With the growth in adventure tourism, more and more people are getting attracted towards trekking. This has created a good demand for the trekking poles as well. To respond to this rise in demand, sellers are coming up with a variety of trekking poles with each claiming their poles to be the best trekking poles.
Different sellers are offering different features in their products. On the one side, it is providing ample selection opportunities for the buyers; on the other side, so many options are creating a lot of confusion in their minds.
TOP Best Trekking Poles in 2020
The problem is how to choose the best from so many options. To help you solve this problem, we are sharing with you the top 16 best trekking poles with their features, pros, and cons.
We would further present the important factors that you may consider before finalizing a pair of trekking poles.
Best Overall Trekking Poles
1. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork trekking poles have an all-aluminum construction, have one of the best cork grips that fell great when handling them and come at a very reasonable price. Because they are made from aluminum, the only way about 18oz and are very easy to handle. Even if you think the aluminum won’t be able to handle rough terrain, they carry themselves pretty good when it comes to rocks, snow, and dirt.
They only come at 82 dollars, so when compared to other trekking poles, it is a pretty good price for what you get. Even though carbon fiber poles are now dominating the market, these poles are fantastic if you want some easy to handle and reliable poles. They also have FlickLock adjusters, which are amazing if you want to customize your length. When you try them out at first, they may seem a bit longer than your standard trekking poles, but as time passes by, you will get used to them quickly.
When we began to make this trekking poles review, it is no coincidence that we put the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork first, because all-in-all they are amazing all around.
Best Budget Trekking Poles
2. Montem Ultra Strong
This company has recently been established in New York, so we can say that it is quite young and tries to burst into the market. Even if they are quite new, they have been making incredible strides, and the one thing that stands out about these poles is that they are way cheaper than the premium poles.
The model that is building up in popularity is the Ultra Strong. They have an aluminum built and have quite good foam hand grips. For people who are just beginning to take up hiking, these can be quite good poles to start with. They can feel a bit heavier than premium poles, coming with a weight of 19.2oz, but for beginners and people who are going on day hikes, they won’t notice the extra weight. As we said, the price is what stands out, and for only 60 dollars, you are getting solid trekking poles. But for that price you must sacrifice something, they can’t be perfect.
What the Ultra Strong lack is durability. We can’t recommend these poles if you are planning to go on long hikes, in which you will encounter difficult terrain. People who have used them when going on those problematic hikes have said that they feel the vibrations and can hear cracking when they put pressure on them. You want to feel safe when you hike, and getting a pair of these when you go through terrain, is not a good idea.
3. Black Diamond Trail Back
We are not even halfway through our trekking poles review, and already the Black Diamond has its second model of poles. The Trail Back model you can say is the younger brother to the Trail Ergo Cork. Some features are not included, but they have kept the aluminum built and FlickLock adjusters that everyone has mentioned that they love. You can get these pole for a mere 80 dollars, which puts them in the category of poles under 100 dollars. But unlike the Montem’s that we have just mentioned, the Trail Back have a better track record when it comes to durability.
They are quite heavier than your premium poles, coming in at 20oz, and we don’t recommend them if you are planning to go on a multiple-day hike or backpacking trip. The cork grip has also been replaced with rubber ones, that aren’t as comfortable, and can’t absorb sweat and your hand after some time can feel sore. It is a step down from the Trail Ergo Cork, but the durability you get and quality for the price they go for, they will do their job just fine.
4. MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon
The majority of trekking poles that we will list are poles that are for use during the summer and hikes that won’t take so much time. But if you want poles that will do amazingly during the winter season and will have no problem engaging the snow and ice, the MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon will do the job. They have a slick Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber build that we have noticed to be very tough and can withstand harsh terrains. Other than the build, the Ascent is like every other standard pole, they collapse quite easily and are very compact. The weight around 16oz, and they can be adjusted on the spot.
