The best trekking poles can be life-changing for a lot of hikers.
Trekking pole reviews advise users to look for the following when buying their pair: the weight, the grip and strap, its adjustment mechanism, materials, portability, its basket size, the tip, other features, and where it’s made
That sounds complicated, but don’t worry, we’ve done the research for you!
We listed the best trekking poles you can buy in 2018 (so far)
Let’s take a quick look at what we recommend before we go into details:
Mike's Top Choice
(The one we like the best)
Lightweight and sturdy
Adjustable Height Telescopic poles
(Check current price down below)
Easy to Assemble
SCarbide tip under rubber to tips for uneven terrain
With shock absorber
Ergonomic and Comfortable grips
Here are the full reviews:
6 BEST Trekking Poles
Mike’s Gear Reviews have listed six of the best trekking poles that we think can suit your needs. All specs and prices listed below are from the e-commerce website unless otherwise stated.
At $20.99, the BAFX Products Anti-Shock Trail Polls are the cheapest in this list. They come in pairs, with each weighing approximately 12.4 oz. The hiking poles, made from aluminum, are expandable up to 52 inches from 25.5 inches. They also include two pairs of rubber tips and a set of mud baskets.
These are made in China but BAFX Products boast of having USA-based support staff for faster communication. The company offers one-year warranty against all manufacturing defects.
Here are the pros and cons of the BAFX Products Trail Polls:
|Easy to assemble||Straps are short|
|Affordable||The locking mechanism comes loose under strain|
|With shock absorber||Heavy|
The specifications of the product:
- Made of durable high grade aluminum
- Each pole weighs approx. 12.4oz
- Poles expand from 25.5” to 52”
- 2 pairs of rubber tips per set (4 tips total)
- Carbide tip under rubber tips for more uneven terrain
- NEW – Ergonomic and comfortable grips with light ribbing for better grip
- New – Wider and padded wrist straps for more support
- 1 set of mud baskets with each set to help prevent sinking in soft ground coverings
- 1x instruction manual with link to helpful setup and use video
- 1 year warranty – Against all manufacturing defects* Super easy, no hassle warrant with USA-based support staff ready and waiting to help
While this pair is one of the most popular trekking poles on this list, it has still some drawbacks.
It is very affordable; it is actually the lowest priced that we have listed here. But cheaper isn’t always the best value.
It has anti-shock system in place, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your preference. Shock absorbers are sometimes thought of nuisance, but some people prefer having the feature because they benefit from it.
It’s also just $21, so that’s a good plus. But if you are going on a heavier and longer outdoor adventure, you probably could do better with another brand.
The High Trek Premium Ultralight Trekking Poles are the only ones on this list that are made in the USA. From High Trek, a family-owned business in Buffalo, Wyoming, these poles promise quite a lot of things, save for shock absorbers.
These lightweight trekking poles are made for both snow and mud, with the included mud basket and tungsten-tipped ends. They use EVA handles for a comfortable and firm grip. The EVA absorbs sweat to keep your hands dry, plus it doesn’t emit odor.
The poles now use flip lock mechanism, as opposed to twist lock that the company used to make. Newer models, bought from 2016, have flip lock. Older ones use the twist mechanism. That’s why some reviews talk about different types of locking mechanism.
Could these be the best trekking poles that you are looking for? Here are the pros and cons of using the High Trek, according to users:
|Lightweight||Tips don’t last long|
- Strong, Lightweight, Low Impact – Made with aerospace-grade 7075 aluminum and weigh only 8.7 ounces each. Softer impacts so your hikes are easier on your joints!
- Adjustable Height Telescopic Poles – Adjustable from 25 to 53 inches featuring an easy lever lock height adjustment. Perfect for everyone from short to tall.
- Comfortable Grips – Large, ergonomically designed EVA handles provide all-day comfort and come with adjustable wrist straps so you won’t drop them accidentally.
- All Terrain – Tackle any terrain with the tungsten-tipped ends, removable rubber ferrules, and mud/snow baskets. Explore nature’s beauty with increased balance, stability, and endurance!
- One Year Warranty – Don’t worry about missing your 30-day return window. You’re covered against manufacturer defects for 1 full year.
Not quite the best walking poles out there, but according to the reviews, they’re close enough. They are as sturdy as claimed and just as lightweight. Each pole weighs less than 11 ounces if the snow basket and protective tip are included.
It doesn’t have anti-shock system in place, which is again either a good thing or a bad one, depending on how you see it. According to the seller, the upgrades on the poles allow them to forgo using a physical spring system, boasting that using the poles can reduce the stress on the joints of users by 30 percent.
