Best Trekking Poles
Spending time in the great outdoors can be a lot of fun; it can also be murder on your joints if you’re not careful. Hiking poles, also known as walking poles, or trekking poles are quickly becoming a popular way to help keep your joints and body nice and limber during those long hikes. Whether you’re wanting to brave the alpine slopes, climb the dessert hills, or just a nice stroll through the park, Hiking poles can help you ease the stress on your knees, and make the excursion that much more enjoyable.
Our Top 3 Picks
- MSR TALUS TR-3
- BLACK DIAMOND ALPINE
- Cork grips
- BLACK DIAMOND TRAIL
10 Best Trekking Poles
MSR TALUS TR-3
The price of the MSR Talus TR-3 ranges between $100 to just under $160 for a pair of hiking poles. It’s slightly on the higher end of the price spectrum, but well worth the investment to protect your joints.
The shafts on these hiking poles are constructed out of 7,000 series aerospace grade aluminum, and the grips are made of rubber. This combination makes them ideal for use in colder weather as well as some warmer hikes. Add to that their positive locking mechanism that offers a no-slip locking, these hiking poles offer a stability that few others can match...
The MSR Talus TR-3 offers the ability to adjust the height of your hiking pole with a single hand with a specialized trigger release system that nearly everyone can operate. In addition these hiking poles offer carbide tips for maximum traction and the trekking baskets most often used. Add to that a pair of ventilated, easy to adjust straps and ergonomic grips, and the extras make a fine addition to an already remarkable piece of equipment.
Ranging in length between 41.3 and 51.2 inches, these poles can easily adjust for a wide range of height differences and needs.
The MSR Talus TR-3 offers solid metal construction, extremely easy to operate and stable adjustment and locking mechanisms, as well as ease of use in a wide array of situations. Point for point, it is the best overall hiking pole for the price.
- Aluminum construction
- Easily adjustable
- Very stable, even when a significant amount of weight is put on them.
- Useful in many different environments and situations
- At 22 ounces, it’s a bit heavier than some of the other ultra lightweight poles available
BLACK DIAMOND ALPINE CARBON CORK
The average price for a pair of these trekking poles is about $170, but considering the overall ease of use and quality, the price is more than reasonable.
These trekking poles are constructed out of strong but lightweight carbon fiber material and feature comfortable cork grips that help to keep your hands cool during those long, hot, hikes in the summer. It features a telescoping lever lock system, and a relatively thick pole diameter.
These poles feature available EVA non-slip grip extensions, and changeable carbide tips for easy changing on the trail head if needed. In addition, they also provide an easy to use dual flick-lock justifiability feature that allows for easy adjustment on the fly.
These poles can collapse down to a 25-inch length, making them easy to store in most suitcases. However, they extend to 51 inches, making them ideal for people of many different heights.
The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking poles provide a lightweight but solid construction that is easy to use and offers the support when needed to ease the stress on your joints.
- Light weight carbon fiber construction
- Compact style
- Ease of use
- Cork grips
- Grips may not be comfortable for all people
- Carbon Fiber may become brittle in frigid temperatures.
BLACK DIAMOND TRAIL BACK
These hiking poles range in price between $70 and $170 for the pair, making them one of the most economical choices for those wishing to buy a quality and long lasting pair.
The Black Diamond Trail Back trekking pole features high-grade aluminum construction with telescoping extension with lever locking security, and rubber grips. The construction lends itself to significant durability, even under strenuous use and abuse.
There are not too many extras included in these hiking poles. They do, however provide the standard hiking baskets and solid and trustworthy construction that is hard t match
These poles can range from a minimum of 25 inches to 55 inches in length, making these a great choice for a wide array of hikers
If you’re looking for a durable, easy to use, and budget friendly hiking pole, this is a great choice. It may not have all the bells and whistles that some have come to expect, but ounce for ounce, this is a solid choice.
- Aluminum construction
- Proven durability
- Ease of use
- Budget friendly price
- Not as many extras included with the trekking poles
- Rubber grips can become brittle in frigid weather
LEKI MICRO VARIO TI CORTEC
These poles can be found at a price of about $120 for a pair or less. While they are not the most inexpensive available, their mid-range price is more than reasonable considering the quality of the materials.
