Best Hiking Poles for Longer Walks and Treks
When going on longer and more challenging walks and treks, using hiking poles is certainly no luxury. Hiking poles – or trekking poles – help with preventing injuries, correcting your posture and balance and improving your overall fitness.
To make it easier for you to choose a suitable pair of hiking poles, we’ve selected the 5 best hiking poles in different price categories.
The Benefits of Using Hiking Poles
Using a pair of hiking poles is not just for professional or older hikers. Hiking poles can benefit anyone who regularly goes on adventurous walking tracks.
If you’ve ever done a challenging or really long walking trail, most likely your knees, hips and lower back must have hurt a bit. As healthy as hiking is, without the right equipment and proper training, you body will have a lot to endure.
Here are just a few benefits of using a pair of hiking poles during longer treks:
1. Reduce Impact on Legs
Studies have shown that using quality hiking poles on longer, challenging hikes can reduce impact on your legs, knees, ankles and feet by as much as 40%. This should not be underestimated, especially if you are a regular (long-distance) hiker.
2. Up Your Speed
Using hiking poles means you’re essentially using your arms to help move yourself forward. This is beneficial if you consider hiking to be a sport as it will ultimately increase your average speed. In addition, using poles create a consistent walking rhythm which also benefits your speed.
3. Better Traction
Hiking poles can hugely improve your traction, especially on slippery and rocky surfaces. In addition, you can use your hiking poles to analyse obstacles and surfaces.
4. Improve Balance and Posture
Using a pair of hiking poles can greatly improve your balance as you basically have two extra limbs that you can use to your advantage. Your overall posture will also improve and therefore decrease the risk of back pain and other injuries.
What to Look for in a Hiking Pole
Good hiking poles come in different sizes and price categories, some more durable than others. You don’t necessarily need the most expensive pair of hiking poles to get the best value.
It all depends on your personal needs, the type of hikes you’re going to do and what kind of features you want your new trekking poles to have.
Here are just some basic things to consider when choosing the right pair of hiking poles:
One of the first things to look at is the weight of your hiking poles. While some prefer a bit of weight in their hands for more grip, lighter poles are generally better, especially during longer treks. Weight is typically determined by the materials used and any accessories that are attached to the pole. Keep in mind though that generally speaking there aren’t any huge weight variations between the different poles available.
2. Materials Used
Most hiking poles are made with either aluminum or carbon fiber. Aluminum is obviously heavier but are usually a bit more robust. Carbon fiber ones are lighter but are more prone to dents.
3. Fixed or Adjustable
Adjustable poles are typically a bit more expensive but come in handy when you go hiking in different types of terrains. Going uphill for example requires shorter hiking poles. The other advantage of adjustable poles is that they can used by friends as well.
The grips are quite important as you obviously need to carry your hiking poles around, so you want to make sure that the material used for the grips is something you find comfortable. Cork is getting increasingly popular as it can take the shape of your hands. Cork also feels a bit cooler. Other common materials are foam and rubber. Foam is very light and can absorb water. Rubber is heavier but gives you a stronger grip.
5. Shock Absorption
Some hiking poles have some sort of shock absorption systems in place. This can come in handy when hiking on rough terrains or when going downhill. Some hikers actually prefer poles without shock absorption for even more traction. If you have vulnerable knees though, some sort of shock absorption is very beneficial.
Most trekking poles use steel or carbide tips to provide better traction. Some poles will come with plastic or rubber tip protectors that you can use on different surfaces. Rubber works really well on asphalt surfaces. Tips are usually interchangeable so you’re not bound to one material for all your hiking efforts.
Best Hiking Poles
Here are our 5 favorite hiking poles, ranging in price from around 80 to 260 Australian dollars.
1. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Pole
Black Diamond has been setting high standards in the market as an established manufacturer of premium equipment for climbing, skiing and mountain sports since 1957.
The popular Distance Carbon Z-Pole hiking poles weigh only 285g and are made with a 100% carbon construction. The efficient 3-section fold-able design allows for easy packing and fast deployment. The breathable, lightweight EVA foam grips easily absorb any excess moisture. The interchangeable, non-scarring rubber tech tips and carbide tech tips provide excellent traction on different terrains.
Max length: 110-130cm (fixed – 3 sections)
Grips: EVA foam
Tips: rubber and carbide
2. Komperdell Wild Rambler
Komperdell is an Austrian manufacturer of outdoor gear that specialises in top quality poles for both hiking, mountaineering and skiing. Several winter Olympic athletes throughout history have won their medals using Komperdell poles.
Made with durable and lightweight aluminum, the Komperdell Wild Rambler set is an excellent entry-level pair of hiking poles. Although they are a touch heavier than the Black Diamonds above because of the aluminum used, they are still very comfortable hiking poles with solid and ergonomic rubber grips and straps. The twist-lock mechanism and functional 3-section design make these poles easy to use and pack. The height is adjustable making them suitable for both adults and children.
Max length: 140cm (adjustable – 3 sections)
3. Leki Trail Anti-Shock
Developed and designed in Germany, Leki hiking poles are synonymous with quality, durability and comfort.
The sturdy Leki Trail Anti-Shock trekking poles, made with lightweight and durable aluminum, are capable of holding up to 140kg. The innovative adjustment system allows you to easily and quickly change the length of the poles which comes on handy when going both uphill and downhill during a longer trek. The effective anti-shock system is triggered when pushing the pole down on the upper section. The carbide tips provide maximum stability on harder surfaces. With a maximum height of 145cm, this pair of hiking poles is particularly suitable for the taller hiker.
Max length: 145cm (adjustable – 3 sections)
4. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
With ergonomic cork grips, durable aluminum frame and an easy-to-use locking system, the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork hiking poles are excellent value for money.
The main differences between this model and the Z-Poles at number one, are the materials used for both the shaft and the grips. As the name suggests, the Trail Ergo Cork poles have cork grips that feel very comfortable in the hand and don’t generate as much sweat. The aluminum used makes these poles heavier but also sturdier. The 3-section design allows for easy adjustment in length, with a minimum length of 74cm and a maximum length of 140cm. Also take note of the 15-degree corrective angle of the grips creating that optimal position.
Max length: 140cm (adjustable – 3 sections)
5. Komperdell Highlander Cork Anti-Shock
Similar to the Black Diamonds above, the Komperdell Highlander Cork hiking poles have comfortable grips made with cork. The adjustable wrist straps add additional comfort. The aluminum shaft with 3-section design can be adjusted from 70cm up to 140cm in height.
The robust carbide tips deliver excellent grip on those slippery surfaces. The anti-shock system is turned on when going downhill cushioning and turned off when climbing for better stability and traction.
Max length: 140cm (fixed – 3 sections)