Best Hiking Poles of 2020 Complete Reviews with Comparisons
If you’re a hiking enthusiast, then you probably know how important hiking poles are. In fact, people who are serious about hiking have known the extraordinary advantages of a good hiking pole for quite a long time; they help with stability while moving over ever-changing terrain.
Also, they're essential in lessening the impact on your hips, knees, and lower legs while going downhill. These are just a few of the advantages that using hiking poles can bring you, but first, you have to find the right ones. This is where the true work begins.
There are so many different variations that it can sometimes be a challenge to narrow down your options. With that being said, we thought it might be helpful to do some of the leg work for you.
That is why we scoured the internet and found five of the best hiking poles available today. This guide will take an in-depth look at them.
We will also give you some helpful tips and information that should make your decision-making process just a little easier.
Best Hiking Poles Comparison Chart
Best Hiking Poles Reviews
TrailBuddy Trekking Poles
Our first hiking pole is a lightweight yet durable aluminum offering from TrailBuddy. It uses an adjustable flip lock and is designed to maximize comfort as you traverse the beautiful and majestic great outdoors.
Looking at a hiking pole, you may think it is rather straightforward to design one. Though they may be a simple-looking product, there’s much more that goes into the creation of a quality product.
In fact, everything from the choice of materials to the grip can affect the outcome. That is why the team at TrailBuddy took their time and made sure the following features and benefits were included in this hiking pole:
- Crafted with premium-grade 7075 aluminum
- Designed with an adjustable telescoping build
- Constructed with cork handles and padded straps
- Comes in a variety of color choices
Included in package: carrying bag, rubber tips x2, connectors x1, mud baskets, and snow baskets
There are a lot of great things we could talk about regarding this hiking pole. We could rave about the multiple attachments that come included in the package. We could also discuss the lightweight design of the poles, which gives them heightened portability.
However, despite all that being true, the thing we really love about this hiking pole is the comfort it offers on those long hikes. This comes down to two aspects … the grip and the straps. The grip, which is an ergonomically designed cork handle, plays the biggest role. It is comfortable for treks of any length. Then, when you combine that with the well-made, padded wrist bands, you optimize the comfort by tenfold.
There are a few issues that we would be remiss without touching on.
The locking system is a hand-operated system. This could be a little hard to get used to. However, once you do, these issues disappear. Just take your time, and you will get the hang of it.
Our last issue has to do with the tips of the poles. Many have had issues with them coming loose very quickly. You can purchase replacements, so this may not be a big deal for some.
Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles
This entry is a lightweight, carbon fiber option that offers quick adjustment. Designed with variations to meet every hiker's individual needs, this hiking pole is one of the best options available.
The team at Cascade Mountain Tech certainly wanted to deliver a high-quality hiking pole. This is evident through the careful design and inclusion of the following features:
- Made of high-grade carbon fiber
- Built-in, telescoping quick-lock system
- Designed with a cork handle and adjustable wrist straps
- Comes in a variety of colors
Included in packaging: boot tips, mud baskets, snow baskets
If you are looking for a lightweight, easy-to-use hiking pole, then this could very well be your best choice. Crafted with high-quality carbon fiber, it is fitted with everything you need to have a wonderful hiking experience.
Adjust the pole to the perfect height for you and the terrain, and keep it in place with an easy-to-use and secure quick locking system. For stability and traction, the poles are designed with two rubber tips.
These also can help with impact absorption to a small degree. As you can see, these poles are a great investment and will have you out on the trails for hours.
Even with all of that, there are still a few design flaws that we feel could be improved upon. The poles are not great for high-intensity hiking or climbing, as they tend to break easily with rough treatment. Therefore, if you are a mountain climber or like extreme terrains, you might be better suited to keep looking.
Other than that, the straps have been known to come off your hands too easily. This could lead to some comfort and functionality problems.
Hiker Hunger Trekking Pole
Our next hiking poles are an ultra-lightweight, carbon-fiber option. This pole from Hiking Hunger is collapsible and comes with a metal screw flip lock that will have you safely moving over the roughest terrain.
Every pole offers different advantages depending on the design its manufacturer goes with. In the case of these Hiker Hunger trekking poles, these features include:
- Crafted in premium-grade carbon fiber
- Built with tungsten carbide tips
- Fully adjustable (24”-54”)
- Designed with non-slip EVA foam grips wrapped around cork handles
Value is what we think of when we look at these poles. There are times where the extras offered are in no way a replacement for the durability and functionality of a product.
