Best Trekking Poles For Hiking

Find the best trekking poles for hiking, trekking, backpacking and thru-hiking in this buyer's guide.


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Trekking poles (also referred to as hiking poles or sticks) are a great idea if you’re planning to hit the trails and want that additional support and stability these additional points of contact with the ground can give you. Looking for trail running poles to use for mountain ultra running? Visit our roundup of the best poles for trail and mountain running.

It can be especially valuable to pack some for longer and more challenging steep or long hikes and backpacking adventures, in particular, if you will be carrying a heavier pack or could benefit from using them during steep climbs and descents.

In this guide to the best trekking poles for hiking, trekking, backpacking, and thru-hiking, we’re sharing our top picks from brands including Black Diamond, Leki, and REI Co-op.

When choosing trekking poles, consider the following features and their level of importance to you based on how and where you plan to use them:

  • Materials – Select either aluminum poles (less likely to break, sturdier, less expensive) or carbon fiber poles (more lightweight, more expensive, if overly strained, may break rather than bend).
  • Hand grips – Choose from either rubber/foam, or cork grips. Cork grips are traditionally more grippy, and will wick sweat and mold to your hand with use. Rubber/foam grips have come a long way, and can also offer a good level of grip and more cushioning, so the choice is mostly personal preference.
  • Sizing of fixed length poles – Choose between fixed-length options that are appropriate for your height, or adjustable, collapsible options. For fixed-length poles, the right length is the height from your fit to the ground when you bend your arm 90 degrees, parallel to the ground.
  • Collapsible poles – all adjustable-length poles will be collapsible to some degree. Having collapsible poles can be useful if you want to be able to make them shorter for climbing uphill, and longer to help navigate those steeper descents.
  • Folding poles – these are popular if you want them to pack down small for carrying on or in a backpack. Poles that can be folded or collapsed will make it easier to carry them in your pack when not needed.

To help you choose the right pair for you, we have identified the key sizing and adjustability features in each option on this list, as well as their price and where to buy them.

Black Diamond trekking poles trail ergo cork pair best hiking poles

1. Black Diamond Trekking Poles: Trail Ergo Cork [BEST HIKING POLES WINNER]

  • Price: $139
  • Weight: 1lb 2oz
  • Material and style: Aluminum, three-section collapsible
  • Grip: Cork
  • Length: 55in (max) / 27in (collapsed)
  • Best for: All-round best trekking poles for sturdiness, easy adjustment, collapsible sections for ease of stowing, and comfortable cork grips for many miles of trail enjoyment.

The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork hiking poles are easy-to-use and designed for four-season trekking.

Adjustable to fit men and women of all heights, and collapsible with three sections, they feature cork grips with soft rubber grip extensions and come with 38mm trekking baskets and 100mm powder baskets for deep snow, plus interchangeable carbide tips.

While they are a little longer when collapsed than some other options on this list, for the price and weight, these sturdy aluminum poles are the best hiking poles when it comes to all-round function and versatility.

2. Leki Trekking Poles: Khumbu Lite [BEST TREKKING POLES RUNNER UP]

Leki Khumbu Lite Trekking Poles Best versatile nordic walking poles
  • Price: $119
  • Weight: 1lb 1.4oz
  • Material and style: Aluminum, three-section collapsible
  • Grip: Cork
  • Length: 53in (max) / 26in (collapsed)
  • Best for: An affordable trekking pole with a particularly comfortable cork grip and soft strap. It’s durable yet still lightweight for all kinds of walking endeavors, while still only weighing just over 1lb for a pair.

Our top pick from hiking, nordic walking, skiing and trail running poles specialist Leki, the Khumbu Lite are great quality, great value all-round sturdy trekking poles.

They’re quick and easy to adjust and collapse, and we particularly like the thoughtfully-engineered grip and soft hand strap, to hold them comfortably in place for many miles.

The only downside to these poles is that, similar to the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork, they’re still fairly long when collapsed, at just over 2ft.

This won’t be a problem if strapped to a large hiking backpack, although if collapsed size is particularly important to you, consider the more compact (and lighter) Black Diamond Carbon Z folding poles.

REI co op flash carbon compact collapsible trekking poles best trekking poles

3. REI Hiking Poles: Co-op Flash Carbon Compact

  • Price: $149
  • Weight: 12.9oz
  • Material and style: Carbon, three-section collapsible
  • Grip: Foam
  • Length: 47in (max) / 23in (collapsed)
  • Best for: Thru-hiking, backpacking and hiking where having collapsible, lightweight poles is important – these are great value carbon poles.

These ultralight, adjustable carbon REI hiking poles are suitable for men and women who want some very lightweight, compact poles for long-distance and faster trail endeavors, including thru-hiking and fastpacking.

They’re easy to adjust using cam lock levers, and the three sections collapse to a compact 23 inches for stashing in or on your backpack when not in use.

Black Diamond trekking poles distance carbon z ultralight hiking poles

4. Black Diamond Trekking Poles: Distance Carbon Z

  • Price: $179
  • Weight: 9.8oz
  • Material and style: Carbon fiber, three-section folding (not adjustable)
  • Grip: Foam
  • Length: Based on 130cm length option: 51in (max) / 17in (collapsed)
  • Best for: Ultralight endeavors where weight is your primary concern.

The Distance Carbon Z are the lightest carbon poles Black Diamond makes – and the lightest on this list, these folding poles are also the most compact choice when folded.

These are not only our top pick for the best lightweight trekking poles, but also our top recommendation for trail running and fastpacking where they’ll excel in providing stability and rhythm when moving technical terrain.

With this minimalist design, it’s worth bearing in mind that these poles are not going to be as sturdy or strong as some of the heavier, more durable poles on this list, so if you’re primarily looking for poles for support of your weight (plus a pack), check out the other options on this list which are going to be better suited.

Choose the pole length based on your height – use the size chart on REI or Black Diamond‘s website to work out what length to choose:

As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


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