For the price of 150 dollars, you are getting one of the best hiking poles for that price. But people use them in the summer, which we think is a bit too much. You can find significantly lighter poles, even for that price, that will do the job as well. Even though they have foam grips, on this model the foam isn’t as comfortable. Plus, at the top of the poles, there is quite a bit of plastic sticking out that after a while, can get a bit uncomfortable.
Don’t let those small downsides stir you away from these poles. They are one of the best poles for every season in the year. Whether you are hiking up in snow or the summertime, the MSR does a phenomenal job.
5. Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec
These poles are placed in the folding poles category, and with their ergonomic cork grips and a price of 140 dollars, we can say that these poles are one of the best hiking poles in this category. One of their best features is that you can fold them down to 15.5 inches, which you can’t with any other model. Leki has its type of lock system call the Speed lock, and this particular model has an added lock system, giving you two types of locking systems. They have a small dial, which you can use to make the tighter, and that can add to the durability of the poles.
Even though they are folding poles, they can be quite heavier than the other poles in this category. Coming in at 20.4oz, they are heavier because the material they are made of is cheaper and heavier than their carbon contenders. We know that in general folding poles are weaker than the non-folding poles and because the Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec are made from aluminum, they are one of the weakest folding poles in their category.
6. Leki Women’s Micro Vario Carbon
Leki Women’s Micro Vario Carbon poles are one of the most comfortable poles available. At 1 lb 0.2 oz, these poles find their place under the ultra-light category. High modulus carbon used in shaft construction ensures this lightweight feature of the trekking poles. The length of the pole is adjustable from the maximum of 48”, collapsing down to 15.5”, which is a fairly good range among other hiking poles. Thanks to the SpeedLock2 system, length adjustment is pretty quick.
Besides, a soft touch grip made of foam adds to the comfort level. Moreover, it absorbs the sweat of the palm and provides excellent convenience during trekking. The hollow core design of the grips helps in keeping the pole lighter. It further provides extra comfort on rather steeper regions because of its roundness on all sides. The 80 corrective angle allows the wrists to be in a neutral and comfortable position during most of the hiking. Wrist straps are adjustable without the buckles. The fabric gives moisture-wicking properties to the wrist strap and keeps them sweat-free. This pair of poles use External Lever Lock Mechanism, making it easy to adjust. Besides, it features the Standard Basket type.
Many additional features make Leki Women’s Micro Vario Carbon poles quite reliable and durable. For instance, machined aluminum sleeves protect the carbon section ends, making it durable. Further, Carbide Flextips for secured holding during all hiking adventures and special reinforced tension cord for reliability are a few more such features making these trekking poles better than most of the other available in the segment. All the above features make them a highly versatile pair and one of the best hiking poles.
Best Ultralight Trekking Poles for Thru-Hiking
7. Gossamer Gear LT5
Gossamer Gear LT5 is one of the most extraordinarily lightweight pair of poles available in the market. At an exceptionally low weight of 5.3 oz, these pairs of poles offer you high portability while allowing you to hike effortlessly at high speeds. These airy poles provide you with a three-section design for extra flexibility and compatibility. Moreover, the twist lock and the adjustable pole straps amplify the convenience. Even while being in the category of ultra-light poles, the Gossamer Gear LT5 fulfills all the basic requirements of all kinds of users, including fast runners, climbers, and backpackers, unlike its other competitors. These poles offer fascinatingly high durability, strength, and ruggedness even at such a low weight. Also, the wrist straps are extremely comfortable and convenient to use.
Opposed to the regular foam grips, these poles have a really firm & comfortable cork grip. The lightly padded adjustable pole straps enhance its versatility. Besides, this pair of poles includes a removable trekking basket. The overall design has been kept simple and clean. The pole has an adjustable length ranging between size as compact as 23.5” while kept closed, and 51” while extended completely. Engineered with high precision, these poles are rounded perfectly for extra comfort & convenience.
The only problem with them is the bit too thin wrist straps, which make them slightly uncomfortable during hiking. Well, if you are looking for an extremely light weighted pair of poles that does not compromise much with the features, the Gossamer Gear LT5 would be one of the best suitable options for you because of its high quality and useful features.
