The 15 Best Hiking Poles to Save Your Knees (2019)

Best Hiking Poles The World Pursuit Cameron and Natasha

Seeking out the best hiking poles? Experienced hikers have long known the advantages of bringing along their trusty trekking poles while trekking through the wilderness. These days, everyone from casual hikers and mountaineers to snowshoers and even trail runners are taking advantage of these simplistic tools to improve their performance. This is because they help you set a better stride, falling into a rhythm that keeps you on course as the miles fly by. 

Hiking poles can also help improve your posture, reduce the impact on your joints – especially on those steep, loose-gravel descents – and even be used as a sturdy tent pole for those minimalist thru-hikes. Just like all outdoor gear, there are tons of brands and specifications to dig through before you can find the poles best suited to you. So, here’s some information to help you get started. 



The 15 Best Hiking Poles

Best Hiking Poles

1.) Black Diamond Trail Ergo

Best Hiking Poles Black Diamond Trail Ergo
  • Weight: 18 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping (lever lock)
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Grip: Cork
  • Pros: Comfort, Strong Build, Black Diamond Brand,
  • Cons: Heavier, Telescopic

If you’re looking for high-quality trekking poles at a good value, look no further than the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Corks. Bearing the Black Diamond name, you know you will be getting a durable, functional hiking pole that will be able to meet the basic needs of the trail.

These hiking poles feature the two-section telescoping design, flick locks, and cork handles that will absorb your sweat and keep you from slipping down the pole. Overall, one of the best standard trekking poles out there. Its downside is a slight bit of weight and the fact it is a telescoping pole.

Black Diamond Trail Ergo on Amazon

Black Diamond Trail Ergo on REI

Black Diamond Trail Ergo on Backcountry


2.) REI Co-op Flash Carbon

Best Hiking Poles REI Coop Flash Carbon
  • Weight: 14.8 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping & Twist PowerLock
  • Shaft material: Carbon
  • Grip: Foam
  • Pros: Comfort, Strong Build, Value, Lightweight, Features
  • Cons: Not The Strongest Poles

The REI Co-op Flash Carbon hiking poles are a great option for lightweight hikers that don’t put too much stress on their gear. Made from a carbon aluminum blend, these poles weigh in at only 14.8 ounces and collapse at three sections using the patented twisting PowerLock technology.

The ease of adjustability is really what makes these poles a cut above the rest in their respective weight category. However, their lightweight nature does sacrifice some durability, but if you are a casual hiker, these poles will not let you down!

REI Co-op Flash Carbon


3.) Leki Micro Vario Carbon

Best Hiking Poles Leki Micro Vario Carbon
  • Weight: 14.8 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping & Twist PowerLock
  • Shaft material: Carbon
  • Grip: Foam
  • Pros: Comfort, Strong Build, Value, Lightweight, Features, Z Pole
  • Cons: Not The Strongest Poles

If collapsibility is a key concern, you should definitely check out the Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles. Their folding design allows these poles to be broken down to a mere 15.5 inches, which is one of the smallest you can find.

They also feature a SpeedLock, which allows you to adjust the height with a slight twist of a dial. No accessories needed! The cork and rubber grips are also a fantastic ergonomic feature that comfortably mold to your hand over time. 

Leki Micro Vario Carbon on REI

Black Diamond Trail Ergo on Backcountry


4.) Mountainsmith Halite

Mountainsmith Halite Best Hiking Poles
  • Weight: 21 oz.
  • Type: Aluminum & Twist PowerLock
  • Shaft material: Carbon
  • Grip: Cork And Foam
  • Pros: Affordable Z Pole
  • Cons: Not The Strongest Poles, Heavier, Lacks Extended Grip

The Mountainsmith Halite is an extremely affordable hiking pole option that still loads up on the extras. These foldable poles come with the much-loved cork grips, additional snow baskets, hiking baskets, and even rubber tips that can be put on or taken off as the need arises.

At 21 ounces and with the aluminum, cost-friendly design, these may not be the sturdiest or lightest choice, but the added features, compact construction, and simple lever locks definitely give them a worthy spot on the list. 