As they are made of aluminum, the poles are guaranteed durable.
But overall, the High Trek Premium Ultralight Poles are a great buy at just $30.
From the US outdoor gear company Foxelli, these trekking poles boast of having been made from 100% carbon fiber, making them ultralight in weight. These are the lightest poles on the list at just 7 oz. each. So when they say these are lightweight, they are not kidding. And because they are so light, they can reduce arm fatigue during long trek adventures.
Apart from the almost non-existent weight, these trekking poles, which, according to one answer, are said to be designed in the Netherlands but made in China, are a perfect fit for most users of different heights. These can be adjusted from 24-inch length to 55-inch.
Each pair comes with four-season accessories and a tungsten carbide tip. It has mud and sand baskets, as well as snow baskets, asphalt and rock tips, and storage tips. So wherever you choose to hike, you can bring these poles with you. They also come in a carrying case.
According to trekking pole reviews, these are the pros and cons of these quite pricey poles:
|Includes carrying case|
|Has accessories ideal for all conditions|
The specs are as follows:
- Move Faster and Further with Less Effort: Made from shock absorbent, ultralight 100% carbon fiber material, which minimizes the impact on joints and absorbs any noise. Weights only 7oz so it reduces arm fatigue, allowing one to move quicker and go the extra mile while exerting less energy. Indestructible design will withstand the most challenging backpacking trips.
- One Size Fits All: Quick lock technology allows user to adjust pole’s length quickly and easily while firmly holding its position. Perfect fit for short or tall men, women and kids. Provides benefits to seniors and those carrying extra weight. Retractable from 24” to 55”, which makes Foxelli Trekking Poles one of the most versatile and compact in class.
- Supreme Comfort: Anti-slip natural cork grips adjust to the hand, absorb sweat, and keep hands cool and dry during long distance hikes. Air ventilated, extra padded, adjustable wrist straps provide all day comfort. The extended foam sleeve has ridges and is made of soft EVA foam to easily handle switchbacks and abrupt changes in terrain.
- All Terrain, All Conditions: From climbing ice mountains to an easy urban walk, heavy duty 4 Season accessories and a Tungsten Carbide tip won’t let you down. Thermoplastic rubber tips strongly attach to the staff so they won’t be lost in snow, mud or when snagged.
- Carrying case included
- Risk-Free Purchase: Don’t worry about missing Amazon’s 30-day return window. We offer a 120-day, no questions asked, money back guarantee with a 3-year warranty for defects. If you’re not 100% satisfied, we’ll give you your money back.
Disregarding the price of $54 for a second, these could be another candidate for the best trekking poles on this list. They just tick all the boxes, although there are a few complaints from some users as well.
A few users complained of the screw on the locking mechanism getting constantly loosened. They had to re-clasp the locks several times. The adhesive that holds the pole locks to different shafts apparently melts in hotter climates. Another common complaint, although just by a few users, is that the poles break from stress and weight. As the poles are made from carbon fiber, it is possible that they would break.
Nevertheless, there are no such complaints from most users.
They apparently can hold weight of a bigger person well. The cork handle and the extended EVA foam sleeve help keep your hands dry and comfortable. Plus, it has a 3-year warranty on top of the 120-day return.
But again, while the Foxelli poles are not one of the most expensive hiking sticks online, $54 is still not a cheap price, so it’s something to consider as well.
From Cascade Mountain Tech, an outdoor gears company in Washington, these hiking poles are lightweight and compact at 7.8 oz each and 26 inches in collapsed state. The company offers replacement parts, which you will need in time. As it claims, it buys high quality materials in bulk, that’s why it can offer 100% carbon quality in low price.
You have an option between cork or neoprene handle, with the cork slightly more expensive than the neoprene (as per Amazon pricing). Each pair includes snow baskets, tungsten carbide tips, boots and small rubber feet, all that you need for hiking in different conditions.
The rubber tips are for indoor use and on slippery and hard surfaces. Some locations require rubber tips on hiking poles to protect their terrain. The boot tips add extra cushioning and force on hard surfaces.
Here are the pros and cons of the Cascade Mountain tech poles:
|Option available for handle material type||Vague warranty coverage|
The specs for the Cascade Mountain Tech 100% Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles:
- High Quality Strong Value – Poles are built with 100% carbon fiber – We source quality material and buy in large bulk quantities to be able to offer a high quality carbon fiber pole at a great value. Compare to other brands, which save by offering a lower quality less than 100% carbon pole.
