Testing trekking poles while hiking near Moab.
The author testing trekking poles while hiking near Moab, Utah; (photo/Matt Granger)

The Best Trekking Poles of 2022

When moving over natural terrain in the outdoors, identifying and utilizing the best trekking poles for your pursuit can help decrease your chances of injury and increase your speed. If you haven’t already, it’s time you transfer some weight over and lighten your load with trekking poles.

There are a wide variety of trekking poles on the market. Trail runners, hikers, backpackers, and thru-hikers all have unique needs for trekking poles. Factors like strength-to-weight value, packability, seasonal application, and grip style combine to create unique offerings for the ever-evolving specializations in the outdoors.

We’ve spent months researching and testing the best trekking poles to fit a variety of uses and budgets. From the mountains of Colorado to the California desert, we’ve put these poles through the wringer, evaluating them based on comfort, packed size, durability, and value. We also considered versatility and adjustability to identify the best poles for multiuse applications.

Although there isn’t a perfect pole for every person out there, we’ve broken this list into categories to help find the right pair for you. If you need help deciding, refer to our buyer’s guide and FAQ below for more tips on how to choose the best trekking poles for your unique needs.

Feel free to scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category that piques your interest:

The Best Trekking Poles of 2022

Best Overall: Black Diamond Trail Ergo Trekking Poles

black diamond trail ergo trekking poles

Anyone looking for a sturdy, reliable, easy-to-use trekking pole will appreciate the versatility of the Black Diamond Trail Ergo ($140). The ergonomic cork grip was confidence-inspiring from the very first step, and a variety of testers (with varying hand sizes) found they provided an ideal fit.

With just enough friction to enhance grip and a minimal yet effective grip shape, these poles caused no unwanted rubbing whatsoever. The Dual FlickLock is easy to use, and we appreciated being able to quickly adjust the height for changes in terrain, primarily steep elevation gain and loss.

The locking mechanism is quite durable, and on sustained uphill treks where some locks have a tendency to slip, these poles didn’t budge. At 27 inches when fully retracted, these poles easily fit on the back of a pack.

However, they might not be ideal if you’re looking for a pole that can be stashed away in a running pack. For the majority of hikers looking for a durable, fairly lightweight pole they can trust over a variety of distances, these poles check all of the boxes.

The overall quality of these poles, paired with their reasonable $140 price tag, makes them an ideal trekking pole for ticking off miles while keeping your mind on the views and the trail ahead.

These are also available in a women’s-specific model.

Specs:
  • Weight: 18 oz.
  • Packed size: 27 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Lock style: Dual FlickLock

Check Price at REI

Runner-Up: LEKI Micro Vario Core Tec TA

leki micro vario core tec ta

If you’re looking for trekking poles that pair adjustability with a minimal pack size, the LEKI Micro Vario Core Tec ($150) might just be the first pole you should try.

The folding design allows them to pack down to just 15 inches, which is particularly useful for traveling and stowing them away when they’re not needed. Once extended, the top portion has a Speedlock+ mechanism that can be extended to accommodate a wide range of heights and needs.

The SpeedLock+ locking mechanism looks a bit different than Leki’s SpeedLock 2, but it performs exceptionally well and provides a sturdier feel than twist-lock mechanisms we’ve tested.

On long hikes, the ergonomic cork grips proved comfortable and reliable. While these poles don’t have a left and right, over time we found the strap molds slightly to the hand we consistently used. The industry-standard carbide tip holds up well on dirt and rock, and they also come with rubber walking tips if you plan on venturing on cement or asphalt to make your next connection.

These are slightly heavier and about 10 bucks more expensive than the Black Diamond Trail Ergo, but the unique combination of packability and adjustability make them a top pick.

