The 10 Best Hiking Poles

Updated February 24, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Hiking Poles
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. 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. We've included both aluminum and carbon fiber models and even a little something for the purists out there. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best hiking pole on Amazon.

10. Cascade Mountain Tech

If you're looking for good quality at a great price, then the Cascade Mountain Tech might be your answer. At only 7.8 ounces each, these are great for hiking uphill, downhill, or overland without slowing you down, and they cost less than $50 for the pair.
  • handles absorb vibrations
  • 100-percent money-back guarantee
  • straps cannot be adjusted
Brand Cascade Mountain Tech
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber

The Hiker Hunger Carbon Fiber have an all-cork grip that wicks sweat away from your hand, and an extended foam pad below the cork portion that allows for two-handed use when needed. They can either be retracted or completely disassembled for travel.
  • come with rubber feet and tips
  • a carrying bag is included
  • sometimes collapse slowly
Brand Hiker Hunger
Model pending
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Pacemaker Stix Expedition

The shafts of the Pacemaker Stix Expedition are constructed of high-quality, aircraft-grade aluminum that can withstand a lot of bumps and dings on the trail. The flip-locks that secure the extensions are easy to open and close as needed, without using tools.
  • notably smooth telescoping action
  • wrist straps have minimal padding
  • grips are faux cork
Brand Pacemaker Stix
Model Expedition
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Leki Corklite

At less than 9 ounces each, you won't notice much extra weight when trekking with the Leki Corklite, even if you have to strap them to your pack for a while. They have a three-section shaft that allows for quick and easy height adjustments.
  • ground cork and rubber handles
  • smooth strap material
  • relatively high price
Brand Leki
Model LEKI
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. American Nordic Walking System

The user-friendly and dependable American Nordic Walking System 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, and come in 32 size options.
  • include two different types of tips
  • silent rattle-free construction
  • not adjustable or collapsible
Brand Nordic Walking USA
Model "VIP's" (Very Important
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock

Keep yourself steady on long expeditions with the Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock. They feature a strong, narrow aluminum shaft and allow for quick tip changes from carbide to rubber, but note that these have to be purchased separately.
  • multi-stage shock absorption
  • feel well-balanced
  • stylish red and black design
Brand Black Diamond
Model BD1121480000ALL1
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Hardwood Hiking

Some purists out there swear off modern poles and would rather use a classic walking stick. If you fall into that category, then the Hardwood Hiking will serve you admirably. It stands 54 inches tall and is rigid and sturdy.
  • bear paw embellishments
  • wood sourced from downed trees
  • difficult to travel with
Brand Hiking Pole Hard Wood
Model Natural Wooden Hiker St
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Black Diamond Trail Back

If a few extra grams won't drive you nuts, the Black Diamond Trail Back are an affordable and effective choice. Made by the manufacturers of arguably the best hiking gear on the planet, these will help mitigate the stress of many backcountry miles.
  • among the least expensive around
  • ribbed grips minimize vibrations
  • durable and replaceable polymer feet
Brand Black Diamond
Model 112188
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Leki Micro Vario Ti Cortec

The Leki Micro Vario Ti Cortec is one of the strongest pairs of folding poles you can buy. When broken down, they can fit easily into almost any backpack, and they feature positive-angle Aergon grips that make them comfortable for extended periods of use.
  • large foam grip areas
  • moisture-wicking wrist straps
  • tips offer a secure hold
Brand Leki
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Black Diamond Distance Z

The versatile Black Diamond Distance Z can handle the demands of most hikers, backpackers, or trail runners with their extremely lightweight carbon-fiber construction and convenient folding design. They are equipped with comfortable and breathable EVA foam grips, too.
  • ideal for a range of trail surfaces
  • lock open automatically
  • non-marring rubber tips
Brand Black Diamond
Model BD11217700001101
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Health Benefits Of Hiking Poles

Hiking itself is an extremely beneficial exercise method in which many people around the world engage. Walking on an uneven surface for a long period of time while hiking helps to strengthen muscles in the feet and legs that are not engaged when walking on flat ground. The hilly, uneven terrain is also a great core workout, as keeping the body stable during the climb takes more core strength than many people realize. Hiking is also a great cardiovascular exercise, and it helps to boost the metabolism and improve the blood pressure. It is also considered a safe way to build bone density.

