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Why should you use walking poles?
Hiking is a fantastic way to get fit and keep active throughout the year.
It does, however, take a toll on our bodies, and choosing a good pair of hiking or trekking poles go a long way to supporting your joints, minimising the risk of trips, slips and falls and generally increasing and improving stability and confidence when out on longer hikes.
If you’re on a backpacking trip, poles are a great means of keeping your weight evenly distributed and easing you over rocky ground.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at a few options on the market at the moment, and assessing their ability to keep you moving at a pace on the trails.
From adjustable poles, to shaft material, carbon fibre poles to wrist straps - there’s more to walking sticks than meets the eye.
Best trekking poles at a glance:
- Best for pole grip comfort: Leki Carbonlite, £95.96
- Best for durability: Columbia 6160 Aluminium Trekking Poles, £55
- Best lightweight option: Komperdell Carbon C3 Pro Compact, £107
- Best for four-season adventures: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z Trek Poles, £135
- Best for smaller frames: Leki Khumbu Lite Trekking Poles, £67
- Best budget option: Regatta Ultralite Trekking Pole Set, £21.49
- Best for everyday use: Craghoppers Treklite Carbon Trekking Poles, £69.49
What to look for in a trekking pole
There are a couple of main defining factors of a good pole - build and material -and therefore weight - and height and ease of extension.
Make sure you try a few poles to get the right fit for you - the general rule is that if you’re over 6ft in height, get a maximum length of around 50in or more.
Your elbow and arm should be at a 90 degree angle when hiking so the length of your arm to the ground is the extension you need.
If you’re going to be putting poles in a backpack or carrying them over long distances too, you’ll want to make sure they are as light as possible.
Look for lightweight aluminium poles or carbon-fibre offerings which are not only light but offer maximum strength too - most of our suggestions here should cover that criteria.
Cheaper poles are fine for day-trippers and occasional hikers, but if you’re serious about your walking, a pair of lightweight, ideally carbon fibre poles that are easy to adjust are worth forking out a little more for.
Read more of our coverage of the best hiking gear around:
Here are our suggestions for some of the best trekking poles on the market at the moment
Using a traditional telescopic design, the Carbonlite poles are an excellent offering from Leki that we’d enjoy using over long distances, due to the lack of weight and the comfortable grip.
They use a twist lock mechanism, which worked well, although perhaps didn’t feel quite as secure as the more conventional lever-lock mechanisms found on many other poles.
We enjoyed the carbide pole tips, which although fairly standard across a range of high-performance trekking poles, increase stability and durability when faced with hard rock or ice surfaces.
A good everyday option made from an aircraft-grade aluminium construction, the three section design of this pole collapses to 25” for storage and extends up to 54”, so it’d be a good product for the taller among us, too.
Although it’s slightly heavier than some of the options, they feel very comfortable to use, with a cork-based compound providing excellent cushioning and a secure, slip-free grip.
These are some of the lightest trekking poles we’ve encountered, as well as being the most compact option on the list when it comes to packing down and folding away for storage.
For this reason, we’d recommend these poles for more frequent travellers, or for multi-day adventures where space is at a premium and you need to make savings where possible.
They sit in the middle of the range when it comes to durability, but the lack of weight alone is enough to recommend them for most uses.
These are amongst Black Diamond’s most durable poles on offer, a provide a good option if you’re looking for some serious adventuring kit.
They’re marketed towards those looking for ‘mountain mission’ equipment, as you’d expect from a company who are all about climbing and skiing, and although they’re expensive they present a great option for people who can’t afford their poles to let them down. They’re fabulous shock absorbers.
Their durability and stiffness also means they’re suitable for a range of outdoor sports, from hiking and trail running to climbing and long-distance trekking.
Named after a region on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest, these trekking poles offer an alternative for smaller or shorter frames when out and about.
They are a smaller diameter and height, and are recommended for use for people who weigh 75 kg or less.
The speed locks work well so they can be quickly adjusted on the fly, and we also liked the cork grip handles which are ergonomically designed and comfortable - providing excellent grip, especially when wearing gloves.
We don’t all need to spend lots of money on trekking poles, especially when the majority of us will be using them around the hills of Britain.
Although they don’t have the strength, adjustability or versatility of some of the other poles on this list, these options from Regatta are the perfect budget buy - simple, comfortable, adjustable and easy to use and get the right height.
As a basic intro to the trekking pole world, this will add support, comfort and confidence-inspiring safety to your everyday hikes or dog walks.
Craghoppers make a good array of mid-range outdoor kit for regular use, and these Treklite Carbon poles are at the top of this particular range but remain at a very palatable price point.
They have an extended non-slip EVA foam grip, an ultra-light adjustable strap and feature a 3-section telescopic range with a decent aluminium fast-locking system.
These are good, feature-packed poles that take Craghoppers into the realm of technical kit for regular use.