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Trekking Poles

Need help getting started with trekking poles? Read: Trekking Poles: To Use or Not, Trekking Poles: Parts Explained, Trekking Poles: Selecting a Pair, and Trekking Poles: Fit, Maintenance, and Tips.

Types of Trekking Poles

photo of a antishock trekking pole

Antishock Trekking Poles

photo of a rigid trekking pole

Rigid Trekking Poles

photo of a hiking staff

Hiking Staffs

Top Picks

How we choose: The best trekking poles highlighted here were selected based on 371 reviews of 180 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Top Rigid Trekking Pole

Leki Makalu FX Carbon

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Reasons to Buy

  • Instant deployment and storage
  • Lightweight
  • Stay the same length during use
  • Adjustable length compatible for most users
  • Quality carrying bag

Reasons to Avoid

  • Powder baskets sold separately ($9.99)
  • No internal shock absorption (Makalu FX Carbon AS/anti-shock is available)

  Great poles for the mountains Trekking poles have come a long way since the days of using old ski poles. I’ll admit that I resisted them for a long time, just assuming that they were nothing but extra weight and expense. While I seldom use them on easy, family hikes, I find them indispensable on climbing approaches and mountain hiking.  While these poles aren't cheap, Leki has addressed the problem of weight and stowability all while making some fantastic poles with the Makalu FX Carbon poles.

Read more: Leki Makalu FX Carbon review (1)

Top Antishock Trekking Pole

Mountainsmith Carbonlite Pro

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Sturdy trekking poles with lockout-able shock absorbers and great cork grips. What's not to like? Mountain goats don't tackle mountains on two legs; why should you?

Reasons to Buy

  • Tried-and-true twist locks that hold fast and weigh less than Flicklocks
  • Long!
  • Optional—and included—rubber tips and snow baskets
  • Natural cork grips stay grippy even when sweaty
  • Nicely-padded wrist straps
  • Good value

Reasons to Avoid

  • IDK...they don't massage your feet after the end of a long day?

Best For: People who like good trekking poles. Design The Mountainsmith Carbonlites Pros are three-piece, telescoping poles built for rigorous use. The diameter of the sections is greater than many of the more lightweight options, and this allows a higher user weight limit. The sections can be completely disassembled for cleaning and lubing, allowing one to appreciate the beefy locking mechanisms employed. The poles sections themselves are constructed with an inner tube of aluminum, wrapped in carbon fiber.

Read more: Mountainsmith Carbonlite Pro review (1)

Rigid Trekking Pole

Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Leki's Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA are a sturdy, packable set of poles which will keep you on your feet, and save your knees. Super easy and fast to assemble and adjust, and rock solid performance for your dollar.

Reasons to Buy

  • Packable
  • Strong
  • Easy to adjust
  • Fairly lightweight (10.8 oz each on my scale)
  • Straps are easy to adjust
  • Lifetime shaft breakage warranty
  • Good value for the quality

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not the lightest poles in the Leki line
  • Speed lock adjustment might be difficult in cold weather, while wearing gloves

I have been a fan of hiking poles for a long time. Because I have horrible arch stability, and a fairly uneven sense of balance, having those extra supports makes a real difference, and has saved my bacon more than once! I have had a pair of Black Diamond Carbon Cork poles which have literally hundreds of miles on them, and they are looking a little worse for the wear these days. I’ve also been curious about the folding compact pole designs which have come into favor in the last few years, so when the opportunity arose to try the Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tek TA poles, I was very interested in giving them a try.

Read more: Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA review (1)

Rigid Trekking Pole

Black Diamond Trail

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7 reviews)

These poles are as tough as it gets. I hiked around 1,000 miles in the last six months and I’m glad I had these poles to support me. These are so durable I never even had to tighten the screws of the Flicklocks! I hiked while carrying an average weight of 36 pounds (16 kilos) and in all types of terrain, but the majority of it were granite and other igneous rocks.

Reasons to Buy

  • Durability
  • Locking mechanism

Reasons to Avoid

  • None

Durability Brilliant, superb, outstanding! There were numerous times I had put all of my weight on these poles and they never bent or seemed like they are going to. I threw them down slopes, dragged them on gravel roads and rock slabs and nothing broke, nothing turned loose. The flicklocks never failed! Neither did I ever have to tighten the screws, for 1,000 miles! That’s unbelievable in my point of view. The carbon tips seem like they will stand at least another 1,000 miles and though there is evident wear to them, it’s not nearly what I would expect it to be.

Read more: Black Diamond Trail reviews (7)

Rigid Trekking Pole

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (13 reviews)

The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork trekking poles work very well and are comfortable. They do a great job of helping me keep my balance while carrying large or shifting loads. I would definitely recommend these poles to others.

Reasons to Buy

  • comfortable
  • sturdy
  • lightweight
  • easy to use

I had been considering getting a set of trekking poles for a couple of years, and when I found this set for less than $50, I decided it was finally time. I purchased them at the beginning of January, 2012, and here I am nearly three months later, and I've only had a chance to use them a couple of times. Thus, only 4 stars for now, due to the unknown longevity factor.  If they prove to be durable through the summer, I will definitely up the rating. Immediately I could tell a difference between the quality of these poles and the quality of other trekking poles I've looked at in stores.

Read more: Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork reviews (13)

Rigid Trekking Pole

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9 reviews)

A beautiful pole that takes a beating, but the form over function of the flick lock design loses points. This is the 95-125 cm Women's version.

