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Trekking poles are a must-have piece of gear and especially when doing a long trek or hike. But which is suitable for you? Keep reading to find out which trekking pole to drop some dollars for.
Montem Ultra Strong
Adjustable quick locks allow you to QUICKLY & EASILY lengthen the poles from 24” to 53” in order to achieve the perfect height for your needs.
Type: Telescoping (lever lock)
Weight per pair: 19.2 oz.
Shaft material: Aluminum
Reasonably priced (at just around $60), these poles by Montem are suitable for casual use. They have an aluminum build, comfortable foam grips, and lever locks. The company also nailed details like in-field adjustments for the locking mechanism, choke-up extensions on the grips, and easily adjustable straps. Besides, the poles have a short 24-inch minimum length that is ideal for travel.
The downside of these poles is that they are not sturdy enough for heavy use and difficult terrain. We recommend them for light use and easy-to-moderate day hikes.
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
Natural cork grip wicks away sweat with updated soft-rubber grip extension and solution strap for added security and better handling
Type: Telescoping (lever lock)
Weight per pair: 18 oz.
Shaft material: Aluminum
With just $130 these trekking poles will be all yours. They are uniquely designed and suitable for any hiker looking for a pair of trustworthy poles. The Trail Ergo Cork has Black Diamond’s comfortable, ergonomically shaped cork grips, and reliable FlickLock length adjusters. It is pretty sturdy for most rock, dirt, and snow travel.
If you prioritize collapsibility, you may not like the 27-inch minimum length because it is a couple of inches longer than many other three-section designs. In fact, they can’t come close to any real collapsible pole. Besides, they are a little bit heavy.
Overall, the Trail Ergo Cork is comfortable and worth an investment. Give this pair a shot!
Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles
With 100% carbon construction, the Distance Carbon Z weighs just 9 ounces and features a three-section foldable design that allows for fast-response deployment.
Weight per pair: 10 oz.
Shaft material: Carbon
If looking for a foldable and light trekking pole, you are better off with this one. At around 10 ounces per pair, you can comfortably pack them when going out for a hike. In fact, when collapsed, they are about 10 inches shorter than most telescoping designs. We really liked the Z-pole technology where a sleeve on the top section moves down from the grip, the sections slide together and connect, and a small button pops everything into place.
The Distance Carbon Z can make a huge difference for everyone, including hikers and travelers wanting to store them in their bags to ultra-distance runners that carry them for extended stretches.
What about the downside? First, carbon is lighter than aluminum. It is also expensive and fragile (it will snap under heavy pressure instead of bending like aluminum). Second, Carbon Z comes in 4 non-adjustable length options. That is a big issue when trekking uphill or downhill, and you need to adjust your poles.
If you do value adjustability, we recommend you get the Carbon FLZ. It comes with a FlickLock at the top though you will have to add $20 more to own it. Not to mention that it is also heavier. If you decide to settle for an aluminum version, consider the Distance FLZ. It won’t break your bank.
Gossamer Gear LT5
The most portable poles we have ever made, our LT5s are some of the lightest 3-piece poles on the planet. Works perfectly with our Ones, Twos, and Tarps for an unbeatable ultralight shelter setup.
Type: Telescoping (twist lock)
Weight per pair: 10.6 oz.
Shaft material: Carbon
These feathery weight poles with a simple, reliable build, and comfy foam grips are ideal for thru-hiking where every ounce matters. Additionally, they are also adjustable, thanks to the twist-lock system. Note that if any part of the pole gets damaged, Gossamer Gear offers replacement. That is something not usual with other brands.
If you are out for a durable trekking pole, you will not love the Gossamer Gear LT5. They aren’t super durable. Besides, they are pricey ($195) despite their relatively simple feature set.
Leki Micro Vario Carbon
Exclusive AERGON grip features a hollow core construction to save weight and create an edgeless, rounded grip for comfortable gripping at all angles especially for “palming” on steeper terrain. Thermo foam grip material for extra comfort, light weight and insulation in colder weather. Built in 8deg Positive Angle in LEKI grips keeps wrist in neutral position and provides more efficient pole plants.
Type: Folding (lever lock)
Weight per pair: 16.9 oz.
Shaft material: Carbon
Are you looking for a packable trekking pole? These carbon poles will not let you down. They are lightweight and very user friendly as you can set them up and fold them down effortlessly. In fact, you get about 8 inches of adjustment with the Leki’s Speed Lock 2 system. The carbon shaft is sturdy enough for leaning on during steep descents and for crossing glaciers. The foam grips are the nicest you can have.