8. REI Co-op Flash Carbon
With some cautious and positive compromises for higher adjustability and lightweight, the Unisex REI Co-Op Flash Carbon is one of the best pairs of trekking poles in terms of comfort. The perfectly adequate strength and convenience provided by the pair is unmatched. Moreover, the sturdy aluminum built Powerlock 3.0 provides satisfactory protection to these poles. The vast range of adjustable length from 41”-55” and the compatibility up to 27” makes it a satisfactorily flexible and versatile choice for modern hikers. Moreover, thick carbon shafts and aluminum poles make it suitable for heavy-duty & robust and also a perfect choice for regular trails & hikes.
In addition, the ergonomically designed comfortable foam grips add on to the convenience. At an affordable price, these pairs of poles provide a reasonable comfort along with high strength. Also, the carbon fiber shafts are shock absorbing and the padded grip prevents moisture and sweat in hot summer days. But due to the lightweight, these poles are not well recommended for long-duration or long-distance trekking. Also, the unsuitability in technical climbing, exhaustive running and scrambling decrease their versatility to some extent.
In total, the lighter weight of 14.8 oz and good quality and construction of this pair makes it a worthwhile choice overall.
Best Collapsible Trekking Poles
9. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z
Weighing at minute 9 oz, the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z is one of the best trekking poles as far as high convenience and portability are concerned. Unlike other ordinary lightweight trekking poles, this top quality pair does not feel cheap or fragile. With its light yet strong foam grips, carbon fiber shaft and stripped-down features, these poles offer you a very high value for money. If you are strictly looking for a satisfactorily durable pair of poles that does not become a hurdle in your hiking and trail running, you can blindly go with these feathery trekking poles.
In addition, these pairs are highly versatile and backpack friendly, which eliminates your worry about the portability. Moreover, four different non-adjustable length options add on to its strength. For significantly high durability, these trekking poles are constructed with 100% carbon, which is firmly protected with an aluminum ring. Besides, the three-section foldable design provides a highly compact size with a fast-response deployment. But since there exists no silver without its dross, the Black Diamond Carbon Z also contains some weaker points. Large gaps between different length options make them unsuitable for many people.
Moreover, the grips won’t be very comfortable and might fail to satisfy the experienced climbers. Also, due to the lightweight and comparatively delicate features, this pair is not usually recommended for heavy-duty purposes. But while considering the overall quality and features offered, Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z can be a highly fruitful choice for you. Engineered while keeping in mind the fast movers, these pairs of poles are extremely suitable for you if you keep lighter weight, portability, and flexibility at top priority.
10. Black Diamond Distance Z
The Black Diamond Distance Z are the cheaper version of the Black Diamond Carbon Z. They are a bit heavier than the carbon version, but they still are quite light, coming in at 12.5oz. Because they are made from aluminum, they are more durable than the carbon version, and when you go out and try them out, you will not worry about them snapping when applying a decent amount of weight on them. The best thing about them is that they are only 100 dollars, which is 70 dollars less than the carbon version. So if you don’t mind 2 to 3oz more, and you want good compact poles that you can pack easily, the Distance Z can be a pretty good buy for you.
When we made this trekking poles review, we put them in because they are one of few that aren’t adjustable. But they have an FLZ version that is adjustable, but they will cost you 40 dollars more. Adjustability can matter to some people. We think it is not worth paying the extra 40 dollars for them. We have tested and reviewed lots of trekking poles that aren’t adjustable, and for most of them, we haven’t had any issues. If you are a person who wants that adjustability and doesn’t care about the price, you will still get poles that are great and super lightweight.
11. Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec
Leki throughout the years have proven that their cork grip is one of the best on the trekking pole market. The Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec are no exception. The top of the handgrip is a bit bent on this model, but they still feel perfect in your hands.
The Makalu Lite has all the classic features that are significant to Leki, but they also have lever locks and weigh around 17oz. This model doesn’t include the amazing Speed Lock 2, but the simplified version of it does the job as well. If you choose to buy these poles, you will be guaranteed a very strong hold and a locking mechanism that you can do with your hands.
