Walking poles are what got me back on my feet and back hiking after a traumatic pregnancy left me with a ruined pelvis. So I can tell you straight off hiking poles arent for professional hikers, old people or the infirm they are great for everyone…from 6 to 86!
A good set of trekking poles can give you stability especially on un even ground, protect your knees when coming down hills and give you power and endurance going uphills. Other added benefits are an improved posture (no stooping here) and that means you breathe better!
Our whole family have walking poles – My 6ft 8in hubby swears by his Black Diamond Distance Flz Trekking Poles, our little kids love their colourful FitTrek Kids Walking Poles and I am a two stick girl and use Leki Makalu Lite Walking Pole Pair.
These are our best walking poles for hikes, treks and walks but don´t take our word for it check out our list of 10 best walking poles. From heaps of customer feedback and personal testing with bring you our best buys from budget walking poles to Nordic Walking poles, to actual wood walking stick!
- Premium cork grip with redesigned soft touch ergonomic grip top and solution strap for better handling and security
- New FlickLock Pro adjustability—now featuring aluminum construction that’s lighter and easier to use
- Perfect for your mountain adventure: The lightest Carbon poles weighing only 280g per pair are foldable and are easy to carry - perfect for travelling, hiking, trail running / Ultra endurance
- Functional: This latest 2018 version has improved joint support and stiffness / increased durability with added aluminium ring to protect the 100% carbon fiber construction
- ✅Specially Designed for Kids – Lightweight with bright colors, retractable from 23 inch to 37 inch, Suitable for kids 2'5'' to 4'7''.
- ✅Adjustable Wrist Strap - Easily adjusting strap with safety release, easy to grasp trekking poles and ensure comfort.
- Slide Lock technology improves ease-of-use when locking your pole
- Three-section foldable shaft with speed cone deployment and Flick Lock adjustability
- Built For Your Rhythm: Whether walking on flat ground, uphill or downhill, TheFitLife walking poles can help you to establish and maintain a consistent rhythm, increase your average speed, rest your arms and get you further on the trail. Made of shock absorbent, high quality carbon fibre, incredibly sturdy and durable so that they can reduce compressive impact on knees, legs, ankles and feet and absorb any noise.
- Hickory's strength and flexibility make this a choice cane for those seeking a strong, sturdy walking aid
- Functional as well as elegant look and feel
- Pole material: carbon, other materials
- Pole construction: fixed length
- AERGOMED: Its ergonomic shape provides comfortable support while walking.
- SPEED LOCK 2: Extremely fast adjustment of the pole length. 30% smaller, 25% lighter and 20% higher holding force - at least.
Types of Walking Poles
Nordic walking poles: Nordic walking is a type of enhanced walking. Its goal is to involve your upper body muscles to add greater intensity to your exercise level. At the same time, it decreases the impact on your legs compared with running.
Unlike regular walker’s poles, Nordic walking sticks differ in one key area – the grips and straps. The straps of Nordic walking poles typically stay wrapped snugly around your hands. They also offer you a sturdy grip to ensure your hands stay in place and easily swing the sticks.
By using Nordic hiking poles, you can activate all the muscles of your upper body along with those in your legs. This way, you can combine a vigorous muscle workout with cardiovascular exercise.
Wooden walking poles: Wooden walking sticks can be made from ash wood, blackthorn wood, beechwood, chestnut wood, or hazelwood. These wonderful and natural walking sticks aren’t just practical but look good as well.
Depending on the type of wood, these walking and hiking sticks have different advantages. For instance, wooden walking sticks made from beechwood are wear-resistant, hardy, and strong. They also have excellent bending capabilities.
Those made from ash wood are extremely resilient and tough. If you’re looking for functionality with unusual colouring and texture, hazelwood walker’s poles would be ideal. These traditional products are believed to protect you against evil spirits as well. Chestnut walking sticks are durable, while blackthorn hiking sticks are hardwearing and tough.
Carved walking poles: Whether you’re a novice or a pro hiker, carved walking poles can add some oomph to your walks and hikes. Apart from being functional, they’re typically personalised to some extent and good to look at. Whether you want to ease yourself in as a beginner or push your capabilities as a pro, these walking sticks can help.
Carbon walking poles: These hiking sticks are usually made of carbon fibre. They’re extremely durable and lightweight. These heavy-duty walking poles are ideal if you need to carry heavy loads over challenging terrains.
