Hiking is a great way to get out and about and explore this beautiful world of ours. If like me you are a fan of walking the Camino, you will feel invigorated when following the routes that pilgrims have walked over the ages.
Having the right gear makes walking in such wonderful surroundings – whether you’re tackling the Camino or any other long distance hike – far more enjoyable. Well-fitting hiking shoes or boots are part of the deal, as is a light yet strong backpack, and for me, another essential is a set of trekking poles.
For more challenging terrain, or simply as an aid to walking, a good set of poles is something that you will find instantly helpful, so I’ve had a look at the top models available right now. Without further ado, let’s have a look at them, and see which one would best suit your needs.
- 1 Top Walking and Trekking Poles
- 2 1: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon and Cork
- 3 2: Montem Ultra-Strong Anti-Shock Poles
- 4 3: Leki Micro Vario Carbon DDS
- 5 4: Black Diamond Trail Ergo
- 6 5: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z
- 7 6: BAFX Anti Shock Walking Poles
- 8 7: Kelty Upslope 2.0 Trekking Poles
- 9 8: Cascade Mountain Tech
- 10 9: Mountainsmith Halite 7075
- 11 10: Montem Ultra Strong
- 12 Trekking Pole Thoughts When Buying
- 13 My Choice
Top Walking and Trekking Poles
1: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon and Cork
First on my list is this set of poles from Black Diamond, a brand with a wide variety of walking and trekking products. This is a quality set of poles with carbon shafts that can be quickly and easily adjusted to three different lengths. The poles have a premium cork grip for stability and ease of use, with a 360-degree stitched strap attached for grip. This package comes complete with a quality cooling towel, so you get added value there, and the weight of the poles is just right for lengthy use. Take note that these poles are a professional standard product, so you should expect to pay a premium price.
2: Montem Ultra-Strong Anti-Shock Poles
This set of poles slots into the mid-range in terms of price – around half the price of the set above, but more costly than the budget versions I also review here – and is a very good buy if you want quality walking poles. Choose from lengths between 24” to 53”, with easy to adjust shafts, and you also get a firm cork grip with a holding strap attached. The anti-shock design is excellent for rough terrain and long walks, and the rubber tips make for a much more comfortable experience. A good all-round choice at a sensible price.
Key Features – adjustable 24” to 53”, rubber tips, cork grip, straps attached
3: Leki Micro Vario Carbon DDS
Leki is an upmarket brand with a reputation for quality products, and this set of trekking poles does not disappoint. The shafts are carbon and hence these poles are very light yet extremely strong, and they come with an easy to use a speed-lock feature for adjusting the length. The grip is not cork but AERGON, a patented material which offers excellent grip and dries very quickly. Strong textured straps ensure that you will never drop your trekking poles, and they are perfect for long walks and rough or arduous terrain. Bear in mind that, as this is a premium brand, you will pay a premium price, and these are among the most costly of the lot – but worth it if you want the best.
Key Features – Leki brand, carbon shaft, easy to adjust, strong straps, impressive grip
4: Black Diamond Trail Ergo
I will make no excuse for including more than one item from the Black Diamond range, and this one is a mid-priced set of poles with impressive credentials. The natural cork grips are perfect for dealing with sweat and are angled at 15-degrees for greater comfort, while the shafts are adjustable with an easy to use setup. The light yet strong aluminum shafts can be extended to as much as 140cm and the strong hand straps are fitted, plus the carbide tips are tough and can be changed easily. If you don’t want to pay the extra for carbon shafts, these very decent walking poles might be a good choice.
Key Features – aluminum shafts, up to 140cm, 15-degree angle, cork handles, straps
5: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z
Designed for use on long-distance treks, these very neat Black Diamond poles are a top of the range item, so don’t expect a bargain price. Do expect top quality walking poles that can be bought in four lengths – 100cm, 110cm, 120cm and 130cm – and that break down quickly and easily into a folded length of as little as 32cm, so will slip into a backpack easily. Their weight, thanks to their full carbon shafts, is under 300g, and the handles are very strong EVA foam. With a padded strap too, this is a top level walking pole that you will want to have a closer look at, but beware the price.
Key Features – Black Diamond, four lengths, easy to break down, all carbon, EVA grips
6: BAFX Anti Shock Walking Poles
If you are looking for a set of walking poles that you will be using on an occasional basis, rather than some that will take you through the hardest routes, this pair from BAFX may be the choice for you, and at a bargain price. This is a simple set of poles with shafts made from aluminum for strength and weight-saving, and they are fully extendable. The grips are made from durable rubber and there is a strong strap attached for added grip. Rubber tips make for a comfortable walk, and all in all, these are perfectly good for light work.