The proper use of hiking poles takes the benefits of hiking to new levels. Many people have decided to steer clear of hiking and backpacking because of the stress it puts on the joints of the body, especially the knees. Research from the Journal of Sports Sciences has actually shown that hikers who use hiking poles show less signs of stress and deterioration to the knees, particularly when walking downhill. This is especially important for backpackers or trekkers who carry large loads over long periods of time. The researchers found that those using hiking poles had less joint movement upon impact and were also experiencing less impact force from the ground. This translates to more time spent on the trails, burning more calories and taking in more of the sites.

Hiking poles also engage the upper body in an exercise that is usually limited to the lower body and core muscle groups. Hiking has been known to strengthen the legs and core, but when using poles on the trail as well, the arms, shoulders, pectorals, and even obliques all get a workout.

Using poles during a hike may also be a great way to reduce lower back pain. Researchers found that people who engaged in uphill walking experienced less pressure and twisting in their lower backs when using hiking poles, and suggested that people with back pain use them on the trails.

The Pros And Cons Of Using Hiking Poles

There are many good things about using hiking poles, yet there are also some times when the poles can actually be more of a hindrance than a help. Understanding the differences can help you understand exactly when and how best to use them.

Hiking poles are famously used to help reduce the impact on the joints and legs. Yet this is only a small portion of their benefits. Research from Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that people who use hiking poles can actually walk faster and still experience less force to the knees and legs than people who do not use them. This also suggests that the poles can help to increase your average speed. They do so by spreading out the energy expenditure during the hike to other areas of the body rather than just the legs. This makes for a more even workout, and less soreness in the legs, which is another benefit. Some hikers say that the added movement in the upper body keeps them from feeling stiff or swollen after a long hike, as well.

Balance is another important factor for some people, backpackers especially. Hiking for miles on uneven trails takes its toll on the body, and the equilibrium has a hard time keeping up. Add a heavy pack to the mix, and this can mean falls, scrapes, and bruises. Poles give the body two additional points of reference for keeping balance, and also give added stability and security.

The cons of using hiking poles are oddly tied to their benefits. Using the poles actually increases the body's total energy expenditure. This is great for people looking to burn more calories during a workout. If the legs are tired, poles can help reduce the load on the legs, but if the entire body is tired, using hiking poles may just make matters worse.

The other con here is that they take up space. Walking with poles takes up more space on the trail, and keeps the hands occupied when they could be doing other things. Tying them to a backpack may see them getting caught on tree branches or rocks. It is best to know if the demand for the poles is there before equipping them.

Things To Consider Before Buying A Hiking Pole

The history of walking sticks is a long one. They replaced the sword as the must-have attire for the average gentleman in the 17th and 18th centuries, and have evolved many times since then. One such evolution was the creation of the modern hiking pole. Not all poles are made equal, however. It is important to keep a few things in mind before buying any hiking pole.

First, it is important to consider the material of the pole. If the pole is too heavy, it will feel cumbersome, and may even make the hiker more tired than walking without them. Too flimsy a pole can result in breaks and bends if too much weight is put on them. Most modern poles are made of strong aluminum or carbon fiber, and the difference between the materials is minute at this point. Carbon fiber is lighter and technically stronger, but aluminum is more durable to wear and tear. It may be a simple matter of preference.

Another thing to consider is the grips. For light-use poles, this may not make a difference. The grip material will matter after hours on a trail, however. Many brands choose to use breathable cork or mesh material for their grips. The ability to absorb or wick away sweat from the palms is very important on long trails.

The last consideration is height adjustment. On some areas of trails, you'll need more support than on others, and being able to adjust your pole height as needed is a big benefit. From testing the depth of a river to packing snugly in a backpack, the height adjustment needs of the hiker will have to be considered before making a purchase.

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Last updated on February 24, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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