The Leki Micro Vario Ti Cortec Trekking poles offer 7075 series heat treated aluminum construction with an easy to store folding mechanism with filigrane high tensioning rope that is reinforced with a PE coating for increased durability and strength. In addition, foam grips provide significant and long lasting comfort while on the trail.
These poles feature a number of extras that make for more comfortable overall use including foam Aergon ergonomic grips, and a locking security strap safety system that is a great addition for those worried about needing a quick release.
These poles fold down to approximately 14 inches in length, making them easily stored in just about any backpack or small suitcase on the market today. However, they can extend to a maximum length of 51 inches, making it more the adequate for the average size user.
Considered by many to be their “go-to” poles, the Leki Micro Vario Ti Cortec poles offer a fairly lightweight and strong option for those wishing to have an easy to store and easy to transport choice.
- Relatively compact size for ease of storage
- Very stable
- Durable construction
- Tightening knob can wear down with frequent use
- Adjustments not always fluid and easy.
MONTEM ULTRA STRONG
Priced at around $50, these poles are a very economical choice for those wishing to try out hiking poles without sacrificing quality.
The Montem Ultra Strong Trekking poles feature strong aluminum construction with easy to adjust bolts and a flick-lock system that aids in quick trail side adjustments as necessary. They also feature comfortable foam grips and break resistant tungsten tips and nylon straps.
These poles include some of the basic standard accessories that you would expect, including replaceable rubber tips, a set of mud baskets, and an easy to use clip to keep everything together.
While certainly not the smallest or most compact choice on this list, the Montem Ultra Strong Trekking poles do range in size between 24 and 53 inches, which should accommodate nearly every user.
The Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles offer a rugged, no-nonsense choice for the avid hiker or backpacker at a very economical price. In addition, their construction lends themselves to use in a wide array of environments and situations.
- Economical Price
- Durable aluminum construction
- May not be able to support heavier individuals adequately
- Impact vibration may loosen tightening screws
BLACK DIAMOND TRAIL PRO SHOCK
Priced at around $100 for the pair, these poles offer a mid-priced option for those needing the shock absorption technology of the more expensive brands.
Constructed of ultra-light narrow aluminum shafts, and featuring dual Flick Lock mechanisms, this pole offers significant durability and stability on the trail. Add to that the comfort grips and interchangeable carbide or rubber tips, and you have poles that will aid the hiker in nearly any terrain.
1 lb 4 oz
These poles feature a patent pending Control Shock Technology (CST) shock absorbers that have a four-stage shock absorption for added comfort. IN addition, there are both right and left handed padded wrist straps which significantly add to the comfort of the user on those longer hikes.
These poles can collapse down to approximately 26 inches, which makes storage a fair easy endeavor. They also extend to a length of 55 inches, making them a great overall choice when it comes to usable size.
The Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking poles offers a well-made and economical option for those who are interested in having built in shock absorbers in their hiking poles. Additional features, such as interchangeable tips, trekking baskets, and comfort straps make this a well-rounded choice.
- Shock absorption technology at a reasonable cost
- Durable construction
- light weight yet strong
- A bit heavier than other lightweight poles
- The included mud baskets are considerably smaller than average.
- The Flick Lock mechanism can become hard to operate with time
FOXELLI CARBON FIBER
The average price for these poles is about $70, which puts it on the lower end of the price range. Thankfully, the overall quality and construction is comparable to those at a much higher price.
These poles are constructed of carbon fiber shafts, which help to reduce the impact vibration that reaches your hands from hitting the ground. In addition, natural cork grips offer a superior, anti-slip grip for hands even on the most humid days.
These poles include quite a few extras that should be standard, but unfortunately are not. These include a carrying case, padded, adjustable wrist straps, and tungsten carbide tips for rugged durability.
These poles can be adjust between 24 and 55 inches, which makes them not only very compact when stored, but also useful for kids as well as adults.
The Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking poles offer a superior, light weight carbon fiber constructed pole that is suitable for a wide array of users, independent of their skill level. It also includes a number of nice features that make it a great value for the price.
- Light weight and durable construction
- A number of comfort features and accessories are included
- A economical price for the quality
- A relatively new and unproven brand
- Tips can be hard to change out, especially for people with dexterity issues
TAALO TREKKING POLES
A pair of these poles can be bought for around $40, which makes them one of the most budget friendly poles on our list.
