The 6 Best Trekking Poles in 2020 – Reviewed
The debate about using trekking poles continues in the hiking community, but there’s no doubt that they remain a popular piece of equipment.
(If you aren’t sure if trekking poles are right for you, check out our article on how to use hiking poles.)
Here, you’ll find a plethora of useful information about how trekking poles could improve your time on the trails. For those of you who’ve already decided to invest in a new pair of trekking poles, we’ve gathered together your best options. With so many options regarding materials, locking mechanisms, pole tips, and more, there’s a lot to consider.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
And here’s an overview of the best trekking poles on the market today
If you’re a hiker, or you’re off on a backpacking trip, we’ve put together this list of the best trekking poles so you can get the best backcountry experience. There are a lot of reasons to use trekking polesor walking sticks, they can improve your balance and stability, and turn your hike into a full-body workout. First, we’ll go over the different considerations and options you can keep in mind when buying a new pair of trekking poles.
Trekking pole considerations
When picking out your ideal companion on the trails, you’ll need to know what you’re looking for. Trekking and hiking poles come in a whole huge range of prices, materails, weights, and features. We’ll lay it all out here, so you can see all the options and find the best pick for your next expedition. Many hiking poles come in men’s and women’s versions, however most are unisex and suitable for all.
Weight is one of the most influential factors in any hiking, backpacking, or camping purchase. You have to carry trekking poles in your hands all day long, so you don’t want to be weighed down or tired out. For shorter day hikes, weight is less important. However, if you’re gearing up for en extended trip, it’s better to go more lightweight. Remember you’ll lift up these trekking poles thousands of times a day, so make sure you get a comfortable option. The lightest trekking poles are made from carbon fiber, with heavier and more sturby options aluminum.
Trekking pole materials also have a big impact on their weight, durability, and general quaality. As always, any seroius hiker wants reliable and high quality gea, so make sure you get hiking poles made from premium materials. Carbon fiber and aluminum are the two most popular options by far. Carbon fiber poles are uber-lightweight, but they’re also more expensive and more succeptible to breakage. Aluminum on the other hand is much stronger, and less likely to break under pressure. This can make aluminum the more reliable choice, they’re also cheaper but slightly heavier.
As with almost every outdoor gear decision, you have to find the balance between weight and durabiliy. Carbon fiber poles are more energy-efficient and comfortable on the trails, but you might find in the long run they aren’t durable, and need costly replacements. On the other hand, aluminum is heavy but strong, and also more easily repaired. You decision should come down to hiking style; we recommend stronger poles for serious expeditios, but lightweight hikers might need to avoid the heavier aluminum.
There are several different pole design types which affect how you set up, store, and transport your poles. Usually their useability remains the same, but hiking pole design can change how adjustments are made.
- Telescoping: Telescopic hiking poles are generally the most popular, featuring several sections which nest and colapse on one and other. These three-section trekking poles also feature a locking mechanism to prevent them from sliding out of place during use. Usually, telescoping poles are the most adjustible and packable.
- Folding: Foldable hiking poles, or Z-poles, fold into thirds for storage and transportation. These work in a similar way to a tent pole, where a cantral cord holds everything together. Folding trekking poles are usualy lighter than the previous telescopic option, however they have less adjustibility.
- Fixed: Some hiking poles are fixed in length and shape, so it’s more of a one-size fits all approach with this option.
Consider how you plan to transport your new hiking poles from place to place. When not in use, you’ll need to think about the pack size of your hiking poles. Ususally z-poles fold down the smallest, but collapsible telescopic poles can also pack down into a convenient size.
The locking systems used in trekking poles can make a big difference when it comes to your confidence on the trails. Commonly twist locks and flick locks are used, with twist locks being more complicated. Flip and flick locks tend to be more reliable over time, but it all depends on how well you maintain your gear. You might also want to think about grip material on your new poles, and the wrist straps are important as well. Having the best grip with a wrist strap will give you maximum stabilty on the trails.
Carbite or rubber tips give your trekking poles a different pont of contact with the ground, but either way they should be replaced regularly. You can make the best choice to give you good traction, remember you can always swap them out on the trails. Internal shock absorbers are popular with some hikers, you can see these on more expensive trekking poles. These reduce impact on your joints, but they can make you less secure, and we recommend a more stable choice. Poles with shock absorbtion can actually make going uphill more of a struggle. Now you know everything to look for, without further ado, let’s jump in and find the best trekking poles.
