The Best Trekking Poles for Your Next Adventure

People hiking


If you're a hiker then you know the importance of having the proper equipment—whether it's an emergency kit, the right hiking boots, or a good backpack. Having the right equipment can make or break your experience, so we're here to help and make sure you have everything you need for your next adventure. Let's talk about trekking poles.

You've probably seen people on the trails with trekking poles. Sometimes they can look clunky, and you may be tempted to decide they're not worth the hassle. But if you know how to use trekking poles, they can give you extra stability and balance on rough sections of the trail which is a must for your safety. But where do you start? We've got you covered with the best trekking poles out there. But first, let's break down what you should look for to make the right decision.

Why Trust Us?

ACTIVE.com's editorial team relies on the knowledge and experience of fitness and wellness experts including competitive athletes, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and certified trainers. This helps us ensure that the products we feature are of the highest standard. Collectively, the team has spent countless hours researching equipment, gear, and recovery tools in order to create the most accurate, authentic content for our readers. Customer satisfaction is also a key part of our review process, which is why we only feature products that are highly rated. More importantly, each member of our team is a fitness enthusiast. Fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products that we trust and would personally use.

The Best Trekking Poles - Our Top Picks

By clicking on the product links in this article, we may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Sponsorships and affiliate commissions help support our research so we can help you find the best products. Read the full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Choose a Trekking Pole

  • Grip. Trekking pole grips are typically made from one or a combination of three materials: cork, rubber, or foam. You'll find cork on higher-end products because it is the nicest material of the three. Cork is soft but durable, resistant to sweat and water, and can form to your hand after repeated use. Rubber is also durable but holds heat for cold weather hikes, but loses its shape over time. Foam is the least durable but has its uses as a lightweight, moisture-wicking, and soft material.
  • Length. There are two lengths that you should look for when shopping for trekking poles. The first is the maximum extended length which is the cap on how tall a given poll can be. The second length measurement to be aware of is the collapsed length, which is the smallest a given trekking pole will get.
  • Locking System. The locking system of trekking poles is how you make sure the pole doesn't collapse when you need it to extend. There are two main types of locking systems: external locks and internal locks. Each type of locking system has its own pros and cons, but both will allow you to adjust the length of the pole between the collapsed size and the maximum extended size to fit your needs.
  • Weight. When you're on the trail, you want your equipment burden to be as light as possible. However, there is also a balance between lightweight products and durable products that you know you can count on. Most trekking poles are less than a couple of pounds, but just make sure you know what you'll be holding.
  • Shaft Material. Shaft material is where durability and weight meet. Aluminum is a very popular material for trekking pole shafts, but other good materials include carbon and carbon fiber. If you are indifferent about the material used, it will come down to your preference for feel and look.
  • Basket. The baskets on trekking poles are the wide pieces fitted around the bottom of the shaft. These baskets act as a barrier so that the tip doesn't drive more of the pole into the ground than you need, and in cold weather hikes, it can push the snow down so the tip can actually drive to the ground.
  • Tips. There are a variety of styles of tips that can go on your trekking poles and the type that is best for you will depend on the terrain you intend to hike. Generally speaking, the tips are interchangeable so you can likely buy a specific type you'll need to fit your pole.

Now that you know what you're looking for, let's get into our list of best trekking poles.

Best Overall Trekking Pole - Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

SPECS

  • Grip material: Cork
  • Weight: 1lb. 2 oz.
  • Pole material: Aluminum
  • Max length: 55"
  • Packed size: 29"

Check Price

When considering the best overall trekking poles, we're looking for a combination of high-quality materials and versatile functionality that can serve you in multiple scenarios. The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Pole strikes this balance. These poles are made from durable aluminum, they're lightweight, and the cork grip is set at a 15-degree angle for comfort in your hands.