Specs:
  • Weight: 20.2 oz.
  • Packed size: 15 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Lock style: Speedlock+

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Best Ultralight: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z

black diamond distance carbon z

The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z ($179) employs a simple three-section, fold-up design that extends quickly and efficiently thanks to its rapid deployment system. The foam grips shed weight and provided a surprisingly comfortable and ergonomic feel over multiday use.

This ultralight, versatile pole is a popular folding option for long-distance hikers and runners. It was editor Sean McCoy’s choice for the Leadville 100, a grueling race over some of North America’s most complex terrain.

Because they’re not adjustable, the Distance Carbon Z poles come in four sizes: 100 cm, 110 cm, 120 cm, and 130 cm. Weighing in around 10 ounces per pair, these are impressively light and have successfully pushed the industry standard for weight and durability. Whether you’re trekking for an extended amount of time or looking for a pole to stash away with minimal weight, these poles won’t disappoint.

If you don’t mind a slightly heavier pole, the Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles are an excellent choice. They weigh 11.4-13.4 ounces per pair and come in at a very reasonable $100.

Specs:
  • Weight: 9.6-11.1 oz.
  • Packed size: 13-17 in.
  • Material: Carbon
  • Lock style: Rapid deployment

Check Price at REI

Best Budget Trekking Poles: Kelty Upslope 2.0

Kelty Upslope 2.0 Cheap Trekking Poles

The Kelty Upslope 2 ($45) is a comfortable, reliable, adjustable trekking pole that’s also easy on the wallet. At 10 ounces per pole, they’re not impressively light, but they work quite well for the price.

The foam grip was comfortable after a full day of testing, and we appreciated the adjustable wrist straps for added security. The carbide tip works great for any type of terrain you’ll encounter on the trail. And at purchase, these poles include rubber tip covers for endeavors that might take you along the road.

The twist lock isn’t our favorite type of locking mechanism. In our experience, they tend to wear out faster and can lead to failure when weighted extensively over long periods of time. That said, we haven’t experienced any issue with the Upslope locking mechanism while testing, and we’ve been impressed with their overall durability.

Specs:
  • Weight: 20 oz.
  • Packed size: 35 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Lock style: Twist

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Runner-Up Best Budget Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles

cascade mountain tech trekking poles

Trekking poles for under $30? Yes, you read that right. The Cascade Mountain Tech ($29) trekking poles are a fan favorite and a budget lover’s dream.

At 10.4 ounces per pole, they’re certainly not the lightest option out there, but they aren’t excessively heavy either. On the trail, they get the job done. And for casual outings, these poles will help support your weight and keep you balanced, all without breaking the bank.

If you plan to regularly hike long distances and rough trails, we highly recommend investing in a higher-quality pair of poles. As with all bargain options on the market, these poles tend to wear out faster than other more thoughtfully designed options on the list.

Anyone looking for carbon poles on a budget should check out Cascade Mountain Tech’s carbon trekking poles. They clock in at $65 and weigh 7.8 ounces per pole.

As with the aluminum Mountain Tech, don’t expect durability with extended use. But they could certainly get you through a backpacking trip or be a reliable backup if you need to lend out a pair of poles.

Just remember that even though carbon delivers excellent weight savings, it tends to be more brittle than aluminum. For long-term durability, aluminum is an excellent choice.

Specs:
  • Weight: 20.8 oz.
  • Packed size: 26 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Lock style: Quick-lock

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Best for Trail Running: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Running Poles

black diamond distance carbon running poles

Created in collaboration with ultrarunner Joe Grant, the Black Diamond Distance Carbon ($150) is built for fast and light adventures. Weighing in at just 95 g per pole (120cm length) these are the lightest poles Black Diamond makes. They certainly wouldn’t be the best option if you’re carrying a lot of weight, but these poles are ideal for fast-moving endeavors where speed is essential.

The durable foam grip offers up just enough comfort for grip in technical terrain and doesn’t slip when you’re moving fast and break a sweat. Adjustable wrist straps provide additional security in the event of a fall, and the sleek carbon tips are ideal for technical placements on rock.