Best Trekking Pole – Overview
1. Leki Micro Vario Carbon Antishock Foldable Trekking Poles
- Easy to use - a push button releases the pole voltage
This ultralight pair of trekking poles has a tent pole style foldable design. We love this set of poles because they’re super packable, folding down into a 40cm size and easily stored in your backpack. The Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles are a great choice for ultralight hikers at less than 1 pound for the pair. One feature we love is Leki’s Speedlock 2 system, which gives these hiking poles 8 inches of adjustment length. They’re also really user-friendly, with a quick and easy deployment. Check out how to adjust a trekking pole, and learn some other valuable details about hiking poles in our article.
Although not as high-class as cork hand grips, the Aergon foam grips on these walking poles are very comfortable. The premium construction and high-quality materials make this pole an exceptional choice. It’s dependable, top-notch equipment, a great option for serious hikers. Try out these carbon fiber trekking poles on your next expedition up one of Colorado’s 14ers, or on a hike through Yosemite. Whatever the endeavour, this pair of trekking poles will support you through it.
- Quick deployment
- Adjustible poles- 8 inch range
- Comfortable grips
- Foam grips, not cork
- Less durable due to ultralight weight
2. Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Adjustible Trekking Poles
- HIGH QUALITY STRONG VALUE - Poles are built with 100% CARBON FIBER which is known for its light weight. These poles are user friendly for beginners and strong for thru hikers.
If you want great quality trekking poles on a budget which still use a carbon fiber shaft material, these Cascade Mountain poles are worth considering. They weigh 16oz, a little heavier than our previous option but still light enough for most hikers. We love the fast-action lever lock system becuase it’s so easy to use, and this pair of poles comes with snow baskets for year-round use. These poles are telescopic and extendable, ranging from 26 to 54 inches.
The cork grips are moisoture-wicking, so your hands don’t get sweaty. The carbon shaft is great at keeping the poles lightweight, but it isn’t as durable as some other hiking poles. For day hikes, we think the Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber trekking poles are a great choice. If you’re on a more serious expedition, check out our next, more durable option.
- Telescopic adjustible
- Lever locking system
- Cork grips
- Not durable
- Casual hiking only
3. Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles
- ✅【EASILY ADJUSTED】Adjustable quick locks allow you to QUICKLY & EASILY lengthen the poles from 24” to 53” in order to achieve the perfect height for your needs.
In these highly durable hiking poles, Montem has combines the convenience of telescopic poles with their handy flick lock mechanism to make the poles easily adjustible and highly usable. These hiking poles are made from aicraft-grade aluminum, a super strong material. Any hike, stroll, or adventure would be well accompanied by these workout poles. At 9.6oz per pole, they’re still lightweight while offering much more durability than some of our other options. This means you won’t have to worry about scratches, dents, and other general trail wear.
Tungsten carbide tips give you extra traction on trails, snow, and ice, by giving you a direct point of contact with the ground. Padded straps and EVA foam grips keep your hands comportable and relaxed, making these poles ideal for winter hiking. For use by hikers from 4 feet to 6’8” tall, and up to 400lbs, these all-season poles are a reliable choice. They’re also available in 9 color options. We love the Montem Ultra Strong trekking poles for casual day hiking and backpacking, but mountain expeditions and other tough terrain neads a more high-tech pole.
- Highly durable
- Strong aluminum shaft material
- Good for travel
- Heavier than other options
- For casual hikes, not challenging terrain
4. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Pole
- Slide Lock technology improves ease-of-use when locking your pole
These uber-lightweight pole is intended for speed hikers and other fast movers on the trails. The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Poles are incredibly light as about 10oz per pair, which pack away into a highly convenient and compact size. There are no size adjustment options, so you’ll have to pick from four fixed-length options. Even the largest is still so lightweight it’s ideal for trail runners.
Remember, these lightweight poles aren’t made for serious extended missions. Although they’re sturdy, they aren’t as durable as other options and we recommend reserving these Black Diamond poles for day hikes and lightweight endeavours. You might find these trekking poles ares’t durable enough for the mountains or for backpacking.