These poles are constructed out of 100% aircraft grade aluminum, and feature carbide tips, telescoping poles, and an easy to use flip-lock system to keep things secure. The natural cork grips and padded straps easily add to the users comfort.
Amazingly for the price, these poles feature anti-shock technology that make descending slopes so much easier and more comfortable. A carrying case and associated baskets are also included.
The Taalo Trekking Poles can be adjusted between 27 and 55 inches, making them useful for a wide array of sizes and comfort levels.
The Taalo Trekking Poles offer a great budget-friendly choice if you’re looking for aluminum construction and shock absorption in your hiking pole.
- Offers shock absorption technology at a very budget-friendly price
- Aluminum construction
- Comfortable grips and straps
- May be too lightweight for some users
- Unproven brand
- Handles may become insecure over time
HIGH TREK ULTRALIGHT
These poles range in price from $30 to $60 a pair, which puts them at the lower end of the price spectrum. Thankfully, their quality is more than reasonable.
These poles feature aluminum construction and telescopic adjustment with twist-lock mechanisms for added security. They also have comfortable EVA handles and grips.
These poles come equipped with tungsten carbide tips, removable rubber ferrules and mud/snow baskets.
These poles can be adjusted from 25 to 53 inches, making them useful for a wide array of people.
If you’re new to hiking, and don’t want to invest a sizable amount of money, but still want a quality set of poles, this is a great choice.
- Very budget friendly price
- Quality construction
- Comfortable grips and handles
- Designed for average use, not to be used in extreme conditions
- Poles are a little top-heavy due to larger handles and grips
HIKER HUNGER CARBON FIBER
The average price for these poles is about $70, which places well within the mid-range of the spectrum.
These poles feature carbon fiber shafts, ergonomic cork grips, and a folding quick-flip lock mechanism for easy storage and extension
A sturdy carrying case, two mud baskets and two snow baskets are included.
These poles can be folded down to 21 inches in size, making it a great choice for those who use purses or backpacks for their storage options. It extends from 24 inches to 54 inches, which makes it a great choice for supporting a wide array of heights and weights.
These poles offer a good choice for those who want to upgrade from a cheaper model, but don’t feel the need for more expensive bells and whistles. Great construction, ease of use, and a reasonable price make this a viable option for those wanting to step their game up a notch.
- Durable construction
- Carbon fiber shaft can reduce vibration
- Reasonable price
- Locking mechanisms become unreliable with time
- Useful for day hikes in average conditions, not good for extreme use
Criteria for Evaluation
Price is Important
When hiking or trekking poles are purchased, an investment in the health and well-being of a person’s joints is made. However, the overall value and price of the poles are certainly factors to consider. Hiking poles can range in price greatly, and their quality and features is sometimes reflected in the overall cost. So in order to determine the best value, we looked not only at the overall quality but whether or not the poles were affordable to most.
The Quality of the Construction
Like most products designed for outdoor use, the quality of the construction is extremely important. In order to provide years of service and use, the materials used need to be top-notch, and the construction details need to be of a high quality to withstand potentially rugged use and abuse.
Just like the price, the quality and materials used in hiking poles can vary widely, and each has their advantages depending on how they are used, and in what environment. In this list, we have attempted to provide the reader with a wide array of quality choices that we feel would serve reliably based on their quality construction and the materials used.
When it comes to hiking poles, each user has a different idea of what is best for their situation. That’s why having a few extra features, such as comfort grips, shock absorption technology, baskets, or carrying cases is so important. While these features may not be useful to everyone, knowing what is available can make the choice of what pole to buy that much easier.
Different People, Different Sizes
In order to be useful, a hiking pole needs to rest comfortably in the hands of the user at their waist level. This means that in order to be useful for many different people, a good hiking pole must be adjustable. Thankfully, this feature is pretty much standard in all of the hiking poles we considered. While some were easier to adjust than others, all featured the ability at some level or another. In addition, their maximum and minimum sizes reflected the height differences in the general public quite well.