Aluminium walking poles: Are you a regular walker looking for lightweight hike sticks? Do you enjoy long days in the hills and mountains? If yes, you may try some ultra-lite aluminium trekking poles like the TheFitLife Carbon Fibre Trekking Poles. Apart from their lighter load, they’re strong, easy to swing, and have comfy handles. If you need easy packability, you can even find some compact folding walking sticks.
Z-poles: If you plan to go hiking with walking sticks and need easy packability, Z-shaped walking sticks are your ideal bet. These walking poles fold into thirds and collapse automatically to a very compact size. This makes it easier to stow them in your trekking rucksack.
Telescopic poles: This is another good option for easy packing. These walker poles slide into themselves like a telescope, making them easy to pack and carry along. Though they’re cheaper than z-poles, they’re less compact.
Single sticks for trekking: Unless you’re walking over loose scree with a heavy load on your back, a single walking pole is enough. For instance, you can buy this Leki Wanderfruend Makalu Walking Pole. You can get adequate stability and support from it. And having your other hand free can help pull out a GPS map, click a photo with your phone, or wipe the sweat off your brow.
Buyer’s Guide to Walking Poles
Irrespective of the types of terrain you want to go walking, hiking, trekking, or backpacking, walking poles can help. They provide you with stability while going uphill and downhill. They’re also crafted to take the weight and impact off your knees, which reduces your chances of injury.
However, with several types and varieties of walking sticks available today, how do you choose one? Here are the significant factors you need to consider.
Cost: You can get walking poles in the range of £45 to £150. For cost-conscious buyers or occasional hikers, budget buys like TheFitLife Carbon Fibre Trekking Poles at £45 would work well. I was overall pretty impressed with it. Its tungsten tips with rubber protectors outside provided good traction. Its EVA foam grips were comfy, and the flip lock system enabled quick height adjustment. The carbon fibre construction felt pretty high-quality, sturdy, and ultra-light.
If you need premium features and are ready to splurge, our overall best buy at £145 – the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Wanderstöcke, would be a good choice. It has a lightweight aluminium design and three 100% carbon fibre shafts. It also has a premium and ergonomic cork grip and a 38mm basket plus interchangeable Tech Tips.
Size: When your walking pole’s tip is on the ground near your feet, it should put your elbows at a 90-degree bend. If you buy hike sticks with adjustable lengths, this will be easy to achieve. However, you should check how strong the fixings are when the hike stick is fully extended. You should also check if the locking mechanism, which lets you adjust the length, works smoothly.
If you choose fixed-length trekking poles, this walking poles size chart could help:
- If you’re shorter than 5′ 1″, you should look for a walking pole length of at least 39 inches.
- For those standing tall between 5′ 1″ and 5′ 7″, the suggested trekking pole length is 43 inches.
- If your height is between 5′ 8″ and 5′ 11″, your walking pole should be at least 47 inches long.
- For those taller than 6 feet, a 51-inch walking stick would be good.
Material: Most walking poles are made of either aluminium or carbon fibre. Carbon is lighter, stiffer, durable and more expensive. In contrast, aluminium is heavier, cheaper, more flexible, and can take the knocks better. It’s also more durable. Under high stress, aluminium hiking sticks can bend but are unlikely to break. Carbon is more prone to splintering and breakage though. If you’re hiking in remote areas or rugged mountains, you should keep this in mind when buying your hike sticks.
Comfort: You should look for comfortable hand grips and straps when buying walking poles. The hand strap shouldn’t be too loose or too tight. It should be comfy to use and not irritate your hands on sweaty, all-day hikes. You should be able to adjust it as well. When you grab the grip, the hand strap should just have adequate tension to let you slide your palm over the strap while holding the walking stick with your index and thumb finger.
You can get grips in different widths, shapes, and materials. For instance, ladies walking sticks have smaller grips. But you dont need to follow convention on this, just look for grips that are comfy and fit your hand well. You can get good quality walking poles with grips made of rubber, foam, cork, or a blend of all three.
Foam grips can absorb some moisture. This could feel extremely cold on your hand in winter. Walking poles at almost all price points use foam. Rubber grips give you a good hold in cold conditions and are durable. But they can be a little slippery due to your hands’ sweat and body oils. But you can look for better quality rubber grips with a bit of silicone in them. When it rains, they give you a good grip.
