Best Hiking Poles 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

Trekking poles or hiking poles are hiking accessories that provide assistance to hikers on a rough terrain. It provides rhythm to the walking space and extra support on uneven roads.

Let’s find out What are the Best Hiking Poles ( aka trekking or walking sticks ) are there in the market in 2018.

On a smooth road they are not of much use but can increase the speed but on hilly, steep paths they provide lateral stability and good support in case of knee pain or back pain. These trekking poles can also be used to measure the depth of water or mud while crossing and also for climbing rocks and boulders.

Best Hiking Poles

Trekking poles have become a must have accessory for trekkers and mountaineers these days. It is not only necessary for support but safety too. Today there are various kinds of trekking or hiking poles easily available in the market for trekkers, hikers and backpackers.

Trekking poles and hiking staffs, though very similar to each other, have a very basic difference between them. Hiking is basically done on well made trails and man-made roads while trekking is a far more difficult activity done on uneven, rugged terrain. It is a rigorous, challenging activity that tests a person’s physical as well as psychological endurance. Therefore, a hiking staff is similar to a walking stick or travel staff. These are adjustable and have a shock-absorbing feature that makes it easier to walk on flat terrain with little or no load on the back. Trekking poles are sold as a pair and are used in tandem. These help to increase stability and reduce the force on the knees. They have internal springs that absorb shock and further reduce impact.

Things to consider before buying a Hiking or Trekking Pole

5 Things to Consider

There are therefore, several things to consider before buying a hiking pole or a trekking pole.

  • Pole adjustment-

A trekking pole should be adjustable to enhance the stability. They can be shortened while going uphill and lengthened while moving downhill. Usually, these should be adjustable from 25 to 55 inches. You may find two kinds of trekking poles based on the locking mechanism. The first kind is the lever lock action while the second kind is the twist lock style. However, it has been seen that the lever lock action outlast the twist lock action while trekking.

  • Shock absorbing-

One of the biggest features to consider while choosing trekking poles is that they should be able to absorb shock. A standard trekking pole must have internal springs that absorb the shock when you are traveling downhill. The feature can be turned off while moving uphill in most trekking poles. It is very important that you dish out a few more bucks to buy a shock absorbing trekking pole to support your back and knees.

  • Weight-

It is obvious that while you are hiking, the lighter the pole is the better. You obviously wouldn’t want to carry around a huge, heavy staff as it would be an extra burden. Usually, there isn’t much noticeable difference between the weight of heavier poles and lighter poles. But the difference of even a few ounces counts when you have to lift your arms multiple times during a long trek. This is why you must go for ultra light trekking poles for maximum comfort.

  • Material-

Usually, aluminum and carbon are the two materials used in the construction of trekking poles. Aluminum is a bit on the heavier side but can withstand a dig or two and last longer. Carbon ones are comparatively lighter but once there is a dent or a crack, it is the end of them. So if you are hiking in extremely rugged and remote areas, you must keep this feature in mind and choose accordingly.

  • Trekking pole grips-

Three materials are generally used to make the trekking pole grips, namely, cork, rubber and foam. Cork is resistant to moisture from sweaty hands due to a long trek and reduces vibration too. It best conforms to the shape of the person’s hand. Foam too is good in absorbing moisture from sweaty hands. These are better options for hiking in warm weather. However, if you are going to hike in a colder zone it is better to have rubber pole grips because it insulates hand from cold, vibration and shock.

TOP 4 BEST HIKING POLES

1. Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4

The Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 is considered the best hiking pole in the market and is suitable for hiking, trekking, walking, mountaineering and climbing routes. It is one of the lightest poles that you can get in the market which makes it appear in the list of the best 4 hiking poles.

The upper section of the pole is made of 100% carbon which makes it super light. The lower section made of HF Rocksleeve and Titanal. The strongest alloy Titanal along with HF Rocksleeve provides extreme strength to withstand impact. A 4 section ingenious folding mechanism, power lock 2 system and Approach 2.0 system makes this one simply the best.

The collapsed pole can be attached to a backpack without interfering with your movement. In fact, these are best suited for carrying in a backpack as they become really small when folded. The pole shafts are adjustable from 120 to 145 cm which makes it easier to hike and use as needed.

This one can be effectively used while hiking in a warm weather zone as the foam grip effectively absorbs moisture from sweaty hands and are soft to touch even after a long walk. Moreover, the padded straps eliminate rubbing and friction. Therefore, if you are overnight backpacking or planning a long, exhaustive hike from sunrise to sunset, or planning to hike through a rugged terrain, be sure to include this hiking pole as your most important accessory.

