The Best Trekking Poles – A Guide For 2024

best trekking poles

Are the best trekking poles just overpriced walking sticks? Far from it. Their design and material can make or break your hiking and racing adventures. You’ll probably need trekking poles for some of the marathons that made our Bucket List of the Best Marathons in the US.

Let’s go over the essentials of the best trekking poles: from lightweight carbon fiber to sturdy aluminum, from shock absorption to grip comfort, we’ve analyzed the poles that will keep you stable without weighing you down or emptying your wallet.

So whether it’s a steep mountain pass or a long scenic route, gear up with confidence for your next trek with this piece of your outdoor gear.

Essential Features for Selecting Trekking Poles

The key features you should consider to choose the most suitable trekking pole for your needs. These include:

  • Design configuration
  • Shaft material
  • Pole adjustment mechanism and locking mechanism. Are they using twist locks or clamp/lever locks? A lever lock seems to be less prone to loosening.
  • Size of the baskets. Different terrain requires different baskets. Snow baskets are larger (similar to ski poles) so your pole doesn’t sink too far.
  • Weight and size when collapsed.
  • Grip ergonomics and material
  • Wrist straps. Are they comfortable or might they cause chafing?

Consideration of the pole’s weight is crucial. Opting for lighter poles can help reduce the overall impact on the arms and shoulders, especially during long hikes, fast runs, and challenging terrains.

The material of the grip also plays a crucial role in comfort and performance.

  • Foam grips can absorb moisture and provide a soft touch, suitable for warm conditions.
  • Rubber grips offer insulation and are ideal for cold weather, but may cause chafing or blisters in hot conditions.
  • Cork grips offer the highest comfort level as they mold to the shape of the hands over time and provide a comfortable, non-slip surface. Cork grips also have natural antibacterial properties.

Understanding Pole Adjustability and Locking Mechanisms

The adjustability of trekking poles is another important aspect to consider in your selection process. There are various types of adjustability options, including:

  • Telescoping poles: provide the flexibility to customize the length, making them suitable for different terrains. However, they may be bulkier and heavier compared to non-telescoping poles.
  • Folding poles: offer a lighter and more compact design but cannot adjust the length. They are easiest to collapse while running which is why we prefer these.
  • Fixed (non-collapsing) poles: are lightweight and durable, but they do not offer any adjustability.

Consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing the type of adjustability that suits you best.

Additionally, trekking poles are equipped with a range of locking mechanisms, such as:

  • External lever lock
  • Twist lock
  • Clamp lock
  • Button lock

These mechanisms serve to secure the poles at the preferred length or enable convenient folding for storage purposes. The difference between twist lock and lever lock systems is that twist lock systems are generally lighter but may provide less holding power, whereas lever locks offer greater security.

Material Matters: Aluminum vs. Carbon Fiber

Trekking poles are typically made from two main materials: aluminum and carbon fiber. Each material has its own strengths and benefits for different types of outdoor activities. Both materials have their pros and cons.

Ultimately, the decision between aluminum and carbon fiber rests on your specific requirements and preferences. If you prioritize durability and don’t mind a bit of extra weight, aluminum might be the right choice for you.

If you’re looking for a lighter option and are willing to pay a bit more, carbon fiber could be your best bet.

Aluminum Poles

Aluminum trekking poles are often heavier and susceptible to vibrations as a result of their metal composition. Budget trekking poles often use aluminum for their construction.

Carbon Fiber Poles

Carbon fiber poles are lighter and can absorb more shock, but they may not be as durable as aluminum poles and are often found on the more expensive trekking poles.

Our Picks For the Best Trekking/Running Poles

To conquer challenging trails, you need the appropriate gear. Trekking poles are a fundamental part of this kit. The correct pole not only enhances stability but also reduces strain and boosts trekking efficiency.

For trail running enthusiasts, the Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite and Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z are excellent choices, known for their lightweight design and stability.

If you prefer rugged expeditions, then the best trekking poles for you would be the Leki Makalu Lite and Paria Outdoor Products Tri-Fold Carbon Cork due to their durability and reliable support.

Fastpackers may find the following trekking poles appealing:

  • MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon: compact and lightweight design
  • LEKI Makalu Lite: durable, comfortable, and supportive
  • Gossamer Gear LT5: durable, comfortable, and supportive

These adjustable-length trekking poles, also known as hiking poles or adjustable trekking poles, are ideal for long-distance hikers who may need many trekking poles.

