10 Best Trekking Poles for Hiking and Backpacking (2022)

10 Best Trekking Poles for Hiking and Backpacking

Trekking poles provide many benefits to hikers and backpackers from added stability and balance on rough trails to less wear and tear on knees and hips, especially when hiking downhill. The most popular trekking poles used by hikers and backpacks are adjustable in length, with a clamp-style lever lock adjustment system instead of twist-locks because they are more reliable and easier to fix.

In recent years, carbon fiber trekking poles have become increasingly popular and have started to eclipse aluminum poles because of their lightweight. This trend has been fueled by competition from low-cost manufacturers without huge advertising and marketing budgets like Trailbuddy, Montem, and others. Some of their products are really quite good values, especially for beginner hikers and backpackers, and offer a great way to try trekking poles without breaking the bank.

If you’re still unsure about which poles to purchase, read the explanation of our trekking pole selection criteria and key considerations below. It provides a good introduction to the pros and cons of different trekking pole features and design choices. While brands like Leki and Black Diamond are much more expensive than no-name manufacturers, they really are higher quality and have very good warranties that can make them worth the price if you’re hard on gear.

Here are the top 10 trekking poles that we recommend.

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

2. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

3. REI Traverse Trekking Poles

REI Traverse Cork Trekking Poles
REI Traverse Trekking Poles  are 3-piece adjustable, aluminum trekking poles with ergonomic cork grips.  Adjustable padded neoprene wrist straps are included for added support and comfort. The Traverse Poles have a lever lock style adjustment system and include trekking baskets and extra-durable tungsten carbide tips. Available in two lengths, the weight of the shorter size poles 18.5 ounces per pair and 19.5 oz for the longer length size.

Available from:

4. Leki Black Series FX Carbon Hiking Poles (Pair)

Leki Black Series Carbon FX Poles
Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles are adjustable, carbon fiber, lightweight Z-style trekking poles that fold away into 3 sections for travel or for easy storage in your backpack when they are not needed. The cork gripped handles have a slight 8° angle which contributes to a comfortable and more neutral grip and reduced wrist fatigue. They also have an adjustable top segment that has an external lever lock for easy length adjustments, making them easy to use with trekking pole tents. The superlight and stiff high-modulus carbon shafts provide optimal swing weight while an interchangeable basket system makes it easy to screw on/off various Leki baskets for different seasons or uses. Read our review.

Available from:
REI | Amazon

5. Leki Cressida AS Trekking Poles

Leki Cressida AS
Leki Cressida AS Trekking Poles are aluminum poles with cork grips that are specifically designed for women with smaller grips, and shorter straps. They have a built-in antishock system, integrated directly above the tip, reduces peak impacts by approximately 40%, thus relieving stress on joints, tendons and ligaments. The handles have an 8-degree positive angle that helps keep your wrist in a neutral position while Leki’s level lock adjustment system is easy to use, even while wearing gloves.  The weight per pair is just 17.3 ounces with a 35″-49″ length.

Available from:
REI | Amazon 

6. Black Diamond Distance Z-Pole Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles
The Black Diamond Distance Z-Pole Trekking Poles feature a versatile folding design that fits easily into packs and suitcases, making them ideal for backpacking and travel. Available in four lengths when fully expanded: 100 cm, 110 cm, 120 cm, 130 cm, they collapse down to 14″-17″ in length when folded up. Opening and folding them up is simple using a push-button mechanism. The poles have extended EVA foam grips, with minimal mesh wrist straps. Non-marking rubber tips are standard but carbide tips are also included. Weight per pair is 12 to 14 ounces, based on pole length. Unisex.

Available from:
REI | Backcountry | Black Diamond

7. Paria Outdoor Tri-Fold Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

Paria Outdoor Tri-fold CF Trekking Poles
Paria Outdoor Tri-Fold Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are 3 section folding poles with cork handles that fold down to 15″ in length making them perfect for travel and backpacking. Ergonomically shaped, natural cork grips with an articulated grip increase uphill propulsion when climbing, while the bulbous top facilitates braking on downhills. Air-textured, wicking straps dry quickly while improving stability and security. Includes baskets and carbide tips, which can be replaced if you manage to wear them out.  The weight per pair is 18 ounces. Length is 24.4″ to 53.1″. While unisex, they are available in two sizes: one for people taller than 5’9″ and the other for people shorter. Read our review.

Available from:
Paria Outdoors

8. Trailbuddy Aluminum Cork Grip Trekking Poles

Trailbuddy Aluminum Trekking Poles
Trailbuddy Aluminum Cork Grip Trekking Poles are three-section, aluminum trekking poles that weigh just 19.4 ounces per pair. Priced at a fraction of what Black Diamond or Leki carbon fiber poles cost, they’re a good value if you’re looking for a reliable lever-lock style trekking pole for hiking and backpacking. These are fully featured, durable, and adjustable trekking poles with adjustable length retainer straps, cork handles with extended grips and titanium carbide tips. Handle-to-tip length ranges from 24.5″ collapsed to 54″ fully extended. Snow baskets, mud baskets, and rubber feet for walking on pavement are included. They’re also available in a wide variety of colors. Unisex.

Available from:

9. Mountainsmith Halite 7075 Trekking Poles

Mountainsmith hailute folding trekking poles
Mountainsmith’s Halite 7075 trekking poles are folding aluminum trekking poles with a cord grip. Available in men’s and women’s models, they have four collapsible sections with vinyl-coated cable connectors, collapsing down to 16 in. for portability and storage. The length of the top section is adjustable in length with a lever lock. Weighing 21 oz/pair, they’re durable enough for hiking as well as winter snowshoeing and include snow baskets, and rubber boot tips for use on pavement, in addition to carbide tips for trail use.

