13 Best Trekking Poles

Top 13 Best Trekking Poles for Hiking

People have been using hiking poles for centuries. Gustave Dore’s famous print depicting the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 shows all of the climbers holding some form of hiking/trekking pole. For many years long-handle ice axes served as hiking poles for winter mountaineers but by the middle of the 20th century hikers began to experiment by using commercially available ski poles to aid in their climb. It wasn’t long before some enterprising types took the idea of the ski pole and decided to adapt it specifically to the needs of the hiker. Fast forward to today and we have the high-tech, lightweight, collapsible trekking poles we all know and love.

Trekking poles help us get more from our hikes by enhancing stability and enabling us to get all our limbs into the act of hiking. High quality trekking poles essentially transform the climber from being bipedal to being quadrupedal. And as any mountain goat knows, it’s better to have four feet on the ground than two. Trekking poles help a hiker set a rhythm, help keep them upright when crossing streams and reduce the pounding the knees, ankles and feet would otherwise be subjected to. On descents, trekking poles can be the difference between getting down quickly and safely and having your quads give out halfway to your destination.

All that said trekking poles also have some potential drawbacks. Poorly designed poles can actually be more hindrance than help. If they’re too heavy they’ll slow you down and wear you out. If they’re made of cheap materials they might break under stress. And if they don’t collapse they’re going to be a hassle to store when not in use. The moral here then is to make sure you select high-quality, well-built trekking poles. And we’ve got 13 of the best trekking poles for 2019 right here.

1. Cascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Collapsible Quick Lock Trekking Poles

Cascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Collapsible Quick Lock Trekking Poles are lightweight poles that collapse down to a mere 27 inches so they can be stored easily either in a full-sized backpack or on the outside of a full-sized pack or even a day pack with exterior webbing. They’re attractive, reliable and easy for anyone to use and they’ll ensure your hikes are more enjoyable and less physically exhausting.

What We Like

  • Build quality – The poles are fashioned from durable aircraft grade aluminum, meaning they’re both lightweight and tough. They’re not going to warp if you lean into them or snap when you really need them. The tungsten carbide tip won’t shy away from any surface while the nylon wrist straps are comfortable, adjustable and made to last.
  • Cork hand grips – The hand grips on these Cascade Mountain Tech hiking poles are made of cork which is extremely comfortable and does not become soggy or misshapen when you sweat. They also help to absorb vibration which makes things easy on your hands and wrists over the course of a long day on the trail.
  • Exceptionally light – Each one of these aluminum trekking poles weighs a scant 10.4 ounces. Combined they’re just a shade over 1.25 pounds. Whether you’ve put them to work all day or have them stowed in or on your pack they’re not going to weigh you down.
  • Fully extendable – These lightweight trekking poles extend to a maximum of 54 inches, which is long enough to accommodate around 99.9 percent of the human race. And as we mentioned earlier they collapse down to a mere 27 inches. This makes them ideal for everyone from young teens to pro basketball players.
  • Affordable – Cascade Mountain Tech has made these outstanding, versatile hiking poles available for about the price of a T-shirt or pizza. Considering how long they’re likely to be in use that makes them an extraordinary deal.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for well-built, durable, handsome, lightweight trekking poles that won’t break your bank the Cascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Collapsible Quick Lock Trekking Poles are an excellent choice.

2. TheFitLife Nordic Walking Trekking Poles

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There’s no doubt these Nordic Walking/Trekking Poles from TheFitLife are all business. Made from tough yet lightweight aluminum they’ll keep you upright no matter your height or weight while relieving stress on your back and helping you retain good posture all day long. The quick-lock twisting nodes let you adjust them to your particular needs in seconds while the total weight of just 1.2 pounds is never a burden.