Reasons to Buy

  • 125 cm length, shorter than standard.
  • Seemingly indestructible carbon design.
  • Stiff carbon with little flex.
  • Comfortable handles and straps.
  • Good basket threads.
  • Replaceable pole tips.
  • Compact.
  • Carbon soaks up shock.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavy for carbon.
  • Requires allen wrench to tighten flip lock.
  • Flip Locks are removable.
  • Expensive.

When the porcupine bites on my wife's 7 year old BD poles started to become annoying, we started looking for another set. These 7 year old poles have been champs with thousands and thousands of miles. And only a few issues. So we decided to grab a pair of the new Black Diamond Women's alpine carbon cork poles. At 5'2" the smaller size and weight limit means a lighter pole. And at 5'9" I was also able to use the poles without issue, but I had to extend them to their max. So we cannot recommend these if you are over 5'9" Old vs new The all carbon shaft is amazing at absorbing shock.

Read more: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork reviews (9)

Rigid Trekking Pole

Black Diamond Distance Z

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (8 reviews)

My age betrays me. Before buying these poles I thought of trek poles as an experiment for me. I assumed that I would end up giving them to someone else. Nope, that's not going to happen since I now love them. In fact, I've let four people try these, and exactly four of them have now bought a pair for themselves.

Reasons to Buy

  • Folds up small — very "stow-able"
  • Comparatively very lightweight, so the poles are very controllable and do not have the "swing" issue that heavier poles have
  • Holds up to use (does not break under normal tensions)
  • Z-pole design makes it simple to both deploy and collapse
  • Z-pole lock is perfectly secure
  • Straps adjust nicely
  • Poles do not have the vibration found in some carbon fiber poles
  • Accessory tips are easy to install and remove

Reasons to Avoid

  • A little heavier than I wanted
  • Length is not adjustable
  • Baskets are too small for snow, and can not be replaced on this model
  • Accessory tips are almost too difficult to swap in the field - they are more of a (quick) shop project

Trekking poles and walking staffs are certainly nothing new. Historically I've regarded them as things that an athletic young fella wouldn't benefit from. Turns out, while I am still making an effort to be athletic, I'm pretty clear that I'm not young any more. Happens to all of us.  :) In the last year or two I've been making many changes to my gear and general approach to hiking / backpacking, so I've been trying to stay open to ideas about all gear. Trekking poles were at the top of the list of items that I didn't think I would need, but that were highly recommended.

Read more: Black Diamond Distance Z reviews (8)

Rigid Trekking Pole

MSR DynaLock Explore Backcountry Poles

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Very good, three-section aluminum trekking poles for trekking and year-round mountaineering. Sturdy and relatively light, feel dependable, and delivered with multiple baskets. Great price tag and the cost/quality ratio. 550g / 1 lbs 4 oz | Open, Max: 140 cm / 55 in | Collapsed 62.2 cm / 24.5 in

Reasons to Buy

  • Dynalock system with adjustable tension
  • Sturdy and durable, yet not overly heavy
  • Comfy no-slip rubbery foam on grip and extension
  • Nice wide band with pleasent feel

Reasons to Avoid

  • Very specialized users will want something lighter

I was looking for a trekking pole to cover my needs for at least three-season use, and I generally accept something a little heavier to gain durability (and dependability). After some research I went with these poles, which are not widely well-known apparently, as other brands have the lion's share of the market and many buyers go by the reviews online to play it safe (completely understandable). Trekking poles fully retracted Trekking poles, fully open (right) and fully retracted (left) I was pleasantly surprised by this pair of trekking poles, which are three-section poles, made entirely of aluminum (MSR mentions the "light, high-strength 7075 aluminum lower sections").

Read more: MSR DynaLock Explore Backcountry Poles review (1)

Rigid Trekking Pole

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Indispensable, durable, lightweight trail tool for hiking, trail running, and backpacking.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Compact

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • Fixed length

Possibly my favorite piece of gear. Hard pressed to find a situation where I do not bring along these poles since they are so light and portable.  Fit is determined by height of user. Come in a couple of different sizes, I use the 120mm model which is the size recommended for my height. Grips and straps are very comfortable, I tend to use with gloves and have noticed absolutely no chaffing or pain. Only problem with grips and straps is if you remove the straps they are difficult to put back on (straps are L or R handed, the grips are the same)  Pole is non-adjustable, which accounts for the incredible light weight of the product (no moving parts).

Read more: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z review (1)

Antishock Trekking Pole

Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock

user rating: 5 of 5 (4 reviews)

Four years old and still going strong.

Reasons to Buy

  • Compact well
  • Shock absorber
  • Locking mech
  • Ability to two-hand it
  • Solid wrist strap

I have had a pair of these poles for four years now and as I get farther away from 50 I use them more and more. They break down to the length of my pack. The shock system looks like it will never wear out unlike the old Leki system. They lock up tight and you just need to tighten a small screw if not, unlike the old twist system on the old Leki. I have also had to two-hand these poles when sliding down an avi slope still filled with snow. The straps are wide enough so they don't cut into your wrists. If I were to improve these the only thing I would do is make the top of the handle a little larger for better palming on steep descents.  They weigh just enough so you know they're there and you're not tripping over them.

Read more: Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock reviews (4)

More Trekking Poles

Trailspace reviewers have shared 371 reviews of 180 different trekking poles. Narrow your search and view more specific trekking pole recommendations in these categories:

Antishock Trekking Poles

Rigid Trekking Poles

Hiking Staffs

All Hiking and Camping Gear

Other Types of Hiking and Camping Gear

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