go planning to spend multiple days on the trail.
The poles have a three-section foldable shaft that can easily be deployed whenever you want to use them or folded for packing.
They also feature a slide lock mechanism that enhances its usability. Aluminium has been used in their construction to make for lightweight yet durable trekking accessories, and this has been reinforced by improved joint support, which stiffens the poles by almost 30%.
These poles were designed to sustain heavy loads in treacherous terrains and make a viable option for adventurers on a multi-day hiking trip that will require carrying all manner of gear and accessories.
Montem Ultrastrong Trekking Poles
These impressive poles come with an aluminium construction, which gives them the strength to cope with long and stressful journeys on the trail.
They weigh 19.2oz in total, to ensure that you don’t feel weighed down at any stage of the trek. The poles can easily be collapsed or lengthened, and this is thanks to adjustable bolts that make for adventures of any height.
The least achievable pole height is 24 inches, so you should be able to throw it inside your backpack at those stages of the trek when you don’t need them in your hands.
A cork grip, as well as lever locks, make for an ergonomic grip when you’re handling these poles.
You also get nylon straps to improve safety and make sure that you won’t be dropping your support structure as you tackle the exhausting trail.
The only complaint about the Montem poles is that they may bend a little bit sooner, which is not something you want if you’re embarking on a tough and long-distance adventure. As such, they are more suitable for lighter day hikes.
Other than that, they are quality products with an entry-level price tag that won’t dent your pockets.
Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles
These will be a great option for the lightweight side of the hiking community. The poles weigh just over 1 pound together but manage to pack a full set of high-grade features into their compact build.
You get almost 8 inches of adjustment with these poles, which sets them apart from other rivals in the market.
A Leki’s Speed Lock 2 system makes for an easy to operate mechanism when you want to collapse or lengthen the poles. You’ll be able to achieve either on the trail without having to take a break from the hike.
The small weight of the poles proves to be a crucial aspect over a long hike. You can barely feel their weight on the trail, so it will be a while before you start complaining of tired arms.
They can also be conveniently folded for easy packing. The carbon shafts are sturdy and will enhance your stability when crossing glaciers or tackling steep ascents and descents.
The cork grip also feels natural in your palms, which makes for a comfortable experience when using them in the outdoors. However, there is a small price to pay when it comes to durability. They may not be able to handle continuous use in tough conditions for a long time.
Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Walking Pole
Generally, shock-absorption is not the first thing that hikers look for when shopping for a suitable set of walking poles. However, if this is a must-have quality in your trekking poles, then you’ll find the perfect fit in the Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock poles.
These come with an interesting damping and rebound control that’s been built into the handle to help prevent bottoming up and unpredictable rebound; a common pitfall of anti-shock poles.
The system functions quite smoothly and reacts well to light, as well as hard impacts while the overall construction of the pole features high-quality materials and components to offer you an impressive product.
The Trail Pros come with a non-slip foam grip that secures the poles in your palms at all times. Their aluminium construction also enhances their ruggedness, so that they can be used it tough and demanding terrains without yielding into the stress.
On the downside, the additional technology on these poles increases the overall weight by around 20oz compared to non-shock-absorbing trekking poles.
This also means that you’ll need to stretch your budget a little bit to get them in your hands. Other than that, these are functional trekking poles with high-quality features that allow them to remain versatile throughout the four seasons.
Black Diamond – Trail Pro Mens Trekking Poles
This is another quality product from Black Diamond that you’ll enjoy having during your trek.
They come with a well-engineered aluminium construction to give you a lightweight but durable option, (though there is a more expensive carbon option you can get).
The two pole sections are locked together with a “Double FlickLock Pro” mechanism that is secure, reliable, and easy to use. An Allen key, which comes with the package, is used to tune the torsion of the FlickLock clamps.
These locks hold well on the Black Diamond poles and will rarely need changing once appropriately adjusted.
To lengthen the poles, you simply need to pull the SmashLock till it clicks then extend the upper section and clamp it. To collapse them, just undo the FlickLock and push it down in one go.
This is a pretty simple and satisfying process that should not eat into your trekking time while on the tracks. A foam grip has been included to offer you comfortable handling throughout the day.
There is also a padded strap that serves to keep the poles in your hands in all circumstances. You don’t get shock absorption with this model (but there’s a shock-absorbing version if you’d like one).
The tips of the poles can also be exchanged with a softer rubber option according to your preference, although you’ll need to buy these separately.
The same is true if you plan to trek in the snow and need snow baskets to go with the poles, as they only come with a single set of narrow baskets.
