Best Trekking Poles 2017
Trekking poles and hiking staffs are standard equipment for many walkers, hikers, trekkers, backpackers and snowshoers. The reasons why are simple: They enhance your stability and provide support on all types of terrain.
Trekking poles shouldn’t be considered an essential item, but many lightweight backpackers and hikers love to hike with them for a variety of reasons. The largest benefit to trekking poles is reduced impact on your knees, especially on long uphill and downhill sections of trail. For that reason among others, the majority of thru-hikers use trekking poles to hike the long trails.
If you’re new to trekking poles and you think you might enjoy them, we recommend borrowing or renting a pair to try them out. You could also consider purchasing an inexpensive pair to see where your preferences lie before making a bigger investment.
Compare: The 10 Top Rated Trekking Poles
|1||Montem Ultralight Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles||Montem Outdoor Gear||$$$||4.9|
|2||Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles||Black Diamond||$$$$||4.8|
|3||Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles||Montem Outdoor Gear||$$||4.8|
|4||BAFX Products - Anti Shock Trekking Trail Poles||BAFX Products||$||4.4|
|5||Black Diamond Distance Z Z-Poles||Black Diamond||$$$$||4.7|
|6||JESBAN 2-Pack Trekking Poles||JESBAN||$$||4.6|
|7||Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles||Black Diamond||$$$$||4.6|
|8||High Trek Hiking Poles||High Trek||$$||4.5|
|9||Hiker Hunger 100% Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles||Hiker Hunger||$$$||4.3|
|10||Mountaintop Trekking Poles||Mountaintop||$$||4.3|
Our Trekking Pole Reviews
The good things about the BAFX poles are that they are cheap, fairly light, and you won’t cry when you break them. If you’re a serious hiker, investigate the higher quality poles and save these for your “leave in the car” set. Each pole can be extended to any length from 25.5 to 53 inches in length. The poles extend by turn locking system and each pole has measuring on the middle section for easy adjustment to your preferred height on every trip. They also have a durable steel tip hidden under the rubber foot at the bottom for trekking on more rocky and uneven terrain.
BAFX hiking poles are very popular. This is due, in part, to the manufacturer’s clear instructions that give people confidence in setting them up in the first place. The BAFX poles are designed for moderate trekking, but owner feedback suggests that some have pushed them through quite difficult terrain and come out the other side still smiling!
A few found the handles uncomfortable in hot conditions, and the twist locks also receive some criticism (this seems to be a common occurrence, regardless of manufacturer).
These lightweight Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles are designed for all-season on-trail/off-trail versatility. The three piece, ultralight, narrow diameter aluminum shafts, reduce weight without sacrificing strength. Claimed to be built from the same form of aluminum used in airplanes, we gave it a test, and it definitely holds up with a sturdy weight bearing system capable of supporting roughly 350lbs of weight. Dual FlickLock pole locking mechanisms allow for easy length adjustment. Clamping force is adjustable allowing for customization down to the finest details. The poles also feature extended grips allowing for hand placement adjustments in uneven terrain. They recently have introduced their Ultralight Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles, which we think is their best model yet!
As a new entry into the highly competitive trekking poles market, Montem is coming in with a passion not seen for quite some time. With one of the highest weight thresholds, adjustable heights, and extended grips, they tackle many tasks and terrains. Upon initial testing’s, many new owners will suggest Montem’s initial foray is of higher quality than most manufacturers’ “best.”
The instructions on how to adjust the height could be clearer but overall a great product.
These Montem Ultralight Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are perfect for hiking, backpacking, walking, mountaineering, snowshoeing, climbing, and all adventure travel. The three piece, ultralight, narrow diameter carbon fiber shafts, reduce weight without sacrificing strength. They were designed to be the strongest and lightest poles available made with 100% carbon fiber, creating ultralight poles that reduce vibration and retain strength over a wide temperature range. These poles are fitted with trekking baskets and durable tungsten carbide tips; including tip protectors. Dual FlickLock pole locking mechanisms allow for easy length adjustment to any length from 24 to 53 inches in length.