Laki also makes a different version of the Makalu Lite Cor-Tec that has a shock-absorbing system, but we think it is not worth spending 20 dollars plus for something that you don’t need, plus that is another piece that can break very easily. We have put these poles on this because they are quite good poles, but if you compare them with other brands and if you search well enough, we think that you can find poles for the same price or even cheaper that have the same if not better features.
12. Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock
Cascade Mountain Tech are known on the market as a company that gives you one of the cheapest poles, but still have some qualities as premium poles. When we mention carbon fiber built poles, high-end poles come to mind, but Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock has a price just beneath 50 dollars. With that price, you get carbon fiber poles, with simple lever lock, foam grips and they only weigh around 16oz. You also get some extra accessories in those 50 dollars, including rubber tips for the handgrips and a couple of sets of baskets, if you want to go hiking in mud or snow.
This model comes either in foam or cork grips, and normally we will always choose the cork grip over the foam grip, but because the cork is made of cheap materials, it will probably break down over time.
Because these are quite cheap poles, you will encounter a few downsides. First of all, they aren’t built for durability, even if they can withstand a bit of weight. If you apply quite a bit of pressure, they will crack or snap. Because they wanted to cut the cost a bit more, the adjustment system is built with plastic, and we all know how much is needed for plastic to crack or break.
At the end of the day, if you take good care of them, they will do their job and after all, you are getting carbon fiber poles three times cheaper then what you would normally have to pay if you buy the carbon fiber models form some high-end brand.
13. Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock
When we talk about premium trekking poles, Black Diamond is always in the conversation. They have made a name for themselves for their quality and durability. The Trail Pro Shock, unlike the other models, has a built it absorbing mechanism. This mechanism will make the poles heavier, and some people don’t actually need this additional mechanism on their poles. The rebound control that the handles of the poles have works impressive, and you will never be caught off guard with an unpredictable rebound.
They have proven that the system works both with light and heavy impacts. The other features that the poles have are what make Black Diamond so popular. Their quality materials perfectly put together to make these poles one of the best on the market. These, in particular, have a metal FlickLock pro, unlike any other poles. What we think may be downsides to these poles is the foam grips and the extra weight they have due to the build it adsorbing mechanism.
Nevertheless, the foam grips are alright and fit in your hand nicely. After a while, you get used to the weight.
14. Kelty Upslope 2.0
These may be the best poles for someone interested in starting using trekking poles on their hiking trips. For a price of 40 dollars, you get decent aluminum poles, with foam grips and they even add some rubber tips if you want to use them on the pavement. For that 40 dollar price, you will give up some important features and accessories.
First of all, unlike all the previous poles that have a lever locking system, the Upslope 2.0 have a twist lock. If you go on some easy, light hikes, this lock will hold on nicely, but as soon as you start putting them under quite a strain, they will eventually start to crack.
15. BAFX Products Anti-Shock Poles
These poles are the cheapest on the list, and we recommend that you only buy and use them if you plan to go on easy hikes and light terrains. They have basic grips made of plastic, twist-lock that will slip eventually, and they weigh right around 24oz. Because they are made of aluminum, they can hold up good over time if you take good care of them. They also have built-in springs that can help with the vibrations you feel from time to time when you use cheap poles.
16. REI Co-op Flash Carbon- Women’s
While searching for a perfect pair of trekking poles for women, you can pick the REI Co-op Flash Carbon- Women’s without any hesitation. With their lightweight (13.2 oz) and high user-friendliness, they are considered as the best trekking poles for the women customers. Due to the extremely comfortable, light and breathable foam grips, along with the easily adjustable pole straps, these poles become an ideal choice, especially for the female hikers. Moreover, the three easily adjustable telescoping pieces which use the Powerlock 3.0 levers add on to the convenience and high usability even with the gloves on. In addition, the poles are capable of collapsing to 23” that makes one of the most compact telescoping poles available in the market.
