Hiking poles are an essential element for balance and load transfer during your walk.
Walking uphill will allow you to relieve your legs. On downhills, trekking sticks will provide you with better balance, especially with a heavy backpack.
Here are some selection criteria to help you choose your model:
- Folded length: if you want to store your trekking sticks outside or inside your backpack, check the size you need by measuring your backpack.
- Locking type:
- Weight: to lighten the backpack and optimize their use
- Anti-Shock system: some models have an anti-shock system to absorb vibrations.
- Grip extension: practical on small climbs so as not to change the height adjustment, or when walking on snow slopes with a pole downstream and another upstream.
Comparison table Black Diamond vs Leki trekking poles vs Cascade Mountain Tech vs MSR (Reviews below)
Last update on 2023-10-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
BLACK DIAMOND Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles -The Bestseller
The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork poles are one of our favorites and we believe they are currently the best hiking poles on the market.
Although they are not designed with the highest quality components, they have won us over by meeting the important criteria: comfort in hand, durability, relatively low weight and value for money.
They include carbon fiber in all 3 sections, and the diameter of the thick stick inspires confidence to use it for classic or even "off-piste" hiking.
The stick is qualitative from top to bottom. Whether you are touching them or using them, these Black Diamond trekking poles have a quality look and feel.
The cork handles are comfortable and allow the sticks to fall naturally into place in your hands.
The FlickLock Pro metal composite gives a feeling of strength and safety.
Foam straps can be installed on the grip and the replaceable trekking and snow tips make the sticks even more suitable for 4-season use.
What are the disadvantages of these poles? Hikers looking for ultra-light sticks will not necessarily be convinced by the Alpine Carbon Cork.
Other options presented below are indeed lighter. However, the reduction in weight can often be associated with lower strength and therefore less confident walking.
Leki Khumbu Antishock Walking Pole - Versatile and Reliable
The Leki Khumbu Lite AS trekking poles are uncompromising.
Indeed, their relatively heavy weight (a little bit heavier than the Black Diamond above) may drive many people away. Lovers of ultralight can therefore ignore them.
Once the weight factor is put aside, the sticks look great. They cover a complete set of functionalities thanks to their design.
The most impressive is the shock absorption, called the Dynamic Suspension System (hence the name DSS).
We often tend to avoid anti-shock systems because of their size and complexity, which often provide very little extra comfort.
However, the DSS integrated into the bottom of these poles is not undesirable at all. It is discreet, effectively reduces shocks and adds only a few grams to the total weight of the sticks.
During walking, the absorption of small regular shocks is clearly felt, especially during a long day.
These shock absorbers will certainly affect the durability of the poles a little, but the comfort they provide is really worth it.
However, the poles are very robust and will support you in your hikes for a few years without any problems. They may not be recommended for professional walkers, but for the rest of us, these poles will do the job.
The cork grips of the Khumbu are among the most pleasant and comfortable.
If price is not your first criterion, these Leki trekking poles are for you.
They score points on all levels and are consistent with most of the important criteria that you should look for when buying hiking poles (they are even adjustable in length).
Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles - The cheapest
Carbon fiber is generally associated with rather high-end products and therefore at higher prices, but Cascade Mountain Tech has designed a pair of carbon sticks in the range of 40$ to $50.
On paper, the poles are very well made with a weight of 1 lb (453 grams), simple quick lock levers and cork or foam handles.
Cascade Mountain Tech also did not skimp on accessories, with rubber tips and 2 sets of baskets for mud and snow.
These carbon fiber sticks are available in two options: with a foam or cork handle and, although we generally prefer cork, we move towards foam in this case, as a cork handle on cheap sticks may crumble quickly over time.
The main disadvantage in choosing Cascade Mountain Tech poles is durability. The carbon structure has the advantage of keeping the total weight relatively low, but it is more likely to crack or even break under difficult conditions while a stick made of aluminum will be more resistant.
The overall structure is rather cheap and the cost reduction required at this price leads to some shortcomings. The plastic adjustment system does not necessarily inspire confidence in its durability.
If, however, you are very careful with these poles and maintain them regularly, Cascade Mountain Tech is a good pair of lightweight poles for about one-third of what you would pay for high-end carbon poles (Black Diamond poles for example).
MSR DynaLock Ascent - The compact and ultralight poles
Whether it's for snowshoeing, fast hiking, or mountain trekking, the MSR Ascent Carbon poles with the Dynalock system are in their element.
And for good reason, they have the three essential features of lightness (carbon construction), compactness (fully foldable poles), and robustness (Kevlar reinforcements).
In addition to all of this, the great feature of the Dynalock adjustment is added: these foldable poles can be adjusted from a height of 100 cm to 120 cm for the small size and 120cm to 140 cm for the long size, depending on the user's needs and size, with astonishing speed with an adjustable length of 20 cm.
The MSR DynaLock Ascent Foldable Trekking Poles are designed with packability in mind. The quick-deploy design allows the poles to be easily folded down to a compact size, making them easy to pack and transport in smaller packs.
When not in use, the poles can be quickly collapsed and folded down to a length of of 36 centimeters (14 in) for the small size and 44 centimeters (17 in) for the long size, making them easy to store in a variety of backpacks or other outdoor gear.
This is particularly useful for those who like to travel light, as the compact size of the poles allows for greater flexibility and freedom of movement when navigating tricky terrain.
Moreover, the tightening and locking force of the poles can be adjusted at any time (without tools) without stopping hiking.
The MSR DynaLock Ascent are designed to be highly versatile and functional in any season. The poles come with both winter and summer baskets, allowing you to easily switch between them depending on the season and terrain.
They are designed with user comfort in mind. The poles feature an EVA foam grip that provides a soft, comfortable grip and reduces hand fatigue during long hikes.
The foam grip is also designed to absorb moisture and prevent slipping, even in wet or sweaty conditions.
In addition to the foam grip, the poles also feature a lower grip that allows for sidehilling or choking up on steep terrain. This grip is designed to provide additional support and stability when navigating tricky terrain, such as steep slopes or rocky ridges.
By allowing users to adjust their grip position, the poles provide a more comfortable and natural grip, which can reduce hand and arm fatigue.
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