The Diamond Trail Ergo also includes EVA foam grip extensions if you need a bigger handle and a wrist strap for extra security. These poles are one size and designed for men or women. What we really like about the Diamond Trail Ergo is the locking system. Black Diamond's has a unique FlickLock system that makes adjustments to your pole's length very easy and secure.

What We Like

  • Easy and secure length adjustments
  • Cork grip
  • 15-degree angle on the handle for comfort

What We Don't Like

  • No shock absorption
  • Unisex poles may be too long for shorter users

BUY: Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

Best Budget Trekking Pole - Trekmates Walker Shock Trekking Poles

Trekmates Walker Shock Trekking Poles

SPECS

  • Grip material: Rubber
  • Weight (pair): 1 lb. 4 oz.
  • Pole material: Aluminum
  • Max length: 53"
  • Packed size: 26"

Check Price

Like any outdoor equipment, you've probably noticed a pretty significant price gap on some products that seem very similar. So what gives? There are a lot of factors that go into the price, but with trekking poles, you typically get what you pay for in terms of durability and high-quality materials. However, there are still some gems out there that will get the job done without blowing the budget.

Enter the Trekmates Walker Shock Trekking Poles. These poles have all of the features you want at a much lower cost. The aluminum shafts should be durable and the rubber handles will give you enough comfort for longer treks. This is another unisex pole so it has multiple adjustment levels up to 53 inches. Even better, these poles are shock-absorbing.

What We Like

  • Budget friendly
  • Shock-absorbing to offset the discomfort of striking hard ground
  • Comes equipped with steel tips

What We Don't Like

  • Twist locking mechanism can be difficult for some users
  • The baskets included aren't good for snow

BUY: Trekmates Walker Shock Trekking Poles

Best Ultralight Trekking Pole - REI Co-op Flash Carbon Compact Trekking Poles

REI Co-op Flash Carbon Compact Trekking Poles

SPECS

  • Grip material: Foam
  • Weight (pair): 12.9 oz.
  • Pole material: Carbon
  • Max length: 47"
  • Packed size: 23"

Check Price

When you’re looking for ultralight trekking poles, the difference in weight will be just a few ounces. Most people, particularly casual hikers, would not necessarily notice the difference between a 13-ounce set of poles and a 1-pound set. However, if you’re experienced on the trail, and you’re preparing to trek for an extended period of time, then you know that ounces saved on equipment can add up.

The REI Co-op Flash Carbon Compact trekking poles are a store brand, but they’re well built with a three-part carbon shaft and external levers for a sturdy experience. These poles will save you ounces in weight and inches in space when they are packed; plus, they are much more budget-friendly than some other ultralight options on the market.

What We Like

  • Ultralight construction that doesn’t sacrifice sturdiness
  • Compact length when deconstructed for easy transport
  • External locking levers are sized so that you can easily grip and operate them

What We Don't Like

  • Straps are thin and may not feel secure
  • Grips are foam and may wear easily

BUY: REI Co-op Flash Carbon Compact Trekking Poles

Best Folding Trekking Pole - Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles

Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles

SPECS

  • Grip material: Cork
  • Weight: 1 lb.
  • Pole material: Carbon
  • Max length: 51"
  • Packed size: 16"

Check Price

Maybe you're wondering why you would want a trekking pole that breaks down into multiple parts when you collapse it. Why not just get a pair of folding trekking poles to make stowing simpler? Great point. Traditional wisdom would say that you're sacrificing some stability when you get a folding pole, but the Leki Black Series closes that gap.

These poles are made of carbon which means they're light and very strong. Because Leki uses the Speed Lock+ (mentioned earlier in the list) that is lighter than most external locks, the folding joints on these poles are as secure as they can be. Plus, because they fold, their collapsed size is significantly smaller than traditional poles.