These are fixed-length poles that don’t fold down for easy packing, but a mid-shaft ring does make for a well-balanced horizontal carry. Anyone looking to log big miles in a single outing running on the trail should check out these ultralight poles.

Specs:
  • Weight: 6.7 oz.
  • Packed size: They don’t pack down
  • Material: Carbon
  • Style: Fixed length

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Best Trekking Poles for Kids: LEKI Vario XS Kids’ Trekking Poles

leki vario xs kids' trekking poles

The Leki Vario XS ($60) will keep kids moving happily on the trail and serve as an excellent training tool to prepare them for a lifetime of adventuring. With a max length of 43.5 inches and a minimum of 31 inches, they grow well with your kiddo and can serve as a childhood companion for several seasons.

The ability to get more use out of these poles is one of our favorite features. For kids who enjoy the outdoors year-round, these four-season poles are a quality investment.

Our tiny testers found the rubber handgrips comfortable, slip-resistant, and durable when tossed around. The SpeedLock+ mechanism, also found on adult Leki poles, is highly durable and easy to use. And it keeps poles extended even when force is applied. For families with growing kids who love the outdoors, these poles are a no-brainer.

Specs:
  • Weight: 15 oz.
  • Packed size: 26.5 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Lock style: Speedlock+

Check Price at Christy Sports

The Best of the Rest

LEKI Makalu Lite Core-Tec Trekking Poles

leki makalu lite core-tec trekking poles 

The Leki Makalu Lite Core-Tec ($120) earns high marks for being thin, light, and surprisingly stable for the weight. Additionally, they provide a comfortable, ergonomic handle that performs impressively well over whatever type of terrain you’re exploring.

Like the BD Trail Ergo, they pack down to 27 inches, but they weigh slightly less. At $120, these are also a great value for such a versatile pole.

The textured strap seemed to aid with wicking sweat away, and we really liked the lack of buckles around the hands, which are often a bit swingy and can get caught between your hand and the grip.

The Speedlock+ locking system was easy to use, even with gloves on. And the interchangeable snow baskets (sold separately) make these a year-round, one-quiver pole for all-season use.

Specs:
  • Weight: 17.1 oz.
  • Packed size: 27 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Lock style: Speedlock+

Check Price at Amazon

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Poles

black diamond alpine carbon cork poles

Anyone looking for a reliable backcountry pole will appreciate these durable Alpine Carbon Cork Poles ($190). These poles served us well and exceeded expectations while exploring the Grand Tetons through variable terrain. The cork grips are comfortable and tacky, and we like the extended foam, which allows for easy hand position changes.

The FlickLock Pro adjustment points are secure and easy to use, making it simple to adjust the length throughout a long trek. With a packed size of 25 inches, they don’t pack down enough for stashing in smaller packs. But for most users, we wouldn’t expect the size to be a problem.

The buckleless straps, utilizing a comfortable climbing webbing, proved very comfortable even after several days’ use. While these are a bit more expensive than other similar options, they’re worth the investment if you plan to use them regularly and are looking for a lightweight pole that’s also quite durable.

Specs:
  • Weight: 1 lb. 1 oz.
  • Packed size: 25 in.
  • Material: Carbon
  • Lock style: FlickLock Pro

Check Price at REI

LEKI MCT Superlite Carbon

LEKI MCT Superlite Carbon

New last year, the Leki MCT Superlite Carbon ($200) is well-suited to trail running, fastpacking, and other adventures where shedding weight is crucial to reaching your objective.

The lightest pole in LEKI’s Cross Trail collection, the fixed-length, folding MCT Superlite is available in 105, 110, 115, 120, 125, and 130cm lengths.

Our tester found the cork grips comfortable and ergonomic, enhanced by Leki’s proprietary Velcro-adjustable Cross Shark wrist straps/gloves. They helped absorb sweat and detached easily from the poles (by pressing the lever on top of the handle with a thumb) when our tester needed to use their hands for other tasks.

