Trekking poles are an essential piece of outdoor gear. They redistribute the workload from lower body to upper body, greatly reduce the impact of hiking on your knees, increase your stability, improve your balance and can be used for a multitude of different sports: day hike , backpack, running, backcountry. skiing, and more.
Search the term “hiking poles” and you’ll get some 10.7 million results with brands offering different styles and a range of features. That’s a lot to process, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. And even if you do, choosing the right one from this sea of options can still seem overwhelming.
To guide your search, here is some basic information about hiking poles.
Key questions to consider
Before shopping, ask yourself a few questions about how you plan to use your hiking poles and what qualities are important to you. Do you want ultralight poles or are you willing to sacrifice low weight for increased durability? What is the size of your ideal trekking poles when compacted? Where will you use them and for what activities? Keep these answers in mind when shopping.
Determine the ideal size of your walking sticks
Stand up straight, bend your elbow 90 degrees, and measure from the floor to your elbow with a tape measure. This is the height you want for your trekking poles. As a general rule, people 5′ and under need 39″ poles; those up to 5’7″ use 43 inch posts; 5’8″ to 5’11″ require 47 inch posts; and 6′-plus need 51 inch poles.
There are generally four choices for trekking pole grips: EVA foam, rubber, cork, or a combination of these. Foam grips are the most comfortable, but they are less durable than others. Rubber grips are the most durable option and provide the best grip in dry conditions, but become slippery when wet. The cork handles are comfortable and maintain their grip even when wet while providing moderate durability (they also have an attractive classic look).
Telescopic vs foldable
When it comes to how they break down for storage, hiking poles can be telescoping or collapsible. Both styles have their advantages. Telescoping poles fold in on themselves (like a telescope) and can be easily adjusted to a variety of lengths. Folding poles fold up like a tent pole and can be broken down into smaller sizes than many telescoping alternatives.
Carbon fiber poles are usually the lightest (and usually the most expensive) option. Titanium poles offer the best weight to durability ratio. Aluminum poles are also very durable and can withstand a wide range of temperatures, but they are generally the heaviest options.
Ready to start shopping? We’ve researched options from the most reputable brands in all styles and price ranges. These are the best trekking poles of 2022.
The best trekking poles of 2022
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