Want to improve your stamina, hike off the beaten track or need a little extra help on those steep descents? You need to invest in a pair of the best hiking poles!
Also useful for creating impromptu or ultralight shelters, taking the stress off your knees and crossing creeks, meadows and mud; hiking poles have a seemingly limitless array of uses in the great outdoors.
To help you make the right choice for your next expedition, be it near or far, long or short – read through our best hiking pole reviews and find your ideal model.
- 1 Best Hiking Poles
- 1.1 Leki Micro Vario Carbon Black Series
- 1.2 Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
- 1.3 Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles
- 1.4 Montem Ultralight Carbon Fiber Hiking Pole
- 1.5 Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber Trekking Pole 2.0
- 1.6 TrailBuddy Trekking Poles
- 1.7 Komperdell C3 Carbon PRO
- 1.8 Mountainsmith Halite 7075 Trekking Poles
- 2 Buyers Guide to the Best Hiking Poles
- 3 Do I Need a Hiking Pole?
- 4 What Are the Benefits?
- 5 Are They Bad for the Environment?
- 6 Final Thoughts
Best Hiking Poles
To help you to decide which hiking poles are best for your needs, we’ve reviewed some of the most popular models on the market. We’ve also selected a wide variety of different types of hiking poles covering a large price range, so you’re sure to find the perfect pair for your lifestyle and budget.
Leki Micro Vario Carbon Black Series
The unisex Leki Micro Vario Carbon Black Series is one of the very best hiking poles money can buy.
This 100% carbon pole is strong and lightweight, weighing in at just 7.3 oz per pole. Designed and built to last, it features an internal protected Core Locking Device, folding down to just 15.4 inches in the blink of an eyelid. Height adjustable from 43-51 inches, it’s quick and easy to adjust these poles on the go, thanks to their Speed Lock 2 Adjustment System.
Comfort-wise, the ergonomic Aergon Thermo Long Grip makes for a secure grip over all terrains. Designed for maximum comfort even over long distances by keeping your wrists in a neutral position, the accompanying Skin Lock Security Strap is air textured to maximize wicking and minimize drying times. Complete with Leki’s Trekking Basket 2.0, compatible with all Flex Tips, you won’t have to worry about your poles sinking. The included Flex Tip Shorts are suitable for use over almost all terrain types.
While these are undoubtedly an expensive pair of hiking poles their outstanding comfort, design and durability make them an excellent choice for long days on the trail or extended trips out in the wilderness. Lightweight and compact, these hiking poles are also easy to strap on to your pack making them highly transportable.
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
If you are looking for sturdy hiking poles for year-round use, then you should check out the Alpine Carbon Cork by Black Diamond.
The three-section 100% carbon fiber shaft is slender and agile, without any loss of strength or durability. At just 16.7 oz a pair, these poles will help you go the extra mile without weighing you down. They are also highly adjustable with a useable length of between 24.8 and 51 inches, complete with the Dual FlickLock Pro adjustment system.
With a collapsed length of 24.8 inches, this model is not the most compactable. They are, however, very comfortable thanks to their ergonomic cork handles featuring a 15-degree corrective angle for optimal handling. The wicking properties of the cork complement the EVA foam extension grip and 360-degree padded wrist straps. The included carbide tips are interchangeable and suitable for most terrains, while the included trekking and powder baskets ensure four-season compatibility.
In spite of the fairly high price tag, the Alpine Carbon Cork represents good value for money. It is a sturdy, high-quality model that is suitable for use all year round. While other models may be slightly easier to transport, if you need solid, reliable performance even in the thick of winter, then this model makes an excellent choice.
Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles
Whether you’re a trail runner, a fast packer, or just like to hike at speed, the Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles have been designed for fast-paced action.
These lightweight, highly compactable z-poles weigh between 9.6-11 ounces per pair depending on the length. Available in four heights between 39-51 inches, this model is non-height adjustable, making it less suitable for slower hiking styles. Complete with a durable and improved locking mechanism, they rapidly flip out for use thanks to their speed deployment system.
In spite of their pared-back appearance, these poles are surprisingly comfortable with a lightweight EVA foam grip and mini grip extension. The wrist straps are both breathable and wicking to minimize chafing when moving at speed. The stopper baskets prevent sinking and also work as clever shaft catchers, ensuring that your poles remain securely folded when not in use. Complete with both non-scarring Tech Tips and carbide Tech Tips, the Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles are ready to go wherever adventure takes you.
While these poles certainly aren’t cheap, there are plenty more expensive models out there. If you are looking for a durable, lightweight fixed pole that you depend upon over harsh terrain at speed, then this model makes an excellent choice.