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking/Running Poles

The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking/Running Poles stand out for their versatility, adapting seamlessly to both trekking and running activities.

Their design includes 100% carbon fiber shafts and a Z-pole fixed length construction with speed-cone deployment, making them an ideal choice for a variety of activities, from trekking to fastpacking.

Weighing just 10 ounces for the pair, they are one of the lightest options on the market, making them highly suitable for trail runners and ultrarunners who seek to minimize weight while maintaining durability.

The trekking pole grips are made of lightweight EVA foam and are praised for their comfort and functionality. The moisture-wicking strap, non-slip foam mini-grip, and interchangeable tips all contribute to their high user ratings.

Customers have expressed highly favorable experiences with these poles, often highlighting their dependability, longevity, and adaptability. However, understand that they lack length adjustability, which might be a drawback for some users.

Price

$189.95

Specifications

  • Pole Material: Carbon fiber
  • Color: Blue/Black
  • Handle Material: Lightweight EVA foam grip
  • Strap Material: Moisture-wicking material made from recycled materials
  • Weight: 140 grams/pole for the 120cm length

Sizes Available

Unisex sizes in 110cm, 115cm, 120cm, 125cm, and 130cm lengths

The 120cm poles are 16 inches when folded.

Warranty

Two-year warranty.

Pros

  • Very Lightweight and packable
  • Durable 100% carbon fiber shafts
  • Z-pole fixed-length construction with speed-cone deployment
  • Interchangeable tech tip with provided carbide and rubber tips

Cons

  • No length adjustability
  • Average grip comfort

What People Are Saying

  • They were so lightweight that they were no chore hauling down the mountain with them in my pack while I ran!
  • Super lightweight. Wish they were adjustable.
  • Weight and build quality are top-notch.
  • The Distance Carbon Z poles are at the apex of pole performance and are light as a feather.
  • Not very durable, lasted me 4 months, and snapped on me during a hike.


LEKI Makalu Lite

LEKI Makalu Lite - one of the best trekking poles for running

If you love challenging expeditions, then the LEKI Makalu Lite is the perfect trekking pole for you. Its features include:

  • Collapsible and sturdy 3-section HTS 6.5 aluminum build
  • Speed Lock plus lever system for adaptable lengths ranging from 110 to 135 cm
  • Weighing 250 grams each, providing a balance between durability and lightweight design

These features make the LEKI Makalu Lite ideal for challenging treks.

The LEKI Makalu Lite has received high ratings from users for its performance on rugged expeditions.

Price

$150

Specifications

  • Pole Material: Aluminum
  • Color: Black/Orange
  • Handle Material: Aergon Air foam grip. Fully rubber grip head.
  • Strap Material: Lightweight adjustable strap with safety release.
  • Weight: 250 grams each

Sizes Available

These telescoping poles adjust from 110cm to 135cm in length

The poles are 26.3 inches when collapsed.

Warranty

LIfetime warranty that covers shaft breakage only.

Pros

  • Durable and sturdy aluminum build
  • Speed Lock plus lever system for adaptable lengths
  • The locking system is very solid
  • Comfortable Aergon Air grips

Cons

  • Heavier compared to carbon fiber poles
  • Not as comfortable as cork grips
  • Longer collapsed length

What People Are Saying

  • Sturdy reliable trekking poles
  • Great support for treacherous terrains
  • Solid pole. Good value.


Leki Ultratrail Fx.One Superlite

Leki Ultratrail Fx.One Superlite

For those who enjoy running fast and racing on the trails, the Leki Ultratrail Fx.One Superlite is the trekking pole for you. It is distinguished for its lightweight, carbon fiber construction that guarantees both speed and stability.

Despite its emphasis on lightweight design, the Leki Ultratrail Fx.One Superlite offers the following features:

  • Exceptional performance even on demanding trails
  • Unique Leki poles Trail Shark grip system for a more ergonomic grip and improved swinging motion
  • Increased stability for enhanced speed and comfort in trail running
  • Comes with a lightweight storage bag

However, it is important to note that carbon fiber may not be as durable as aluminum, and the price point is higher compared to other poles. This pole is meant for experienced users since misuse can easily damage the pole.