We are usually not fans of carbon fiber as they tend to snap/break under tough trekking and they splinter but these are one of the best carbon fiber poles we have tested. They are super sturdy despite being very light. The grips, designed to be sturdy on the outside and averse to tears but soft and comfortable for the user, are made of dual-density EVA foam.
It is more expensive than other trekking pole models, but it may be due to being carbon fiber. Other carbon fibers are more expensive than this model.
Our Top Rated Trekking Poles
What Are Trekking Poles?
Trekking poles, also know as hiking poles, walking poles or hiking staffs, are standard equipment for many walkers, hikers, trekkers, backpackers and snowshoers. The reasons why are simple: They enhance your stability and provide support on all types of terrain. The maximum length of these poles is generally around 54 inches and often, they can even be conveniently attached to a backpack when not in use which makes them simple to carry out. Usually made from either aluminum or carbon fiber, they are lightweight and may even feature spring-loading to help avoid wrist strain.
Hiking poles are actually a next generation walking stick and are used for the same general purpose – to support movement and to gain a rhythm. While they may not necessarily be required on flat surfaces, some hikers choose to use them to improve the amount of exercise they obtain, but they really come into their own on rough terrain or on steep slopes where the hiker’s stability is improved. They are useful for negotiating rocks or boulders and can even be used to test the depth of water or mud and are especially useful when used in conjunction with snowshoes.
Trekking poles help improve balance on uneven ground and save energy going up and down steep trails. Some studies have shown that trekking poles can reduce impact force by up to 40% on your knees, something a backpacker or hiker of any age can appreciate.
What Are The Advantages Of Owning Trekking Poles?
Trekking poles are an indispensable asset for a devoted outdoors fan. They provide extra stability on rough terrains as well as improving the overall rhythm of walking. Besides that, they have a substantial impact on body posture distributing the strain correctly. This maintains the health of your tendons, muscles, bones and joints.
Using trekking poles decreases the weight supported by the legs by around 5 kilograms for every step you take. While walking on an incline, this measure climbs to 8 kilos per step. It might not seem much on paper, but when you hike for miles on rough terrain with a fat rucksack on your back, every gram counts. Hikers know the importance of reducing the pressure their legs bear while they make countless steps towards their destination.
Proper balance is also one of the key features that walking poles offer. Harsh terrains and unrelenting weather are detrimental for the center of stability – found in the inner ear inside of the head – which makes it arduous to navigate while walking. Adjusting the height of the pole allows it to get extra stability on steep spots, which some hikers endorse. Some poles come with spring-loaded parts which provide extra mobility and decreases the stress on the wrists.
Trekking without the poles increases the risk of injury, knee damage in particular. Aside from the knees, ankles other parts of the lower body are also affected including the lower back and the pelvis area.
What Are The Different Types Of Trekking Poles?
There is a myriad of different walking poles offered to the customer at the moment. Their materials vary from carbon to aluminum even some heavier metals. Some come with additional features whereas other are just the plain, basic walking sticks. They also differ concerning their impact on the environment. Carbide ends, for example, scratch the surface of stones and make noise which doesn’t make them suitable for nature. The different types of poles:
- Two Section Telescoping – Two section poles are the strongest and stiffest overall design and thus better for activities like skiing, snowshoeing or for folks who are just plain super hard on their poles. Two section poles do however, pack down the least and don’t carry on a pack very well even when shrunk down as short as they will go. Because these poles tend to be designed with the above advantages in mind there tends to be a lot of pole overlap to make them even stronger; so while they only have two sections they are rarely lighter and most often slightly heavier than other pole designs.
- Three Section Telescoping – Three section telescoping poles the most common trekking pole design and are significantly more compact than two section poles and nearly all three section options can be strapped to a backpack or put into an averaged sized suitcase just fine. Three section designs tend to be equal to, or most often lighter than two section poles but aren’t nearly as strong, though they are strong enough for rugged or even heavy duty backpacking and mountaineering. Three section telescoping poles are what most people buy for hiking, trekking, backpacking, mountaineering and climbing.