- Super lightweight
- Packable and easy to carry
- Easy to store and deploy
- Not as durable
- Backpackers need stronger poles
5. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork poles are made from an aluminium shaft material, featuring an ergonomic cork handle that wicks sweat, and keeps your hands comfy for hours. These poles use a flick lock system to easily alter the pole length, and rather than carbon fiber; the aluminum shaft is sturdy enough for most travel terrains. Adjustment is easy with Black Diamond’s Flicklock system, but the minimum length of 27 inches might be a little bulky for some backpackers.
One thing we love about these Blacl Diamond trekking poles is the 15-degree angle on the grip. This small detail makes a big difference, giving you more scomfort and security from a better grip on the pole. As a strong aluminum pole in the weight range of 16-22oz, these hiking poles are a great choice for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers will find these trekking poles ideal for most trils and terrains. The only downside is, snow baskets and other accessories must be purchased seperately.
- Easy flick locking system
- Sturdy but lightweight
- 15-degree angle on grip
- Larger minimum packed size
- Accessories sold seperately
6. Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles
- 100% CARBON FIBER: Foxelli Trekking Poles (also known as Nordic walking poles or hiking sticks) are made from 100% carbon fiber material, which is known for its incredible lightness. Each pole weighs...
These carbon fiber trekking poles from Amazon promise you’ll burn 20% more calories on the trail! While we aren’t sure how accurate that is, there’s a lot of evidence that trekking poles do increase the calories you burn while hiking. The lightweight poles absorb shock from the ground, while carbide tips keep a good point of contact with the trails. The quick locking mechanism allows for easy adjustment between 24 and 55 inches, a wide and useful range.
These durable trekking poles come with snow baskets, rock tips, and other useful additions. These acessories give you a broader range of use with your trekking poles, so they can give you stability no mattter the terrain. These poles are idea for casual day hikes, as they aren’t strong or long-lasting enough for the mountains. More reliable gear is available at higher prices, with these budget poles from Foxelli offering good value for money.
- Wide adjustment range
- Accessories and additions included
- Not long lasting
- Not strong enough for serious hikers
7. Trekology Trek-Z Hiking Poles
- Increase Your Foot Print! Trek-Z Ergonomic Trekking Poles (set of 2) give you reason to increase the steps you take. Help Prevent knee injury, support extra weight, and walk comfortably with these...
These Trekology hiking poles feature an ergonomic cork handle and EVA foam shafts, which we love for extra grip in extreme environments. The flick lock makes for quick adjustments, but it isn’t the most reliable locking mechanism. Made from aluminum, these poles last longer and take more impact than their carbon fiber counterparts, better for challenging terrains and heavy loads.
We love how packable these trekking poles are, they collapse easily into a 15-inch package. Each pair of poles is available in two adjustible sizes for a whole range of hiker coverage, each comes with a handy holder bag. Weighing in at just under 10 ounces each, these strong poles are great for goinf cross-country. Our main issue with this model is the lock, which can be unreliable and difficult to use. We’d also point out that the cork/EVA grips aren’t as high quiality or comforable as some of our other options, and this could lead to discomfort on the trails.
- Strong and durable
- Comes with a carry bag
- Small 15-inch pack size
- Unreliable lock mechanism
- Uncomfortable handles
Ideally, trekking poles should find a balance between weight and durability, between useability and long-lastingness. Trying to pick out a new pair of hiking poles can be difficult, if you’re trying to get poles which won’t weigh you down, but also won’t break on the trail. Our winning trekking poles do a great job fulfilling all requirements, they’re ideal for almost every hiking use.
The best trekking poles available right now are the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork hiking poles. These carbon poles will work out your upper body on the trails, offering great calue and a lot of useability. Made from aluminum, the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork hiking poles are strong and sturdy enough for long-distance mountianeering, while still lightweight at 9 oz each. Black Diamond’s reliable flick lock system gives these poles good adjustability. The namesake uber-comforabe cork grips are perfect for miles and miles.
Although the minimum length of 27 inches could be an issue, these poles can still clip unobtrusively to the outside of your pack. While not as compact as other options, these trekking poles are still lightweight and an ideal three-section hiking pole option. We love these durable trekking poles, they’re comfortable enough for even the most challenging hikes, helping make your walk more enjoyable instead of encumbering you. Although they aren’t collabsible poles, we still think the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork offers the most useability, and the best value, so they’re our favorite trekking poles.
Bonus tip: Check out this handy video to learn about Black Diamond’s ultra-lightweight series of trekking poles!