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.
Click here to read more on how to choose the right hiking poles and how to adjust them
Discover our trekking poles top picks from Black Diamond, Leki and Cascade Mountain Tech (Reviews below)
BLACK DIAMOND Alpine Carbon Cork
1 lb 1 oz
LEKI Micro Vario Carbon DDS
1 lb 1 oz
Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock
Cork or Foam
LEKI Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC
1 lb 3 oz
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 Micro Vario Carbon DDS Trekking Poles - The Comfort Poles
The Leki's Micro Vario Carbon DSS trekking poles are uncompromising.
Indeed, their relatively heavy weight (same as 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 sticks are compact and foldable.
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.
We generally prefer cork handles to foam handles, but the foam handles of the Micro Vario 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).
LEKI Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles - The compact poles
With a Z-folding style design, the usual well crafted and ergonomic cork handles from Leki as well as a competitive price, the Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec are among our favorites in this category.
This aluminum model folds to a size of only 14 in (36 cm), making it one of the smallest on the market and on our list.
We really like the SpeedLock 2 locking system from Leki. It can be installed and uninstalled in the blink of an eye without the need for tools thanks to a clamping function built into the stick.
The ability to keep the locks easily tightened confirms the general tendency of hiking poles to resist wear and tear over time.
As with all folding sticks, the design of the Micro Vario requires a compromise.
Folding hiking poles are light and compact, but do not allow for optimal adjustment. They can be adjusted over a range of 7.8 in (20 cm), which is much less than its telescopic counterparts.
Foldable poles are generally less robust than telescopic ones, which surely makes them the poles that can handle less weight and pressure on this list.
However, their aluminum design still gives them a very good resistance.
The choice between strength and folding practicality must therefore be made.
Check Out All of OutdoorsWithNoLimits' Gear Guides!
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- 8 Best Hiking GPS
- Best Trekking Poles
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