However, for slower-paced mountaineering and hiking, you may well prefer a height-adjustable model.
Montem Ultralight Carbon Fiber Hiking Pole
These telescoping hiking poles from Montem are 100% carbon fiber. They weigh in at 7.5 oz per pole, which is fairly lightweight, although not the very lightest in our selection.
Featuring flick locks, you can quickly and easily adjust your poles to anywhere between 24-53 inches, making them a good choice if your height is a little above or below average. With a collapsed length a touch over 23 inches, these hiking poles are fairly compact and easy to pack away for travel.
The EVA foam grips will keep your hands warm and moisture-free, while the padded wrist straps are comfortable even after hours of use. These poles come with Tungsten carbide tips that are suitable for most terrains and conditions. There are also rubber tip protectors and a pair of baskets included with the poles, making them suitable for almost any destination.
All in all, while these hiking poles may not be the most compactable, nor as ultralight as they claim to be, they are a highly affordable 100% carbon fiber model. They would make a great purchase if you are looking for an inexpensive pair of lightweight poles, for hiking, Nordic walking or to help relieve your knee joints with extra stability and balance.
However, experienced hikers looking for high-performance poles for extreme terrain may be better checking out some of the big-name, tried-and-tested brands.
Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber Trekking Pole 2.0
The Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are highly affordable, lightweight hiking poles that are suitable for a large range of heights. The 100% carbon fiber poles weigh just 7.5 ounces per pole and extend for use to any height between 24-54 inches. Thanks to their quick-lock technology, it is easy to adjust them on the go. They are also fairly compact, breaking down to just under 21 inches in length.
Unlike many other low price models, these poles benefit from moisture-wicking cork handles to keep your hands dry and cool even in hotter months. The ribbed, EVA foam grip extension is extremely useful for extra grip and stability when tackling steep ascents, as is the padded wrist strap.
Complete with heavy-duty Tungsten carbide tips, rubber tips, and both snow and mud baskets, you won’t need to spend extra money on any further accessories. These hiking poles also come with a carry bag for convenient storage and transportation, as well as a one-year warranty for your peace of mind.
While these hiking poles may not be quite as high performing as some of the big brands, they certainly are affordable and can accommodate a wide range of heights. Thanks to their comfortable grips and range of accessories, they make a great budget pair of carbon fiber hiking poles for men, women and older children.
TrailBuddy Trekking Poles
With their aluminum shafts, TrailBuddy Trekking Poles are strong and durable, designed specifically for use over rocky terrain and to support heavier weights.
Made from aluminum 7075, this model weighs in at 9.7 oz per pole, considerably lighter than poles made with your average 6061 aluminum. These telescoping poles support a wide range of heights, adjusting from 24.4-54 inches with ease thanks to the quick lever flip locks. Collapsible, these poles can also be broken down when not in use to a little under 21 inches for easy transportation in your luggage.
Comfort-wise, the combination of the moisture-wicking cork grip and the padded wrist strap ensures that your hands remain comfortable and dry whether you’re on your first or 21st mile of the day. Over time the cork grips will also mold to the contours of your hands for truly personalized hiking poles. This model also comes complete with a handy storage bag, both mud and snow baskets, as well as two pairs of rubber tips.
Ideal for use over rough terrain, for traversing creeks and steep ascents and descents, these inexpensive hiking poles are durable and sturdy. While they are considerably heavier than some of the lightest carbon fiber models, they are an invaluable aid to any trek over rocky, hard terrain where lighter models risk snapping.
Komperdell C3 Carbon PRO
The C3 Carbon Pro Trekking Poles by Komperdell combine the best of carbon fiber and aluminum for lightweight and strength combined.
The three-section shaft consists of two upper carbon fiber sections with a lower titanal section that protects your poles against rocks and other sharp edges for added durability. At just 7.5 oz per pole with a packed size of 26 inches, these hiking poles are both lightweight and portable. With an adjustable height range between 41-55 inches, the Powerlock 3.0 mechanism allows for fast adjustments on the go.
The foam 280 grips are comfortable and feel secure, for a good grip in all weather conditions. Soft and highly breathable, the padded straps eliminate chafing for increased comfort even over long distances. The C3 Carbon Pros come complete with carbide flex tips as well as Vario trekking baskets. They also have a three-year repair service that comes as standard, proof of the manufacturer’s confidence in their product.
While there are plenty of cheaper options available, if you are looking for a lightweight yet sturdy pair of hiking poles, the C3 Pro by Komperdell makes a good, solid choice. Especially recommended for use over rocky terrain, its three-year repair warranty makes this product exceptional value for money.