Price

$239.95

Specifications

  • Pole Material: Carbon fiber
  • Color: Pink/Black/Yellow or Red/Black/Yellow
  • Handle Material: Cork. Trail Shark design for rapid clicking in and out.
  • Strap Material: Mesh and customizable for each user.
  • Weight: 137 grams/pole for 120cm length

Sizes Available

Unisex sizes in 100cm, 105cm, 110cm, 115cm, 120cm, 125cm, and 130cm lengths

The 120cm poles are 14.1 inches when folded.

Warranty

One-year warranty that covers shaft breakage only.

Pros

  • Lightweight carbon fiber construction
  • Trail Shark grip for enhanced ergonomics
  • Very compact design when folded
  • Built for trail racing

Cons

  • Higher price point
  • The lightweight, carbon fiber design isn’t as durable as aluminum
  • Not intended to be a training pole. Recommended for race use only.

What People Are Saying

  • Very good choice if you need to go lighter.
  • These Poles are premium for mountain ultra trail racing.
  • I love everything but the hand strap.
  • These poles might be my go-to for all mountains: running and hiking.


Black Diamond Pursuit

Black Diamond Pursuit trekking poles

The Black Diamond Pursuit offers a unique fastpacking experience with their sturdiness and comfort.

The Black Diamond Pursuit is comfortable, functional, and good for running. However, they are a bit heavy, and they do not collapse to a very small size. Nevertheless, for fastpackers looking for a quality trekking pole, this is a good choice.

Price

$149.95

Specifications

  • Pole Material: Aluminum
  • Color: Charcoal/Foam Green or Charcoal/Octane Red
  • Handle Material: Natural cork and Bloom, and algae-infused foam
  • Strap Material: Lightweight wicking strap made from post-consumer recycled fibers
  • Weight: S/M – 464 grams per pair, M/L – 500 grams per pair

Sizes Available

These telescoping poles are offered in two sizes:

  • S/M grip size which telescopes between 100cm to 125cm
  • M/L grip size which telescopes between 125cm to 140cm

The poles are 25 inches (S/M) and 27 inches (M/L) when collapsed.

Warranty

Two-year warranty.

Pros

  • Comfortable grips
  • Sturdy construction

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Longer than others when not collapsed

What People Are Saying

  • Great poles with a quality look and feel.
  • Quality poles at a fair price.
  • 10/10 trekking poles
  • Comfortable, sturdy, easy to adjust.
  • The lower clasp on one pole is not tight enough to keep the pole from partially collapsing.


REI Flash Carbon

REI Flash Carbon Trekking Poles for Long-Distance Hiking

The REI Flash Carbon trekking poles are a good option for long-distance hikers. They offer features like support, a reasonably lightweight construction weighing only 13.6 ounces, and a convenient collapsible design, which make them an ideal choice for extended treks.

The foam grips on the poles offer a comfortable grip option that is essential for hikers and runners covering long distances to minimize hand fatigue.

While they may not be the thickest carbon poles available, the balance of durability and lightweight construction makes them a reliable option for outdoor enthusiasts. The robust locking mechanisms such as the secure flick-lock system enable quick and reliable length adjustment, allowing users to easily customize the pole length to their specific needs.

Nonetheless, remember that carbon fiber may not be as tough as aluminum.

Price

$169

Specifications

  • Color: Grey/Red or Grey/Grey
  • Pole Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Handle Material: EVA Foam
  • Strap Material: Simple adjustable wrist straps
  • Weight: 386 grams (13.6 oz) per pair

Sizes Available

This telescoping pole set is offered in one size.

The poles are between 105cm and 140cm when extended.

The poles are 25 inches (64cm) when collapsed.

NOTE – These also come in a “compact” version that extends between 90cm to 120cm.

Warranty

One-year warranty.

Pros

  • Reasonably lightweight
  • Comfy handles
  • Easy to adjust
  • Very durable for the weight

Cons

  • Carbon fiber isn’t as tough as aluminum
  • Some users mention that the grips wear out and cannot be replaced

What People Are Saying

  • They are very light weight for their strength and performance.
  • Can’t recommend enough.
  • Pole snapped 16 months after purchase.
  • The foam grips are not durable and wear out.
  • One grip broke during my third year of use.


MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon

MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon Trekking Poles

The MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon trekking poles are:

  • Versatile, sturdy, and comfortable
  • Made from carbon fiber, making them lightweight and durable
  • Feature a foldable design, making them easy to pack and carry
  • Have comfortable grip handles and padded straps for a secure and comfortable hold.

These poles are versatile and suitable for various outdoor activities, including hiking, trekking, and backpacking. They are slightly more expensive than other options in the market but are worth considering for their versatility, sturdiness, and comfortable grip.

Price

$189.95

Specifications

  • Color: Black/Red
  • Pole Material: Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber construction
  • Handle Material: EVA foam, plus lower grip for steeper terrain
  • Strap Material: Mesh and customizable for each user.
  • Weight: 17 ounces/pair for small size, 18 ounces/pair for large size

Sizes Available

Two sizes available – Small (100cm – 120cm) and Large (120cm – 140cm)

The small poles are 14.25 inches when folded.

The large poles are 17.5 inches when folded.

Warranty

Three-year warranty for the original owner.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Sturdy
  • Comfortable grip
  • Collapsible design for easy packing
  • Comes with winter and summer baskets

Cons

  • More expensive than other options
  • Heavier than other carbon fiber options

What People Are Saying

  • My third set of poles…and by far the best set
  • Super light, packs well, and the cable system is super cool.
  • Great light packable poles!
  • First-rate trekking poles.
  • For trail running I’m pretty happy with them
  • over complicated


Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite

LEKI Cross Trail FX Superlite trekking poles

The Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite trekking poles are one of the lightest trekking poles available. Their design includes lightweight, carbon fiber construction that guarantees both speed and stability while maintaining durability. These poles are not only lightweight but also possess remarkable strength and durability.

Despite its emphasis on lightweight design, the Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite has demonstrated exceptional performance even on demanding trails. It’s foldable and length adjustable, so it can fit a variety of user heights.

If you’re looking for a lightweight and innovative option, this is an excellent choice.

Price

$259.95

Specifications

  • Color: White/Black
  • Pole Material: Carbon fiber
  • Handle Material: Cork with LEKI’s Cross Shark system
  • Strap Material: LEKI’s Shark Frame strap that clicks in and out of the pole
  • Weight: 14 ounces/pair
  • Built for competitive trail running

Sizes Available

One size available – 100cm – 130cm

The poles are 16.5 inches when folded.

Warranty

One-year warranty that covers shaft breakage only.

Pros

  • Ultralight at 7 oz per pole and strap
  • Deploys quickly and smoothly with no play or flex at the joints
  • Compact when collapsed
  • Foldable and adjustable

Cons

  • Higher price
  • Lack of durability of carbon pole section
  • Possible to lose a strap, which costs about $40 each

What People Are Saying

  • Light weight- great straps and handles
  • Almost perfect, the mesh is problematic
  • Solid and quality pole.
  • After owning these for exactly one year… one of the poles stopped extending


C.A.M.P. Xenon Pro 2.0

C.A.M.P. Xenon Pro 2.0 Trekking Poles

If you’re looking for a quality trekking pole without breaking the bank, the CAMP Xenon Pro 2.0 is an excellent choice. Here are some key features:

  • Made of 7075 aluminum alloy, this pole is lightweight and durable.
  • It folds into four pieces for easy storage.
  • Comes with an attached Velcro strap to secure the pole segments when folded.

The Xenon Pro 2.0 is a versatile pole that can be used for trail running, hiking, and backpacking. It features a comfortable foam grip and includes rubber and carbide tips for different trail conditions.

Price

$48.50

Specifications

  • Color: Grey/Orange
  • Pole Material: 7075 aluminum alloy (aluminum pole)
  • Handle Material: Foam
  • Strap Material: Basic strap
  • Weight: 340-380 grams/pair

Sizes Available

Unisex sizes – 115cm, 120cm, 125cm, 130cm, 135cm

The poles are 13-14 inches when folded depending on pole length.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Foldable design for easy storage

Cons

  • Lacks features of higher priced poles
  • Minimalist strap
  • Grips might be better for hiking vs running

What People Are Saying

  • Ultra-compact
  • Excellent quality


Paria Outdoor Products Tri-Fold Carbon Cork

Paria Outdoor Products Tri-Fold Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

The Paria Outdoor Products Tri-Fold Carbon Cork Trekking Poles:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Adjustable-length
  • Real cork handles for comfort
  • Ultra-strong carbon fiber for durability
  • Tungsten carbide tips

The adjustability of these poles is supported by robust locking mechanisms, making them well-suited for those who need to adjust their pole length during their journey. However, keep in mind that they may not be as durable as aluminum poles and have limited adjustability compared to fixed length poles and other options.