Mountainsmith Halite on Amazon

Mountainsmith Halite on Backcountry


5.) Gossamer Gear LT5

Best Hiking Poles Gossamer Gear
  • Weight: 10.6 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping (twist lock)
  • Shaft material: Carbon
  • Grip: Cork or Foam
  • Pros: Super Lightweight, Solid
  • Cons: Weight Sacrifices Some Strength, Expensive, No Grip Extension

Ultralight backpackers beware – the Gossamer Gear LT5’s are here! These amazing hiking poles take the cake when it comes to cutting weight, at just 10.6 ounces. Gossamer has accomplished this amazing build by constructing the LT5’s from reliable and lightweight carbon fiber and adding a simplistic twist lock system.

They also cut weight by adding comfy cork grips and removable straps. Naturally, at this weight, these simplistic trekking poles are not as durable as their heavy-duty aluminum counterparts, but they will get the job done without weighing down your pack. 

Gossamer Gear LT5


6.) Black Diamond Distance FLZ

FLZ Best Hiking Poles Black Diamond
  • Weight: 16 oz.
  • Type: Folding & Powerlock
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Grip: Foam
  • Pros: Solid, Compact, Adjustable, Decent Weight
  • Cons: Z Pole Construction Sacrifices Some Strength,

These are the poles we use in the Canadian Rockies. We needed something that could easily slip in the backpack, but was robust enough to handle a mixture of snow and heavy rock. These hiking poles stand out for their intense durability. These poles can stand up to a beating and not be worse for wear.

They can take a couple of hundred pounds of weight without their stainless steel FlickLocks budging, and the carbon fiber construction trims some of the fat without losing durability. In general, this beast of a hiking pole displays all the high-end quality characteristics that we have come to expect from Black Diamond. We’ve seen reviews remark on them pulling apart, but after 20 ascents through snow, glaciers, heavy scree, and mud we’ve experienced no problems.

Black Diamond Distance FLZ

Black Diamond Distance FLZ on REI

Black Diamond Distance FLZ on Backcountry


7. Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber

Best Hiking Poles Cascade Mountain
  • Weight: 16 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping & Twist Lock
  • Shaft material: Carbon
  • Grip: Cork
  • Pros: Super Affordable, Multiple Accessories
  • Cons: Cheap Construction, Unreliable

Premium poles that lack the high-end prices are hard to find in the outdoor gear market. Luckily, Cascade Mountain decided to make this possible by bringing us their Tech carbon fiber quick lock hiking poles.

These 16-ounce hiking poles come with either foam or cork grips, simple lever locks, and entirely carbon fiber shafts at less than half the cost of their Black Diamond counterparts. They also added in helpful accessories, such as rubber tips and two baskets for hiking in the mud and snow, giving you one of the best values around. 

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber on Amazon


8. REI Co-op Traverse 

REI Co-op Traverse Best Hiking Poles
  • Weight: 20 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping & Lever Lock
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Grip: Cork
  • Pros: Affordable, Comfortable Cork, Reliable Locks, REI Brand
  • Cons: Heavy, Long, No Grip Extension

Is snowshoeing or mountaineering your favorite outdoor adventure? Are you looking to find hiking poles that can take the torment with ease without being so heavy you want to throw them out in the first few miles? Enter the REI Co-op Traverse hiking poles.

These durable aluminum poles can stand up to any challenge that mother nature has to offer and then some. They have comfy cork grips, a fantastic external locking system, and block out shock and vibration even on the harshest terrain. 

REI Co-op Traverse


9. Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec

Best Hiking Poles Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec
  • Weight: 20.4 oz.
  • Type: Folding & Lever Lock
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Grip: Cork/Rubber
  • Pros: Comfortable Cork, Reliable Locks, Collapsible
  • Cons: Heavy

These poles are a standout for their folding design from a reliable brand name, Leki. They have some really comfortable grips that are better than the similarly priced Black Diamond FLZ. However, they are a bit heavier and sacrifice a lot of strength. The added weight comes in with the shock absorption system.

While some see this as a frivolous and sometimes aggravating addition, the Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec are here to change your mind. These poles are a great option outside of their internal anti-shock system, but with this addition, your joints will let you know you made the right purchase. 

Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec on REI

Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec on Backcountry


10. Black Diamond Trail Pro

Black Diamond Trail Pro Best Hiking Poles
  • Weight: 20.3 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping & Lever Lock
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Grip: Foam
  • Pros: Great Shock Absorption, Reliable
  • Cons: Weight, Price

Another great option if shock absorption is high on your list of additions is the Black Diamond Trail Pro. Here, Black Diamond have worked out the most common kinks found in shock absorption technology (bottoming out and unpredictable rebounds) and brought us a trusty pair of hiking poles that work great in a variety of environments.

They feature the two section telescoping as well as Black Diamond’s patented FlickLock Pro locking mechanism and sturdy aluminum shafts. A great pair of poles with or without shock absorption. 

Black Diamond Trail Pro

Black Diamond Trail Pro on REI

Black Diamond Trail Pro on Backcountry


11. Montem Ultra Strong

Best Hiking Poles Montem Ultra Strong
  • Weight: 19.2 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping & Lever Lock
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Grip: Foam
  • Pros: Cheap, Lots of Features
  • Cons: Weight, Not Reliable, Entry Level

If hiking poles are last on your list of must-haves and you’re simply looking for something that will get the job done at a budget-friendly price, consider the Montem Ultra Strong. These are durable, compact poles that can stand up to some serious battering and still make it through unscathed. It’s your usual Amazon cheap gear at a price that’s tough to complain about for hobbyists or entry-level.

They are on the heavier end, weighing approximately 19.2 ounces, but that’s the sacrifice made when utilizing more budget-friendly materials. These poles would be perfect for beginner hikers that want to test their legs and poles on moderately difficult terrain. 

Montem Ultra Strong on Amazon


12. Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec

Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec Best Hiking Poles
  • Weight: 17.4 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping & Lever Lock
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Grip: Cork
  • Pros: Great Shock Absorption, Reliable
  • Cons: Weight

Leki have long been known for the amazing design of their custom cork grips that give you maximum comfort on the trail. The Makalu Lite Cor-Tec hiking poles are no exception.

With an additional slight forward tilt, they feel very natural on your hands and in your posture. They have an impressive SpeedLock Plus mechanism that allows for quick adjustments without a screwdriver, and the sturdy aluminum shafts come at a surprising weight of only 17.4 ounces. 

Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec on REI

Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec on Backcountry


13. Ultimate Direction FK Hiking Poles

Ultimate Direction FK Hiking Poles Best Hiking Poles
  • Weight: 8 oz.
  • Type: Carbon One Length
  • Shaft material: Carbon
  • Grip: Foam
  • Pros: Ultralight, Strength, Comfort
  • Cons: Not Collapsible of Telescopic

If you’re looking for a pair of dependable and sturdy hiking poles for those long day hikes, you may want to consider Ultimate Direction’s FK hiking poles. The first thing to note is that these are by no means collapsible, which is usually a deal-breaker for many – but hear us out!

This pair of hiking poles have a larger 20 mm diameter shaft that increases the stiffness and overall strength of the poles. There are no moving parts to break, no funky mechanisms to deal with, and no weather adherence needed. Just extremely strong poles to get you from point A to point B. 

Ultimate Direction FK Hiking Poles on Backcountry


14. Kelty Upslope 2.0

Best Hiking Poles
  • Weight: 18.5 oz.
  • Type: Telescoping & Twist Lock
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Grip: Foam
  • Pros: Cheap, Easy
  • Cons: Not Durable, Weak Twist Locks, Heavy, Okay Comfort, Reliability

If you are just getting started and are unsure whether you are a hiking pole type of person, you may want to test it out with the Kelty Upslope 2.0s. These sturdy standard hiking poles won’t break the bank or your heart if they get lost or broken. While you won’t want these poles for your next mountain expedition, they are great for casual use. 

Kelty Upside 2.0 on Backcountry


What Design to Look For in Hiking Poles?

Hiking in Kananaskis - Best Hiking Poles

There are three main designs that currently dominate the hiking pole industry. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages that are specific to the terrain and application of use. That’s why it’s essential to understand what each design means and where they are predominantly useful before heading to your local outdoor retailer. 

Two Section Telescoping

This type of hiking pole can be broken down into two sections, hence the name. While they pack down the least, they have distinct advantages over their competitors. These hiking poles are going to be the most rugged and durable.

They were specifically designed for skiers, snowshoers, and thru-hikers that are good at beating up on their gear. All this strength also means more materials, which, of course, means more weight. 

