A reliable set of poles is essential for every trekking adventure – they improve stability, take the load off your joints, and boost the overall comfort level. While they are not mandatory, the best hiking poles make long-distance walking a lot easier and more enjoyable.
When choosing a new pair of poles, you need to pay attention to a few things – shaft and grip materials, adjustability, length, and weight. To make your decision easier, our trekking poles reviews will take a look at the best trekking poles on the market and discuss all of their pros and cons. In addition, the buying guide will talk about all the important features so you’ll know exactly what to look for.
How To Choose A Trekking Pole – Buying Guide
The materials used to make the shaft needs to be lightweight and strong enough to handle rough terrain. In the world of trekking poles, this comes to one of two materials – aluminum and carbon fiber.
Aluminum – The biggest upside of aluminum is that it offers fantastic performance for a very affordable price. These value trekking poles are very strong and impact-resistant while being significantly lighter than most other metal alloys. Compared to carbon fiber poles, it’s more durable but also a bit heavier.
Carbon Fiber – If you want the lightest pole possible, carbon fiber is the way to go. In addition to being incredibly lightweight (often under 10 ounces per par) it’s also fairly strong. The downside is that these poles can be quite pricey.
When choosing the pole grip, you need to make sure that it’s comfortable to hold the entire day. It should have an ergonomic shape, prevent sweating and slipping, and not cause blisters or discomfort. Three materials are most commonly used to make trekking pole grips – cork, rubber, and foam.
Cork – Many trekkers see cork as the best handle material because it’s incredibly comfortable and actually molds to your hand over time. Cork handles are very durable but can get a bit slippery when wet.
Rubber – Rubber is very affordable and often found in lower-end products. Rubber grips offer decent performance in moderate weather but can be uncomfortable when it’s warm.
EVA Foam – The main advantage of foam is that it’s incredibly lightweight and pairs perfectly with carbon fiber in high-end poles. It’s very comfortable, wicks sweat away, and provides a good grip. However, it’s the least durable option.
Three shaft designs are available on the market (fixed, foldable, and telescopic), and each of them offers some advantages and disadvantages on the trail.
Telescopic – This is the most common type of trekking pole on the market and usually has several pieces that slide into each other. The main advantage of a collapsible hiking stick is that you can precisely adjust the length, but it can unlock and move on its own if it has a twist lock (which it usually does).
Foldable – In terms of portability, nothing beats folding trekking poles. The pieces completely detach from each other so it takes a lot less space than a telescopic model. However, it offers less adjustability and comfort on your hike.
Fixed – Fixed poles are the strongest and most secure option. Unfortunately, as their name suggests, they don’t allow you to adjust the length which can be problematic when going uphill and downhill.
Length and Adjustability
Having the right pole length will give you proper support and allow you to find a nice rhythm regardless of the terrain. While some people prefer fixed-length poles because they are a bit firmer, getting collapsible hiking poles with adjustable shafts can be great on hilly terrain.
If you are climbing uphill, for example, the ground in front of you is going to be higher which means the poles need to be shorter. The opposite is required for a downhill hike.
Keeping gear weight low is very important for trekking, and poles are no exception. If you’re looking to reduce weight as much as possible, we advise that you go for a carbon fiber pole with a foam grip. However, if you want something more durable and don’t mind a bit of extra weight, aluminum and cork are the way to go.
Using a pair of trekking poles on hard surfaces can feel quite rough and transfer small shocks to your hands and arm joints. To help reduce this, some hike poles feature little springs inside that cushion the impact and make the poles a lot softer. This is a very useful thing if you’ll mainly trek on rocky terrain.
When talking about the pole adjustment and locking system, you have two options – twist and lever lock. Twist locks are more common on telescoping poles and they offer a higher degree of precision. However, they can get loose on their own. Lever locks are more secure, but they usually have a smaller degree of adjustability.
Straps are an underrated but vital part of a trekking pole. They improve your comfort while using the pole, allow you to reposition your hand easily, and even to let go of the pole without losing it (when you need the hand for something else). Good wrist straps should wick moisture away and have sufficient padding so they feel soft without chafing.
Tips, Covers, and Baskets
Regardless of the type of trekking pole you choose, the tip itself needs to be very hard so it can withstand contact with hard terrain. For this reason, most of the high-end poles come with a tungsten carbide tip.
Unfortunately, this isn’t optimal for every surface, so many models come with replacement rubber tips that you can use on concrete. On top of this, the best poles also include rubber boots as well as various baskets for walking in mud and snow.
Q: Are Trekking Poles Worth It?
Yes, trekking poles are worth it. They significantly reduce the strain on your knees and joints when walking and also improve your stability. In addition, they also allow you to activate your upper body, giving you a much better workout.
Q: How Do I Choose The Best Trekking Poles?
The most important things to consider are pole length, weight, and construction quality. The pole should be long enough to provide proper support (between elbow and shoulder), lightweight to use all day, and strong enough not to snap or get damaged on rough terrain.
Q: Is It Better To Hike With One Pole Or Two?
Two poles are the better option because they provide even support on both sides of the body. Unlike a single hiking pole, they allow you to keep the balance better and improve your pace when walking.
Q: How Tall Should My Trekking Pole Be?
The size of your pole mostly depends on your height and terrain, so we can’t give a universal answer. As a general rule, the pole should be some 8 inches taller than your elbow when your hands are placed next to your body. However, steep terrain requires an even longer pole, while you can walk just fine on flat terrain with a shorter one.
Q: Can You Bring Trekking Pole On Plane?
Yes, but usually not inside the cabin. Most airlines don’t allow any type of poles as carry-on, so we advise that you check before you put them in your backpack. Of course, you can always bring them as checked baggage but this often brings additional cost.
Globo Surf Overview
With a good pair of trekking poles, trekking can become a lot easier. Not only will they reduce the pressure on your feet and joints, but they will also activate your entire body and make your exercise even better. Hopefully, our buying guide and reviews have helped you pick the best trekking poles so you can start enjoying your favorite outdoor activity even more.
More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:
- Hiking Sandals
- Hiking GPS
- Hiking Watch
- Tactical Watch
- Hydration Pack
- GPS Tracker For Dog
- Backpacking Water Filter
- Backpacking Food
- Leather Backpack