- Lightweight & Compact Poles – 7.8 oz or less than half a pound – Our carbon fiber poles provide hikers, walkers, backpackers, campers and many more the best option for a lightweight strong pole. A lightweight pole makes a big difference when on long hikes or daily walks. Choose this one for added every day comfort.
- Quick Lock & Extendable – Our locking mechanisms will support you for all your adventures. Do you need to adjust your pole height when trekking up a hill, flat terrain or a downward slope? Our quick lock was chosen for its ease of use and reliability for holding the pole in the chosen height position. Collapsed (handle to tip) 26”. Fully extended (handle to tip) 54.5”.
- Grip & Tip Options – Cork or EVA – Choose between popular cork grip or EVA handles. Both provide different benefits with all day comfort. Included is our adjustable wrist strap. All of our poles come with tungsten carbide tips and adjustable wrist straps. Bonus tip kit includes: snow basket, boots, small rubber feet
- We Stand Behind Our Brand – We warranty our product and can provide replacement parts if needed. These poles were designed to fit the needs of women trekking, men trekking, kids’ hiking trips.
The option to decide between cork and neoprene handles is a nice touch. Cork and neoprene have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s up to the user which one would they prefer. That option alone is good enticement for buyers.
But aside from that, the poles aren’t bad as well. There is no shock absorber, which is, again, a good or bad thing, depending on user preference. Although these are not the lightest poles available, it’s not heavy at 7.8 oz. as well.
They are best used for flat surfaces, though, according to a few trekking pole reviews. Apparently, these are fragile against rocks. Some customers also complained about the poles collapsing under their weight. And another user claimed there is noticeably vibration when they use it.
The hiking sticks include warranty, but the coverage is vague. You will have to ask the company if your poles are covered.
Just like the Cascade Mountain Tech above, these Hiker Hunger trekking poles are also 100% carbon, as it is mentioned in the name. These sticks don’t offer an option for the handle’s material, but they have a clear warranty coverage of one year.
They are also shorter in collapsed form at 24 inches but half an inch shorter in extended state at 54 inches. It is also very slightly lighter at 7.6 oz. As mentioned, you don’t have a choice what material the handles should be. They are all made of cork.
The Hiker Hunger poles include each a pair of rubber tips, rubber feet, mud baskets and snow baskets.
Here are the pros and cons:
Here are the specs:
- Built to Last – 100% Carbon Fiber – We use 100% carbon fiber to make the strongest and lightest poles in the outdoor market. Carbon fiber is a natural anti-shock material. Our poles are not a cheap mix between carbon fiber and aluminum.
- Ultra-Light – Each pole only weighs 7.6 ounces, making the pair of poles only 15.2 ounces. That total is under 1 pound.
- Collapsible – Our poles feature our Quick Flip Lock so you can collapse or extend your poles from 24” (60.9 cm) all the way to 54” (137 cm) quickly. When not in use, these are easy to collapse and small enough to pack in yoru Carry Bag (free bag included in purchase) and can be stored within your backpack. Can separate each section to be only 21” to fit in a suitcase.
- Comfortable Grip – To provide the best experience possible, we’ve develop an ergonomic cork grip that is comfortable, moisture-wicking and conforms to the shape of your hand. Your grip will fit like a glove in no time, minimizing discomfort that can be caused by neoprene grips. We also include nonslip EVA Foam Grip extensions underneath the Cork Grip for quick choke-ups on steep terrain.
- Warranty – Don’t just take our word that these will be the only poles you’ll ever need. We offer a 1-year manufacturer warranty.
The Hiker Hunger poles and the above-listed Cascade Mountain Tech poles appear so similar that there are users who swear they are the same. One user even outright called out their similarities, claiming the Hiker Hunger poles were exactly the same as but more expensive than the Cascade Mountain Tech. Both are made in China as well, even if some customers the former were made in the USA (more on that later).
There are differences, even if just minimal, in their dimensions, though. So that’s one thing to keep in mind.
The Hiker Hunger poles have no anti-shock system. And because the poles have hollow centers, they generate noticeable echoes, making the poles appear to be “noisy” when being used.
Another family-owned business offering, the TrailBuddy Walking Poles have complete basic package that you would need for a trek in different conditions and climates. But unlike some of the entries here, the parts of these hiking sticks can be replaced with generic ones bought from other manufacturers.
These poles are proudly touted to be “tougher than carbon fiber,” having been made from aluminum. Decently priced, they come in five colors (black, blue, red, green and yellow) and include the usual extras, such as rubber tips, snow and mud baskets, and a carrying bag.
