Best trekking poles for hiking and backpacking in 2017

best trekking poles

Over the years, trekking poles have been considered more of a fad than a necessity by hikers and backpackers, as one would not always need them during the trek and often the extra weight does not offer any advantage. However, with the improvement in technology, especially around the weight, packability, and durability, trekking poles have now become nearly mandatory items to carry. Keep reading to find out how to pick a good trekking pole and what are our picks for the best trekking poles.

Trekking poles or sometimes known as hiking poles offer multiple distinctive advantages. They offer better stability and balance during rough hikes, helping in reducing stress in knees and joints. They help in managing the trail as well. They can also sometimes double up as support for shelter/tent. Most poles, especially the high-end ones provide interchangeable baskets to be used as cross country ski poles as well.

Best trekking poles list

Our pick of the best trekking poles out in the market and how they stack against each other.
PictureProductFeatures 

BAFX Anti Shock Hiking / Walking /Trekking poles - Adjustable height ranging from 65-130 cm.
- Come with anti-shock spring for lesser stress.
- Come with extra rubber tips and mud disks.
- 1 year product warranty.

Black Diamond Distance Z trekking poles - Packable three-section design with speed-cone deployment
- Highly durable aluminum shaft
- Come with interchangeable, non-marking Z-pole Rubber Tips, Z-pole Carbide Tips and stow bag
Tri-Fold Carbon Cork trekking poles - New and improved design with super strong carbon shafts.
- Adjustable between 100 -120 cm
- Special Cork grip for maximum comfort.
- 1 year product warranty.
Foxelli trekking/Hiking/ Walking poles - Ultralight design with carbon fiber shafts.
- Adjustable length between 65-140 cm.
- Special Cork grip for maximum comfort.
- 120-Day Money Back Guarantee + 3 Years Warranty for Exchange
Sahara Sailor Tri-Fold trekking poles- Lightweight trekking poles made with aircraft grade aluminum with tungsten-carbide tips for superior durability. Has an EVA Foam handle for comfortable grip.
- Tri-fold, collapsible design which can be adjusted to a length of 43.3 inches to 53 inches.
- Comes with dual locking system - secure interior and outer locks to prevent from accidental collapsing.
- Comes with an additional mud basket and a carry case.
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles - Ultralight, yet most sturdy of carbon fiber poles
- Comfortable cork grips.
- Can be used for multiple activities with different accessories
Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles - Ultralight but sturdy with carbon fiber shaft.
- AERGON Thermo Extended Grip
- Adjustable between 110-130 cm.
- Extremely easy to pack and carry.
Hiker Hunger 100% Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles - Ultralight, shafts made from carbon with tungsten tips
- Adjustable height from 61 – 137 cm
- Foldable and easy to carry.
- 1 year product warranty.
Komperdell Ridgehiker Cork Powerlock Compact Trekking Poles - Shaft Made from high grade 7075-T6 Aluminum
- Comfortable cork grips.
- Packable three-section design for 120 cm pole.
- 3 year free repair service
Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Trekking Poles- This carbon fiber trekking pole set is a variant of the popular Costco trekking poles and features telescopic poles which can lengthen from 26” to 53” and weigh an only 0.5 pound each.
- The trekking pole feature tungsten tips and have handle made with G36 cork, making them extremely comfortable to hold and operate.
- The trekking poles come with a 100% lifetime warranty if not fully satisfied.

Benefits of trekking poles

While the jury is still out on whether one should use trekking poles or not, here are some of the major benefits you can draw out of your trekking poles:

  • Trekking poles reduce the impact on your feet, knees and ankles, especially while traversing on elevations or uneven ground. If you have had any sort of back or leg injury, you would feel more confident while hiking with trekking poles.
  • With two additional support points, you can traverse much faster with trekking poles, especially in rough terrain.
  • You can use your trekking poles to probe things on your path – thorns, skin irritants such as poison ivy and critters etc. You can also use these poles as a sort of stick/weapon in the wilderness.
  • Trekking poles can also be used as tent poles in an ultralight setup and help you save on some carrying weight.

How to pick the best trekking poles?

Finding the best trekking poles for hiking can be a challenging task. In addition to supporting multiple terrains, the poles should be easy to carry, sturdy enough to last and serve multiple purposes for which they are bought. In addition to the economical (cost) considerations, you should look at certain technicalities while picking up the right trekking poles for you. While choosing the most suitable trekking poles, you should consider the following factors:

  • Pole type & packability
  • Construction material of the shaft and the tip
  • Size
  • Grip type and diameter
  • Straps
  • Shock absorbers or not

Pole type & packability

Trekking is generally done in a variety of terrains, weather, and elevations. In addition, many hikers like to double up the trekking poles as supports for tents and shelters. In such cases, the preference is given to poles which can collapse to much shorter length than the traditional telescoping poles. Black Diamond Z range is an example of such poles. In addition, the locking mechanism used in the poles is also very important. As opposed to the new twist lock style poles, external lever lock style poles are more durable, have easier assembly and generally more favored by serious hikers.

