Hiking pole recommendations: 6 best hiking poles

Hiking poles

Hiking poles. Such a super lightweight and still mostly underrated tool, but it gets more and more in common to use them. And that’s a good thing.

  • They can prevent injuries. And take great pressure of your knees.
  • Are very useful when backpacking with heavy backpacks.
  • They help you walk more stable on loose rocks, in the snow, or when crossing rivers.
  • They can help you fight wild animals (in case you ever will meet some wild dogs, etc.).
  • Can be useful to build up tents.
  • etc…

Read more about my first time hiking with hiking poles in this blog post here: Hiking Poles

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LEKI Corklite

Black Diamond

Black Diamond

LEKI micro Vario

6 best hiking poles

I didn’t try all of them myself, but I asked others (friends and family and colleagues) about their favorite hiking poles and then I choose the top 6.
You will find more tips on how to find the best hiking pole below the hiking pole recommendations.

Name
Photo
Adjustable
Shaft material
Grip material
Link to shop
Leki Corklite Trekking Poles

Yes, adjustable

Aluminium

Cork/Rubber

Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles

Not adjustable

Aluminium

Foam

Foxelli Trekking Poles 

Yes, adjustable

Carbon

Cork

LEKI Micro Vario Ti Cortec Trekking Poles

Yes, adjustable

Aluminium

Cork/Rubber

Cascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Quick Lock Trekking Poles 

Yes, adjustable

Aluminium

Cork and EVA

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

Yes, adjustable

Carbon

Cork

The LEKI Corklite trekking pole is durable and great for beginners. It is a good pole for every kind of terrain, has speed locks, peformance basket and carbide tips included. The only problem with speed locks is, that they sometimes don’t stay locked properly.

Ultralight carbon hiking pole. Great if you need to pack light. 
Foldable pole, with push button release. It includes interchangeable rubber tips and carbide tips and pole baskets. 
They are not adjustable and don’t have padding on straps but it is a good durable hiking pole.
My friend uses this pole for trail running because it is so light to carry.

Foxelli carbon poles. Cheap price, comfortable cork handle and a lot of attachments. They are sadly not that durable and the locking mechanism can lack of functionality sometimes.
A friend of mine just started with hiking and bought this one because it was cheap, and she is very happy with this pole on her day trips, but not really sure if she would recommend it for multiple day hikes in rough terrain.

LEKI micro vario is average light and comfortable to use. The cork handles are super comfortable and super short so great to pack.

Cascade mountain tech. A great and cheap hiking pole for beginners and day hikers. It is a medium weight pole, has a synthetic cork grip and comes with attachments. The lock is a little bulky but it is adjustable and easy to use.

Black diamond alpine carbon cork hiking pole. Durable, comfortable and great for trekking. Comfortable cork grips, and a great flicklock to adjust the length.
A bit more expensive, but great value because it is a strong and durable pole.

Rough terrain, loose stones, etc. is easier to hike with poles.
Sometimes one pole/stick is enough.

Hiking pole buying guide

A hiking pole is kind of like an extra arm part to keep you stable while walking. 

The most important thing is that you get a hiking pole that’s right for your height and good enough for the hikes you are planning in the future (multi day hikes, day hikes, easy trips, tough terrain, snow, etc..)

Adjustability

You will find a few different locking systems to adjust the poles.

Lever locking system:

This system is easy to use: simply unlock the lever, then pull the bar to your desired length and lock the lever down.
Depending on the diameter of the rod and where you use it, you will sometimes need to tighten the lever mechanism for the duration of the shaft. This can be easily done with a screwdriver to ensure a very secure lock.

Leki has developed a sophisticated SpeedLock design with a small dial that can be adjusted while riding to avoid the use of tools.

The other common way of locking and adjusting the bars is the Z-bar or collapsible bar. 

This means that the entire pole is divided into three parts, which can be folded like a collapsible tent pole.
The pole does not collapse, but can be folded to about one third of the entire length. 

The main disadvantage of Z-bars is that they are usually less adjustable, so they are not ideal if you are between different sizes or want to give something to a friend. If you are looking for a very packable pole that you can use in different lengths, try a pole that has a single-lever lock in addition to the Z-Style design (e.g. the LEKI womens micro). This allows adjustments as soon as the bar is unfolded.