What about the downside? These poles are a bit expensive. You must drop $200 to own them. You will even pay more if you decide to buy the Micro Vario Carbon, which goes for $230.
Pros of trekking poles
- Boost balance on uneven terrain, slippery rocks, or river crossings.
- Allocate some of the work to your upper body. Though using your arms can increase your overall energy use.
- Maintain a consistent gait, resulting in a faster and more efficient pace.
- It is an effective and useful leg-saver
- They are multifunctional and can be used as tent poles.
- Save your joints and knees on downhill treks. Studies have shown that using poles significantly lessens the impact on your knees while hiking downhill.
Cons of trekking poles
- Overall energy output is increased.
- They become a bother when not using them.
Trekking pole types: Telescoping, folding, and fixed
Telescoping poles made of 2-3 sections are known for their ease of use and durability and are the most common type on the market. For that reason, you will find many people using them. The different pole sections expand smoothly from each joint via a locking system that can be unfastened for adjustment and fastened while on the trail. These points of connection also are their greatest weaknesses, so a quality locking mechanism is highly recommended.
Trekking poles with a locking system have a huge following, but it is good to note that can also be a disappointment if overtightened to the point of seizing or when twisted too loose as they can collapse anytime.
Basically, trekking poles are made either from aluminum or carbon, or a combination of the two. For example, a pole with three sections may have two upper carbon pieces and aluminum lower.
High-end trekking poles are often designed from carbon which is stiffer and lighter but more brittle and expensive. The downside of carbon fiber is its tendency to break (aluminum only dent or bend and still remain usable). Fortunately, the carbon tendency to snap can be corrected by a thicker diameter construction.
Material: cork, foam, and rubber
Speaking of pole grips, they are three materials that are used to design them: cork, foam, and rubber. We love a cork handle because it feels comfortable and wicks sweat very well. We recommend it for multiple-season use and long-distance.
If cork if not your thing, we enjoin you to give the foam a shot. EVA foam is soft, wick moisture in summer months, and does absorb shock. However, it is good to note it retain more moisture than cork.
If not ok with these two, your next best bet is rubber. Rubber is suitable for cold weather because they shed snow and rain. Additionally, rubber poles are pocket friendly. Unfortunately, they don’t absorb sweat or offer the premium feel of cork and rubber.
If you put your pole into your suitcase or strap it on your pack, you may want to consider a packable pole. We recommend you go for folding poles, especially those that can fit in the smallest backpacks.
A great pole is usable all year-round. Such a pole is strong enough to accommodate all the stress you put it through, whether during summer or winter. But what makes a pole ideal for summer? Basically, it will come from the telescoping category. The telescoping function and stiffer design make the pole ideal for downhill and uphill, especially for mountaineering and skiing.
The weight of your pole is such a big thing that if you don’t choose the right one, you will end up fatiguing your arms faster, especially on long treks. So, as much weight may not be a top priority, make sure to consider it too for the best experience.
We are confident you are not ready to drop some dollars for a pole that will last a few days. The thickness of the pole and material used (carbon or aluminum) will largely impact the durability of your pole. Generally, poles with thicker diameters don’t flex a lot under pressure than thinner ones, hence more durable. When it comes to material, even though aluminum is not as strong as carbon fiber, it is more durable.
You will truly love a pole with a shock-absorbing capacity on a long descent as they take additional stress from your wrists and knees. While most pole lack this cool feature, they are certainly good reasons why you need a shock-absorbing pole.
Women’ s-specific trekking poles
While trekking poles are billed as unisex, some models include a women’s version. These versions have a shorter maximum length and narrower diameter intended for smaller hands. They also have a shorter minimum length (about 4-5 inches shorter in telescoping models), and that makes it easier to pack them away in a suitcase when on the go.
Cheap poles may seem ideal, but when it comes to comfort, they are not. For example, wrist straps may chafe your hand, the locking system may fail, and so on. But that is not to mean you only consider luxurious poles. While expensive poles come with cool features, it is always good to consider your pocket.
One or two poles
While most poles come as a pair, it worth noting that some people prefer one pole and there is nothing wrong with that. So, whether to go for one pole or two poles come down to personal preferences. So, choose wisely!
Trekking pole tents and shelters
For ultralight thru-hikers and backpackers, a trekking pole-supported shelter is a great way to lessen weight. If you are considering one of these designs, remember you need a compatible set of poles. A key factor to consider is pole length, and many shelters are designed to function with specific dimensions.
A great trekking pole will go a long way in making your day better and more enjoyable. The above poles will get the job done, and you have the freedom to pick the one that satisfies you more. If you need a hand in choosing the right one, we are here to help.
All the best!