Construction material of the shaft and the tip

Just like the ski-poles, trekking pole shafts are made up of high grade aluminum ( generally higher grade than ski-poles) or carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are generally heavier than the carbon-fiber counterparts but generally considered more durable as they can absorb bending. Carbon fiber poles are generally lighter than 16 ounces, but trekking poles of high-end manufacturers such as Black Diamond and Leki are generally equally sturdier.

The tips of trekking poles are very important to provide the right amount of stability and balance. Most poles use carbide, steel or tungsten tips. Some poles also come with additional rubber tips and tip protectors. It is a good idea to protect the tips of trekking poles when not using them, so investing a little in tip protectors is often a good idea.

Size

Just like the ski-poles, most good trekking poles come with adjustable heights. Different terrains require different pole lengths. To decide the correct pole length, flip the pole upside down so that the grip is touching the ground and hold it below the baskets. Your forearm should be at a 90 degrees angle to your biceps for a basic hike. You can adjust the length if you feel ergonomically uncomfortable with the height.

Grip type and diameter

One of the main reasons why people shy away from using trekking poles is because they do not feel comfortable with them. Different people have different preferences of how they want to hold their trekking poles and hence the grip type and diameter plays an important role. The grips are generally made up of cork, rubber or foam. Cork based grips are generally considered most popular. Rubber grips are more suitable in cold weathers or for snowy terrains, but rubber handles tend to wear out quickly. Foam grips are generally less durable but better moisture absorbing. Grip diameter can also play an important role. All our choices of trekking poles have standard, suitable grip diameters for most people.

Straps

Straps provide a protection so that the poles do not fall off when stuck around in the terrain. They are either made of nylon or plastic. A strap with extra padding will not strain your hand much if it gets pulled off suddenly by getting stuck somewhere.

Shock Absorbers or not

Shock absorber systems in trekking poles are the latest fad. While most traditional hikers do not feel any difference or reduction in stress or fatigue, some people have felt that shock absorber based trekking poles seem to make the downhill hike a little more comfortable. So since most manufacturers offer such anti-shock technology with them, it is definitely worth a try if cost is not the only criteria.

Which are the best trekking poles and what are our picks?

Black Diamond Distance Z trekking poles – Editor’s choice pick for best trekking poles

Best trekking poles - Black Diamond Distance Z Z-Poles
The Black Diamond Distance Z-poles come with a packable three-section design with speed cone deployment, making them easy to pack. With an aluminum shaft, they are fairly durable. The Black Diamond Distance Z-poles also come in carbon version, which has lighter weight but is costlier than the aluminum version. They also have a lightweight EVA ribbed grip with mini extension for quick choke-ups on steep inclines and interchangeable tips for variable trail surfaces. With a size ranging from 100 to 130 cm, they weigh only 12-13 ounces. The package comes with interchangeable non-marking Z-pole Rubber Tips, Z-pole Carbide Tips and stow bag. There are a lot of accessories available to use and replace any parts. These are the reasons why Black Diamond Distance Z trekking poles are the Editor’s pick for best trekking poles.

BAFX Anti Shock Hiking / Walking /Trekking poles – Best value pick for trekking poles

Best trekking poles - BAFX Anti Shock Hiking / Walking /Trekking poles

BAFX anti-shock trekking poles are made up of light-weight aluminum, with anti-shock spring in pole to lessen placement impact. They have an adjustable length ranging from 65-130 cm and weigh around 12 ounces. They come with extra pair of rubber tips and a pair of mud disks. The poles come with 1-year product warranty. For their price, BAFX poles are an excellent choice. For these reasons, the BAFX Anti Shock Trekking poles are our best value pick for trekking poles.

Trekking pole Accessories

One of the most common sought accessories for trekking pole is a trekking pole carrier bag to carry your trekking poles safely and comfortably. If your trekking pole set does not come with a carrier bag or if you are looking for alternatives, you can consider the following options. These options are suitable for almost all collapsible trekking pole models:

  • High Trek Trekking Pole Tips and Carrying Bag Accessories Kit
  • Alpine Summit Trekking Pole Carrying Bag and Ultimate Tip Assortment Kit
  • Leki Trekking Pole Travel Bag
  • If you ever need replacement accessories – baskets and tips for your trekking poles, you can consider the following options. All these baskets are designed to fit almost all standard trekking pole models, though you can check specifications to see if they will fit your trekking pole:

  • Hiker Hunger Accessory Set for trekking poles
  • Weanas Trekking Pole Replacement Accessories Set
  • Yahill Trekking Pole Replacement Accessories Set
  • Final thoughts on best trekking poles

    One size, technology or criteria does not fit all and needless to say, that goes for trekking poles as well. In this article, we discussed the variety of factors that you need to consider while picking the best trekking poles for yourself or for anybody else. We also listed some of the best options available online. Do let us know how you found this article and if you would want us to consider anything else. Best wishes for your next trekking adventure!

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