To lock the poles, just hold the top section of the pole with one hand and the handle with the other, and then pull until the single button locks into place. At the push of this button, the poles collapse quite easily, allowing for very simple deconstruction.

These are the most expensive poles on this list, and they aren’t the lightest. However, the LEKI MCT Superlite poles pack down for essential portability when not in use.

Specs:
  • Weight:
    • 110cm poles: 10.4 oz.
    • 120cm poles: 11.1 oz.
    • 130cm poles: 11.9 oz.
  • Packed size:
    • 110cm poles: 12.6 in.
    • 120cm poles: 14.6 in.
    • 130cm poles: 15.5 in.
  • Material: Carbon
  • Lock style: Button

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G3 Gear Pivot Trek Poles

g3 gear pivot trek poles

The G3 Gear Pivot Trekking Poles ($159) aren’t the lightest poles on the market, but they earn high marks for a clever magnetic folding design. We’ve also been impressed with their seemingly indestructible strength, making them ideal for pushing boundaries with heavy loads.

The wraparound folding design holds the pole securely folded and makes packing them a breeze. Our testers found the ergonomic foam grip comfortable and tactile, while the larger-than-average grip made it easier to choose various hand positions depending on the terrain.

For all-season use, you can easily attach the All-Mountain Baskets (sold separately) and turn these trekking poles into ideal splitboarding accessories. For ease of use, durability, and year-round application, these poles make a great addition to the quiver of avid outdoor enthusiasts.

Specs:
  • Weight: 20.1 oz.
  • Packed size: 13 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Lock style: Magnetic

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Helinox Passport TL115 Trekking Poles

Helinox-Passport-TL115-trekking-poles

Known for making ultralight camp chairs, Helinox brings this same tech to the Passport line of trekking poles. The Passport TL 115 ($150) is fixed-length and foldable, and we’ve found them to be impressively light and packable. They weigh just 11 ounces per pair, and the single locking button makes for fast deployment.

These did well on the trail over varying terrain and would be ideal for day hikes and trail runs. Our testers found the foam grips comfortable and versatile, even during long hauls on the trail.

The tungsten carbide tips are the most durable you can buy, and you always have the option to use the included rubber tips for hard surface use. As an added perk, you can hike happily and free knowing they’re backed by a 5-year warranty, which makes the $115 price tag feel like quite a bargain.

Specs:
  • Weight: 11 oz.
  • Packed size: 13.8 in.
  • Material: DAC alloy
  • Lock style: Button

Check Price at Helinox

REI Co-op Flash Carbon Trekking Poles

rei co-op flash carbon trekking poles

The REI Co-op Flash Carbon ($149) manages to strike a difficult balance between light and strong. The collapsible three-section design keeps them light, and the sturdy lever locks keep them at the desired length, even when weighted through downhill trudging with heavy loads.

We especially liked how easy they were to adjust and were impressed we didn’t experience any slippage, even when applying significant weight. The foam handles are comfortable and moisture-absorbing, and the adjustable wrist strap allows you to maintain a custom fit. They collapse to a reasonable length, allowing for stowage in larger packs, and cross-strapping to lighter loads.

These are also available in a slightly lighter (14 ounces per pair) women’s-specific version.

Specs:
  • Weight: 14.8 oz.
  • Packed size: 27 in.
  • Material: Carbon
  • Lock style: Lever

Check Price at REI

Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles

Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles

Anyone looking for a sturdy, do-all pair of telescoping poles will appreciate the Montem Ultra Strong trekking poles ($70). The foam grips help them fit comfortably in the hand without any chafing, and they do well absorbing excessive sweat.

The FlickLocks make these poles easily adjustable, and the pack size is a bit smaller than other similar options, giving them stowaway potential in larger packs. The fact that they can fit hikers ranging from 4′ to 6’8″ and up to 400 pounds makes them a durable option for almost anyone.

