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You want to be able to cover a lot of ground on your hiking and backpacking trips. But after a few miles, you feel it in your knees. The best hiking poles can give you the support you need to finish your hike pain-free.

When you use hiking poles, you improve your stability and lessen the impact of each step. Hiking poles give you extra support and redistribute the weight you carry. The less force on your knees, the longer you can you stay out on the trail and enjoy your hike.

How do you know which hiking poles are right for you? In this article, we’ll look at several models and help you find which ones are equipped with the features that work best for your hiking needs.

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Quick Answer - The Best Hiking Poles

  1. Leki Micro Vario COR-TEC
  2. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
  3. Leki Corklite
  4. Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber
  5. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Pole
  6. BAFX Products Anti-Shock
  7. Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber
  8. Mountainsmith Rhyolite

 

Comparison Table - Best Trekking Poles for Hiking

PictureNameShaft MaterialGrip MaterialAdjustablePriceRating
Leki Micro Vario COR-TECAluminumCork/RubberYes$$$4.9
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon CorkCarbon FiberCorkYes$$$4.3
Leki CorkliteAluminumCork/RubberYes$$$4.5
Hiker Hunger Carbon FiberCarbon FiberCorkYes$$4.8
Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-PoleCarbon FiberFoamNo$$4.5
BAFX Products Anti-ShockAluminumRubberYes$4.3
Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon FiberCarbon FiberCorkYes$4.5
Mountainsmith RhyoliteAluminumFoamYes$4.1
PictureNameShaft MaterialGrip MaterialAdjustablePriceRating

Reviews - The Best Trekking Poles

Leki Micro Vario COR-TEC


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Best For: All-Around
  • Grip Material: Cork/Rubber
  • Shaft Material: Aluminum

BEST FOR DURABILITY

PROS: Internal spring to adjust tension levels, push button release for stowing, non-slip mid extension, air-textured strap, includes carry bag, durable

CONS: Too much vibration

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Best For: All-Around
  • Grip Material: Cork
  • Shaft Material: Carbon Fiber

BEST FOR ALL SEASONS

PROS: FlickLock adjustment mechanism, interchangeable rubber and carbide tips, includes trekking baskets and powder baskets, padded wrist straps, sturdy, durable

CONS: Clips are in an awkward location – can snag on terrain, tips can be difficult to change

Leki Corklite

Specs
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Best For: All-Around
  • Grip Material: Cork/Rubber
  • Shaft Material: Aluminum

BEST FOR BEGINNERS

PROS: SpeedLock supports 192 lbs., includes performance basket and carbide tips, air textured wrist straps, durable

CONS: Poles sometimes do not stay locked

Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber

Specs
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Best For: Ultralight
  • Grip Material: Cork
  • Shaft Material: Carbon Fiber

BEST FOR ALL TERRAINS

PROS: Ultralight, Quick Flip lock adjustment mechanism; includes rubber tips, rubber feet, mud baskets, and snow baskets; includes carry bag, wrist strap

CONS: Noisy, baskets and tip protectors are heavy, not durable

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Pole

Specs
  • Adjustable: No
  • Best For: Ultralight
  • Grip Material: Foam
  • Shaft Material: Carbon Fiber

BEST FOR ULTRALIGHT TRIPS

PROS: Ultralight, foldable, push button release, includes interchangeable rubber tips and carbide tips, pole baskets with shaft catchers, wrist strap, durable

CONS: Not adjustable, no padding on straps

BAFX Products Anti-Shock

Specs
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Best For: Shock Absorbing
  • Grip Material: Rubber
  • Shaft Material: Aluminum

BEST ON A BUDGET

PROS: Inexpensive, turn locking adjustment mechanism, anti-shock springs, includes carbide tips and rubber tips, includes mud basket, padded wrist strap

CONS: Difficult to adjust, poles sometimes do not stay locked, tips fall off

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber

Specs
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Best For: Budget
  • Grip Material: Cork
  • Shaft Material: Carbon Fiber

BEST FOR DAY HIKES

PROS: Inexpensive, QuickLock adjustment mechanism, includes carbide and boot tips, includes snow, mud, and sand baskets, wrist strap

CONS: Poles can snap in rugged terrain, poles sometimes do not stay locked, not durable

Mountainsmith Rhyolite

Specs
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Best For: Budget
  • Grip Material: Foam
  • Shaft Material: Aluminum

BEST FOR WARM WEATHER HIKING

PROS: Inexpensive, spring loaded anti-shock system, twist lock adjustment mechanism, removable hiking basket, snow basket compatible, includes carbide tips, wrist strap

CONS: Heavy, pole segments sometimes get stuck, tips wear out quickly

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST HIKING POLES

1. ADJUSTABILITY

If you read our article on how to use trekking poles, you know they work like an extendable arm to keep you balanced. You may start your hike on flat terrain, climb a mountain, and then move down a rocky slope. Adjustable hiking poles can help you compensate for these terrain changes.

As you move uphill, you can shorten adjustable poles accordingly. After you reach the peak, you can lengthen them to accommodate the change in slope.

Hiking poles that are not adjustable must be sized properly at the time of purchase. These poles work best if your hikes happen on flat terrain.

 

2. SHAFT MATERIAL

The shaft material of your hiking pole affects its weight and durability. The hiking poles included in this guide have shafts made with aluminum or carbon fiber. What’s the difference between these two options?

 

ALUMINUM

Aluminum hiking poles are a little heavier. However, they’re also more durable and affordable. This material is a great option if you’re on a budget or will encounter rough terrain.

 

CARBON FIBER

Carbon fiber hiking poles are the lightest option on the market. They tend to be more expensive, but are also less durable than aluminum. If weight is your biggest concern, these could be the best hiking pole choice for you.

 

3. GRIP MATERIAL

When you use hiking poles, they should function as a seamless support for each step you take. For this reason, the point where your body connects to the poles – the grip – is important.

There are three materials – cork, foam, and rubber – frequently used as hiking pole grips. You want to select a grip material you’ll feel comfortable holding for many hours.

 

CORK

Cork will conform to your grip over time. The material absorbs some water. This can keep it from becoming uncomfortable on warm-weather outings.

 

FOAM

Foam is a great choice for hiking in hot weather. It wicks away water, keeping your hands dry while you hike. It’s the lightest grip material, but it’s also the least durable.

 

RUBBER

Rubber is water-resistant. It also insulates well against the cold, making it a good fit for cold-weather hikes. Its water-resistance makes it a poor fit for summer hiking. All that water collects on the handles and can rub against your skin resulting in blisters.

 

4. SHOCK ABSORPTION

Some hiking poles have springs that can help your body absorb shock as you hike. Some hikers love this feature; others find the spring tension a hindrance. If you suffer from knee pain or other injuries, you may like hiking poles with this feature.

Looking for more ways to reduce pain while hiking? Read our article on dealing with knee pain while hiking.

READ MORE

For more of our top hiking & backpacking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

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