What We Like

  • Safe, convenient twist locks – We have to admit we have a soft spot for adjustable trekking poles with the kind of twisting locks you get with these Nordic hiking poles. That’s because the end of snap locks can sometimes get caught up in underbrush or even your hiking pants. So these twist locks get a big thumbs up.
  • Interchangeable tips – Sometimes you’re hiking on dirt, sometimes on mixed terrain and sometimes on snow. Whatever the conditions these Nordic trekking poles have a tip to handle it.
  • Form fitting handles – The oversized EVA foam handles are form fitted to provide you a secure, comfortable grip all day. The EVA foam also wicks away moisture and never gets soggy or uncomfortable.
  • Convenient handle extension – Invariably there comes a time when you need to choke up on your hiking pole a bit in order to get more leverage on a steep grade. The handle extension is perfect for just such occasions.
  • Compact and lightweight – These Nordic trekking poles weigh only 1.2 pounds for the pair and they have an extendable range from 26 to 53 inches.

The Bottom Line

Serious hikers will love the feature set here. Including the secondary hand grips, interchangeable tips and twist locks.

3. Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Collapsible Quick Lock Trekking Poles

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Cascade Mountain Tech make a return appearance on our list with this high-tech carbon fiber trekking pole. This is cutting edge trekking tech that is feathery light but tough as nails. It’s going to cost you more than most trekking/hiking poles but if you spend a lot of time on the trail you’re going to appreciate the difference losing a quarter pound of weight makes.

What We Like

  • Carbon fiber construction – Carbon fiber is a truly cutting edge material that’s used in everything from world-class racing bicycles to NASCAR bodies to commercial airliners like the 787 Dreamliner. It’s light as can be and extremely tough. The perfect combo for hiking poles.
  • They adjust quickly and securely – The snap locks on these poles allow for fast, easy adjustment on the fly. So if you see the grade ahead is trending seriously upward all it takes is about 20 seconds to adjust your hiking poles accordingly.
  • Comfortable grips – The EVA foam grips sport a universal design that will accommodate practically any size hand. They stay dry, don’t get misshapen in the rain or when you’re sweating a lot and the secondary, extended grip is perfect for pulling yourself up steep sections. The ripstop nylon wrist straps are also fully adjustable.
  • Multiple tips – Besides the ultra-durable standard tungsten carbide tip these trekking poles also come with a variety of other tips to accommodate mixed terrain, loose dirt, snow and more.

The Bottom Line

The carbon fiber alone is enough to make these Cascade Mountain Tech hiking poles a worthy investment. Happily, they’re more than just one trick ponies.

4. Hiker Hunger 100% Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

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We love the way these Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles look and like the way they perform even better. These are ultra-light, tough, well-balanced, versatile trekking poles that are going to help you find the energy to crest that distant ridge or find your way through Alpine mountain passes. There are a lot of well-made aluminum hiking poles out there but if you’re into serious trekking there’s no substitute for carbon fiber.

What We Like

  • The cork hand grips – EVA is great and will serve you well in most circumstances but nothing can really compare to the moisture wicking abilities and long-term comfort you’ll experience with cork grips. It’s the carbon fiber of grip materials.
  • Incredible light weight – The combined weight of both of the Hiker Hunger poles is less than a pound. If you judge your equipment based on how much it contributes per pound these carbon fiber poles may provide the greatest weight-to-benefit ratio of all your gear.
  • Compact size – When you’re not in need of these outstanding trekking poles they collapse down to a mere 24 inches which allows you to stow them easily in your backpack or lash them safely to the outside.
  • Handle extensions – Sometimes you don’t have time to adjust the length of your hiking pole. You need some additional leverage and you need it now. The EVA handle extensions allow you to choke up on the poles instantly to transcend any difficulty that presents itself.

The Bottom Line

The Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are built for performance on the most challenging terrain in any conditions. Light, tough and durable they’ll bring a smile to the face of the most experienced mountaineer.

5. Alpine Summit Hiking/Trekking Poles with Anti-Shock Tips

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Alpine Summit advertise their aluminum trekking poles as being stronger than carbon fiber. While that is certainly debatable there is no debate that the 7075 aircraft grade aluminum used here is strong and light and is not going to give even when you bring all your weight to bear on it. At about 1.4 pounds for the pair they aren’t going to weigh you down and the fact that they collapse to just over 24 inches in length means they’ll always be easy to stow away when they’re not needed.