If you want to go fast and light, you might want to look elsewhere. But these hold up to heavy use and can accompany you on expeditions where gear weight is essential to your objective.

Specs:
  • Weight: 19.2 oz.
  • Packed size: 24 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Lock style: FlickLock

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REI Co-op Trekking Poles for Kids

REI Co-op Trekking Poles for Kids

The REI Co-op Trekking Poles for Kids ($55) are designed specifically for children. With a minimum length of 35 inches and a maximum length of 43.25 inches, the adjustable poles can grow with your kids and be passed down through the family.

The aluminum shaft is light and sturdy, and the plastic handles are built to comfortably fit smaller-sized hands. Kids love gear that makes them feel grown-up, and these trekking poles are great training tools for kids as they gain experience on the trail.

Specs:
  • Weight: 15.2 oz.
  • Packed size: 26 in.
  • Material: 7075 aluminum
  • Lock style: External lever lock

Check Price at REI

Mountainsmith Carbonlite Pro Trekking Poles

mountainsmith carbonlite pro trekking poles

The spring-loaded, anti-shock system of the Mountainsmith Carbonlite Pro ($80) helps absorb ground impact and can make long days on the trail feel a bit easier. They still support your weight going downhill, but the spring-loaded system provides just enough give to reduce jarring on your joints. The cork and foam handle is quite comfortable, and we liked how easy it was to adjust the length.

That said, twist-lock poles are not our favorite. This system tends to wear out over time, giving them a shorter life expectancy with heavy use. However, as light, ergonomic poles with a comfortable price point, these can be ideal for the right user.

Specs:
  • Weight: 17.5 oz.
  • Packed size: 26.5 in.
  • Material: Carbon and aluminum blend
  • Lock style: Twist

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Do You Need Trekking Poles?

Advantages of Trekking Poles

  • Trekking poles distribute some of the work and weight distribution to your upper body. Although using your arms can increase your overall energy use (see cons below), they’re an effective and useful leg-saver, especially on longer or more strenuous outings.
  • Trekking poles save your knees and joints on downhill treks. Studies show that using poles significantly reduces the impact on your knees while hiking downhill. So, when more weight gets factored into the equation, trekking poles can be essential for long-term health.
  • They improve your balance on uneven terrain, especially over river crossings where slippery rocks can ruin your day.
  • Trekking poles can help you maintain a consistent gait, leading to a faster and more efficient pace.
  • Trekking poles are multifunctional. Many options can be used as ski poles with the addition of powder baskets, and they can be used as tent poles or for making shade on sweltering days where coverage is lacking.

Cons of Trekking Poles

  • Your overall energy output is increased. This may seem counterintuitive, but we’ve found the benefits to balance and safety outweigh the effects of extra output.
  • If you choose not to use your poles, they become another piece of gear to carry. This is where packability becomes essential.
Mallory Paige testing the Best Trekking Poles
The author testing trekking poles while backpacking in the Desolation Wilderness

Why You Should Trust Us

We pride ourselves on a testing process that exposes flaws and highlights strengths while observing a wide range of equipment options. When evaluating the best trekking poles, a gear addition that needs to exhibit durability, we made a point to test features that commonly break down (locking mechanisms, grips, straps) to ensure that only the most reliable poles made it on our list.

Our testers used the gear in a wide range of environments and, as avid users, we’re familiar with the features that can set one pole apart from another. We made a point to analyze what makes each pole unique, testing each trekking pole option in the environments where they’re most likely to be utilized.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Trekking Pole

Weight & Packed Size

The packed-down length isn’t of vital importance to most hikers and backpackers. But, for those who plan to travel with their poles, it’s best to look for a pole that packs down small enough to fit in your luggage.

The LEKI Micro Vario is a perfect example of extreme packability. It packs down to a mere 15 inches, which would easily fit into most daypacks alongside other supplies.