Here are the pros and cons of these poles:
|Affordable||Difficult to assemble|
|Looks good||Locking mechanism comes loose|
These are the specs:
- Tougher than Carbon Fiber – TrailBuddy Trekking Poles’ tough aluminum can withstand pressure and impact better than carbon fiber – crucial if hiking on rocky terrain or supporting heavier weight
- Lighter than 6061 Aluminum – Aluminun 7075 hiking sticks can weigh up to 4 ounces less – a huge difference considering you might be lifting the poles thousands of times in a single hike
- Easier to Adjust Than Twist Lock – Changing the height of these telescoping poles from 24.5 to 54 inches is a breeze even when you’re wearing gloves or trekking in wet conditions, thanks to its lever locks
- Built For Your Comfort – Cork handles are comfy to use in both hot and cold temperatures, are moisture-wicking, and mold to the shape of your hand while the strap is padded to avoid chafing your skin
Available in beautiful black, blue, red and green colors, these poles also come with a carrying bag, 2 pairs rubber tips, 1 pair connectors, mud baskets, and snow baskets (snow baskets for light snowshoeing only, not for skiing)
These could have been one of the best hiking sticks in the market, if not for the complicated assembly.
The most common complaint from trekking pole reviews about these poles is that they keep collapsing because the screws become loose often. TrailBuddy advises customers to tighten the screws before the lock is closed. This apparently is a common mistake made by the customers, that’s why the poles slide down.
These also don’t have shock absorption. But according to users, these are the most attractive and one of the best hiking poles in the market. They are lightweight and decently sturdy. They are also on the affordable end of hiking sticks.
Mike’s TOP choice
Among the six items above, Mike’s Gear Reviews thinks that the High Trek Premium Ultralight are the best trekking poles on the list. They are super light and are sturdy. They are also very affordable. What a few people don’t like about these sticks is they are a bit “noisy.” Other than that, they appear to be perfect.
Do not forget to check our Survival Gear Reviews section!
What to look for in a Trekking Poles
But of course, if you must pick trekking poles, pick the best trekking poles that you can find. There are criteria that you can base on when buying your sticks so you can be sure that you are getting the best one that fits your needs.
Trekking pole reviews advise users to look for the following when buying their pair: the weight of the poles, the grip and strap, its adjustment mechanism, materials, portability, its basket size, the tip, other features, and where it’s made.
When looking for the best trekking poles , look for the lightest ones possible without compromising other factors. A few ounces of weight don’t look much at first, but you would feel the difference when you are hiking for a long time. You would definitely feel the fatigue and strain in your arms from carrying them along with the other things in your backpack.
Also remember that out of all that you are carrying, the sticks are probably the least important things, and so they should only take a tiny fraction of the weight you are carrying.
Grip and Strap
Some of the best hiking sticks have straps.
If the straps are properly adjusted to fit your hands, you wouldn’t have to grip the pole too lightly, saving you from early fatigue. And should you rest your hands for a bit, you wouldn’t have to worry about the sticks falling off.
But straps are for personal preferences.
Some hikers don’t like having straps on their hands as they feel they are too confining, not to mention, if the material of the straps is nylon or something similar, it can chafe the hands’ skin.
The ergonomic design of the sticks when you hold them matters a lot. If you need to contort your arms and hands to hold the trekking poles, then you would be in a great deal of hurt afterwards. Do a bit of your own trekking poles review when you buy your sticks. Test them out and see if your hands can grip them in a natural position. If not, look for another one. If yes, also test out if the material of their handles would still allow your hands to be comfortable after a few minutes of gripping.
This brings us to our next criteria:
Even if you can comfortably grip the sticks, that can still change if the material of their handles becomes uncomfortable or stiff later. The most common are rubber (such as neoprene), cork and foam (like EVA).
Rubber grips are best used in colder climates.
They don’t absorb water and they feel heavy. Corks follow the shape of your hands, making them a comfortable handle material. Corks absorb liquid, such as sweat, but still not much. Still, in terms of comfortability, cork grips rate highly. As for foam grips, they can take in a lot of water. They are the lightest material of the three and cooler. They aren’t recommended for use in cold weather.
As for the body itself, the most common materials used are aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum is the heavier of the two, but it is the more durable. If your aluminum stick hit a hard rock, it would just bend. Carbon fiber, on the other hand, is lighter but is generally more fragile. If it stuck a hard rock, it might break.
This is where the poles’ locking and telescopic mechanisms come in.
Some of the best trekking poles are usually telescopic, which means they expand and contract by its parts sliding out from another.