What We Like

  • Easy to use, reliable flip locks – Both flip and twist locks have their potential downside. With flip locks it’s the possibility of the latch getting snagged on brush or your boots or pants. Alpine Summit are aware of this potential issue and designed their flip locks to tuck down nearly flush.
  • A variety of tips – Perhaps no other brand of trekking pole comes with such an array of tips. There is the standard tungsten carbide tip, the mud tip, the snow tip, the flat cane-like tip for hard surfaces and the Monster Grip tip that will pull you through the sloppiest terrain out there.
  • Attractive carrying bag – The carrying bag for these poles is one of the handsomest you’ll find and slings over the shoulder or disappears neatly into your backpack.
  • The cork handles – We love the cork comfort and moisture wicking ability of the universally designed cork handles. They provide a secure, dry grip in all conditions whether you’re bare-handed or wearing gloves or mittens.

The Bottom Line

Alpine Summit Trekking Poles are an outstanding value that are comfortable, durable, reliable and easy to adjust.

6. Covacure Trekking Poles Collapsible Hiking Poles – Aluminum Alloy 7075 Trekking Sticks

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Covacure has taken the challenge of producing collapsible hiking poles to the extreme with their Aluminum Alloy trekking sticks. Whereas most of the hiking poles on this list collapse down to a very respectable 24 inches or so these Covacure sticks reduce to a ridiculous 14 inches in length. Small enough to be stored easily in your average day pack.

What We Like

  • Incredibly compact – The word “incredible” is overused these days but it’s the only word to describe the fact that these strong, lightweight hiking sticks compress to only 14 inches. They’re able to do so because they fold like modern tent poles, rather than telescope.
  • Durable and dependable – These trekking poles are fashioned from tough, durable 7075 aircraft grade aluminum which means there’s virtually nothing you can subject them to during the course of your hike that will cause them to buckle or otherwise fail.
  • Replaceable tips – We’re big fans of replaceable tips and Covacure provides 3 different ones. Besides the standard tungsten tip there’s one for flat surfaces, one for mud and another for snowy trails. So you’re covered for every season.
  • Lifetime warranty – Covacure insures your complete satisfaction by offering a no-questions-asked lifetime warranty on their hiking poles.

The Bottom Line

While these Covacure sticks take a minute or two longer than other hiking poles to set up their ability to fold down to almost nothing makes them invaluable for the space-challenged hiker.

7. Montem Ultra Strong Hiking/Walking/Trekking Poles

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Montem has produced an undeniably strong, handsome and effective trekking pole that’s also lightweight, compact and versatile. These trekking poles are made from rugged yet light 7075 aluminum which, as we touched on above, is frequently used to craft the bodies of airplanes.

What We Like

  • Easy to use flip locks – The latch-style flip locks on these poles are some of the easiest we tested. Most adults will be able to open and close them with one hand and when they snap into place you can feel that they’re not going to pop off by accident.
  • Lightweight and tough – Each of these poles weighs a modest 9.6 ounces, which brings the total weight to less than 1.2 pounds. As such, using them all day isn’t going to wear you out.
  • 4 different tips – Each pole comes with the standard tungsten carbide tip for dirt and ice along with a snow tip, a mud tip and a tip for mixed or sandy surfaces.
  • Comfortable straps – Some hiking pole straps dig into your wrists. These wrap around your wrist comfortably and are fully adjustable to whatever degree of slack you desire.
  • Cork handles – While EVA makes for a wonderfully effective handle it’s just hard to beat the feel and comfort of cork.

The Bottom Line

We appreciate the quality and lightweight versatility of these poles. What we don’t understand is why they’re twice as much as other, comparable poles fashioned from the same material. If price is no object though you certainly can’t lose with these in your pack.

8. High Stream Gear Foldable Hiking & Trekking Poles

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High Stream Gear Foldable Hiking Poles take a similar approach to compact-ability as the Covacure trekking poles profiled above in that they fold rather than telescope into themselves. This allows them to collapse to a much smaller size than telescoping poles and, at 14.5 inches these are among the most compact you’ll find anywhere.

What We Like

  • Extremely compact – You can stow these puppies away in your standard day pack, tuck them into your full sized backpack horizontally or use the belt sheath to keep them readily available at all times.
  • Two sizes – In order to get the most out of their efforts to make these poles compact High Stream developed 2 different sized poles. A shorter one for teens and one for average to tall adults.
  • Cork/EVA handles – The main handle here is crafted from lightweight, moisture wicking cork and does an excellent job keeping your hands comfortable and warm. While the handle extension on the pole is made of EVA foam which is comfortable and won’t let your hand slip off.
  • 1 year warranty – High Stream offers a 1 year, hassle-free money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied for any reason they state they’ll refund your purchase, no questions asked.

