Table of Contents
1. Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Pole – Editor’s Pick
When it comes to lightweight materials nothing quite gets as light as carbon fiber constructed components. The Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking poles feature a lightweight foldable design that still delivers great traction in multiple types of terrain with its carbide flex tips. In addition to the folding design, the Micro Vario poles can have their heights adjusted to fit your stride and terrain grade perfectly.
The Micro Vario poles are also quite quick to unfold and lock into place after being stowed away and the hand grips are said to be some of the best being very nearly close to cross country skiing grips making them extremely comfortable. The Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking poles are available for $199.95.
Pros/High-Quality Lightweight materials packs down very small
Bottom Line/For the serious hiker who wants and needs a lightweight and durable design. this is the one for you
2. Mountainsmith Globetrotter Pole – Budget Pick
Sometimes we aren’t planning on going on an end-of-the-world hike and all we need is a single pole. That is where the Mountainsmith Globetrotter steps in. Featuring a cork molded T-handle and solid 7075 series aluminum construction, the Globetrotter pole is perfect for a casual hike when terrain consistency is still uncertain.
The pole can collapse down into a 16” stowable configuration and features a removable hiking basket with a locking pin and is also old with a snow basket for use during the colder months when snow is a factor. The Mountainsmith Globetrotter Pole is available for $37.95 per pole.
Pros/Sold as a single pole, comfortable T-handle design, very affordable
Cons/Doesn’t collapse down very small, T-Handle isn’t suitable for all types of hiking
Bottom Line/Best suited for the casual trail-hiker who is looking to improve their performance
3. Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Pole
Offered in 4 different fixed lengths, the Black Diamond poles can be folded up into a compact package to be attached to your hiking bag and can also be quickly deployed for when you need them. The three section folding design of the poles keeps them compact and out of the way when attached to a bag and they even snap together to keep from banging around when not being used.
The poles feature interchangeable non-scarring rubber tech tips as well as carbide tech tips for the best grip on any terrain and also feature lightweight aluminum construction and non-slip EVA foam mini-grip extensions. The Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles are available for 99.95.
Pros/Lightweight, non-slip design, collapsible
Cons/Fixed length and limited pole length options
Bottom Line/Great if you’re not too picky about pole length and need an affordable pair of trekking poles
4. Komperdell Shockmaster Pro
These high-tech Austrian made telescopic poles offer some pretty serious features when it comes to durability. Each pole is made from forged anodized aluminum and paired with a high-quality steel spring that absorbs vibrations and impacts while out on the trail making for a more comfortable experience. The included anti-shock tips further help in this regard.
The grips on the Shockmaster pro are quite small but offer suitable grip because of their special non-slip surface coating which is intended to increase transmission of power through the pole into the ground. Each pole is adjustable from 105 cm to 140 cm and is available for $139.95.
Pros/Strong and lightweight forged aluminum construction
Cons/Less comfortable grips and lacking as far as compact design goes
Bottom Line/Great for a “buy once cry once” pair of durable trekking poles that will last many hikes
5. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
Comfort is key when you’re on a long hike and nothing quite offers a blister free grip than cork topped trekking poles. The Alpine carbon cork trekking poles offer the best of both worlds when it comes to their weight and comfort but also come in at a more affordable price when compared with more hardcore trekking poles.
The Poles feature soft-touch ergonomic grip tops with all-natural cork grips and EVA foam extensions for maximum comfort and are both topped off with solution straps for premium performance. The interchangeable tech trips are compatible with most aftermarket ones but also feature included carbide tech tips. The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles are available for $179.95.
Pros/100% carbon fiber shaft construction, comfortable grips
Cons/Cork not as durable long term and Poles do not break down as compact as tri-fold ones
Bottom Line/Best suited for times when comfort is preferable, but weight is still a factor
What trekking poles do
Trekking poles aren’t strictly required for it, but they do offer a lot of advantages when you are hiking, especially on uncharted trails. Using Poles can help you establish a more consistent hiking rhythm and also help incorporate your arms into the mix reducing the amount of fatigue your legs will experience.
Poles also serve as a good early warning indicator that the ground may not be as solid as you perceived it and can save you from taking a big spill in a mud puddle or getting your boots stuck in a few inches of muck.
Two or one?
Two poles are often preferable as it offers you the most benefits in terms of supporting weight. On longer hikes or ones where you’re carrying more weight than normal, two would be the best option. However, one pole can be used very similarly to a “walking stick” for shorter hikes where heavy loads aren’t being carried or when the terrain is more certain, and a second pole won’t be needed to stabilize yourself on uneven terrain.
How tall should trekking poles be?
Having a correctly sized trekking pole can further increase your efficiency on the trail. With your arms at your sides and your forearm bent out at a 90 degree angle, the top of the trekking pole should come to right about there (near waist or hip height). Having poles that are much taller will fatigue your arms more while having ones shorter than this length won’t give you as much leverage when hiking uneven terrain.
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