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Published Dec. 20, 2020

Even if you’ve been hitting the trails for years, you might be surprised by how helpful hiking poles can be. Used for balance and traction, as well as assisting you in keeping pace, hiking poles are really handy. But, if you’ve never used hiking poles before, the varieties available on the market can be a bit overwhelming. Hiking poles have become more popular than ever before in recent years, and there are tons of options available — albeit all slightly different. The most important thing is to opt for something that works for your hiking style and is of reasonable quality. 

To help you along, we’ve tracked down the best hiking poles. Check out this breakdown to easily find the right fit for your next hike. 

Whether you’re new to hiking with poles or need to replace your old ones, the tough construct of the TrailBuddy Hiking Poles is a clear winner. Made out of aluminum, the poles excellently balance a lightweight feel with sturdiness. Aluminum is naturally resistant to rust and corrosion, making it great for the outdoors. The poles themselves are telescoping, adjustable over almost 20 inches so that you can find the most comfortable setting. With grip-friendly handles coated in cork (for insulation), you can easily keep a hold of the poles. Since they handle pressure well, the poles can keep you balanced and hiking with ease regardless of the trails you’re exploring.

Those who want to tackle more intense trails can get a lot of benefit from Montem Collapsible Hiking Poles. You can get these aluminum poles in any of six colors. The bold hues help to make the poles easy to spot if you drop one while hiking. In terms of ease of use, these poles have a lot to offer. The collapsible feature helps you find the right setting for your height and arm length. Cork-covered handles keep your hands warm and comfortable. Plus, since the structure of the poles are so durable, you can use them at any angle. It’s constructed so that regardless of the angle or amount of force (within reason), the poles will keep working properly. So, if your focus is on heavy-duty performance, this is definitely a good way to go.

If you are a dedicated hiker, you want poles that can keep up with the demand over the long term. Cascade Hiking Poles are designed for ultimate durability so you don’t have to worry about the poles losing their function over time. That’s largely thanks to the tough materials, including aluminum and high-density cork. The poles extend over an 18-inch range, falling reliably into place at whichever height you choose. Able to withstand a significant amount of force, you can comfortably lean on the hiking pole when resting or climbing without the worry of bending it. With multiple attachments included, you can adjust the base according to the terrain, while the polymer material in these parts is tough against the elements. With all parts designed to last for countless hikes, these poles are a solid approach for hiking aficionados.

Sticking with the traditional design, the base of TheFitLife Nordic Walking Sticks is a standout component. The tips are interchangeable, letting you adjust the bottom of the pole to work ideally for whatever terrain you’re facing. It’s easy to swap out the attachments and they are compact enough to bring with you on the hike. The pole itself has an ergonomic handle that uses polymer as an insulator. Paired with the wrist strap, it’s easy to keep a hold of the poles. Designed to telescope over a range of 17 inches, these aluminum poles make handling the trails effortless. Easily collapsible, you can attach these poles to your backpack in between uses.

If your hiking style involves a lot of hills and tricky terrain, then Foxelli Carbon Hiking Poles are definitely worth looking into. Crafted out of unique materials, these hiking poles are able to withstand intense amounts of force. This strength is largely due to the carbon fiber which, while lightweight, is strong enough to not bend or warp under pressure. The poles are collapsable, letting you find the right setting for your height. Since they move over 21 inches, you get a wide range from which to choose. When in use, the cork handle and ergonomic grip keeps your hands comfortable while the strong tips give you good traction on the ground. Made out of tungsten-carbide, the tips aren’t vulnerable to environmental damage. If your hikes involve challenging trails, these poles are a great way to go.

Do you want a set of hiking poles that serve both as a stylish and functional accessory? If that’s the case, then the Koviti Trekking Poles are a worthy candidate. For starters, the poles fold down into a decidedly compact shape; this way, you can tuck them in your backpack or simply attach them to the outside of your hiking gear when not in use. After folding out, the poles lock into place and provide sturdy and reliable support while you hike. The poles are made out of aluminum material, a lightweight and temperature resistant component. This helps the poles withstand damage from the surroundings. Sturdy and long-lasting, these poles are ideal for those who like to hike in all sorts of weather.

