Hiking poles, also known as trekking poles, have become increasingly popular amongst experienced and novice hikers – and for good reason!
- Reduce stress on knees and hips by using a combined effort from upper and lower body muscles.
- Increase stability using more points of contact on the ground leveraging grip from carbide/tungsten tips.
- Decrease probability of trips, slips, and falls.
As trekking poles become increasingly ubiquitous amongst hikers, niche trekking poles to fit a variety of hiking needs, have taken the market by storm.
Experienced thru-hiker – Jacob – tested out, researched, and consulted with other outdoor athletes to determine most favorite and reliable hiking poles of 2021.
YOU CAN RELY ON OUR RECOMMENDATIONS BELOW. OR, LEARN ABOUT EVERY HIKING POLE PART FROM TOP TO BOTTOM BY CLICKING HERE.
Best BUDGET Hiking Poles
It is no secret that trekking poles can get expensive. If you are somebody who is on the fence about needing or wanting trekking poles, starting out with a budget pair could be the right move. While budget poles will not always work in every niche situation, they are a wonderful introduction to the world of hiking poles while you get a feel for what you might want out of a more expensive pair.
OUR PICK: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON
Price: $47.99 | Expansion: Telescoping | Grip: Cork | Weight: ~8 oz each | Max Length: 54”
Cascade Mountain Tech’s goal is more affordability and accessibility with a focus on value.
While not from a major outdoor brand, these poles do everything you could ask from them. They are 100% Carbon Fiber, surprisingly light, and very durable. If the low price point wasn’t enough to convince a newer hiker (or just a hiker new to trekking poles), then the flexibility these poles offer should convince you it’s time to try poles out. Every pair comes with mud baskets, snow baskets, and rubber road boots. Their telescoping design also means you can play around with what height of trekking poles works best for your needs. Don’t let the low price of the poles fool you – they are the real deal and suitable for more than just beginners.
Best ULTRALIGHT Hiking Poles
If you plan on going far, hiking fast, and being on your feet all day then ultralight hiking poles are going to save you from spending extra energy by not carrying heavier poles – especially if you are ever going to want to pack your poles up and put them in your bag. Thanks to the advantages of modern technology, ultralight poles, typically made of carbon, still manage to be surprisingly durable.
OUR PICK: Gossamer Gear LT5 Three Piece Carbon
Price: $195.00 | Expansion: Telescoping | Grip: Foam | Weight: 4.9 oz each | Max Length: 51”
Gossamer Gear has been grinding for almost 25 years and it’s paid off as they are now recognized as a top company in the outdoor space.
Gossamer Gear has been making high-quality gear for thru-hikers and day-hikers alike now. The LT series, now on its 5th iteration, has everything an ultralight hiker could ask for: they telescope down incredibly small (just 24 inches!), are less than 5oz a pole, and feature an incredibly comfortable EVA Foam grip handle. While these poles might not be as durable as other poles on our list, they still manage to punch above their weight class and offer suburb stability.
Best RUGGED Hiking Poles
While trekking poles help distribute the workload on your body, they are also a vital piece of safety gear. After all, they could be the only thing that keeps you from taking a nasty fall. Trekking poles not only endure the repeated impacts related to hiking but also high-intensity impacts when stumbling and need to rely on them to keep us upright. If you are someone who puts your trekking pole through the wringer it might be worth ditching the ultralight poles in favor of more sturdy pair.
OUR PICK: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
Price: $189.95 | Expansion: Telescoping | Grip: Cork | Weight: ~8 oz each | Max Length: 51”
Some of the most bad ass outdoor athletes use Black Diamond gear so you know it handles tough terrain.
Black Diamond makes some of the best poles on the market. While they have poles for virtually every activity, their Alpine model does a great job at balancing durability while maintaining a relatively low weight. These poles work great in a vast array of conditions. They are even ski compatible! This flexibility is allowed by Black Diamonds’ near-endless supply of interchangeable baskets and tips to help you customize your poles to fit your needs in any environment.
Best Trekking Poles for TRAIL RUNNING/FAST PACKING
Trail running and fastpacking require vastly different trekking poles than somebody might want for just a standard day hike. These poles need to be light, extremely packable (so they can fit in a running vest), and have a comfortable grip. Balancing those needs while still being sturdy enough to handle even the most rugged of conditions is no easy task. Luckily, with the explosion in popularity of trail running poles specifically designed for these needs have begun to emerge.
OUR PICK: Leki Micro Vario Carbon
CHECK PRICE: REI
Price: $199.95 | Expansion: Folding | Grip: Foam | Weight: ~8.5 oz each | Max Length: 51”
Leki is probably the most iconic pole company in the world founded in 1948. Micro Vario Carbon is light and adjusts quick and easy.
Leki are the trail running trekking pole brand. They do it better than virtually anybody else on the market. These Vario Carbons are no expectation. Not only are these poles light, but they are also jam-packed with additional features to make them more comfortable to use during intense activity. Their angled Aergon Thermo foam grips make them comfortable to grip in different conditions. To make things even better, these poles can quickly collapse down to a ridiculously small 15 inches. Making them perfect to store in a running vest or daypack. All in all, there is virtually no feature you could ask for out of these poles if you are looking to pack light and travel quickly.
Still not sure what pair of hiking poles is for you? Check out our comprehensive guide on what to look for and the various pros and cons related to different types of poles.
After you have your trekking poles picked out, head to our day-hike buyers guide for tips on what else your hiking kit needs!