Height

One of the biggest factors for a good fit is height. Stand up straight (preferably wearing the shoes you’ll hike in) and bend your arm to a 90-degree angle. Measure from the floor to your elbow to calculate your length.

In general, people 5’1″ and under will choose a 100cm pole. Those up to 5’7″ will use a 110cm pole. Hikers ranging from 5’8″ to 5’11” need a 120cm pole. And those taller than 6′ will go with the 130cm option.

Obviously, a pole with a wide range of adjustability (like the Montem Ultra Strong) will work for almost everyone. Once you’ve measured your size, you can explore fixed-length options (such as the Leki MCT Superlite Carbon).

Fixed Length vs. Adjustable

There are viable reasons to consider each option. With adjustable poles, you can quickly change the length. This lets you fine-tune them on the trail to your personalized height. You can adjust them if you’re exhausted and want to transfer a bit more weight to your upper body.

Adjustable poles give you the option to extend or retract on the descent or on steep ascents. The downside is an increased possibility of failure or slippage at the locking points, especially with twist locks.

Fixed-length poles don’t offer as much fine-tuning but can generally handle a lot of weight and they have less room for error. Generally, fixed-length poles are more ideal for trail running and other fast-paced endeavors where adjustments will only slow you down.

Some fixed-length poles, like the trail-running-specific Black Diamond Distance Carbon Poles, don’t fold up. Others are a fixed length when deployed but break down for packing, like the LEKI MCT Superlite Carbon.

Women’s Trekking Poles

Generally, women’s trekking poles have a smaller grip diameter (which offers increased comfort for smaller hands) and a shorter maximum length. For example, the top pick Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Poles have a length of 55 inches, and the women’s version has a max length of 49 inches.

Another bonus of women’s trekking poles is that the minimum length is shorter, which increases packability. Also, the women’s options, due to their smaller size, shed a bit of weight.

In reality, it’s less about the sex of the given user and more about the size. Anyone looking for a smaller grip and a shorter pole should consider buying a women’s trekking pole.

Value

Obviously, when spending money on gear that’s going to be used in the outdoors, pricepoint, durability, and reliability come into play. The trekking poles on this list range in price from $45 (Kelty Upslope 2.0) to $200 (LEKI MCT Superlite Carbon). As the price increases, the poles undeniably exhibit more features while shedding weight.

For the average user, finding a balance between quality and price can ensure you get the trekking poles you need without breaking the bank. At only $80, the Mountainsmith Carbonlite Pro provides a lightweight carbon build for users looking to shed weight, and it exhibited more than adequate durability for our testers, especially for the price.

Perhaps the most obvious example of value would come from the Helinox Passport TL115 Trekking Poles ($150), which, as one of the lightest options on this list, pack down extremely well and come with a 5-year warranty.

FAQ

Are Trekking Poles Worth It?

Trekking poles aren’t required, but they can certainly be helpful. For long treks with a heavy pack, they help distribute your weight and decrease the impact on descents. They’re also great for stabilization on rocky treks, when hiking along an exposed trail, or when river crossings might get a bit techy.

woman using trekking poles on steep hill
Trekking poles provide stability while hiking on an exposed trail; (photo/Matt Granger)

Is It Better to Hike With One Trekking Pole or Two?

You could use a single pole or a hiking staff, but, in general, we recommend a pair of hiking poles. They provide a more balanced, ergonomic gait and increased stability.

Packable options allow you to stow a pole away when both don’t seem necessary, or if you need one hand free for snapping photos.

How Tall Should My Trekking Pole Be?

The trekking pole grip should rest comfortably in your palm when your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle.

In general, people 5’1″ and under will choose a 100cm pole. Those up to 5’7″ will use a 110-115cm pole. Hikers ranging from 5’8″ to 5’11” need a 120cm pole. And those taller than 6′ will go with the 130cm option.


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