Features

  • Weight: 412 g
  • Material: Carbon, Titanal, HF Rocksleeve
  • Packed size: 45 cm
  • Grip Material: Foam
  • Locking Mechanism: Lever Lock

Pros

  1. It is lightweight and can be easily used even for long stretches of hiking. Being lightweight it goes easy on your arms.
  2. Meant for carrying in backpacks. The compact size of the pole when collapsed can easily be fitted into a backpack.
  3. Use of HS Rocksleeve and Titanal makes the lower portion of the staff extremely durable. It can withstand heavy impact during hiking and last for a long time.
  4. The price you pay for such a wonderful product seems justified.
 

Cons

  1. It would be better if it could be adjusted to even shorter length.
 

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2.Leki Micro Vario Carbon (Editor’s Choice)

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon hiking pole is considered a good choice for hiking, trekking, mountaineering and approaching climbing routes. These poles are about a gram heavier than the Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 hiking pole but these are even more compact when collapsed and take up less space to fit into your backpack. So if you have less space in your backpack to adjust a hiking pole, this one is the best choice.

The total length when collapsed is just 38 cm. The push button release mechanism makes it easier to collapse them when needed. Assembling it for use is also easy and consumes very less time.

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon hiking pole is made of carbon which makes it extremely lightweight. As already mentioned, lightweight hiking poles are the best choice for long trips. Being made out of pure carbon makes these hiking poles very light for carrying on long hiking trips. However, they might not be as durable as the Leki Micro Vario Carbon hiking pole. The grip material of the pole is made of foam, which absorbs moisture from the sweat in the hands, making it suitable for use in warm weather. This is

However, they might not be as durable as the Leki Micro Vario Carbon hiking pole. The grip material of the pole is made of foam, which absorbs moisture from the sweat in the hands, making it suitable for use in warm weather. This is very essential to reduce discomfort on long walks. Even the straps are moisture wicking and dries quickly which is an added benefit. On a whole, this is the best choice for a hiking pole for those who like lightweight and extremely compact poles for traveling.

Features

  • Weight: 413 g
  • Material: Carbon
  • Packed size: 38 cm
  • Grip Material: Foam
  • Locking Mechanism: Twist Lock

Pros

  1. Being made of carbon this is extremely lightweight and can be carried for long hiking trips. Even if you walk for long distances at a stretch your arms won’t pain under the weight of the hiking poles.
  2. Best made for carrying in backpacks. The compact size of the pole when collapsed is just 38cm, which can easily fit into the backpack when not in use.
  3. The comfortable foam grip makes it most suitable to be carried on long trips in warm weather. The foam grip remains soft to touch even after long use.
 

Cons

  1. It is okay if you are ready to pay extra for an extremely lightweight hiking pole made of carbon. Otherwise, the high price may seem a bit disappointing.
  2. It may not be as durable as others because of being made of lightweight carbon
 

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3.MSR Swift 3

MSR Swift 3 hiking poles are the perfect choice for trekking, hiking and mountaineering purposes. These are specifically made for those who go for hiking on challenging terrain. They are designed for better support in extremely rugged and uneven land. Hiking poles need to go through high impact often when used on rough terrain. Carbon poles may not be able to withstand such impact and pressure and can suffer dents and cracks. This is why MSR Swift 3 poles are made of 7000 series aerospace grade aluminum, which is the strongest.

These aluminum poles bend faster than carbon ones and can withstand higher impact even on extremely challenging terrain. Contrary to the belief that aluminum poles are heavier and less convenient for long hikes, MSR Swift 3 poles are just 450 grams in weight. People looking for a strong and sturdy, yet lightweight hiking pole with a minimalist design should definitely opt for this one.

The easy to adjust SureLock adjustment system makes it better than other unreliable friction based locks. This special kind of locking mechanism delivers absolutely no slip performance on unsure land. The grip material is made of foam and the straps are ventilated for ease and comfort even in warm weather. Foam soaks the sweat from the palms on long trips and makes it easier to grip the pole and hike for long.

The ventilated straps facilitate it even further and dry really fast. This is very necessary when you are planning to hike the entire day, especially when the climate seems warm enough. Sweat on the palms can become a hindrance on long walks. These specially made foam grip material and straps eliminates such problems to make hiking easier and comfortable.

Features

  • Weight: 450 g
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Packed size: 57 cm
  • Grip Material: Foam
  • Locking Mechanism: Twist Lock

Pros

  1. Very light when compared to other aluminum hiking poles.
  2. Minimalist design and is best for a light and fast performance.
  3. 7000 series aerospace grade aluminum makes it extremely strong and durable for challenging hikes.
  4. Foam based grip and ventilated straps provide breathability even in hotter climate.
  5. The best pole made for hiking on rugged and uneven terrain.
 

Cons

  1. The only con of this hiking pole is its size. It measures 57 cm even when collapsed and this makes it difficult to carry them or attach them to backpacks while moving.
 