If you need the best all-rounder in grips, ground cork moulded with polymer is the best bet. These grips absorb little moisture, are cool in your hand, and offer a good grip
Quickly before we go into our in depth reviews of our best walking poles, here are quick links to our other picnic and hiking essentials on the site. If you have all these, you are sure of the perfect time when you go outdoors!
- Best Hiking Boots
- Best Hiking Jackets
- Top Picnic Rucksacks
- Waterproof Picnic Blankets
- Luxury Picnic Baskets
- Easiest Folding Picnic Tables
- Top Eco Picnic Products
- Top Thermos Drink & Food Flasks
Can you think of another essential outdoor or picnic items I need to include? If so, drop me a line in the comments.
In-depth Reviews of the Best Walking Poles
Overall Best Walking Poles
Best Easy Storage Walking Poles
Best Women's Walking Poles
Best Kid's Walking Poles
Best Walking Poles for Tall People
Best Budget Aluminium Walking Poles
Best Budget Carbon Walking Poles
Best Wood Walking Stick
Best Nordic Walking Poles
Best Single Walking Stick (Retractable)
Extras for Walking Poles
For traction, you should use carbide or steel tips on your walking poles. If your walking sticks are going to be stowed in your pack for long, you can use rubber tip protectors. They’ll protect your walking sticks and extend the life of their tips. For asphalt or similar hard surfaces, you can buy angled rubber walking tips.
For extremely durable tips that are suited to all surfaces, you should look for tungsten tips. They work well on smooth, rough, soft, and hard surfaces. Typically, you’ll find them on upper- and mid-range walking poles or you can buy them as extras.
For me, the FitLife Carbon Fibre Trekking Poles with tungsten tips that have improved rubber protectors outside work well. They keep me safe by offering good non-slip contact with the ground. My hubby’s choice is the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Wanderstöcke. The interchangeable Tech Tips of this pair of walking poles let him switch between rubber and carbide tips depending on what he needs for the trail surfaces.
For your hiking sticks, you also need to get suitable baskets. They prevent your walking pole tips from plunging too deeply in the snow or mud. From wide snow baskets to low-profile cones or circles, you can get them in different sizes and shapes. For snow, larger baskets are good. It’s better to choose smaller baskets for muddy conditions as they prevent your walking pole tips from getting wedged between rocks and roots. My hubby loves the 38mm basket he gets with his Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Wanderstöcke.
If you want to go walking with hiking sticks and exercise your muscles, Leki’s Nordic walking poles are your best bet. They don’t fold, are light, and are made from 60% carbon. Since these Nordic hiking poles are available in different sizes, you need to get the fixed height that suits you. Remember not to exchange yours with your hubby or friend as males and females with different heights need different pole lengths for comfort and stability.
Frequently Asked Questions About Walking Poles
Most frequent questions and answers
How do I choose a walking pole?
Honestly get down to a sprots shop and go try some out then find out the height you need, tips etc and find them cheaper on Amazon! Or read or reviews as we have tried them all and only recommend truly great walking poles.
Do you need 1 or 2 walking poles?
Two walking poles are preferable, especially when you’re going on long or challenging hikes. They offer symmetrical support and don’t cause any imbalance. If you are on a budget I recommend our budget aluminium walking poles – TheFitLife Carbon Fibre Trekking Poles.
Which brand of walking pole is the best?
Leki, Black Diamond, TheFitLife, Brazos, FitTrek, and Lomo are some of the top brands of walking poles. If you need the best ladies walking sticks, you can buy this Leki Makalu Lite Walking Pole Pair (yes my favs!).
What are the best walking poles for seniors?
Lightweight walking poles with adjustable heights and secure locks are ideal for seniors. So i would spend a little more and get something like the Black Diamond Distance Trekking Poles for their safety (you can lean hard on them and they dont retract, and lightweightness).
Is it OK to use one hiking pole?
Yes, it is if it’s a shorter hike that’s not too challenging and you aren’t carrying an excessive load. If you’re looking for the best single walking stick, get this Leki Wanderfruend Makalu Walking Pole now!
How should I use a walking stick for hiking?
When you walk, you’ll have to keep your elbows close to your sides and use your walking poles. With every step, flick the opposite side’s pole forward. You can do this with a slight wrist flick or a bit of an upward motion of your forearm.
How do I know what size walking pole to get?
Have you used any of these walking poles or hiking sticks? Then please leave your review in the comments box below. Is your favourite walking pole not on the list? Be sure to let me know in the comments below so I can review it.
Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API