A Weighty Matter
When it comes to hiking or trekking poles, their overall weight can, and does make a huge difference when it comes to ease of use and comfort. The last thing that a hiker or an outdoor enthusiast needs or wants is a hiking pole that hinders instead of helping because of the weight. In most cases, a good hiking pole is one pound or under, but some of the heavier ones do have added features such as larger, more comfortable grips, a shock absorbing technology, and wider, more sturdy shafts that can add to the ease of use. Depending on the needs and desires of the hiker, the overall weight of the poles can be a deciding factor in what they use.
Additional things to consider when buying your next set of trekking poles
How Will You Use Them?
Hiking or trekking poles provide a wide range of potential services to their users. They can be used to provide extra support after a back or leg injury. They can also provide more stability for those with balance problems, or hikers navigating unfamiliar and uneven terrain. They can also be a great way to shift the extra weight that comes from backpacks and equipment off more susceptible joints like knees and hips.
Because of the wide array of uses, hiking poles come with a lot of different features and types. Therefore, it is important to consider exactly what your purpose will be in using them. Are you a weekend hiker who enjoys leisurely strolls through the forest or the park? Chances are then, a basic yet sturdy model such as the Hungry Hiker or the Taalo Trekking pole would be more than enough for your needs. Do you expect to go into the mountains and have the need to handle steep inclines or loose stone or dirt? Then it might be best to get something with a bit more stability and weight to offer support when you need it most. Ideal choices for that situation might include the Black Diamond Trekking Pro Shock or the Leki Micro Vario Ti Cortec options. And finally, if you’re looking for something that can help you in a wide array of situations, from everyday use to extreme mountaineering, something that has good construction, is easy to use, and will support your weight is an invaluable choice. In that case, the MSR Talus TR-3 or the Black Diamond Carbon Alpine Carbon Cork are great choices.
How much should I spend?
Hiking poles, or trekking poles as they are sometimes called, can be a serious investment. It is possible to spend anywhere from $20 to $300 on a pair of quality poles.
How much you spend is greatly dependent on what your needs entail and what your budget dictates. There are quality examples in every price category, but in most cases poles that cost between $100 and $150 per pair serve most people’s needs. However, if you require things such as shock absorbing technology, extra cushioning, or replacement parts, you may need to spend a little bit more.
Q: Do they require any maintenance?
A: In most cases, the only maintenance that a set of hiking poles needs is regular cleaning and removal of dirt and debris from the day. Often problems with the mechanisms in the hiking poles arise not because of faulty equipment or poor workmanship, but rather because of dirt, grime, or small pieces of rocks interfering with their operation. In most cases, a wipe with a damp cloth, and the removal of larger amounts of dirt, snow or debris is all you need to keep things working well.
In most cases, you don’t need to lubricate your hiking poles, as the lubrication can attract dirt and debris when you’re out in the woods. Also, be sure to allow your hiking pole to dry completely before folding or collapsing down. In some cases, the added moisture can cause the mechanisms to malfunction.
Q: What size pole do I need?
A: The size of the pole you will need depends on your height and body proportions. Essentially, when the pole is extended and resting on the ground, your elbow should be bent at a 90 degree angle. This allows for the hiking pole to provide the widest array of potential support. While most trekking poles are adjustable, which makes finding the right size one relatively easy, there are a few brands that specialize in non-adjustable ones, so be sure to try them out before purchasing, or take detail measurements of your body to determine the correct size you need.
Q: Which accessories should I get?
A: Hiking poles come with a number of different accessories, and many of them have become quite useful for the avid or even the occasional user. Baskets are perhaps the most often used, and well-known accessories available for most hiking poles. These baskets, which are placed near the ends, or tips of the poles help to prevent the poles themselves from sinking too far into the ground when they are used. There are two basic types of baskets, namely mud baskets and snow baskets. As their names suggest, each is designed to be used under different conditions, but they can also be used in situations that may not seem applicable. For example, the snow baskets can be used quite easily in sandy environments, or on semi-steep slopes with lots of small debris. The general rule of thumb with snow baskets is the smaller the grain, the larger the baskets need to be. Mud baskets, in addition to being useful in muddy environments, are also lifesavers when it comes to protecting your gear and clothing from too much mud and dirt when out hiking.