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4.Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z Trekking

The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z is a superbly versatile, all season hiking pole. The durable design of the poles makes them suitable for use in all seasons. This is one of the best hiking poles meant for mountaineers, hikers and backpackers. It is a favorite among hikers because of the sturdy design, durability, support and comfortable cork grip. This makes it one of the most convenient and hardy ones for long trips at any time of the year.

The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z is made of 100% carbon but compared to other carbon made poles this one is extremely sturdy and durable enough to withstand impact. This comes as a three section foldable shaft that makes it even more convenient for better support.

The Z Pole Rapid Deployment System has a concealed inner cord, a single push button for release and quick assembly. This makes it easier to collapse and assemble as and when needed. The inner cords are made of strong and durable Kevlar and are impossible to get torn apart. The grip material of the poles is made of natural cork for convenience. The cork feels soft even after long hours of travelling and can absorb moisture from sweaty palms. The cork as well as the breathable straps has quick drying features, which make them suitable for use during warmer days too.

The only downside of these superbly durable hiking poles is that they are not adjustable. Usually hikers tend to adjust the length of the poles while moving uphill or downhill for better support. This cannot be done with Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z poles. However, these poles come in 4 sizes so you can choose the size that feels convenient according to your height. The poles may also feel a bit heavier than other hiking poles available in the market. If you feel durability is what matters more than weight when you need to hike, go for this one.

Features

  • Weight: 495 g
  • Material: Carbon
  • Packed size: 35cm, 38cm, 42cm, 45cm
  • Grip Material: Cork
  • Locking Mechanism: Lever Lock

Pros

  1. Comes in 4 sizes which make it convenient to choose the desired one.
  2. Comfortable cork grip and breathable straps with quick drying features make it suitable for warmer climate.
  3. These poles can be used in all seasons throughout the year.
  4. Made from 100% carbon these are extremely durable when compared to others.
  5. It is easy to fold or assemble as per need.
 

Cons

  1. The poles cannot be adjusted to a desired length while moving uphill or downhill.
  2. These hiking poles may feel heavier than most hiking poles in the market.
 

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TOP 4 BEST TREKKING POLES

1.Black Diamond Alpine Ergo

The Black Diamond Alpine Ergo trekking pole is a top favorite and is considered an all-rounder when it comes to picking out a list of the best trekking poles available in the market.

It may not be the lightest pair available and has lighter alternatives but that does not stop it from being extremely comfortable in hand for long walks and treks. The cork grip feature comes as an added comfort for even the most humid weather.

The design of the trekking pole ensures maximum comfort for the trekkers even when trekking for the entire day. The hybrid construction using carbon for the lower section and aluminum for the upper section gives it the best of both. This makes it high quality, cost effective and extremely strong and durable for long term use. In the same model you get the strength, the sturdiness and durability of aluminum as well as the lightweight feature of carbon. With its durability, weight and design, this is one of the best deals in terms of the price charged.

In the same model you get the strength, the sturdiness and durability of aluminum as well as the lightweight feature of carbon. With its durability, weight and design, this is one of the best deals in terms of the price charged.

Features

  • Weight per pair: 1 lb. 2 oz
  • Type: Telescoping (lever lock)
  • Shaft material: Lower portion made of carbon while the upper portion has aluminum
  • Grip: Cork

Pros

  1. This trekking pole has nearly everything you may wish for in an ideal trekking pole.
 

Cons

  1. This one is not the lightest option for a trekking pole if you are too keen on weight saving.
 

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2.Leki Micro Varion Carbon DSS

If lightweight is what you want when looking for the best trekking poles, this one may suit your purpose. Leki Micro Varion Carbon DSS comes as the best option for trekkers looking for ultra light trekking poles. This is a perfectly compact and foldable design with a lot of features and yet it weighs just about 1 pound. This is immensely light when compared to others and is better equipped than its competitors.

DSS or Dynamic Suspension System may sound unimpressive because shock absorbers generally make things bulky and unnecessarily complex. However, this one is not one of them. Contrary to whatever the name may suggest the shock absorption feature of this Leki Micro Varion Carbon DSS trekking pole comes across as the biggest plus point. The DSS is built at the bottom of the trekking poles and reduces all kinds of harsh impacts.

Yet, it adds only about an ounce per pair, which is just about nothing. The shock absorption feature makes it best suited for those who suffer from back or knee pain while long or difficult treks on harsh terrain. Moreover, the reduction is harsh impacts is also good for the longevity of the trekking poles as this makes them durable and long lasting even though they are ultra light. So when you are looking for the best of everything, this is the one to go for.