Try and go for non plastic locks as they seem to break more easily than the other. 

 

Shaft material

Aluminum:

Aluminum is cheaper than carbon fiber. But surprisingly they are mostly also more durable.
If you prefer aluminum or carbon may depend on how you want to use the pole. If you are not busy with a few extra ounces in your hand, aluminum bars could be the way to go. Their durability also makes them a great choice for long distance trips where you need a pole that can withstand a lot of extreme terrain and usage.
Aluminum can be bent and still be used or bent back into shape, as opposed to a carbon fiber rod that could actually snap under too much weight and can not be bent back into shape.

Carbon:

Carbon fiber technology have constructed strong and lightweight poles comparable to aluminum. However, a lot of trekker and hiker would still consider aluminum as a stronger and stronger material.
Carbon fiber can also increase comfort on the trail. If you’re mainly worried about weight, carbon poles will definietly be the right choice for you.
Although Carbon poles can handle a lot, it is important to be more careful with them than with aluminum poles.

Grip material

Rubber:

Rubber is probably the most common material for trekking poles. It is cheap and ideal for cold sports such as mountaineering or skiing.
It is better insulated than cork or foam. But, in hot weather, rubber is generally not as good as cork or foam. Rubber handgrips can become more slippery due to sweat or moisture.

Foam:

Foam is the lightest of the handle materials. They tend to be used as a cheaper alternative to cork. Foam is not as durable because it is more affected compared to other materials. Stones, thorns, sweat can damage foam easily, so be careful.

Cork:

Cork seems to be the best material for comfort because it is smooth and durable and will adapt to your hand over time. It does normally not scrub your hands and can last for years. 
If you are looking for more natural and durable products, poles with cork handles are the ones to choose.

Durability

If you are on a multi day hike and are in rough terrain, you do not want a broken trekking pole. Durability is very important if you are looking for a pair of new poles, especially if you know that you will rely heavily on them. 

Although most of the newer hiking pole models should last for some time, not all are the same. One of the biggest differences we are looking for is the shaft material. Carbon fiber is relatively strong, but aluminum is usually a stronger but a little heavier choice.

Carbon fiber poles tend to crack, while aluminum bends before it breaks. A bent bar can still be used and sometimes even repaired if necessary.

Heavier sticks will generally be stronger due to the robust aluminum construction and the reliable locking mechanisms. 

Extras tips:

You can find poles with shock absorption.
With different tips and different baskets included. So if you know you will do a lot of snow hiking look for a pole with snow baskets included. If you know that you are not up for any snow hiking no need for a lot of extra baskets.

If you know you will backpack several days and weight is an issue, look for the lightest pole available. Or choose poles that can get used to set up a tent so you can leave tent poles at home.

There are poles you can pack very small, others not so much. So whether you have straps to strap the poles outside of your backpack if not needed or not and you would need to pack them into your backpack, this could become a decision making thing too.

The more you know about what you need poles (or gear) for, (terrain, weather, short or long hikes, backpacking, etc) the easier it will be to get the right gear for you.

The sustainable/happy choice:

If you are unsure if you like to use hiking poles, try and ask around if you could borrow one from your friends to see if you like it. 
Take a look for second hand gear. You could even use old ski poles (maybe just remove the bulky handle and put on some tennis grip tape, then you can hold the stick anywhere and adapt the right size quickly while hiking because you don`t need to adjust the pole) and if you can not find some, look for the most durable stick. 

If you like wood more and you don’t mind a little extra weight, you can also get your personal wooden stick too. 
Either go out and look for wooden sticks and prepare them yourself, find a handcrafts man that can do it for you, or order one online.

Best thing: if you ever break them you can leave them in the woods because they are natural (if you haven’t used any painting or other unnatural treatment).

If you buy them online make sure they are made from sustainable harvested wood and not made from exotic wood from endangered rain forests.

If your hiking poles break, try and find a place where you can recycle at least the shafts. 

Aluminum is easy to recycle and you will find a recycling place or you can maybe just put them into your recycling bin (as always, please check with your local waste management what is allowed in the recycling bin), I don’t know much about the carbon recycling yet…

If you just want a new pole, but the old one is still good to use, try and sell it or give it to a friend.

Happy Hiking!

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