What We Like

  • Compact size when collapsed
  • Lightweight
  • Secure locking system over the folding joints

What We Don't Like

  • High price tag
  • Adjustable length has a high minimum because of the folding feature

BUY: Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles

Best Carbon Fiber Trekking Pole - Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles

SPECS

  • Grip material: EVA Foam
  • Weight: 9-10 oz.
  • Pole material: Carbon fiber
  • Max length: 39-51"
  • Packed size: 13-17"

Check Price

You might be noticing a trend here that a couple of brands have multiple entries on our list. Black Diamond is one of those brands and for good reason. Their trekking poles are strong, well-designed, and well-reviewed by users. The Distance Carbon Z pole is no different.

This trekking pole has the lightest weight on our list, is made of strong carbon fiber, and has a folding feature. The locking mechanism is a push button so it is easy to operate and secure. The Carbon Z also comes with interchangeable rubber and carbon tips so that you can switch based on what terrain you are trekking.

What We Like

  • Carbon fiber construction is very strong but ultralight
  • Foldable sections are compact when collapsed
  • The stock baskets have shaft catches to hold the folded sections when stored

What We Don't Like

  • Foam handles tend to wear out easily
  • Foldable sections limit the adjustable length leading to multiple size options

BUY: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles

Best Aluminum Trekking Pole - Mountainsmith Glissade 7075 Winter Trekking Poles

Mountainsmith Glissade 7075 Winter Trekking Poles

SPECS

  • Grip material: EVA/TPR
  • Weight: 1 lb. 3 oz.
  • Pole material: Aluminum
  • Max length: 55"
  • Packed size: 24"

Check Price

The Mountainsmith Glissade poles are specifically designed for winter terrain but they're versatile enough for others as well. These are adjustable poles with a simple level locking mechanism that is easy to operate with gloves on. They also extend to a respectable 55-inch length and collapse to a 24-inch length.

What we really like about the Glissade is the 7075 aluminum shaft. 7075 aluminum is aircraft-grade aluminum that is supposed to be stronger than steel while maintaining the properties of aluminum, particularly that it is lightweight and flexible.

What We Like

  • Rubber handle grips are good for cold weather
  • Comes with tip covers to adjust for different terrains
  • Budget friendly

What We Don't Like

  • Reviews say the baskets must be resecured often
  • Only 2 adjustment points limit the ease of adjusting the length

BUY: Mountainsmith Glissade 7075 Winter Trekking Poles

FAQs About Trekking Poles


Why should I use trekking poles?

Trekking poles can be used anywhere you'll be walking and you are worried about your balance. The most common places to use trekking poles are mountain treks, long hikes over rough terrain, when skiing, and other abnormal terrains. However, many people use trekking poles when they are walking in an unusually hilly area or if they need extra support for balance.

How do I attach the trekking pole to my backpack?

Trekking poles are designed to be collapsible and most can get pretty compact. If you have a backpack specifically designed for hiking or trekking then you'll likely notice loops on the top or the bottom of the backpack for the shafts of the pole to slide through. If you don't have these loops, you can buy separate straps to help you secure the poles.

What size trekking pole should I get for my height?

Many trekking poles are adjustable, meaning you buy the pole and then adjust its length to what feels most comfortable for you. If you decide to go with a set of trekking poles that are not adjustable, most brands will have a size chart. However, in general, you want your elbows to be at a 90-degree angle while you're holding the handle of the poles and the tip is on the ground.

How do you choose a trekking pole?

Your choice of trekking pole depends entirely on personal preference, your budget, and your intended uses. And since most trekking poles have adjustable parts for different terrain, all you really need to decide is how much you are willing to spend, and what specs you prefer for your trekking poles.

How do you hold a trekking pole?

Holding a trekking pole is relatively straightforward, but it can take some adjusting to make sure you have the correct grip. Trekking poles typically have a strap that goes around your wrist for security, which you'll want to make sure you have in place first. Then you'll want to grip the handles in a manner that has your thumb as your top finger. If your elbow is at a 90-degree angle when the tip of the pole is on the ground then you're all set.

Discuss This Article