Another worthwhile accessory to have for your hiking poles include replacement tips for the ends. Many hiking poles offer the ability to change out between different types of tips, including tungsten carbide, and rubber tips. It’s important to remember that each has their use. The rubber tips can provide a bit more resistance and traction for those times you’re traveling over unstable trails, and the tungsten carbide tips offer protection for your hiking pole from everyday wear and tear. It’s also good to remember that the tips of your hiking pole are often sharp, so be careful where and when you extend them!
It’s also a good idea to get extra wrist straps and grips if they are available from the manufacturer. With long-term use, even the most well-constructed handles will start to break down. Thankfully, replacement pieces are not hard to find, and in most cases are fairly easy to install. It can be as simple as a few screws or even just slipping on and off. Be sure to check with the manufacturer to get the specifics of the model that you’re interested in.
And for those times when your pole breaks on the trail – and trust me, it will happen, eventually, having a set or two of replacement parts is almost essential. These are often supplied in kits by the manufacturer and can include such things as tension ropes, replacement screws and bolts, extra locking mechanisms, tips, and even handles. The kits often come in easy to store bundles or bags that can be easily stored in your backpack or tied to your waist.
And finally, it’s a good idea to consider getting some sort of a carrying device for your poles. Quite a few quality ones come with their own cases or clips, but buying a specific bag or designating a place in your suitcase or bag is an option as well. By having a designated storage device, you can protect your investment (which can be a sizable one) when the poles are not in use.
Q: Can the poles be used individually?
A: While most hiking poles are designed to be used together, they can be easily used individually if the situation calls for it. For example, if two able-bodied people simply need a little more support on one side or the other, a pair of poles can be split apart and given to each individual. It is not the ideal situation, of course, but it can be done.
If you know for certain that you will be only using one hiking pole, a better option would be to invest in one that is designed for solo use. These poles are often a little bit heavier, and more stable since they are designed to take the brunt of the weight on one pole instead of spread across two.
How much weight can hiking poles support? Will they catch me if I fall?
The answer to that question depends greatly on how much the individual weighs, and the quality of the hiking poles in question. In some cases, the poles can easily support up to 350 lbs, while in other cases, the most it will support is perhaps 75 to 100 lbs.
It’s important to remember that the purpose of the poles is not to take your entire weight, but rather to help you more evenly distribute your weight. This brings eases the strain on your knees, hips and ankles, and provides for more enjoyment over a longer period of time.
For most adults, hiking poles will not support all of your weight all of the time – they are not designed to do so. While they can offer temporary support in cases of falls or slips, it’s best to get secure footing as soon as possible.
Q: What is the best material for the shaft of the pole?
A: That greatly depends on your needs, and what you are looking for specifically. There are two main types of material used in quality hiking poles– aluminum and carbon fiber. Both offer adequate strength, but carbon fiber has been shown to reduce impact vibration better then aluminum. However, aluminum shafts do provide a more stable and stronger resistance against heat and cold, unlike carbon fiber which can become brittle in frigid weather. If you need a ultra-light pole with average strength and stability that does not transfer ground vibration much, your best bet is carbon fiber. If you’re looking for something with a bit more strength and ability to support more weight, aluminum may be your best choice.
Q: Which is better – pole that have two sections, or ones that have three sections?
A: The answer depends greatly on your needs. If you’re planning on keeping your poles in your hand most of the time, like when you’re on a day hike, the two-sectioned poles work out just fine. If you’re planning a longer, or multiple stage excursion, such as an escape to the mountains of Hawaii, the three section poles often provide better storage capabilities.
Q: What is a pole’s swing weight?
A: The swing weight of the pole is how heavy it feels while it’s in use, or swinging from one step to the next. It’s important because the higher the swing weight, the more fatigue you’re likely to feel, and the harder the poles will be to use. Often the swing weight can be adjusted by where various mechanisms are placed. When the adjustment mechanisms are placed closer to the top, the swing weight is often less.
Hiking poles have been vital tools for those who enjoy hiking, backpacking or mountaineering for some time. With recent improvements in construction and material used, however, they are also becoming important to those who simply need a little extra support due to mobility or pain issues. Whether you are interested in hiking poles because of your love of the great outdoors, or simply your love of walking around, there are plenty of choices available for you to explore.