The adjustable wrist straps bring in high control and comfort. Besides, these poles are made with an ergonomic design and shape that are manufactured for providing high convenience to the female hikers. As far as the ease of packing is concerned, these poles are fitted with sturdy tungsten carbide tips (with the strong & safe tip protectors) and a trekking basket. The cautious cut-downs in features like trail basket, Powerlock 3.0, etc. have greatly reduced the weight of these poles, which in turn, has enhanced its portability along with the speed of the trekker. Moreover, the robust carbon composite construction with the three-section design further increases its flexibility without compromising with the strength.
On the negative side, this pair of poles like other lightweight & portable poles, won’t give you lavishly comfortable grips and straps. Also, the foam grip lacks strength and can even break on the application of too much pressure. But while considering the overall quality and efficiency, the REI Co-op Flash Carbon- Women’s would surely be the right choice for women hikers looking for a floaty pair of trekking poles.
Best Hiking Poles: Selection Criteria
There are two types of trekking poles, adjustable and non-adjustable. While selecting the poles, you should ensure the poles have the length that ensures your elbows bend perpendicularly when you hold them keeping the tips on the ground. Adjustable poles provide more flexibility as they allow you to adjust the length for different terrains. You should select the length according to your height.
As a guide, you can select the adjustable range around 21” less than your height in inches. For instance, for 6 feet tall individual maximum length of minimum 51” is most suitable. Similarly, for a 5 feet tall individual, it should be around 39”. Though the adjustable length provides flexibility, yet they are not as strong and durable as the fixed-length poles.
The lightweight poles are preferable for short trekking trips. Besides, these poles are the best choice if you want to be light while on trekking or if you particularly love mountain running. However, lightweight trekking poles are not particularly durable. Therefore, for the adventurous and long trekking passionate, where durability is the topmost priority, lightweight poles is not the preferred option. In that case, you should go for heavyweight durable trekking poles.
Many features help in providing comfort while trekking. We should realize that because of gravity, our body puts some weight on our hands & feet. Hence, compromising comfort can drain a lot of our energy and at the same time can cause a lot of fatigue and tiredness. Moreover, our hands, legs and even more significantly our wrists will have to bear the brunt of this bodyweight for long hours. Apart from the correct length & weight of the poles, grips & wrist wraps play a vital role in giving comfort to the trekker. That is why it is extremely important to consider different features of grip & the wrist straps to have maximum comfort while trekking. Also, the construction material of the shaft is also an important factor in providing comfort as it acts as a shock absorber.
Locking and Adjustability
Many trekking poles offer adjustability of length and wrist straps. To adjust the length of the pole, different sections of its shaft fit one inside the other. Through this telescoping design, the required sections are taken out to a particular length to extend the length. These sections are then locked in that position so that they do not slip in. It is important to have convenient adjustability and locking features in the trekking poles.
Grip shape and its material are important factors to consider while selecting the best hiking poles. Some sellers offer ergonomically designed pole grips that are highly comfortable to the trekkers. Grips are made of different materials like Foam, Cork, and Rubber. While Foam and Cork made grips can absorb sweat, Cork and Rubber grips reduce vibrations and prevent shock. Cork grips are suitable for summers, whereas Rubber grips are best suited for winters.
When you are up there over the mountains walking the rock, a broken hiking pole can be highly depressing. So, while selecting a pair of poles, evaluate the durability required by you for your specific trekking interests. Most often, more durability means more expensive poles.
Here again, your trekking interest would decide if you want a specialized pair of trekking pole or the versatile ones that may be used for many different trekking activities like hiking, mountaineering, backpacking, and climbing, etc.
Best Trekking Poles Review: Final Words
Selecting the best suitable trekking pole is not easy. And the problem is not the lack of availability rather availability in abundance. In this article, we have short-listed the best trekking poles, reviewing their features with their respective pros and cons. We hope that it would help you to decide on the poles best suited to your trekking interests. In case you still find it difficult to finalize on one pair of trekking poles, we have also provided you with the selection criteria, describing the factors to be considered while buying trekking poles.
This would hopefully help you in understanding your needs and selecting the best trekking pole suitable for you.