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Sometimes you need a little support when hiking and that’s where trekking poles come into play. They can offer help when climbing hills and can even be used as a pole for your tent or a camera mount. While trekking poles might seem simple, they can come in many different varieties and sizes; some are foldable, some are telescope, some are made from carbon fiber and others made from aluminum. Plus, the right size can make all the difference for how efficiently they help on your next trek. Read on for the details to discover which trekking poles are right for you and your next adventure.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Leki Micro Vario Carbon Poles
Although the Leki Micro Vario Carbon poles are expensive, they are extremely lightweight (7.9 ounces per pole), durable enough for long hikes and sturdy hikers and have a wicking, comfortable foam grip. The poles fold down to 15 inches for packability in your day pack, but are still adjustable in length from 43 inches to 51 inches. The poles also have an extended grip for comfort when choking up, as well as a push-button release system for easy and quick assembly.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles
Aluminum poles are often heavier than carbon fiber options, but are also more durable and extremely strong — great for hikes on intense terrain or extreme environments. The Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles (9.6 ounces) are aluminum poles that can extend from 24 inches to 53 inches with an adjustable, lever lock system. Included are snow baskets, as well as a clip to keep the poles together. For uphill treks, use the grip system made from EVA foam that extends double the length of a normal grip, so that you can choke-up to keep your hands blister free.
Best Four-Season: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
Not all poles are made for four-seasons, but the three-section, telescoping Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork comes with a variety of tips and baskets to take you from the snow to the trail to alpine. The lightweight, 100 percent carbon fiber pole (8.5 ounces) comes with trekking baskets, powder baskets, interchangeable carbide tech tips, plus an adjustable 360-degree padded strap. Your hands will stay comfortable with the cork grip and the non-slip grip extension for when you are heading up hill and need to choke up. Throughout your trek, changing the length of the poles is easy with dual flick lock adjustability. The collapsed length of the pole is 25 inches; the usable length extends to 51 inches.
Best Carbon Budget: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles
For the versatile hiker, choose the telescoping Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking poles, which weigh just 8 ounces per pole and have an adjustable, on-and-off anti-shock feature. The poles also have four different tips: large baskets for snow, smaller baskets for mud, as well as hard-surface boot tips and round tips. Each are easy to twist on and off. The poles extend from 23 inches to 53 inches and are easy to adjust on the fly with a quick lock system for when you are on varying terrain. Plus, your grip will stay comfortable with cork handles and adjustable neoprene straps.
Best Aluminum Budget: BAFX Anti-Shock Trail Poles
The aluminum Anti-Shock Trail Poles by BAFX are strong and durable and will keep your hike as comfortable as possible with the built-in anti-shock springs. Your hands will be happy, too, because these poles have a wide, padded wrist strap with ribbed grips to keep your hands in place on tough terrain. The poles weigh 12 ounces, but are easily adjustable with a twist-lock system. Plus, you can also change out the carbide tips for rubber tips or for baskets, as well. The poles extend from 26.5 inches to 53 inches.
Best for Easy Adjustment: MSR Talus TR-2
The MSR Talus TR-2 is an aluminum pole that is slightly heavier than other options (11 ounces per pole), but is one of the most easily adjustable trekking poles on the market. With MSR’s one-handed trigger release system, hikers can adjust their poles without even having to take their hands out of the straps. Using the pointer and middle finger, simply reach down and around the grip to squeeze the trigger release system upward and push down on the pole to adjust from there. These poles are also ideal for hikes in warmer climates because of the ventilated straps.
Best Fixed Length: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z
If you are looking for the lightest possible trekking poles, opt for the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z poles. Each pole weighs just six ounces and can still hold a good amount of weight, although some durability is sacrificed due to the lightweight carbon configuration. These might not be the poles that can support a multi-day backpacking trip, but are perfect for a day hike. The poles come at a fixed length in four different sizing options (39, 43, 47 and 51 inches when expanded) and break down quickly and easily within seconds (13, 14, 16 and 17 inches when collapsed).
Best Single Trekking Pole: Mountainsmith FXpedition Monopod
For easier hikes, a single trekking pole will suffice. Plus, with the Mountainsmith FXpedition Monopod, you get not only a sturdy trekking pole but also a camera mount. The FXpedition has a cap that removes to reveal a 1/4"-20 camera screw that should fit most models (recommended for cameras three pounds or less). On top of the photo feature, the pole is telescoping with a flip-style Outerlock system, has a spring-loaded anti-shock feature and a removable hiking basket. The pole weighs 11.5 ounces and features a comfortable handle made from molded EVA.