10 Best Hiking Poles | March 2017

If walking means more than just a stroll to the shops for you, check out our selection of hiking poles that are ranked by weight, reliability, and price, so you can go trekking with confidence over any terrain. Skip to the best hiking pole on Amazon.
10 Best Hiking Poles | March 2017

Overall Rank: 3
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 4
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 8
Best Inexpensive
The VOROSY Trekking Poles are functional and affordable and offer a safer, easier walk across both flat and challenging terrain. Their only problem is the loud clicking sounds they often make, which may disturb animals and/or people.
The Pacemaker Stix Expedition is constructed of high-quality aircraft grade 7075 aluminum, and comes at a price that is hard to pass up. The handle is made of a resin-type plastic that's durable, but not as comfortable as cork.
Some purists out there swear off modern trekking poles and swear by a classic walking stick. If you fall into that category, this Hardwood Hiking Stick will serve you admirably. It stands 54 inches tall and is rigid and sturdy.
The versatile Black Diamond Distance Z Z can handle the demands of most hikers, backpackers, or trail runners with its unique Z-Pole technology. It easily folds and unfolds using speed-cone deployment, making it great for travel.
  • available in carbon or oxide black
  • moisture-wicking grip
  • non-scarring rubber tech tip
Brand Black Diamond
Model BD11217700001101
Weight 11.2 ounces
The user-friendly and dependable Nordic Walking Fitness Poles are a great choice for people of most ages and fitness levels. They are well-suited for long-distance walks across many types of terrain, including grass or snow.
  • optional rubber tips for use on pavement
  • silent, rattle-free construction
  • features 16 length adjustments
Brand American Nordic Walking
Model "VIP's" (Very Important
Weight 1.8 pounds
If you're looking for good quality hiking poles at a great price, then Cascade Mountain Tech has your answer. At only 8 ounces each, these poles are great for hiking uphill, downhill, or over land without slowing you down. Their cork handles resist unwanted moisture.
  • tungsten carbide tips
  • adjust between 23 and 53 inches
  • 100 percent money back guarantee
Brand Cascade Mountain Tech
Model BD11213500001001
Weight 4.7 pounds
Keep your balance steady on long expeditions with the Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock. They feature a strong, narrow aluminum shaft, and rubber or carbide tips that can easily be switched out depending on the terrain at hand. Tips sold separately.
  • specific left and right-handed designs
  • control shock technology
  • stylish red and black design
Brand Black Diamond
Model Black Diamond
Weight 1.8 pounds
Get solid traction even on difficult, alpine terrains with the compact Komperdell Carbon Vario 4. These poles are the ultimate winter companions, regardless of your size, thanks to their wide range of height settings. They weigh in at 8.4 ounces each pole.
  • trekking ice tip and basket
  • expedition foam grip for comfort
  • extra padded strap
Brand Komperdell
Model Komperdell
Weight 1.1 pounds
The high-quality Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Poles offer stability and premium handling with their natural cork grips and three vibration-absorbing carbon fiber sections that retain rigidity in various temperatures. Poles are right and left hand specific for comfort.
  • adjustable leather webbing wrist loops
  • designed to last for years of heavy use
  • include powder baskets for snow use
Brand Black Diamond
Model Black Diamond
Weight 1.5 pounds
The Leki Thermolite XL optimize comfort while you're on the trail. An anti-shock system makes for a smoother hike over rough and rocky terrain, and the poles are fitted with soft and durable grips that can keep you going for hours.
  • fast drying wrist straps
  • reliable locking mechanism
  • durable aluminum shaft
Brand Leki
Model LEKI
Weight 1.8 pounds

How Walking Poles Affect The Human Body

Walking poles have come a long way since their appearance in the early 17th century. Having been used as a walking aid, over time they've also been used as decoration, as a symbol of authority, as weaponry, and of course, as a smashing fashion accessory for the aristocratic Englishman.

Generally made out of wood, and used for leisure, they are now renowned for facilitating walking rhythm and offering joint support for people of all ages and abilities. Other terms for this activity include trekking, and Nordic Walking. And a plus side, manufacturers are not at as endless as window cleaners.