In this case, however, you get the best of both worlds, and that makes this option a great investment. With these poles, you get plenty of accessories, so you are outfitted for any type of terrain or hiking you are headed out to do.
Plus, the poles are constructed of a lightweight carbon fiber, which makes it a good choice for destination hiking. The poles themselves are easy to use and offer a level of comfort that will have you easily enjoying those trails for hours.
Now, there are some drawbacks to take into consideration when looking at these poles. The first and potentially the biggest is the tip issue. There have been many instances of the tips falling off too easily. This is a problem for those hikers who need a tool that is going to stand up to the rigors of regular use.
The second drawback is that the locks are not smooth. This could lead to them catching on things and opening without your knowledge. This, in turn, could lead to potential risks.
BAFX Products Hiking Poles
When you are trekking over rough terrain, there are two things you want — comfort and durability. These hiking poles from BAFX Products offer you both at a budget-friendly price.
These hiking poles have a lot to offer because they really were designed to meet many of the needs of the hikers of the world. The functionality and effectiveness of these poles come down to the following features:
- Crafted with premium-grade, lightweight carbon fiber
- Built-in flip lock system
- Adjustable hiking poles (24.5”-53”)
- Grips made of EVA
- Padded wrist straps included in the build
- Package includes: carbide tips, rubber feet x4, and mud baskets x2
The last thing you want is a set of poles that takes a degree in rocket science to use. That is not a concern when it comes to these poles. They are easy to use and designed to stand up to whatever you throw at them. Constructed with high-quality aluminum, they are lightweight and durable.
The straps are super comfortable, which helps with the effectiveness of this pole. Plus, it comes with extra rubber tips in case you happen to lose one.
Comfort on long treks may be a concern when opting for these poles. The handle itself is made of plastic instead of the more ergonomic cork.
Though not sorely uncomfortable after long use, there have been some reports of blistering. That is perhaps the most impactful drawback to consider, but it is not the only one.
The poles are supposed to have the anti-shock capability; this is questionable and may not be up to the task for those hiking over rugged terrain.
Pacemaker Stix Expedition Trekking Poles
Our last entry is a collapsible, telescoping stick that brings a lot to the table. From the use of durable materials to the anti-shock grips, you will find yourself in good hands with this high-quality hiking pole.
Design really does matter when it comes to this type of hiking equipment. Without the inclusion of certain features, you will end up with achy muscles, potentially blisters, and even injuries.
That is why, when designing this hiking pole, the designer made sure to include:
- Crafted with 7075 aluminum
- Built-in, patented locking mechanisms
- Telescoping design (27”-54”)
- Designed with tungsten tips
- Large, ergonomic handle design
To help make your hiking excursion more comfortable and safer, there are very few tools that top the hiking poles from Pacemaker Stix. They are designed with care to optimize your experience.
Made of durable materials, with built-in impact absorption, you can hike over any terrain. This is perfect for those terrains that change drastically from one place to another, as the poles are easy to adjust. Change it up and don’t worry as the locking mechanism is easy to use and offers a heightened level of security.
With all of that goodness, there comes a price. No, not the price tag! The weight of these hiking poles is heavier than most of the options on our list. This could be a problem for long excursions where you are moving from camp to camp over a period of a couple of days.
The other aspect that could use some consideration is the handle. It is crafted in both cork and plastic. This decreases the comfort and may cause blisters after long periods of use.
When choosing the right gear, there are always factors that play a key role in the efficiency of that gear. When we looked at the plethora of pole choices out there, we soon found that there were five factors that we honed in on.
When determining one of the above options is for you, make sure to look at these features to help your decision-making process along.
Trekking Pole Types: Telescoping, Folding, and Fixed
The first thing you should take into consideration is the type of pole you will be looking at. There are three main types.
These are the most widely recognized hiking poles available and are known for their sturdiness and convenience. That is why they are mainstream with everybody from day climbers to explorers and even mountain climbers.
They adjust from each joint through the use of a locking system that can be adjusted as you go dependent on the terrain of the trail.
Much like the posts that accompany a tent, you can fold and pack these poles down. Most of these types of poles have thin shafts that can tolerate less weight than other types.
This type is often used by those that hike fast, as well as trail sprinters, climbers, and trekkers.