With their two-section design, you can adjust the poles by 35cm, which also means that their collapsed length is fairly bulky at 65cm.
MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles
These backcountry poles will be great for mountaineers, snow hikers, split boarders, as well as trekkers who weigh less.
They are constructed using carbon fibre for a lightweight profile but have Kevlar reinforcements for additional durability.
These poles are available in two sizes; the large ones can be adjusted between 120 and 140cm while the smaller version can be adjusted from 100 to 120cm.
Both can be collapsed to a small size of 44.5cm and 36.2cm respectively, which is ideal for packing. There’s also a hook and loop band to keep all the sections together.
The three sections of the poles extend effortlessly and can be adjusted depending on the trekker’s preference. The lock’s tension can be adjusted by hand, making for an easy to operate mechanism.
A hard foam grip with an ergonomic grip keeps the poles in your hands comfortably throughout the day, although there is no shock absorption.
The poles are delivered with two sets of baskets; one for use in the snow and a smaller one for regular use. You’ll have an easy time screwing them on or off whenever there is a need.
Overall, the MSR DynaLock backcountry poles are one of the best walking poles out there, the only thing is they are not the cheapest option you can find!
Vango Camino Trekking Poles
These Vango poles are some of the cheapest trekking poles you can buy yet still provide you with the kind of performance you can expect from a functional set of trekking poles.
They are constructed using strong aluminium alloy to make for a durable build. However, other parts like the clamps are made of plastic but still have a decently robust feel.
The operation of these poles is quite straightforward; the locking torsion can be changed by hand to adjust the height.
However, if pulled using too much strength, the poles can come apart since the plastic ring holding them in place is not as sturdy as we may have wished.
These poles are telescopic and can be collapsed to a 67-cm packable height. They have a large adjustment range; from 105-135cm.
There is also a built-in anti-shock system, which you wouldn’t expect from a product in this price range.
The spring-loaded handles offer a considerable bounce and can drop to around 25cm.
The Vango Camino poles will be great for low-level walking but you’ll need to look for a rigid option if you’re planning to go trail running or mountaineering.
They feature tungsten carbide steel tips, a set of rubber caps, as well as trekking baskets. The handles are ergonomic and come with straps to ensure that they don’t slip off your grasp.
If you’re buying on a budget, it doesn’t get cheaper than the Vango Camino trekking poles.
Komperdell Hikemaster Powerlock Poles
The Komperdell Hikemasters are fairly lightweight but still tough enough to support your weight throughout the trek.
The Hikemasters come with an aluminium build, which gives you the kind of durability you’d want from a high-performance walking pole. The poles are also adjustable and can extend between 105 and 140cm.
This can easily be achieved using the lever locks. The Powerlock 3.0 adjustment system breaks down the pole into three sections to result in a compact size that can comfortably be stored inside your day pack.
They are also quite ergonomic to hold as a result of an anatomically shaped grip with a bit of softness to it.
Padded straps on the handle further increase your grasp on the poles so that you don’t keep on losing them.
Overall, the Hikemasters perfectly balance size and weight to offer you the appropriate tool for lengthy treks in the hills.
Craghoppers Unisex Pro Lite Twin Pack Walking Poles
These friendly-priced poles provide you with a great option if you don’t want to spend too much or too little on your walking poles. They have an interesting design, with the upper section featuring a carbon fibre construction and the lower section being made of aluminium.
This makes for a durable yet lightweight build that proves convenient during long walks. Both sections of the poles can be adjusted to a range of 100-125cm. This means they can conveniently be used by both shorter and taller individuals.
These telescopic poles can pack down to a paltry 61cm, which is stow-able in a decent-size backpack.
The plastic locking mechanism on these poles begin to explain the fair pricing. Nonetheless, they function pretty fine and with a slight adjustment from the torsion screw, these poles lock firmly in place.
The poles come with foam grip, as well as webbing straps. These make for comfortable handling, and you still get a pair of trekking baskets for all your outdoor convenience.
The Craghoppers Pro Lites offer trekkers great value for money, especially when you consider the high-grade features vis-à-vis the affordable pricing. They are also well engineered and will easily give many higher-priced walking poles a run for their money.
If you’re planning to have a great time exploring the outdoors on foot, a nice pair of trekking poles must always be included in your hiking gear list.
They not only make the experience easy but also ensure that your joints won’t be aching by the time you get back home from your adventures. The above are some of the best trekking poles available to you and would make a great starting point when you decide to go shopping for trekking poles.