Key Features – aluminum shaft, up to 53”, rubber grip, light, great price
7: Kelty Upslope 2.0 Trekking Poles
This neat and simple pair of walking poles will fit the bill for anyone on a budget. Made from durable and light aluminum, these three section poles twist into position and can be extended from 25.5 to 53”, and are light and easy to handle. A practical EVA foam grip and a nicely padded wrist strap add to the stability and comfort, and carbide tips provide anti-shock support and added durability. Very usable although perhaps not for heavy duty use. If you want an affordable but decent set of poles to give these a close inspection.
Key Features – aluminum shaft, EVA grips, padded straps, adjustable, 531g each
8: Cascade Mountain Tech
So far I have reviewed a variety of different walking poles, with the more expensive carbon shaft models compared against those with aluminum shafts. This set, from Cascade, is a very well-priced pair of walking poles with carbon shafts, and I recommend you have a close look at them. They are extendable up to 54” and use a simple quick-lock system for ease of use, they have a neat and very comfortable – not to mention practical – cork grip, and they have strong straps. Carbide tips are fitted, and you also get an accessory set of snow basket, boots, and additional rubber feet. At the price, this may be hard to beat.
Key Features – adjustable, carbon shaft, cork grip, carbide feet, accessories
9: Mountainsmith Halite 7075
This set of aluminum-shafted walking poles makes sense as they are a high-quality item of this type, yet at a sensible price. The metal is light and yet very strong and the shafts collapse into a 16” length for carriage, and they are adjustable for height. This is done via a very easy to use twist and lock system and takes just a few seconds. The handle is a combined cork and EVA grip which gives excellent grip and handling, and the strap is padded for comfort. They have rubber tips which are interchangeable and as with most of these, come with baskets and snow baskets included. A good package at a decent price, so one for your shortlist.
Key Features – adjustable, aluminum, light, cork and EVA grip, decent price
10: Montem Ultra Strong
My final selection is another package from the Montem brand, who offer a wide variety of products of this sort, and these poles are very nice indeed. Made from the same grade of aluminum that is used in aircraft construction, they are both very strong and suitably light, so you can rest assured they will help you tackle even the most arduous of roads. They come with a bolt system that allows you to select between 24” and 53” in height, and nylon straps plus cork linings for the grip. These are quality walking poles from one of the best brands in the business, designed for serious use and also a bestselling item, and at the price, I can see why.
Key Features – adjustable to 53”, break to 24”, heavy duty, quality, cork grips
That’s my selection of the top 10 trekking poles, so before I give you my opinion on which to buy, let’s recap on some important features to look for when buying a trekking pole.
Trekking Pole Thoughts When Buying
Walking and trekking poles need a good deal of consideration before you decide which to buy, so I’ve provided a list of the features you need to keep in mind:
Price – budget is always a consideration with any purchase, so I advise you set your available amount beforehand and draw up a shortlist accordingly. For the record, the price range among these walking poles begins at around $25, and rises to more than $200, so you have plenty of choices.
Adjustments – the beauty of the above walking poles is that they can all be adjusted for height; some by a series of bolts, others by twist and lock systems, and all fold down to a portable size to slip into a backpack when not in use.
Tips – the tips are the part that comes in contact with the ground, so it needs to be strong, and preferably replaceable. Your choice here is between either carbide or rubber tips, and each is good at the job.
Straps – all my choices come with wrist straps, some padded and some not; the former adds comfort.
Grips – the grip, the part that is in constant contact with the hand, will be either cork or EVA rubber. The former is preferred by many as it deals well with sweat.
Locking system – each of my featured items has a secure locking system – of a few different kinds – that ensures the pole will not break down into sections when in use.
Compatibility – the 10 I have listed are suitable for long and more arduous routes, and there are also those that are designed for lesser ventures, perhaps regular walks. Make sure the one you choose suits your requirements.
Pole design – all of the poles are of a similar design, but you can choose some in different colors if you wish.
Weight – weight is one of the most important considerations; you need your walking poles to be light enough to use on long walks, and to carry them when not in use, and the use of two different materials makes this easy.
Material – both the main materials used for the shafts – carbon and aluminum – offer the combined qualities of lightweight with appropriate strength. For ultimate lightness, carbon is preferred.
Durability – as above, the use of a clever choice of materials means your poles will last a long time and do the job they are designed for, while consumables such as tips are replaceable.
Male and Female – each of the poles reviewed is unisex, so check that the length can be adjusted to accommodate your height and stance.
I’ll start by saying that if you want to pay top dollar for the very best of these, you have a choice between two of the Black Diamond models, and I prefer the Alpine, the first one on the list. It comes with a handy towel, is carbon and cork, very light, and a very nice set of poles.
If you want a genuine budget model and are not planning on any particularly arduous treks, for not much more than $20 you could try the Kelty poles at number 7, which are perfectly good for standard, everyday walking use.
For me, the one to check out again has to be number 8, from Cascade. Carbon shafts with quick-lock adjustment, nice cork grips, carbide tips and fully adjustable, you can get these at a bargain price for what they are, so they come top for me.
Have another look, and I hope I’ve helped you find the perfect set of trekking poles.