Available from:
REI | Mountainsmith

10. Pacerpole Dual Lock Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

Pacerpole Trekking Poles
Pacerpole Dual Lock Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are three-piece trekking poles with a unique hand-grip that promotes better bio-mechanical efficiency, posture, and pace while helping to engage your larger arm muscles when climbing up hills and mountains. Best known in the UK, they have a cult following in the United States with hikers, backpackers, and mountaineers. The Dual Lock poles have a top lever lock for quick adjustment and a pin lock to hold the lowest section in place. The molded hand-grips eliminate the need for thick hand straps and only require a loose grip, relieving forearm tension, and reducing fatigue. I’ve been using them for nearly 10 years and love them. Read our Pacepole Review. 

Available from:

Key Considerations for Buying Trekking Poles

Here are the important features for you to consider when choosing which trekking poles to buy including pros and cons.

Price and Warranties

There is a big price difference between premium poles from Black Diamond and Leki vs less expensive off-brands like Montem, Paria, Cascade Mountain, and the dozens of other trekking pole companies you’ve never heard of on Amazon. When you buy a set of premium poles they are better quality, with tighter fitting parts, and have a stiffer feel. Black Diamond and Leki also have much more generous warranty departments and will often replace broken poles or pole segments for free, which can be a big deal if you hike a lot. The off-brands are less expensive but good for people who want to try trekking poles for the first time and don’t want to make a huge price investment. Their poles are perfectly usable for hiking, but there is a noticeable difference in durability and longevity over time.

Three-Piece, Two-Piece, Fixed Length, or Folding Poles

Most hikers and backpackers prefer three-piece poles or folding poles over two-piece or fixed-length trekking poles because they’re easier to stow when not in use. Folding poles are especially convenient for traveling although you can also pull apart three-piece poles and reassemble them when you arrive.

Lever Lock or Twist Lock Trekking Pole Adjusters

Multi-piece trekking poles are telescoping with thinner sections collapsing into thicker ones. When extended there are two main adjustment mechanisms to make them hold their desired length. Lever Locks, called Flick Locks on Black Diamond trekking poles are external clamps that fold down over the thinner section and prevent them from collapsing further. They are easy to adjust, and repair, and are very durable. Twist Lock poles rely on a plastic expander inside the poles that expands inside the thicker segment and prevents the thinner tube from moving higher. These expanders tend to wear out over time and stop working, which can be really frustrating if you’re in the middle of nowhere. We’ve used both and far prefer lever lock poles because they are so easy to care for and tighten if they loosen up. You literally tighten and external screw with a penknife or twist it tight with your fingers.

Carbon Fiber or Aluminum Trekking Poles

Many companies claim that carbon fiber poles are lighter weight than aluminum ones, or that they vibrate less, or that they’re more durable. We have seen any evidence that one material is better than another because poles made with both still break if you trap the tip between rocks or fall on them. The only advantage of aluminum is that you can usually bend them back into shape whereas carbon fiber shatters. The most important thing when deciding between the two, besides price (carbon fiber is always more expensive), is that you can buy replacement sections from the seller when you break a segment or a pole tip.

Cork Handles or EVA Foam Trekking Pole Handles

Most trekking poles come with cork handles or foam handles. Both repel moisture and provide an excellent grip. In fact, many cork poles have foam extensions under the handle if you need to lower your hands when climbing uphill. Some people will argue that cork is better because it absorbs sweat and molds to your hand over time although we’re not terribly convinced it does either. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and price.

Shock Absorbing Trekking Poles or Regular

Some trekking poles have a shock-absorbing component, usually built into the handle or as a spring between shaft segments, that reduces the shock you’ll feel in your wrists or forearms when hiking over rock trails or asphalt. They can be very helpful to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries in your wrists or inflammation if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis.

Ultralight Carbon Fiber Poles

Some smaller ultralight backpacking companies sell extremely lightweight carbon fiber poles that are considerably lighter weight than carbon fiber poles from Black Diamond or Leki. These ultralight poles are a lot less durable and may break frequently depending on your personal hiking style and the terrain in which you hike. For example, I have a friend who’s used the same pair of Gossamer Gear carbon fiber trekking poles for years, while I consistently broke them within a day. Just be aware that there is usually a durability difference between very thin ultralight carbon fiber poles and ones that are thicker and heavier.

Trekking Pole Baskets

The trekking pole baskets have several purposes. The small ones called trekking baskets are designed to prevent your pole tips from getting caught between rocks and broken. The wider ones called snow baskets are designed to float on top of the snow so they don’t sink in. Many pole companies don’t include snow baskets in the purchase price of their poles, even though you’d want them for snowshoeing and skiing. It’s just something to watch out for if you want poles for four-season use.

Trekking Pole Tips

Most trekking poles cope with carbide tips for hiking over bare ground and rock. It’s very difficult to wear these out and you’re more likely to break them. If either happens you want to make sure that the poles you buy have replaceable tips and that you’re able to purchase them separately. Many poles also come with rubber tips, which can be used on asphalt. These may be curved on the bottom or just bulbous rubber caps. Either type works well.

Unisex vs Gender-Specific Poles

The main difference between unisex and gender-specific poles is the length and the grip size. Men’s and unisex poles tend to be an inch longer than women’s poles and have a narrower grip because women tend to have smaller hands. Otherwise, they’re interchangeable.

Trekking Pole Tents

If you plan on using trekking poles to set up a trekking pole tent, make sure you get ones that are long enough and adjustable. Folding poles are often fixed length when expanded and may or may not be adjustable, depending on the make and model.

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