These tend to be hard to store or transport. Because they are fixed they cannot be adjusted for different heights or hiking up/downhill.
Outside of an ultralight, foldable hiking pole, odds are you'll be looking at one with a locking system. There are two major types of locking mechanisms used in hiking poles.
In order to use this style, you will simply twist the lock for each section until it finds its place.
This locking mechanism uses an exterior clamping device to open or close the lock on the shaft segments.
Another factor to look at and consider is shock absorption. There are poles that have a built-in system or use materials that remove extra stress from your knees and wrists on a long hike.
These models will weigh more. Make sure you really weigh the conditions you are going against and what you are giving up before choosing one with this feature.
The heaviness of the pole is also something you should look at. A lightweight option will decrease the workload of your arms, which is a major advantage on long treks.
On short outings, you may think weight won’t matter, but the swinging of your arms will still play a role in your arm exhaustion. You can see how a lightweight pole might be very beneficial.
For moving lightly and quickly, the lighter the pole the better, with a proviso that durability reduces once you get into the ultralight class.
Be careful when looking at poles that fall into this category, you may not get as much use from them as some of the heavier options.
If you're miles into the backwoods with rugged terrain, the last thing you want is to have your hiking pole break. Durability, therefore, is very significant.
Carbon fiber can break when bowed or smacked against rocks, and aluminum shafts are not much more durable. When compared, carbon fiber is often more durable but does add a little extra weight.
On the flip side, aluminum is super lightweight but breaks easier than carbon fiber. There are poles that offer a combination of the two, which might be the way to go if you need both lightweight and durable.
Hiking Pole FAQ
Even with all that information, we are sure you still have some questions when it comes to hiking poles. We gathered together a few of the most commonly asked questions and have answered them below.
Do I need two- or three-section poles?
In the end, the answer comes down to your intent and your preference. Two-section poles work well if you are doing activities that need you to have the pole in hand a majority of the time — things like winter hiking or even snowshoeing. However, three-sections are better for trips that you need to pack for. They tend to fold up and are easily stuck away in your luggage or backpack.
How do I wear the pole strap?
When done right, this should help you transfer weight easier and help with stability throughout your hike. You will want to slide your hand through near the pole, making sure to leave the soft surface touching your wrist. Then, simply grip the pole. Now, you will want to adjust the strap so it is tight against the wrist.
How long should my poles be?
This all depends on the terrain you are hiking through. Level landscapes should have your pole adjusted so that it permits you to twist your arm at roughly 90 degrees when holding it straight.
When climbing tough terrain on an uphill slope, shortening your poles will assist you with getting a better footing. It will also even out the exertion between your arms and legs by permitting you to "pull" yourself up with the shafts.
When climbing with a load, this can assist a lot with the strain on your back, too.
When climbing downhill, lengthening your shaft will permit you to extend them to meet the ground easier, as it will be further away. This will permit you to shift your weight to the poles as you advance down the slope, diminishing the effect on your knees.
Should I get rubber tips for my trekking poles?
There are a few different types of tips available for your hiking poles, but the rubber has a lot of great advantages, including reducing wear and tear on poles.
While the metal or carbide tips of your hiking poles are replaceable, you can expand the life of these parts by covering them with rubber tips. This is particularly a great option if a lot of your trekking happens on hard or uneven surfaces.
It offers a better grip. Having rubber tips will give you better traction on unforgiving surfaces, such as rock, asphalt, cobblestones, or solid walkways. Metal or carbide tips, for the most part, don’t offer the same level of traction as rubber tips do.
What’s the best way for me to use my poles?
There are a lot of great ways to use your poles. They are great for hiking obviously. You can use them for snowshoeing and things of that nature, as well. All of that won’t be effective if you don’t use them properly, so here are a few tips to get the most out of your hiking poles:
- Adjust the height properly
- Always use the wrist strap
- Find your rhythm when moving your arms
With these tips, you will be able to benefit from the many advantages that hiking poles bring to the table, things like:
- Help relieve stress on the lower body, back, and arms
- Help maintain your balance
- Help improve your workout
This guide has walked you through what to look for and answered some of the most commonly asked questions in regards to hiking poles. From all that information, we also chose some of the best hiking poles.
Hopefully, all of this has helped you make your decision quicker and with as little stress as possible. Now, all that’s left is to pack that bag and get trekking on those amazing trails.