How to Choose the Right Trekking Poles

How to Choose the Right Trekking Poles

Learn How Buying the Right Walking Poles Can Prevent Back Pain & A Poor Hiking Experience

Trekking poles are vital equipment for walkers, hikers, trekkers, backpackers, and snowshoers. They provide stability and support on all terrain, making outdoor adventures safer and more enjoyable. So it’s important to learn how to choose the right trekking poles by considering weight, price, shock absorption, shaft construction, and grip type.

Whether navigating a rugged backcountry trail or a gentle hillside walk, buying the right poles for walking can make a significant difference. They can reduce the force on your knees, especially during downhill hikes, and provide balance during challenging uphill climbs.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the factors to consider when choosing a pair of poles, provide recommendations for the best walking poles for a wide range of walkers and answer the most frequently asked questions about trekking poles.

Benefits of Using Trekking Poles

Trekking poles offer numerous advantages for hikers, trekkers, and even trail runners. They provide excellent stability when traversing loose or uneven terrain, helping to prevent falls and injuries. This stability can be particularly beneficial when carrying a heavy backpack, as the poles can help distribute the load and reduce strain on your back.

Trekking poles also help to set a steady rhythm when covering long distances, making your hike more efficient. They can reduce the impact on your hips, knees, and ankles, especially during downhill sections, which can help to prevent joint pain and injuries. Using telescopic walking poles during my recovery from pelvic injuries has helped me become mobile again!

Beyond hiking, some trail runners use trekking poles for added stability, and they can even be used for ultralight tent setups that forgo traditional tent poles. This versatility makes them valuable equipment for a wide range of outdoor activities.

Moreover, using Nordic walking poles can help to engage your upper body during a hike, providing a more balanced and full-body workout. This can help to improve your overall fitness and endurance.

Finally, trekking poles can also be useful for non-physical reasons. They can be used to check the depth of water or mud, move aside overgrown vegetation or potentially harmful objects, or even to defend against wildlife if necessary.

In summary, the benefits of using trekking poles are clear: they can enhance your stability, reduce the impact on your joints, improve your fitness, and add versatility to your outdoor adventures.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Trekking Poles

When selecting the right trekking poles for your outdoor adventures, it’s crucial to consider several key factors. These include the pole’s material, weight, durability, grip, adjustability, and price. Each aspect significantly affects the pole’s performance and suitability for your specific needs and activities.

Walking Pole Material

Modern trekking pole shafts are typically constructed from either carbon fibre or aluminium. Carbon fibre walking poles are light and stiff, making them excellent for activities where weight is critical, such as ultralight backpacking, climbing, and running. However, they can chip or crack easily on rocks, which makes them more likely to snap. On the other hand, aluminium walking poles are heavier but much more durable. They bend without snapping, making them ideal for long-distance trekking and trips where durability is a primary concern.

Weight of the Poles

The weight of your trekking poles can significantly impact your hiking experience. Lighter poles are generally more comfortable to use over long distances and can help reduce fatigue. However, they may not be as durable as heavier options. Lightweight poles might be the best choice if you plan on going on long-distance hikes, mountain running, or approaching challenging alpine climbs. Weight may not be as significant for those new to hiking or planning on using poles for day hikes and relatively easy overnight backpacking trips.


Durability is crucial, especially if you plan on trekking in rugged terrains or going on long-distance hikes. Aluminium poles are generally more durable than carbon fibre ones. They can withstand more wear and tear, making them a good choice for demanding outdoor activities.


The grip of your trekking poles can affect your comfort and control. Grips are made out of foam, cork, or rubber.

  • Cork grips are popular because they mould to the shape of your hands over time. They are smooth against the skin and keep cool during warm hikes.
  • Foam grips are more comfortable than rubber, absorb sweat very well, and are the lightest grip material.
  • Rubber grips don’t absorb any water, can chafe bare skin, and are the heaviest option, but they insulate better than cork or foam, making them a good choice for winter sports.


Most trekking poles are adjustable, allowing you to change their length to suit your height and the terrain. Some sticks use a lever lock adjustment system, which is easy to use and provides secure locking.

Fixed-length poles (nordic walking poles) are not adjustable. These poles are lighter and more robust as they don’t have adjustment components, but they lack the versatility and adjustability most users desire.


The price of trekking poles can vary widely, depending on their features, material, and brand. While it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest option, it’s essential to consider the quality and durability of the poles. Investing in a more expensive pair of trekking poles may provide better value in the long run, especially if they are more durable and comfortable.

Design Configuration

Trekking poles have different design configurations, including three-section telescoping, folding, and combination versions. Three-section telescoping poles are the most common design. They are strong, durable, and allow for a wide range of length adjustments. Folding poles are lighter and more compact but less durable than telescoping poles. Combination poles offer a mix of attributes, allowing for some length adjustment and compactness.

Basket Size

Different activities require different size pole baskets. Larger baskets are better for snowshoeing, mountaineering, skiing, or snowboarding, but they can get caught on roots and bushes during summer hikes. Smaller baskets are better for dry hiking on dirt, gravel, and rocky trails. Some poles have interchangeable baskets, allowing you to switch depending on the conditions.

Packed Size

If you’re planning on travelling or need to carry your poles in your backpack for part of your hike, the packed size of the poles is an important consideration. Folding walking poles are generally more compact and easier to pack. Popular z-folding walking poles that fold into a Z shape or tri-point collapsable poles that telescope into themselves are the most common used.