- Folding or Tent pole style – Newer folding or “tent pole” style trekking poles have only really been out for what’s now going on three or four seasons. These folding poles are some of the lightest and most compact models out there, but they aren’t nearly as durable as most two or three section telescoping poles. They are durable enough for most climbers and hikers for backpacking trips on trails and medium duty cross country travel. For climbers they are specifically nice because they pack up so small you can carry them on, or better yet, inside your climbing pack to carry up and over alpine rock climbs. As a whole, most folding style trekking poles are 7-9 inches shorter than most telescoping poles and depending on how “light-duty” you go, can be 10-14 ounces lighter weight. Several of the folding style poles don’t feature removable baskets. One reason is to lighten the pole further, but the other reason is that several of them are not tough enough for this intended use.
Considerations for Choosing the Best Trekking Poles
If you have decided that you could benefit from the use of trekking poles during your outdoor expeditions, you will need more information to help you make an informed choice of the right trekking poles for you. Here are some of the considerations that you should bear in mind when shopping for trekking poles:
Extension mechanism and adjustability
A long and thorough testing had resulted in a conclusion that external lever-lock mechanism works the best and is the simplest. Twist style locking mechanisms still have their benefits. They are lighter and smaller however the previous are substantially more durable. The “pin-pop” or push button mechanisms are a possible alternative since they offer similar durability and ease-of-use however they do have reduced mobility.
As already mentioned earlier, the weight of the backpack plays a significant role in the life of a trekker that’s why lighter is always better. A vast majority of poles average around 10 ounces. Exceptions do exist, and they vary 5 ounces up or down. Beginners might find it most suitable to use lighter poles. They don’t provide the flexibility and maneuverability heavier ones do, but they are a good choice.
The way how trekking poles feel in your hands will determine the quality of your walk. Straps, handles, ergonomics are all the factors to consider when picking.
The form of the pole, or the ergonomics, mainly determines the way it lies in your hand. As the Latin phrase goes: “De gustibus non est disputandum,” you can discuss tastes. The best advice for choosing a comfortable rod is to take it in your hands and discover which design and shape suit you the best.
For the hikers who use gloves material of the handle doesn’t play a great role, but it is important for those who prefer direct skin contact. Materials that are used for handles are:
Cork is by far the most comfortable material and also resistant to tear and humid weather conditions. It is smooth to the touch guaranteeing no blisters will pop on your hands afterward.
Rubber handles are more suitable for colder climates and weather. The rubber expands when exposed to heat making it uncomfortable to use. Many hikers didn’t find the rubber pleasurable for warmer occasions.
Foam is the lightest material and soaks up the most water. Hikers found it excellent for the hotter climate, even under the scorching sun of the Sahara. Durability, however, isn’t its greatest attribute since foam handles are prone to wear and tear quickly.
Packing and Carrying
Although it doesn’t pose a problem for many hikers, no one likes to carry bulky, unwieldy poles. Disassembling it, collapsing and putting it into the bag for carrying can be irksome for some. The folding tent-pole is a relatively new method that has gained a lot of popularity. Telescope poles take more space when folded which is the main reason why they are used less frequently.
Sticking poles in between rocks, leaning on them can cause it to break unintentionally. While there are no unbreakable rods, some of them are more sturdy than others. This depends on the folding technique as well as the material of the shaft. The most common materials used are aluminum and carbon fiber.
Aluminum ones are a bit stronger and can endure a bit of bending. They are heavier and range from 15 ounces to 25. Carbon fiber, on the other hand, is more brittle and can snap under a bit of leverage. Its benefit is its weight, and they can be found around 10 ounces or less.
Trekking poles are indispensable for trekkers and hikers since they reduce the harm done on the lower part of our bodies by the constant pounding of the soles off the ground. It has been proven that using ski poles in a rhythmical manner improves heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption and overall quality of life. Using trekking poles stimulates the upper body musculature – latissimus dorsi, biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and core – unlike regular walking. A significant benefit is also that using walking sticks, the energy consumption rate increases by 46%, which is perfect for people battling obesity.
When choosing the best trekking poles, our favorite is the Montem Ultralight Carbon Fiber Model. It is relatively pricey, but for what it has to offer regarding the build quality – it is worth it.