Which trekking poles are best for hiking?
The perfect companion for a steep uphill climb, dangerous water crossing or slippery patch of snow, a sturdy pair of trekking poles can be a literal lifesaver when out on the trail. Not only do trekking poles assist with balance, but they can also increase your hiking speed while helping to reduce the strain placed on your knees and ankles, especially when wearing a heavy pack.
While many backpackers choose to hike with trekking poles, even casual day hikers can benefit from using them. With plenty of options to choose from, you can explore some of the top picks suitable for every type of budget.
What to look for in quality trekking poles
The best trekking poles materials are aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are highly durable and more cost-effective. However, they tend to be heavier. Carbon fiber poles are incredibly lightweight and portable but can sometimes break under intense pressure.
For most casual hikers, the weight of your trekking pole won’t matter too much. For backpackers or long-distance hikers, you will likely appreciate a lighter trekking pole after hiking several miles for days at a time.
Trekking pole grips use either rubber, cork or foam. Rubber grips are excellent for shock absorption but can sometimes lead to blisters under certain conditions. Cork grips are moisture-resistant and offer an ergonomic handle that can conform to your hand shape. Foam grips are usually soft and comfortable, but they are also more likely to absorb moisture and sweat.
There are both fixed-length and adjustable trekking poles available. Fixed-length poles can weigh less than adjustable options but are not as easy to pack or transport and are unsuitable for use by hikers of varying heights.
Adjustable poles are also helpful for backpackers who rely on trekking poles as the primary support system when setting up their lightweight tents.
Best trekking poles
Aluminum trekking poles
Rated for four-season use, these trekking poles use durable aluminum for the shaft and 100 percent natural cork for the grip, giving your hands a comfortable hold on all terrain. Thick comfort straps add extra support and stability to your wrists.
Adjustable and lightweight, the Alpine FLZ trekking poles are constructed from forged aluminum and utilize a handy FlickLock which allows hikers to adjust the pole length securely as needed.
Equipped with standard wide baskets near the tip, these poles can handle rocky, muddy or wet terrain with ease. The ergonomic COR-TEC grip is beneficial for your wrists, while the anti-shock technology reduces harsh impact.
Like the Distance Carbon Z model, these fixed-length trekking poles are made from slightly heavier aluminum but offer long-lasting durability. The breathable ribbed foam grip wicks away sweat and moisture, keeping your hands dry even in hot weather.
An affordable pair of trekking poles by a trusted brand, these adjustable Kelty Upslope poles come with a sturdy non-slip tip great for trails and a rubber cap designed for harder road surfaces like asphalt or concrete.
Constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum, these lightweight, budget-friendly trekking poles are great for beginners and advanced hikers. With plenty of fun color options to choose from, you can select the look that best suits your style.
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Having the option to choose between cork and EVA foam grips lets you choose the overall feel and material that will work best for your hiking style. These durable aluminum poles are great for long-distance trails or casual walks around the neighborhood.
Made in a Z-style design, the Trekology hiking poles come with both snow and mud baskets, so no matter where the trail takes you, you’ll be prepared. Also included is a handy carrying bag.
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Carbon fiber trekking poles
These fixed-length poles come in various sizes to suit a range of heights and still manage to collapse and fold for convenient transportation. With their ultralight design, most length options weigh less than a pound.
The hollow core grip helps with overall weight savings, and the quick-drying security straps won’t become an annoyance halfway through your hike. The trusted LEKI Carbide Flextips firmly grip all kinds of terrain.
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With a total weight of just 9-10 ounces, depending on the length, you’ll barely notice these poles when climbing up the steepest switchback or when storing them in your pack for a flat stretch. The moisture-wicking EVA foam provides a comfortable and stable grip.
By using padded wrist straps, you won’t have to worry about any uncomfortable rubbing or chaffing. Below the cork grip is an extended non-slip foam layer for those times when the route gets a little more strenuous.
Being the lightest option offered by LEKI, the price of these trekking poles is higher than others, but at just 5 ounces and with a fully collapsible design, these are ideal for hikers and trail runners focused on speed.
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You won’t have an easy time finding a lightweight carbon fiber set of trekking poles at a more reasonable price. These Foxelli trekking poles come with several different tip attachments for snow, ice, mud, gravel and more.
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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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