Ever traveled on trails that go from rocky to muddy to sandy, all within the same area? To keep a good footing on the ground, Hiker Hunger Trekking Poles are worth exploring. Thanks to the well-constructed tips, you can tackle all sorts of environments with ease. The poles themselves are made out of heavy-duty aluminum, keeping the pole in shape despite overwhelming force, whatever angle it comes from. The telescoping feature extends over 20 inches, letting you adjust it to fit your ideal height. Paired with an ergonomically-shaped grip that’s coated in cork, your hands can stay comfortable throughout the hike. Whether you’re power-walking on asphalt or hitting some rough trails, these poles are a great accessory to have on hand.

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Why you should trust us

Reviewing products for over five years, I come from a journalism background. Pairing my sciences education with my commitment to accuracy, I have generated a reputation for candor and objectivity. Focusing mainly on tactical items, outdoors products, and survival gear, I assess a wide range of items on which readers rely heavily. My work is featured on Narcity Media, The Drive, and Car Bibles. Some of my most recent articles for Task and Purpose include reviews of  hiking pants, hydration packs, and fitness trackers,

How we chose our top picks

Trekking poles are a relatively new phenomenon, hitting the scene back to the 1970s upon the popularization of Nordic walking. Basically, hiking poles are meant for cross-country travel with a focus on snowy conditions — a throwback to the Scandinavian roots. We chose our top picks based on the necessary criteria of hiking sticks: lightweight yet sturdy, portable yet sizable, safety and user-friendliness

Hiking poles are meant to make your trek easier while improving your coordination, balance, and efficiency. By tracking down highly-reputed models made of quality material, we generated a hiking poles shortlist. Whittling it down based on the quality of the design and utility value, we finalized our roundup. The result is a series of hiking poles at affordable prices that can open up a new world of hiking terrain.

Types of hiking poles

Depending on your hiking style, you’ll need a specific type of pole. You can find hiking poles made of different materials, usually either carbon fiber or aluminum. Both are lightweight and resistant to damage from the elements. While hiking poles tend to have a lot in common, based on the distances you plan to travel and the terrain you are facing, you’ll need a different type. There are collapsible options which fold down into a compact structure for easy storage and towing. Other types have a telescoping feature, with one part sliding into the other to lengthen or shrink the pole. Consider your available storage when identifying the type which best suits your hiking personality. 

Key features of hiking poles

  • Handle: This is the part of the hiking pole that you hold onto while you move around. It’s important that the handle be comfortable to grip and have an ergonomic design. Handles also need to have a protective coating. Usually, it will either be made of cork or out of a polymer. This part keeps your hands comfortable by insulating against the heat and the cold. It also prevents you from losing your grip. Paired with a wrist strap, the poles are designed to keep you from dropping them. An important feature, the handle quality sets the tone of the whole hiking experience. 
  • Shaft: Made either out of aluminum or carbon fiber, the shaft is the main part of the hiking pole. Both materials are of good quality, resistant to impact and force. This prevents warping of the structure itself. Depending on the type of pole you choose, the shaft will either extend or fold down. Extending options tend to be more versatile since this feature lets you adjust the height according to the size of whoever is using the pole at the time. However, collapsible poles are easier to store with your other gear, making them better suited to longer excursions. 
  • Tips: This component is the part of the hiking pole that actually makes contact with the ground. Ideally, the pole will include interchangeable tips. The different designs are meant to work on different terrain, so you’ll use one attachment for icy ground and another for sandy spots. Tips need to be made out of tough material since, because of the continual contact with the ground, they are the most vulnerable to damage. Ideally, they will be made of a tough metal that is both abrasion and rust-resistant. 

Benefits of hiking poles 

There are quite a few advantages to using hiking poles. For starters, these hiking accessories make it easier to tackle more challenging terrain. It helps you to avoid slipping and losing your footing. Hiking poles also assist in keeping your balance. Not only does this make hiking easier, it acts as a safety feature (especially on rough trails). They give you somewhere to lean when you take a break, and give you more points of contact with the ground. When used properly, hiking poles can help you hike more efficiently and more comfortably. 

Hiking poles pricing 

The price of hiking poles is as diverse as the options on the market. You can get a quality set that’s lightweight and folds down for less than $40. Telescoping poles tend to have a higher price tag, though they do last longer. These fall in the range of $80 and usually are a bit tougher. So long as you find a set of poles that’s well-constructed and properly sized (like the ones on this list) you can reap all the benefits of the accessory. Whatever your budget or hiking style, there’s a set of poles available to make your next hike one to remember. 

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