Trekking poles, or hiking poles, are one of those items you don’t think you need until you use them. A common misconception of trekking poles is that “real” hikers don’t need them or they’re for older people. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, we know firsthand how helpful it is to have a tool that assists with balance and equally distributes your weight. Using trekking poles does require you to use more energy, but the decrease in impact on your legs on inclines and declines makes it worth it.
Some hikers prefer to hike with only one trekking pole, while others like the stability that both offer. No matter your preference, it’s important to select the right hiking poles for your hiking style.
When you’re shopping for trekking poles, you’ll find there are a variety of options. From different handles and grips to materials of the poles themselves, it’s hard to know exactly where to start. By the end of this guide, you’ll feel informed and ready to purchase the right pair of hiking poles for you.
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Hiking Pole Length
One of the most important factors to consider when buying trekking poles is pole length. When using hiking poles, you’ll want to make sure your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle when the poles are on flat ground.
All of the poles in this guide are adjustable, which makes it easy to shorten and extend the poles to find the perfect fit. For reference, if you’re approximately six feet tall, you’ll want to choose poles that have a maximum length of 51 inches. If you’re below six feet tall, you’ll be able to adjust most any hiking poles to fit your height.
Knowing the proper length for your height and how to adjust poles before heading out on trail will save you a lot of time and stress. It will also help eliminate the risk of distress on your arms, back, and shoulders.
Most hiking poles have three adjustable sections that can be adjusted throughout your hike to assist you with general hiking, inclines, and declines. For inclines, you’ll want to shorten poles, and for declines, the poles should be longer.
Pro Tip: Adjust the top section so that it sits in the middle of your adjustment range, and adjust the bottom to the length that keeps your elbows at the right angle. This will prevent you from having to adjust all of the sections when you need to change lengths for inclines and declines.
Hiking Pole Features
Hiking poles come with an abundance of features. Features specific to this guide are:
Adjustable Length: As stated above, all of the options listed below are adjustable. Adjustable hiking poles typically extend from 24 inches to 55 inches in length.
Foldable: Foldable hiking poles do not collapse into themselves like adjustable trekking poles. Instead, they fold into a zigzag like shape. These are easier to pack in a backpack and deploy quicker than adjustable hiking poles.
Shock-Absorbing: Shock-absorbing hiking poles have springs inside of them to absorb shock when hiking downhill. This is a great feature for hikers who may have unstable knees, hips, or ankles.
Ultralight: Ultralight poles are easier to move because they typically weigh less than one pound per pair. Using poles that are light in weight means that you will expend less energy on your hike.
Hiking Pole Materials
There are two main materials used for the shaft of hiking poles: carbon or aluminum.
Aluminum: Aluminum is usually a less expensive option. While aluminum hiking poles are durable, they can bend under pressure.
Carbon: Carbon, or carbon fiber, hiking poles are a more expensive option. They’re also typically lightweight, weighing 12-18 ounces per pair. While these poles are durable, carbon hiking poles are more prone to breakage and splintering on more rugged terrain.
Hiking Pole Grips
Hiking pole grips come in a variety of materials that provide different types of support. There are three major types – cork, foam, and rubber – but in this guide, we’ve selected poles with cork and rubber grips.
Cork: Cork grips are perfect for you if you hike in hot weather or sweat a lot. Cork absorbs moisture and conforms to the natural shape of your hand.
Rubber: Rubber grips provide insulation from shock and cold, but they are more likely to chafe or blister sweaty hands.
Best Hiking Poles on Amazon
You might be wondering how we determined which hiking poles are the “best” available on Amazon. When sifting through the 20 pages of results, we considered the following factors: cost, shipping, and reviews.
Hiking gear doesn’t have to cost hundreds or even thousands, and we wanted to make sure we provided options for every budget. In terms of shipping, all of the items listed below are eligible for Prime 2-day shipping. Last but not least, customer reviews.
We filtered our results based on reviews with four stars and up, and from there, we didn’t select any hiking poles with less than 50 reviews. While product reviews are always subjective, it’s important to us that we recommend items that have been tried and true by a variety of hikers in a variety of places.
All of the poles below are great options for hikers of all skill levels. They’re also great hiking poles for women, men, and children.
Length: 44” – 53”
Weight: Approximately 9.5 ounces each
Features: The NIANYSO adjustable aluminum hiking poles are built to support heavyweight and rocky terrain. They feature rubber grips and tips with an ergonomic design to provide comfort during long hiking trips. Each pair of hiking poles comes with accessories for all four seasons to provide support in sun or snow. These hiking poles have a 13-month warranty, and NIANYSO offers lifetime support, should you have any issues.
Length: 26” – 54”
Weight: 8 ounces each
Features: These shock absorbing carbon fiber poles are built to withstand pressure and can be used at all angles. The Cascade Mountain Tech 3K hiking poles are ultra-lightweight and feature a quick lock system that makes them easy to adjust on the trail.
The sweat-wicking cork grips lower the vibration of impact and provide hikers with comfort. These poles also come with adjustable wrist straps and a bonus tip kit, which includes snow baskets, boots, and small rubber feet.
Length: 39” – 47” or 45” – 53”
Weight: 18 ounces per pair
Features: The Paria Tri-Fold Carbon Cork hiking poles are foldable, not adjustable, and can easily fit in your daypack or carry on bag. While the shaft is built with carbon fiber, the shafts are reinforced with aluminum for extra durability. They have a cork handle and adjustable wrist straps to provide you with comfort on your hike.
Paria is a U.S. based company with a lifetime guarantee on all of their products. Unlike the other trekking poles mentioned in this post, these poles do not come with any additional accessories, but they are offered in two sizes, making them a great option for hikers of all heights.
Material: Carbon Fiber
Length: 21” – 54”
Weight: 15.2 ounces per pair
Features: These hiking poles are adjustable and made with strong carbon fiber to naturally absorb shock. They weigh less than a pound total and can collapse down to 21” making them perfect for travel. The Hunger Hiker hiking poles come with snow baskets, mud baskets and feet, and rubber tips ensuring that you can use them for all seasons and terrain.
They also come with a storage bag. The cork grip and adjustable wrist straps provide comfort while hiking, and as an added bonus, these poles feature a foam grip beneath the cork grip to assist with inclines. With a one-year warranty, these poles can be returned at any time during your first year or use.
Material: Carbon Fiber and Aluminum
Length: 25” – 51”
Weight: 16 ounces per pair
Features: Black Diamond is a popular trekking pole brand and for good reason. The adjustable Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles feature a carbon fiber mid and lower shaft and an aluminum upper shaft to increase durability and shock absorbency. The cork grips have an ergonomic 15-degree angled design to provide optimal comfort. Similar to the Hiker Hunger hiking poles, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Poles have a foam grip below the cork grip to assist with steep inclines.
The FlickLock Pro technology makes adjusting pole length quick, easy, and secure. The stainless steel clamp ensures that the poles won’t collapse once they’ve been adjusted. The Alpine Cork hiking poles come with two different baskets, mud and snow, that can be interchanged depending on the season and activity.
Trekking poles are an essential item that you didn’t know needed. Once you hike with them, you’ll wonder how you ever hiked without them.