This Leki Micro Varion Carbon DSS trekking pole has got just about every feature which is incredible. The locking mechanism is extremely impressive and the foam grips are the softest ever. They are comfortable to grip even for the entire day and absorb sweat and moisture from the palms when used during hot and humid days.

Though carbon shafts are considered less durable, this one can withstand crossing early-season snowfields and are simply the best. You can actually feel the difference of weight when compared to other trekking poles during long treks for the entire day. These remain extremely gentle and light for the hands even after long stretches of walks and eliminates pains.

Features

  • Weight: 1 lb. 0.5 oz
  • Material: Carbon
  • Grip: Foam
  • Design: Folding lever lock

Pros

  1. The lightest trekking poles for people who prefer weight saving over everything else.
  2. Made of carbon, these trekking poles are very light with comfortable foam grips for long stretches of trekking.
  3. They are perfectly adjustable in length according to need.
  4. These poles have the best of everything and yet function really well.
  5. Low shock absorption feature reduces harsh impacts and makes it even more comfortable to trek.
 

Cons

  1. It surely costs a bomb. If you are ready to pay the hefty price for this superb trekking pole then it should not be an issue, otherwise, the price may seem a bit disappointing.
 

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3.Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork

If you are looking for reliable and sturdy trekking poles at best rates, the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork is the one to pick up. They are excellently designed trekking poles available at a good price for serious trekkers. The entire shaft of the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork trekking pole is made up of aluminum that gives it a strong and durable build. The poles are quite tough and sturdy and suitable for use in challenging terrains too.

These can be used on rock or snow tracks and yet remains sturdy withstanding all impact. These are therefore the perfect choice for trekking poles if you want something durable and long lasting for all kinds of trekking.

The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork trekking pole also comes with cork grip that makes it stand out. Cork definitely provides the best grip for trekking poles as they absorb the moisture from the palms and are breathable too. The firm grip and locking mechanism of the trekking poles offers the best support and resists slipping during tough trekking.

The only issue that may bother travel climbers is that the collapsed length of the trekking pole is about 29 inches which makes it difficult to be carried in the backpack. These are not compact in size to say the least and may be bothersome to some travelers. However, this does not cause any hindrance in attaching it to the side of the backpack, though it is true that the design is about 2-4 inches longer than other models of trekking poles having 3-section designs.

Features

  • Weight: 1 lb. 2 oz
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Grip: Cork
  • Design: Telescoping lever lock

Pros

  1. The aluminum shaft is extremely strong, sturdy and durable for all kinds of trekking purposes.
  2. The strong build of the shaft makes it suitable for difficult trekking on challenging paths as these do not break or crack easily under impact.
  3. Firm cork grip makes it one of the best trekking poles.
  4. Great value material in terms of the price charged for it.
 

Cons

  1. It is not compact in size when folded or collapsed like most other models. The collapsed length is 29 inches which makes it unsuitable to be carried along in backpacks. These are larger than most 3 section trekking poles of the same kind and therefore this may come as a slight hindrance to travel climbers
 

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4.REI Carbon Composite Power Lock 

rei-carbon-composite-power-lockThis REI Carbon Composite Power Lock trekking poles are best suited for those who are looking for lightweight materials. These are great options for this purpose and are cheaper too. These poles made of pure carbon are very light to handle and have soft, firm grips.

The foam grip offers good moisture absorbing facility when the weather is hot and sultry. This is very necessary for long treks during the daytime and especially in the warmer months. Though cork may be slightly better for grip, foam does a good job in keeping the palms dry by drying up the sweat.

The power lock feature strengthens the grip and prevents slipping during difficult treks. In fact, the aluminum power locking feature is much better and advanced when compared to other models. However, this REI Carbon Composite Power Lock trekking pole is best suited for warmer days only. This cannot be used for 4-season trekking as they may be too light and inconvenient for winter months.

The ultra light poles can be used with snow baskets for snowshoeing but for heavy and rigorous use or for trekking in colder climates, these may not be the best options for you. On a whole, if you feel you cannot carry heavy poles during long treks and are more comfortable with extremely lighter ones that are easier to grip and carry along for trekking during the summer, go for these ones without a thought.

Features

  • Weight: 1 lb. 0.1 oz.
  • Material: Carbon
  • Grip: Foam
  • Design: Telescoping lever lock

Pros

  1. Made of durable carbon, these poles are extremely lightweight. They are the best options when you need to trek long distances and won’t be heavy at all for your arms.
  2. Great foam grip material absorbs the sweat from the palms during humid climates. This makes it easier to grip the poles even if you are sweating.
  3. The best trekking poles for those who are looking for ultra light poles for warmer months.
  4. Aluminum power lock mechanism is better than most others.
 

Cons

  1. Too light for 4-season use.
  2. Not suitable for trekking during the winter.
 

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