The Best Hiking Poles
We researched the best hiking poles and aggregated that data. Here's our findings.
To find the best trekking poles, we aggregated reviews from Switchback Travel, Clever Hiker, Outdoor Gear Lab, Section Hiker, Adventure Junkies, and Backpacker. We also looked at reviews from Outside and Wirecutter, though based on other reviews, our picks varied. We supplemented our research with real-world expert experience from Naomi Hudetz and Junaid Dawud, two long-distance backpackers who together have nearly 20,000 miles under their feet.
We also analyzed over 200 Amazon and REI customer reviews to see what trekking pole customers had to say. Lastly, we purchased our top picks to verify our findings. Based on this research, we found the Best Hiking Poles to be the Black Diamond Ergo Trail Cork for its balance of price, durability, and ease of use. We also identified eight other stand-out hiking poles well-worth considering.
THE BEST hiking poles
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork is our best all-around pick because of their unique grip, their durability, and their high rankings on both the Amazon and REI bestseller lists. That’s one reason they rank highly on Switchback Travel, Clever Hiker, and Section Hiker. Clever Hiker called these telescoping poles “tough, easily adjustable, and dependable.” Reviewers on Amazon also raved about the ergonomic grips, set at a 15-degree angle to help prevent wrist injury.
At the higher end of our price range, the Black Diamond Trail Ergo poles are for the frequent hiker who wants a versatile trekking pole that will last. There are three downsides. At 18 ounces for the aluminum pair, they’re not the lightest option, and with a 29 inch collapsed length, they’re not the most packable option, either. Their lever locks also need to be tightened with a screwdriver. Still, we think they provide the best balance of comfort, reliability, and value for most users.
THE BEST starter trekking poles
Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles
If you’re not sure if trekking poles are for you, the Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles are a cheap way to find out. The Cascade Mountain Tech are among the top five best-selling trekking poles on Amazon, and make the cut on Adventure Junkies, Section Hiker, and Switchback Travel. These poles beat out the frequently-recommended and similarly priced Montem Ultra Strong due to reports of better durability and relatively easy repair. At 16 ounces, they’re not particularly light for carbon fiber, but for the price they can’t be beat. While they come in both cork and foam grips, multiple sources recommend the foam grips from this manufacturer.
THE hybrid carbon-aluminum trekking poles
rei flash carbon hiking poles
The REI Flash Carbons are among the most highly rated hybrid carbon-aluminum poles available. REI’s #1 best-selling trekking poles are also highly ranked by Switchback Travel, Clever Hiker, and Backpacker. These telescoping poles have what Backpacker calls the “best-in-test adjustability” for tent supports, but they note that the measurement markings wear off easily. Reviewers noted the necessity of extending the bottom length fully and using the middle length to adjust the poles’ height. They’re also on the higher end of the price range among the poles we considered. However, they do come with REI’s one-year return warranty, so you can easily return them if you find they aren’t right for you.
THE most durable hiking poles
The Leki Legacy aluminum trekking poles have garnered a 4.8-star average on Amazon and a 4.6-star average on REI. They make Switchback Travel’s top five trekking pole recommendations. The unisex and women’s versions are nearly the same weight, at just over 16 ounces each. The unisex poles telescope to a slightly longer length, at 135 centimeters rather than the women’s-specific poles’ 125 centimeters. Leki’s “Speed Lock” lever locking system allows you to adjust each lock by hand. If you’re taller, you may want to scroll down and read about our durable pick for tall people, the REI Co-Op Traverse Power Lock Cork.
The top of the grip is flat rather than rounded, limiting the number of comfortable hand placements for these trekking poles. But, these poles have optional baskets for snow and mud, and, should the tips break or wear out, replacement tips are widely available. Dawud reported positive customer service at Leki as well.
the best mid-range hiking poles for tall people
REI CO-OP TRAVERSE POWER LOCK CORK
Reviewers found that the REI Co-op Traverse Power Lock Cork are a good mid-range, durable choice for taller people. These aluminum trekking poles rate in the top ten on both Switchback Travel and Section Hiker. The women’s version of these poles weigh 17 ounces, and telescope up to 120 centimeters. If you’re tall, reviewers suggest the unisex version, which weighs 20 ounces, and telescope up to 140 centimeters. If they’re too loose, the tightness of the lever-locks can be adjusted with a screwdriver.
The biggest problem reviewers reported about these poles is, as far as we can tell, that they have no replacement parts available. But, if the REI Co-op Traverse Power Lock Cork won’t work for you, REI’s generous return and exchange policies can help you trade them in or something you like more.
THE BEST aluminum options
Leki Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC
Reviewers found the Leki Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC to be the best folding aluminum trekking poles available. They have a 4.6-star rating on Amazon, and Adventure Junkies gave these poles their top prize. Multiple REI reviewers liked these poles because of the comfortable round shape of the top of the cork and rubber handle. Adventure Junkies found the lever locks are easy to adjust, sturdy and secure. However, some new users report trouble figuring out how to get the folding poles to lock correctly. We suggest watching this video to figure them out. These 19 ounce poles collapse down to 15.5 inches.
If you’re hard on gear and looking for something sturdy, the Leki Corklite might be better for you. Keeping the cork of the Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC, and losing an ounce to bring them down to 18 ounces, these poles also trade a folding style for a telescoping style. Switchback Travel calls them “super sturdy,” and Amazon reviewers agree, while REI reviewers rave about their reliability.
The Best carbon fiber hiking poles
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
If you’re looking for carbon fiber trekking poles consistently reviewed as the best of the best, look no further than the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork. Nearly every site we reviewed mentioned these poles, and most sites ranked these poles in their top three. These poles are heavy for carbon fiber: 17 ounces for the unisex pair compared to the 14.8-ounce REI Flash Carbon poles. Still, it’s rare that you hear carbon fiber poles called “durable, comfortable, and versatile,” as these poles are described by Outdoor Gear Lab. With cork grips and metal flicklock lever-locks, these poles seem to be some of the most reliable telescoping poles on the market. There are plenty of satisfied reviewers on Amazon, and while they’re #45 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s list (but they’re listed as Amazon’s Choice), they take the #2 spot at REI. You’ll pay a premium for the pleasure of using these trekking poles, however, as they are tied with the Leki Micro Vario Carbon for the most expensive Top of the Line poles.
best trekking poles for travel
Leki Micro Vario Carbon
If you want to travel with your carbon fiber poles, and are willing to pay, the Leki Micro Vario Carbon might be for you. While it made fewer lists than the Alpine Carbon Cork - and is rated slightly lower at Switchback Travel, Clever Hiker, and Outdoor Gear Lab - most review sites show that these are some of the best poles available. At 16.2 ounces, they are slightly lighter than the Alpine Carbon Cork poles. And as folding poles, they collapse down to 15 inches, compared to the Alpine Carbon Cork’s 25 inches. This means they will fit in checked luggage with ease, compared to 25 inches which only sometimes fit into a suitcase diagonally. If the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork is the best all-around carbon fiber pole, the Leki Micro Vario Carbon takes the prize for portability.
our picks for best hiking poles