Mountainsmith Halite 7075 Trekking Poles
The Halite 7075 Trekking Poles by Moutainsmith have a four-section shaft made from aluminum 7075 for strength and durability.
They are height adjustable between 47- 54 inches with Outerlock levers for ease and simplicity. Collapsible down to just under 16 inches, these hiking poles are highly packable, ideal for sticking in your luggage for far afield trips. However, with a combined weight of 21 ounces, they are the heaviest in our selection, making them slightly less suited to long hikes.
The comfortable cork and EVA handles provide the best of both worlds with excellent moisture wicking properties and good grip. Completed with soft-touch, adjustable webbing straps, these hiking poles prevent chafing and pressure points. Complete with carbide tips for use over almost all terrains, a pair of rubber tips as well as snow and hiking baskets, this model has everything you will need.
Complete with a lifetime manufacturer’s guarantee against any defects, you can be confident that these hiking poles are a high-quality product. For short to medium hikes over rocky terrain, they make an excellent choice, thanks to their highly durable aluminum construction.
However, they are fairly heavy and over longer hikes, you may find your arms tire quicker than with a lightweight model.
Buyers Guide to the Best Hiking Poles
Do you need a helping hand finding the best hiking poles for your trekking needs? Here are some of the main factors that you will need to consider when making your choice.
While you do tend to get what you pay for, if you’re not a serious hiker or simply want a little extra support on steep ascents and descents, then paying big bucks for a pair of hiking poles is simply not necessary.
However, if you intend to be using your poles over long distances and unforgiving terrain, we recommend spending more to ensure they are long-lasting and lightweight. Materials, design and brand names will all affect the price of your poles, so carefully consider which factors are your priorities when making your choice.
There are three main types of hiking pole; telescopic, folding and fixed.
Telescopic – Telescopic hiking poles feature sections of varying widths that collapse inside one another, just like a telescope. They are extremely practical as they are quick and easy to collapse and tend to be highly compactable. Telescopic poles are also easy to adjust and tend to be fairly durable.
Folding – Folding hiking poles, or z-poles as they are often known, are poles that are split into sections linked by an internal cord. When this cord is relaxed the pole sections fold, when it is under tension they interlock. While folding poles are highly compactable, they can have some durability issues if their internal workings are not correctly protected. Quick to deploy and easy to adjust, folding hiking poles are easy to set up and put away.
Fixed – Fixed hiking poles, as their name suggests are non-adjustable and non-compactable. They are, however, highly durable. They are sold in a range of different heights. If you are thinking of purchasing fixed hiking poles, be sure to carefully measure which length pole corresponds best to your height for comfort and stability.
All adjustable and collapsible poles come with a locking system to ensure that they remain upright and rigid when in use. Take a few moments to check out the locking system featured on your favorite hiking pole picks before buying.
Some poles offer simple-to-use, rapid action locking levers or push-button mechanisms, while others employ screw-lock systems. Be sure to consider how easy the locking mechanism will be to use in cold temperatures or when wearing gloves.
Some hiking poles feature anti-shock suspension systems. These can be somewhat of a mixed blessing.
Useful on steep descents, shock absorbers help to ease the impact. However, on uphill sections, they can make it harder to propel yourself upwards. For this reason, if you are planning to be doing a lot of hill walking or mountaineering, you may prefer poles without shock absorbers, or ones that can be disabled when not required.
Grips really make all the difference to your comfort levels on a hike. Ideally, you should look out for ergonomically shaped grips that will fit your hands, reducing the likelihood of painful pressure points.
Grips come in a variety of different materials, here are some of the most popular:
EVA Foam – Insulating and lightweight, foam grips are also excellent at wicking moisture away from your hands for improved grip and stability. The main downside of foam handles is their lack of durability. If you opt for a model with foam, pay a little extra attention to how you transport and store it to prevent any avoidable damage.
Rubber – Rubber handles are inexpensive and highly insulating, making them a good choice for winter. However, they do not wick moisture so they may become slippery which can be dangerous if you lose your grip over rough terrain.
Cork – Natural, durable and soft to the touch, cork is an extremely popular trekking grip material, although it can be a little expensive. Cork grips will mold with time and use to the shape of your hands for incomparable comfort. They also wick moisture for an improved grip.
You’ll want to look out for breathable, soft-touch straps that won’t chafe your wrists. Wide, padded straps make an excellent choice helping to spread the weight of your poles around your wrists, without digging in or rubbing the surface of your skin.