Some trekking poles are designed for a specific activity. In contrast, others are versatile and suitable for various uses, including hiking, trekking, backpacking, trail running, skiing, and snowshoeing. Consider what you’ll use your poles for most often, and choose a pair that suits those activities.

In conclusion, choosing suitable trekking poles involves carefully considering several factors. By understanding these factors and how they impact the pole’s performance, you can make an informed decision and choose the best trekking poles for your needs.

Discover the Best Walking Poles for Your Next Adventure

Having explored the benefits of trekking poles and the factors to consider when choosing the right pair, it’s time to delve into some specific recommendations. We understand that finding suitable trekking poles can feel daunting with so many options available. But fear not; we’ve done the legwork for you!

We’ve sifted through the vast selection of trekking poles on and handpicked the top five. These selections are based on their key features, customer reviews, and overall value for money. Whether you’re an experienced hiker seeking a durable pair to withstand rugged terrains or a beginner looking for a lightweight and user-friendly option, our recommendations cater to a wide range of needs.

And remember, investing in the right gear can significantly enhance your outdoor adventures.

Our Recommended Best Walking Poles 

Best Nordic Walking Poles - Leki Spin Trekking Pole
387 Reviews
Best Nordic Walking Poles – Leki Spin Trekking Pole
  • Stick material: aluminium.
  • Pole construction: 2-piece, adjustable, twist lock
  • Activity: Nordic walking.
  • Weight per pair: 436g
Best Fixed Length Trekking Poles - Black Diamond ALPINE CARBON Z Z-POLES
126 Reviews
Best Fixed Length Trekking Poles – Black Diamond ALPINE CARBON Z Z-POLES
  • Robust carbon combined with soft cork: The trekking poles convince with effective details such as the natural cork grip and the fully padded hand strap.
  • Functional: The adjustable FlickLock Pro system of the three segments of the telescopic pole allows the practical adjustment to the body size.
  • Innovative: The soft cork grips of the trekking poles allow moisture such as sweat to escape, while the fully padded hand strap provides additional support.
Best Budget Carbon Walking Poles - FitLife Carbon Fibre Trekking Poles
3,853 Reviews
Best Budget Carbon Walking Poles – FitLife Carbon Fibre Trekking Poles
  • 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 100% carbon fiber, incredibly sturdy and durable so that they can reduce compressive impact on knees, legs, ankles and feet and absorb any noise.
Best Single Walking Stick - Black Diamond Carbon Folding Adjustable Walking Stick
24 Reviews
Best Single Walking Stick – Black Diamond Carbon Folding Adjustable Walking Stick
  • Lightweight Carbon Fibre, black with subtle diamond pattern
  • Adjusts from 33″ to 37″ but can be cut down further if needed
  • Folds up to 12.5″
  • Comes fitted with a rubber ferrule
  • Free clip and wallet
Best Kids Walking Poles - FitTrek Kids Trekking Poles
82 Reviews
Best Kids Walking Poles – FitTrek Kids Trekking Poles
  • ✅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.
  • ✅Patent Twist Lock – Easy to lock and loose for kids, allows kids to Adjust Pole’s Length Quickly and Easily While Firmly Holding its Position.

Please note that prices and availability are subject to change. Always check the current price and product details on the website.

FAQs on Choosing the Right Walking Poles

What to look for when buying a walking pole?

When buying a walking pole, you should look for factors such as weight, price, shock absorption, shaft construction, and the type of grip. The pole’s length should also be adjustable to enhance stability on different terrain. Some sticks offer additional features like a built-in camera mount under the handle.

How do I know what size walking pole to get?

To determine the size of the walking pole you should get, hold the pole with the tip on the ground near your foot. Your arm should make a 90-degree bend at the elbow. Most trekking poles come in adjustable lengths, which makes this easy to achieve.

How do I choose a good hiking pole?

To choose a good hiking pole, consider your needs and preferences. The pole should be the right size, comfortable to hold, durable, and within budget. Some people prefer poles with shock-absorbing features, while others prefer ultralight poles for less swing weight.

What is the difference between a walking pole and a trekking pole?

The difference between a walking pole and a trekking pole lies in their design for different types of terrain. Walking poles are usually used for relatively flat terrain and light hiking, while trekking poles are designed for more rugged backcountry terrain. Trekking poles are often sold as a pair for enhanced stability.

How to use trekking poles effectively?

To use trekking poles effectively, adjust the length so that when you hold the stick with the tip on the ground near your foot, your arm makes a 90-degree bend at the elbow. For more leverage, you can shorten each pole by 5–10cm for long uphill sections. For long downhill sections, try lengthening each pole by about 5–10cm from the length you set it at for general hiking.

What are the benefits of using trekking poles?

The benefits of using trekking poles include enhanced stability and support on all types of terrain. They can reduce the force on your knees while hiking and backpacking, especially during downhill sections. They can also help distribute the load when carrying a heavy backpack, reducing strain on your back.

What are the different types of trekking poles?

Several trekking poles include adjustable, non-adjustable, foldable, and sticks with shock-absorbing features. Some poles also have a built-in camera mount under the handle. The type of pole you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

So there you have it, our complete guide to how to choose the right trekking poles. Have we helped you and made choosing your new walking poles easier? if so we would love to know in the comments below and likewise if you have more questions before buying your hiking stick ask away.

I cant promise you will be dancing with your new poles like my hubby Scott (pole dancing, huh!). However, your walks and hikes are more fun, easier on the joints and faster to complete.

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Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About the author
Alexandra is a longtime party planner & event specialist who loves to host fun picnics, parties and events for friends & family.  She now uses her expertise to recommend the best products on the market for you to get out and enjoy life.

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