What you need to look for is the locking mechanism.
You wouldn’t want the poles to easily compress while you are using it; it would surely lead to accidents. And you also wouldn’t want it to stay elongated permanently. Even if you have folding style poles, which are generally several inches smaller than their telescopic counterparts, their locking mechanism is vital.
According one trekking poles review, a lever lock style is better than the twist lock style because they are less troublesome, especially if you are on dusty trails. Dirt can get into the twist lock mechanism, damaging the lock in the long run.
When you are hiking, you naturally want everything you carry to be portable. You don’t pack in a whole wardrobe, only minimal clothing items. You would want everything that you need to be easily carried in your backpack. That’s the same with trekking poles. You want them as compact as possible. Even if they are collapsible, if they can’t fold into a small enough section so you can fit them into your bag or at least attach them onto your bag, then you would need to rethink about buying them.
Basket sizes depend on where you need your hiking poles in. Larger ones are used for snow, while smaller ones are best for softer terrains and lands with roots and small rocks.
Not all trekking poles have interchangeable baskets, though, so factor that in when you buy a pair.
The tip is the end of the trekking poles that hit the ground.
Most tips have two parts: the body, which is usually made of plastic, and the point, which should be hardened steel that’s harder than rocks. The best trekking poles in the market have replaceable tips because these are what wears out first. And when they wear out or break, you should be able to replace them easily. But there are hiking poles that don’t have replaceable parts. Avoid them if you can.
Other Features (Shock Absorbers)
Anti-shock system is one of the most in demand features of some of the best hiking poles. Shock absorbers in poles help cushion the jolts on your elbows and wrists.
However, according to trekking pole reviews, shock absorbers are not that necessary and can even be dangerous. Shock absorbers are fine when you are walking through hard and even grounds, but if you are on rocks, on soft grounds like mud, or are hiking on inclined land, then you might find that they can actually make the poles feel less stable.
There are people who swear by it, though. Shock absorbers or anti-shock mechanisms in some of the best trekking poles can help reduce pressure on your shoulders. And so these are good things to have in trekking poles sometimes.
Where It’s Made
Should it really matter if your hiking sticks are made in China, as many products are made there anyway? Ideally, it shouldn’t. However, this is a factor that influences buyers’ decision.
China-made products have the reputation to be mass-produced, which may affect quality. But products made outside the US can also offer more features for its price because the labor would be cheaper. Nevertheless, you can never go wrong in patronizing locally made products.
What are trekking poles?
Trekking poles are sticks that you use during hiking and which help improve your hiking rhythm, your balance and your overall performance.
Some poles have spring mechanisms to reduce wrist strain, while others boast of shock absorbers, which they claim further reduce strain.
These sticks, which are often called hiking poles, function as walking sticks but mad
These sticks, which are often called hiking poles, function as walking sticks but made for uneven grounds. They also resemble ski poles, which are used in skiing to propel speed.
Walking sticks generally help users suffering from bad knee, foot or hips to walk. Most are not collapsible, unlike hiking poles. Moreover, they are used for everyday walks. If you are trekking on a sloping ground, then you may find even the best walking poles inadequate because they don’t have snow baskets on the bottom and are not made from materials that can withstand outdoor pressure.
Ski poles, on the other hand, tend to be heavier than hiking sticks. Both allow you to propel forward or upward. They are so similar that some even use ski poles during hiking. And if you are okay with the extra weight, then you can probably do away with using ski poles. After all, they don’t just look the same, they also have similar features, including baskets at the bottom and padded handles and wrist straps.
Why are Trekking Poles so important?
The best trekking poles can be life-changing for a lot of hikers.
These sticks help you with balance on flat or inclined terrains, propel your forward or upward, increase your traction on slippery slopes, reduce the impact of the activity on your lower extremities, and maintain a consistent rhythm in walking. They also help in checking the ground before you, if it is hard enough to step on or if it is a deeper puddle than it appears.
These hiking sticks also act as a protection against wildlife attacks, even if temporary. Also, you can use them to push away branches and other trail nuisances.
Apart from the mentioned pluses of using trekking poles, there are also health benefits to it. As it reduces the impact of hiking on your knees and legs, relieving the pressure on your leg muscles, it also helps your circulation. Because your arms—or arm, if you are using only one stick—are moving as you walk, your blood doesn’t pool in your hands.
When you hike using hiking poles, you are using more of your entire body than you are if you’re hiking without these poles. You will also tend to apply force to the poles with each stride, which means you are stimulating entire fitness workout normally not present in normal trekking.