Despite these minor drawbacks, these poles offer excellent value for their price, making them a great choice for ultralight backpackers on a budget.

Price

$59.99

Specifications

  • Color: Black and Red
  • Pole Material: Carbon fiber with aluminum alloy connectors
  • Handle Material: Cork
  • Strap Material: Basic strap
  • Weight: 17-18 ounces/pair
  • Included is a storage bag, hiking basket for mud, and rubber foot for paved surfaces for each pole

Sizes Available

2 sizes – 100cm – 120cm, 115cm – 135cm

The poles are 15 inches when folded

Warranty

Lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Adjustable-length
  • Comfortable cork grip

Cons

  • Not as durable as aluminum poles
  • Limited adjustability
  • Heavier than more expensive carbon fiber poles

What People Are Saying

  • They are lightweight and very reliable. Easy to carry in my pack when I don’t need them.
  • Everyone I know, who has tried them, has bought them.
  • My favorite pair of hiking poles.
  • Not as strong as they should be


Gossamer Gear LT5

Gossamer Gear LT5 Trekking Poles for Featherlight Hiking

The Gossamer Gear LT5 is the featherlight champion of trekking poles. Weighing just 4.9 ounces (139 grams) per pole, it is one of the lightest trekking poles on the market. Despite its lightweight design, the LT5 is incredibly durable and can withstand the rigors of long-distance hiking.

The cork grip offers the highest comfort level as they mold to the shape of the hands over time and provide a comfortable, non-slip surface.

The LT5 is more suitable for hiking than running, in our opinion.

If you’re looking for a truly lightweight trekking pole that doesn’t compromise on durability and comfort, the Gossamer Gear LT5 is an excellent choice.

Price

$195

Specifications

  • Color: Black
  • Pole Material: Carbon fiber
  • Handle Material: Cork
  • Strap Material: Basic strap
  • Weight: 139 grams/pole

Sizes Available

One size. Each pole extends to a maximum length of 130cm

The poles are 23.5 inches when folded

Warranty

Lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • quality construction
  • Comfortable cork grip

Cons

  • Collapsed length is longer than others
  • Not for running

What People Are Saying

  • They are fantastically light and reduce the cumulative effort of my arms
  • These are the lightest most comfortable poles I have ever owned and I love them
  • Great poles; can’t stand the straps
  • Super light but fragile


Summary

Choosing the right trekking pole depends on your specific needs, preferences, and the type of terrain you’ll be traversing.

Whether you’re a trail runner, a rugged expeditioner, a fastpacker, a long-distance hiker, or an ultralight backpacker, there’s a trekking pole that’s designed for you. From weight, material, and adjustability, to grip comfort, each feature plays a crucial role in the pole’s performance and your overall hiking experience.

Remember, the best trekking pole is the one that fits your needs and provides you with the right balance of comfort, durability, and performance.

So, take your time, do your research, and try out different options, and you’ll eventually find the perfect trekking pole that will enhance your hiking experience and help you conquer any trail!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a walking pole and a trekking pole?

The main difference between a walking pole and a trekking pole lies in the make of the shaft. Walking poles are fixed length for strength and swing abilities, while trekking poles are adjustable for various terrains.

What are cons of using trekking poles while on trail?

Carrying trekking poles when not in use can be a downside, especially for trail runners who may not need them for flats and downhills, adding extra weight to carry.

Are trekking poles good for walking?

Yes, trekking poles are beneficial for walking as they provide additional stability, especially on uneven or slippery terrain, and can be used to test ice when crossing frozen streams. Consider using them for added safety and balance.

Are black diamond poles worth it?

Yes, black diamond poles are worth it for their solid, long-term function and value for money. Other brands like Leki also offer long-term use, so consider both options.

Why are trekking poles important?

Trekking poles are important because they provide balance and stability on rough terrains, reduce impact on your knees, increase your speed, and can even serve as a tool for pitching your tent. They offer multiple benefits for hikers and trekkers.

Disclosure

We review products based on a multi-point health-focused methodology. Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to us if you decide to purchase the product at no cost to you.

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