Let’s start with quality brand names. Leki, Black Diamond, and Komperdell are arguably the three most reputable brands praised for their functionality, reliability, and longevity. Karrimor, Kathmandu, Exerstrider, and Keeenfit are also known for being dependable.

Then you start to get into the dollar store, back of the bottom shelf, obscure brand names that are much cheaper and inadequate, and therefore a waste of money. Stick with the manufacturers above and you'll be great.

Once you find a dependable pole, then you'll be able to reap the benefits: greater arm movement, improved stability, better posture, stronger back muscles, tighter core, and joint pain relief.

You're probably sitting there thinking, "All that, from a stick?!" Yes, truthfully.

Naturally however, to say the walking pole is perfection would be to call the human heart unbreakable. Sounds great in theory, but we like to remain realistic. The biggest issue users face with walking poles, typically adjustable poles, are the locks loosening over prolonged use.

If your walking pole locking mechanism is on the fritz, it can be reasonably easy to fix at home depending on the brand, and the complexity of locking mechanisms. Sometimes failed locks point to dirt or debris, which can carefully be pulled apart, wiped clean and put together again. For a DIY fix, we recommend this helpful video.

If your brain is at least half capacity we confidently believe most walking pole issues can be managed in the comfort of your home.

Just remember that using lubricant on pole locking mechanisms is like putting dish soap on ice skates: completely unnecessary, and guaranteed to break your neck.

Walking Poles: An In-depth Examination

Depending on the intended use, there are several factors that weigh in to finding the best walking pole to fit your specific needs.

A pair of poles is great for backpackers, as it can help distribute weight on the knees, or if the hiking terrain is unbalanced. For flatter terrains, one pole will suffice.

Other factors to consider are locking mechanisms, shock absorption, and grip material, though the shaft’s material should really be your number one deciding factor. You really don't want a mediocre pole to buckle under your weight right as you summit a mountain. If you're lucky, you'll catch your balance before sliding off the side of a cliff.

Aluminum is a solid durable choice for more rugged areas as they are less prone to breakage, whereas carbon fiber is also durable and more lightweight, but high stress can cause breakage.

Generally there are four types of locking mechanisms on walking poles, the most popular and easily adjustable being the twist lock. External lever locks are clamp-like and easily adjustable, most popular with skiers who wear bulky gloves. Then there are socket locks use push buttons that snap into place with one pull, but here you lose adjustability and must deal with fixed lengths. Lastly you have the combination lock that could feature two to three of the above mentioned which is highly reliable, but frankly, who has time for that?

You can learn about the ends and outs of these locking mechanisms at this website.

Shock absorption is really ideal if you have weak legs, or are interested in shelling out the extra money for said feature. Though standard poles don’t absorb as much shock, they still provide similar levels of support to the user. Besides, many agree that shock absorbing poles weigh more, and crap out over time.

If you're unsure about the necessity of shock absorption, this forum may help you get a better idea of their use.

Other considerations are pole grip materials that come in three variations: rubber, foam, and cork. For cold weather, rubber is your best bet. Foam is the softest and absorbs sweat. Cork resists moisture and shapes to the hand nicely.

Or you can simply abandon all this discourse and whittle yourself a fine walking staff!

The Ultimate Yet Condensed Walking Pole History

Did you know walking sticks displaced swords as the man's primary outfit accessory in the 18th Century?

They also signified importance in ancient Egypt, and were even buried with their owner upon death.

European kings thought they were cool too, and can be seen in many portraits adorned with knobs and embellished with jewels.

By the industrial revolution walking poles were produced by the thousands. During prohibition, they were hollowed out and doubled as flasks.

Afterwards, they were typically decorative; merely an accessory to Charlie Chaplin's Tramp. And the only thing that could ever get in between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

The use of a walking pole as a form of exercise popularized around the 1970s, as a cross-country skiing training method during off seasons. The first commercial walking poles came out in 1988 by Exerstrider.

Today, the popularity of walking poles has grown astronomically all across the globe. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has even stated that 90% of their long-distance hikers use poles.

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Last updated: 03/23/2017 | Authorship Information