Three Section Telescoping

Chances are if you’ve been hiking, you’ve seen three section telescoping hiking poles. They are the most common trail poles due to their packability, versatility, and various added features.

While not quite as durable as the two section hiking poles, they do tend to be inherently lighter and will get the job done for most backpackers. 

Folding or Z Style

These little guys are fairly new to the hiking pole game but have become a quick favorite for ultralight minimalist hikers and climbers. This is because they are both lighter and more compact than any other design currently available.

However, their simplicity does have a downfall when it comes to durability. They also cut down on added features and are about 7-9 inches shorter than telescoping poles. 


Hiking Pole Features

Best Hiking Poles

Surprisingly, there are a lot of features that outdoor manufacturers have added to these simple devices over the years. Some are necessary, while others are just a matter of preference. Here are some of the things you’re likely to run into while on the hunt for the best hiking poles. 


Shock Absorption

This is an awesome feature, especially for those that need the extra relief on their knees. Shock absorption comes in the way of small internal springs to take on the extra exertion as you walk downhill, and they can be turned off and on as needed. 


Adjustability

Best Hiking Poles

Adjustability is not just a feature that helps you to get the perfect height for your frame, but also gives you the ideal 90-degree bend in your elbow as you head up and downhills. Generally speaking, most adjustable hiking poles have a range of 24-55inches. 


Locks

There are two types of lockdowns for adjustable hiking poles – either flick or twist. This is a bit of a Hatfield and McCoys rivalry and really boils down to personal preference. Flick locks do require a small screwdriver to adjust the height and are best used in colder climates where your poles may contract. Twist locks can be adjusted without the use of tools but tend to slip in freezing temperatures. 


Tips

Most hiking pole tips are made from carbide steel, which gives you a secure grip on wet surfaces and loose dirt. However, you can also opt for added rubber, which will provide you with a quieter gait and cause less damage to the trail. 

Extended Handle

Best Hiking Poles

If you will spend much time climbing elevation an extended handle is a nice feature to seek out. It allows you to grip the pole lower when straddling a rock, making large steps, or climbing a steep hill. On the average mountain scramble, I grab all parts of my pole. Of course, all of this depends on the intended use of the poles.


Hiking Pole Tips


The Pole Stays Downhill

Quotes about Mountains

We use hiking poles for mountaineering and scrambling where they are practically lifelines. When you’re walking a ridge, managing switchbacks, or crossing glaciers we opt for one pole. If you are utilizing one pole on mountain slopes it’s best to have the pole in your downhill hand, and an ice axe if needed in your uphill hand for self-arrest. Even if there is no ice axe a free uphill hand allows to grip rocks or catch yourself in a fall. Keep that hiking pole downhill!


No Wrist Straps

Wrist straps are a great feature to have on long easy winding trails, but they can quickly become dangerous on uneven terrain. If you’re managing rooty terrain or rough rocks do not use the wrist straps. It’s easy to take a fall and if the poles catch a rock or root you’ll end up with a broken wrist. I never use my staps out of habit, but everyone is different.


Two Vs One

As I talked earlier not every hike requires two poles. I prefer one pole to have a free hand on short hikes, mountain climbs, and scambles. While two poles are great for an extended distance with weight. Every trip and objective is different, but a great idea is one pole for days trips and two for multiday trips. If you’re on a long thru-hike you’ll definitely want the comfort of two poles.

Best Hiking Poles

Check Out These Posts

Read Next:

Read Next:

All Around Canada

Travel Quote Inspiration

Tips For Your Next Trip

Pack Your Bags


THANKS FOR READING!

The World Pursuit - Subscribe

Join Our Email List!

About the Author

Cameron

Facebook

Cameron Seagle is one of the creative forces behind The World Pursuit. He is a writer and photographer for the travel website. Cameron has been traveling for the last four years. He found a passion for conservation and safari while living out of a truck in the African bush. Obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products, he loves to research new product releases. In his free time, you can find him shooting photographs, summiting mountains, and snowboarding. Cameron currently lives in Banff with his partner and blogging co-conspirator Natasha. Cameron's favorite countries are Ireland, Scotland, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Japan. And he can never resist an excellent beach destination.

Last Updated on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *