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Trekking poles can add comfort to your hike, whether you’re thru-hiking the PCT or heading out on a weekend adventure with friends and family. Trekking poles are not essential for shorter walks, but many backpackers love them.
There are recognized physical advantages to using poles on a hike. When used correctly, poles can take 40% of your weight off your knees. Trekking poles also help you to generate rhythm and momentum so you can move more quickly. Trekking poles also give stability on challenging terrain or fording rivers, and some hikers even utilize trekking poles to pitch ultralight tents.
What To Consider When Buying Trekking Poles
Weight: Heavy poles can cause fatigue, whether carried in your hands or stashed on your back. Luckily, modern poles are getting lighter, thanks to aluminum and carbon fiber. A good quality, lightweight pair of poles will weigh around 450 and 550 grams. Carbon fiber poles are more delicate and stiffer but can crack and break. They’re also more expensive to buy.
Durability: If you are crossing a fast-moving stream or balancing on a high but narrow ridge, your trekking poles must support you and stand up to the terrain. Carbon fiber poles are lighter and more energy-efficient, but they tend to be less durable over the long run. Though heavier, aluminum poles are more durable and can quickly be repaired in the field.
Grips: Trekking pole grips create friction against your hands that can lead to sore spots or even blisters, so picking poles that feel comfortable is vital. Most trekking pole grips are constructed from either cork or foam. Cork wins for durability and comfort, while the foam is usually more affordable but tends to break more easily.
Locking System: Look for a reliable and easy-to-use locking mechanism that is easy to adjust if needed. Some poles use a twist-lock system; others use a clamp or lever lock. A lever lock is the most common as it is generally the easiest to use, more straightforward, and longer-lasting.
Baskets and Tips: A basket is a round disc at the bottom of the pole. They stop the pole from getting stuck in the ground and are especially useful in snowy conditions. Most poles have changeable baskets; however, the larger snow baskets must be bought separately. Trekking poles typically have carbide tips that provide good durability and traction.
Extra Features: Some trekking poles feature an internal spring (shock absorption mechanism) to reduce impact. Such trekking poles are slightly heavier and more expensive than those without shock absorption systems. Bear in mind that this is a working part that could break
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
Our Best Overall Trekking Pole
The Black Diamond Trail Trek Ergo Cork is the number one pick in this guide, suitable for general trekking, thru-hiking, and backpacking. It has one of the best overall grips – very important if you use them for long periods. The Trek Ergo is also pretty tough, reasonably priced, and one of the lightest telescoping aluminum poles I’ve ever handled.
With an ergonomic grip angle for maximum wrist comfort, a 100% natural cork grip, a fusion comfort strap, and double FlickLock® adjustability, the Trail Ergo Cork is the definition of 4-season, on-trail versatility and comfort.
Not the most compact trekking pole on this page, though the Trail Ergo Cork is tougher and more versatile.
- Ergonomic, natural cork grips wick sweat and provide comfort.
- Rubber grip extensions and solution straps for added security and better handling.
- 15° corrective angle delivers optimal grip position.
- Dual FlickLock adjustability offers quick and secure length changes.
- Interchangeable carbide Tech Tips; 38mm trekking baskets.
- Ski-compatible ferrules will accept 100mm powder baskets (sold separately) for deep snow.
Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ-AR Trekking Poles
Our Best Ultra Lightweight Trekking Pole
Go further, faster, and with less weight than ever when you’ve got the help of the Distance Carbon FLZ-AR Trekking Poles from Black Diamond. These great poles sport an impressive weight of only 194 grams per pole yet retain an incredibly durable composure due to the 100% carbon fiber shafts. On the downside, carbon is lighter than aluminum but also more expensive and brittle. Black Diamond has combatted this downside by adding optimized joint support and stiffness for increased durability.
With a low weight, small pack size, and durable design, these are great trekking poles. The new ability to adjust the length on ascents and descents is a significant bonus on foldable poles. The older models did not have this functionality; the model we linked to does.
Black Diamond has merged the packability of a 3-section Z-Pole with the adjustability of FlickLock. The result is an attractive trekking pole for long hikes, steep approaches, stream crossings, or supporting your tarp shelter. With the joint support and the improved SlideLock technology, the Distance FLZ is a three-season pole developed for the mountains.
#3 LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Black Series Trekking Poles
Our Pick For Best High End Poles
For the ultimate trekking pole performance, it has to be the Leki Black Series folding pole. This selection is ours, money is no object pick, and the only reason stopping me from placing it as the best ultra-lightweight pole is the price – you’ll get a few cents in change from $250. For me, that’s a massive expense, and I have to knock it off the top spot for that reason.
The Black Series is at the cutting edge of trekking pole technology and performance. Leki has taken the best of the Leki Micro Vario Carbon and added an innovative new Core Locking Device.
There is a new basket design, with fewer sections to cut weight by feather-like 207 grams per pole. In short, it’s likely the lightest fully-specced, adjustable-length trekking pole in the world!
The new technology is not just for show: the CLD internal locking system means fewer sections are needed, so the whole pole weighs over thirty grams less than the Micro Vario Carbon. The mechanism inside the handle provides even greater reliability than external systems. When assembling the pole, there is a clear visual indicator on the pole; this tells you if it has been done correctly,
- Lightweight – 207g per pole.
- Length – 110-130cm.
- Shaft Material – 100% High Modulus Carbon Fiber.
- Grip/Strap – AERGON Thermo + Thermo Long SKIN 3.0.
- Strong, The joints of each segment have been reinforced.
- It folds down to a small size.
- Adjustable wrist straps and the straps are light.
- The system for stiffening the pole is internal.
LEKI Micro RCM Superlite Trail Running Poles
Best Trail Running Poles
They are incredibly light (348g per pair), straightforward, and efficient. Hand stirrups make push-off much more efficient, and they brake down and stow easily while on the move. The straps are comfortable, quickly adapt to any hand size, and provide a very efficient power transfer. Great all-around product – I ultimately picked these because of the balance of weight and durability.
Built for speed, the Micro RCM trail running pole is lightweight and versatile — a magnificent product for various outdoor adventures. Classified as trail running poles, you can also use them for hiking. Let’s face it, trail runs take place in some super challenging and crazy terrains, so if they are suitable for those environments, they are ideal for most hiking trips.
- 100% carbon – extremely lightweight.
- Folding poles with fixed length.
- Roundtop comfort Thermo Ultralite Grip.
- Skin Strap Vario.
- Flex tip (short).
- Length: 115 cm | 45″.
- Collapsed Length (approx): 36 cm | 14″
- Shaft: 4-piece 100% carbon, 16|14|14|14 mm.
- Weight: 348g per pair.
- Sold As: Pair.
LEKI Micro Vario COR-TEC AntiShock Pole
Best Trekking Poles With Anti-Shock (AS) Technology
The Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec AntiShock (AS) is an excellent trekking pole that performed well across the board. It features comfortable cork grips on many of Leki’s more expensive poles. It also offers a packable break-apart design, robust construction, and versatility, all for a reasonably priced package.
The innovative AS system neutralizes pole plant shock and vibration at the point of impact. As a result, the pole offers comfortable support and shock absorption, reducing the peak impact by approximately 40%.
AS on trekking poles is not for everyone. Some hikers love it, others loath it, and it comes down to a personal choice. If you want a pair of trekking poles with AS functionality, these are for you.
Leki’s Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA is a robust and packable set of poles that will keep you upright on the trail and save your knees. Easy and fast to assemble and adjust the length. You will get a rock-solid performance for your dollar.
- Grip: Aergon (CorTec)
- Weight: 288 grams per pole
- Length: 110-130 cm infinitely adjustable
- Pack size: 38 cm
- Strap: Lock Security Strap (Skin)
- Segments: 5-piece pole
- Shaft Diameter: 18|16|14|14|14 mm
- Shaft Material: Aluminium (HTS 6.5)
- Locking System: Speed Lock +
- Basket: Trekking (Trekking 2.0)
- Tip: Flex Tip (Short)
TrailBuddy Trekking Poles
Our Pick For Budget Poles - Suitable For The Occasional Hiker
Okay, so the TrailBuddy trekking poles will not be the pole of choice for the typical experienced or frequent hiker. However, it’s hard to argue with 19,487 5-star ratings and 7,542 5 Star reviews TrailBuddy has received on Amazon.
From what we can see, for the price – of $34.99, they are the perfect pick for the occasional hiker (once or twice a year) or someone who needs a little extra help even on pretty terrain. They even have deals available on buying two or more sets, so perfect to kit out the whole family. Want to know more? Please read our full Trailbuddy Trekking Poles Review for more information and in-depth analysis.
Made from 7075 Aluminum, the TrailBuddy trekking poles seem strong enough; the length can be adjusted from 25.5 to 54 inches thanks to its lever locks. It comes with cork handles that are comfy to use in both hot and cold temperatures, is moisture-wicking, and will mold to the shape of your hand.
These are perfect if you are new to hiking and taking a one-off camping trip away with friends or family. Not everyone needs high-end/high-spec gear and having assessed the reviews and spoken to a few users, I see no reason not to include them.