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.

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

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QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST HIKING POLES

  1. Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec
  2. Leki Corklite
  3. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
  4. Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber
  5. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Pole
  6. Rei Carbon Composite Power Lock
  7. Bafx Products Anti-Shock 
  8. Rei Traverse Shocklight
  9. Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber
  10. Mountainsmith Rhyolite

 

 

 

 

HIKING POLES REVIEWS

LEKI MICRO VARIO TI COR-TEC

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Fall, Winter, Spring Hiking and Backpacking

WOMEN’S VERSION: Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec

SHAFT MATERIAL: Aluminum

GRIP MATERIAL: Cork/Rubber

ADJUSTABLE: Yes

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

 

 

 

LEKI CORKLITE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Fall, Winter, Spring Hiking

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

SHAFT MATERIAL: Aluminum

GRIP MATERIAL: Cork/Rubber

ADJUSTABLE: Yes

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

CONS: Poles sometimes do not stay locked

 

 

 

BLACK DIAMOND ALPINE CARBON CORK

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer Hiking and Backpacking

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

SHAFT MATERIAL: Carbon Fiber

GRIP MATERIAL: Cork

ADJUSTABLE: Yes

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

 

 

 

 

HIKER HUNGER CARBON FIBER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Summer, Fall, Spring Hiking and Backpacking

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

SHAFT MATERIAL: Carbon Fiber

GRIP MATERIAL: Cork

ADJUSTABLE: Yes

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

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Summer, Fall, Spring Hiking and Backpacking

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

SHAFT MATERIAL: Carbon Fiber

GRIP MATERIAL: Foam

ADJUSTABLE: No

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

 

 

 

REI CARBON COMPOSITE POWER LOCK

REI Co-op Trekking Poles-Pair

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Fall, Spring, Summer, Hiking and Backpacking

WOMEN’S VERSION: REI Carbon Composite Power Lock 

SHAFT MATERIAL: Carbon Fiber

GRIP MATERIAL: Foam

ADJUSTABLE: Yes

PROS: Ultralight, power lock external adjustment mechanism, fitted with removable trekking baskets, fitted with carbide tips, padded wrist straps

CONS: Poles sometimes do not stay locked, tips are difficult to change

 

 

 

 

BAFX PRODUCTS ANTI-SHOCK

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Fall, Winter, Spring Hiking and Backpacking

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

SHAFT MATERIAL: Aluminum

GRIP MATERIAL: Rubber

ADJUSTABLE: Yes

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

 

 

 

REI TRAVERSE SHOCKLIGHT

REI Co-Op Treaverse trekking poles

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Summer, Fall, Spring Hiking and Backpacking

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

SHAFT MATERIAL: Aluminum

GRIP MATERIAL: Foam

ADJUSTABLE: Yes

PROS: Anti-shock springs which can be turned on and off, DuoLock adjustment mechanism, fitted with trekking discs and carbide tips, includes tip protectors, wrist strip, sturdy

CONS: Poles sometimes do not stay locked, spring mechanism can get jammed

 

 

 

 

CASCADE MOUNTAIN TECH CARBON FIBER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer Hiking

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

SHAFT MATERIAL: Carbon Fiber

GRIP MATERIAL: Cork

ADJUSTABLE: Yes

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

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Fall, Spring, Summer Hiking

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

SHAFT MATERIAL: Aluminum

GRIP MATERIAL: Foam

ADJUSTABLE: Yes

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

 

 

 

 

COMPARISON TABLE: FIND THE BEST HIKING POLES FOR YOUR NEEDS

PICTURE
HIKING POLE
BEST FOR
SHAFT MATERIAL
GRIP MATERIAL
ADJUSTABLE
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
HIKING POLE
BEST FOR
SHAFT MATERIAL
GRIP MATERIAL
ADJUSTABLE
PRICE
RATING
Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec
All-Around
Aluminum
Cork/Rubber
Yes
$$$
4.9
Leki Corklite
All-Around
Aluminum
Cork/Rubber
Yes
$$$
4.5
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
All-Around
Carbon Fiber
Cork
Yes
$$$
4.3
Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber
Ultralight
Carbon Fiber
Cork
Yes
$$
4.8
Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Pole
Ultralight
Carbon Fiber
Foam
No
$$
4.5
REI Co-op Trekking Poles-Pair
REI Carbon Composite Power Lock
Ultralight
Carbon Fiber
Foam
Yes
$$$
4.3
BAFX Products Anti-Shock
Shock Absorbing
Aluminum
Rubber
Yes
$
4.3
REI Co-Op Treaverse trekking poles
REI Traverse Shocklight
Shock Absorbing
Aluminum
Foam
Yes
$$
4.1

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber
Budget
Carbon Fiber
Cork
Yes
$
4.5
Mountainsmith Rhyolite
Budget
Aluminum
Foam
Yes
$
4.1

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Top 10 Best Hiking Poles of 2017 – Best Hiking Gear For Beginners – Backpacking Gadgets – Hiking Equipment List for Women, Men and Kids
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