The Bottom Line

If saving space is a paramount concern for you this type of foldable trekking pole is a must. It’s going to cost more than most telescoping poles but it’s handsome and durable and it won’t hog space in your backpack.

9. Trekology Trek-Z Collapsible Folding Walking Sticks

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Trekology Trek-Z Folding Walking Sticks are yet another example of the enormous utility of the folding trekking pole. While there’s evidence to support the notion that telescoping hiking poles are stronger (particularly when they are not fully extended) there is likely nothing you will encounter on an average hike that these folding walking sticks can’t handle easily.

What We Like

  • The cork grips – We’re big fans of cork because it’s comfortable to hold for long periods of time, it doesn’t get squishy when it gets wet and it’s light. Pretty much everything you want from a trekking pole handle.
  • EVA backup handles – Sometimes when the pole is extended you need to choke up on it a bit to gain more leverage. The plump, non-slip EVA shaft handles let you do that with confidence.
  • Light and durable – These Trekology hiking poles are fashioned from high strength 7076 aluminum which is often used on boats and airplanes. There is no way the metal itself is going to let you down regardless of the circumstances.
  • Different fixed lengths – Because the length of this type of pole can’t be adjusted once open Trekology has created 2 different lengths to accommodate people of different heights.

The Bottom Line

The real issue with this type of pole is not overall strength, it’s the ability (or rather the lack of ability) to adjust the length as you go. Once you open it up that’s it. No buts. If you’re okay with that then you’ll likely find these a space-saving must-have.

10. TrailBuddy Adjustable Hiking or Walking Sticks

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TrailBuddy fashion their Adjustable Walking Sticks from 7075 aluminum which gives them enduring strength without saddling them with excessive weight. The overall feeling is one of extreme comfort expressed in the beautiful balance of the poles the cork handles and the most comfortable wrist bands in the trekking pole market.

What We Like

  • Wide, comfy wrist bands – With some trekking poles the wristbands can be a kind of slow torture. Not here. These are the widest, softest and most comfortable you’ll find.
  • Flip locks – While they very occasionally wind up getting caught in your pants leg or on a bush we appreciate how easy it is to adjust the length of these hiking poles using the flip locks. The action is smooth and true and they lock securely in place with little effort.
  • Interchangeable tips – You have the standard tungsten carbide tip, a snow tip, a tip for loose sandy surfaces and a mud tip. This way you’re covered year-round.
  • Lots of colors – These TrailBuddy Walking Sticks are available in 8 different colors so there’s bound to be one that’s to your liking.

The Bottom Line

If comfort is high on your list of important attributes for hiking poles you won’t be disappointed with these TrailBuddy Walking Sticks.

11. BAFX Products Anti Shock Hiking/Walking/Trekking Trail Poles

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These hiking poles from BAFX seem pretty bare bones but it’s a classic case of not judging a book by its cover. While it’s true they don’t have a half dozen different tips these poles do have incredibly comfortable handles, twist locks that won’t get caught on underbrush or your pants leg and in internal shock absorption system that really gives your hands and wrists a break.

What We Like

  • That shock absorption system – Quite often when banging down the trail at a good clip it’s not your knees or back that suffer but your hands and wrists as the hiking pole takes the brunt of the impacts and transfers the force to your arms. The internal shock absorber here provides a welcome break from such abuse.
  • Secure adjustment – We love flip locks until the latch gets caught on a bush or our pants leg. Then we wish we had twist lock poles. Skip all the wishing and just get these twist locking poles to begin with. They take 2 hands to adjust but let’s be real, so do most flip locks.
  • Ergonomic grips – The grips don’t wick moisture away like cork but they feel great in your hand and that is another aspect of these poles that makes them easy to wield.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense trekking pole that will provide outstanding shock relief for your hands, wrists and arms look no further than these BAFX sticks.

12. Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

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Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are beautiful pieces of outdoor kit that also happen to perform as good as they look. These lightweight carbon fiber poles adjust quickly, collapse down just as quickly and come with a variety of interchangeable tips so they’re never out of season.

What We Like

  • That feather-like weight – When it comes to building sturdy yet lightweight trekking poles there is carbon fiber and then there is everything else. Don’t get us wrong there are lots of great aluminum poles out there but for sheer lightweight functionality carbon fiber is king.
  • The various tips – Foxelli provide mud and sand baskets, snow baskets, asphalt and rock tips and flat surface/storage tips to go along with the standard tungsten tip. So no matter the season or the conditions you’re covered.
  • Cork handles – Cork handles are where it’s at when it comes to maintaining a cool, effective grip. The EVA backup handle on the shaft is no slouch either and the wristbands are wide and comfy.
  • Outstanding compressibility – Slip the flat surface tips on these poles and slide them into your backpack until you’re ready for them again. They compress down to a mere 24 inches, which is close to best in class for telescoping trekking poles.
  • 90 day guarantee – If you’re not completely satisfied just return the poles within 90 days of purchase for a full refund.

Easily attach baskets and tips for extra stability on mud, water, snow or asphalt. Poles are collapsible to a compact size and come with a convenient carrying case to fit in your backpack or carry-on bag while traveling.

The Bottom Line

Great all-around trekking poles that are light as a feather, tough as nails and disappear into your pack with ease when you don’t need them. Comfortable, handsome and adaptable to different conditions as well.

13. BLACK DIAMOND Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

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The final item on our list of best trekking poles for hiking are these hybrids from Black Diamond with 7075 aluminum in the ergonomically curved upper section and lightweight, tough, carbon fiber in the lower 2 sections. These are some of the sleekest, lightest, best-balanced hiking poles out there and may spoil you from using straight trekking poles in the future.

What We Like

  • Love that curve – Having the upper portion of the pole angle gently back toward you makes your entire relationship to the pole much more natural and fluid. And that’s important if you’re the type whose idea of a good day hiking is one that starts at sun up and continues to sundown or beyond.
  • Cork handles – EVA is great but we’ll take cork every time for its ability to stay dry and retain its shape regardless of conditions. The handle extensions are also well considered, comfortable and won’t let you down when you need some extra leverage.
  • Carbon fiber/aluminum shaft – The dual material hybrid shaft provides strength and just enough flexibility to prevent excessive shock. You can be confident when crossing streams or navigating narrow trails with steep drop-offs that your poles are going to keep you upright and safe.
  • Light weight – The pair weighs a very modest 1.1 pounds which ensures your trekking poles are not going to be a drag on your progress. In addition, if you decide to stow them for a while and do some old-school hiking you won’t even notice them in your backpack.

The Bottom Line

These are some of the most ergonomically satisfying trekking poles you’ll ever find. They make the act of using a hiking pole seem as natural as walking. They’re also tough, light and compress to a mere 25 inches. Downside? They’re easily the most expensive poles on our list. Expensive being a relative term however, because it’s very likely your hiking shoes cost more and may not last as long.

Conclusion

The above list represents the crème de la crème of the current crop of hiking poles and any one of them will serve you well. From the subtle ergonomic curves of the Black Diamond to the surprising shock absorbing qualities of the BAFX to the incredible comfort of the wrist bands on the TrailBuddy they all have strong points that will surprise and satisfy.

Just remember to keep a few key characteristics in mind when shopping for your trekking poles:

  • Shaft material – High-grade aluminum or carbon fiber will provide maximum strength with minimum weight.
  • Handle material – In our humble opinion cork is best but EVA is not far behind. Either will serve you well. Many poles have a combination of both, which is pretty much a best-of-both-worlds scenario.
  • Compressibility – No one uses their hiking poles all the time which means you’ll need to be able to comfortably stow them away when they’re not in use. So they should be no longer than 26 or 27 inches long tops in their compact state.
  • Tips – Chances are you’re not a one-season hiker so your poles should not be one-season poles. Make sure there is more than 1 type of tip to handle different conditions.

The job of the trekking pole is to make your outdoor life easier. Any of the poles in this review list will do just that. So pick some up and get out there.

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