The majority of hiking poles will come complete with a set of hiking baskets and possibly another set of powder baskets. Powder baskets are designed to stop your poles from sinking too deep into the snow, while smaller hiking baskets are designed to help you over patches of vegetation, branches and mud. Most baskets are available to purchase separately and are often interchangeable across same-brand poles.
Most hiking poles include carbide tips that are suitable for the vast majority of terrain, providing good traction. Rubber tip covers may or may not be provided with your poles. They defend against wear when used over concrete and other hard surfaces, as well as preventing damage to fragile surfaces from hiking pole tips.
If you’re planning to take your poles to far-flung destinations, then purchasing a pair that will fit in your luggage is essential. Out on the trail, if you’re not intending upon using your poles for the entirety of your hike, then it also makes sense to buy a pair of hiking poles that you can fold away and attach to your backpack for use as the terrain requires.
Ideal if you are in-between sizes, adjustable poles also allow you to adjust their height to help you over certain types of terrain. You may wish to lengthen them for tricky descents or to cross over swollen creeks. Shortening your poles for uphill treks can help you to propel yourself forward, while contouring hills on uneven paths can be made easier by adjusting one of your poles to a slightly longer length to compensate for the slope.
For your average, easy day hike, weight may seem fairly insignificant. However, once you start clocking up the miles and begin to tire, the extra difference in weight between models can make a big difference, especially when you think about how many times you’ll be raising your poles over one day.
If you are looking to go fastpacking, ultralight packing or trail running then you will want one of the lightest pairs of poles you can get your hands on. For the rest of us, it’s important to ensure that our poles are lightweight, but not at the expense of durability.
Most hiking poles are made from either carbon fiber, aluminum or a combination of the two. While carbon fiber is an extremely popular choice thanks to its low weight, aluminum is often marketed as being stronger and more durable, albeit heavier. Some carbon fiber poles feature a lower aluminum section to provide greater protection from breaking over rocky terrain.
If you are planning on hiking far and wide over long distances with your poles, then durability is a key consideration.
While all hiking poles risk breaking when stressed enough, especially horizontally or when caught between two rocks, often an aluminum pole will bend rather than snapping, unlike carbon fiber. It is much more difficult to repair a snapped pole miles from home than a bent one, giving aluminum poles the edge when it comes down to reliability.
While most hiking poles are unisex, manufacturers are increasing their gender-specific ranges. Some men and women find it more comfortable to use poles that are specially adapted to suit their body type.
Woman-specific hiking poles tend to feature smaller grips and straps, with shorter shafts; however, some women may be equally happy using certain poles designed for men. Likewise, shorter, more slender men may find certain woman-specific poles to be a better fit for their size.
Do I Need a Hiking Pole?
That all depends upon your level of fitness, your preferences and where you are planning on hiking.
In general, no one really needs a hiking pole, unless they have problems with their knees or balance and need extra support and stability. However, hiking poles can be extremely useful for uphill climbs as well as descents. They are also invaluable for crossing over rough terrain, creeks and mud.
If you are looking to increase your tempo or to improve your fitness levels, you will find hiking poles to be an invaluable aid. Besides, they are also essential for certain shelters such as tarp tents, especially if you are going ultralight.
What’s more, they can also be useful for self-defense purposes if confronted by wild animals, or for checking leaves or debris ahead on the trail for snakes or small animals.
In short, hiking poles are entirely optional but extremely useful.
What Are the Benefits?
The main benefit of hiking poles is the extra stability that they provide.
Whether you have health problems or a disability, hiking poles can help you to gain confidence and enable you to hike further for longer durations. Hiking poles relieve stress on your knee joints and if you are backpacking they can be invaluable stabilizers and pack load distributors, easing your back and preventing slips and falls.
When you use hiking poles you can descend more safely and are less likely to have an accident. They can also help you to increase your pace and provide a better cardiovascular workout by getting your arms moving with increased circulation and improved respiration.
Are They Bad for the Environment?
Used with discretion and on suitable trails, hiking poles do not represent any problem for the local environment. However, on overused trails or when hikers do not respect the fragility of certain landscapes, then they can cause problems.
When using your hiking poles always pay attention to the terrain underfoot and in areas that are showing visible degradation caused by hiking pole carbide tips, be sure to put on rubber caps or fold away your poles, if possible, for that section of the trail.
Hiking poles come in a wide variety of designs, weights and materials. From lightweight poles that won’t slow you down like the Distance Carbon Z by Black Diamond, or aluminum poles that can take a heavier load over rocky terrains, such as the TrailBuddy Trekking Poles – there’s plenty of options on the market to choose from.
So long as you carefully consider your individual requirements and intended environment before purchasing, you’re sure to find the ideal pair for your next adventure from our selection.