Whether you are planning a one-day hike into the wilderness or preparing for a prolonged expedition on the mountains, you should include in your equipment a pair of trekking poles. Trekking poles are important tools for a number of reasons: 

  1. They help you to push faster uphill
  2. Support the your weight and that of your backpack
  3. Alleviate the stress on your arm and leg joints when going downhill
  4. Increase balance and stability
  5. Increase safety and comfort on difficult terrain
  6. Improve walking rhythm and increase stamina
  7. Help maintain an upright posture making you breathe better

Nowadays you can choose from a very wide range of different trekking poles available on the market. But how do you know which one is the best for you? The following guide will help you sort that out.

What type of pole do you need for trekking?

The first thing you should look for when making your choice, is what kind of outdoor activity you want to practice. We can distinguish among four different types of outdoor activities ordered from the least intense to the most extreme: Daily Hiking, Fast Hiking, Trekking-Backpacking, Mountaineering-Approaching.

Daily hiking poles

If you want to just chill out a few hours in nature and you prefer to walk on mostly flat terrain, your best choice is an aluminum telescopic pole with a single rubber/foam grip and a tungsten tip. These models come with internal expanders to adjust the poles’ length and fit your size. If you have sensitive or sore wrists, elbows or shoulders, it’s also recommended to use poles equipped with anti-shock systems.

Daily Hiking poles are best for: hikes on groomed trails, one day hikes, trekking beginners and amateurs.

Pros:

  • Thick, sturdy and durable
  • Unlikely to break
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • Heavy weight
  • Not very versatile

Fast hiking poles

These poles are recommended for the more enthusiastic hikers who love to sprint uphill and are always up for new challenges. These aluminum models are fitted with Fast Locks that allow a quicker adjustment of the poles so as not to lose the pace. Some of them are foldable to improve packability, have cork grips to prevent blisters and sweaty hands or mount foam handles to provide more comfort and push power during climbs.

Fast Hiking poles are best for: longer hikes at sustained pace, more challenging trails, intermediate trekkers.

Pros:

  • Quick locking system
  • Highly versatile on different terrains
  • Suitable for more intense use

Cons:

  • They might be too light for heavy backpacks
  • Not suitable for high grade treks 

Trekking and backpacking poles

Built for challenging terrain, heavy loads and multi-day excursions, the Trekking and Backpacking poles are equipped with the best technologies to improve performance, comfort and durability. Many of these models have carbon fiber shafts to be lighter and stiffer, are equipped with foam grips to provide more push power during climbs and employ multi-locking systems to sustain more load. Other notable features of some of these poles are anti-impact cushions, antibacterial straps and click systems. Some poles of this category can also be folded to be carried easily inside your backpack.

Trekking and Backpacking poles are best for: multi-day and high grade excursions, expert trekkers, hikers carrying heavy backpacks.

Pro:

  • Lightweight
  • Carbon fiber
  • Suitable for long multi-day treks
  • Many advanced technologies

Cons

  • Higher price
  • Carbon fiber requires a little bit more care

Mountaineering and approching poles

If you are an expert mountaineer who looks for state-of-the-art equipment, these poles are the best choice. These models comes with the latest technologies available on the market: high modulus carbon fiber for extreme lightness and stiffness, kevlar coating for better resistance to hits and scratches, multi-locks to sustain heavy loads, foam grips to provide pushing power, click systems and antibacterial straps to allow prolonged use. Some of these poles are also dedicated to approaching the “vie ferrate”: they can be shrunk to a very short size and be strapped to, or packed into, your backpack.

Mountaineering and approaching poles are best for: advanced and professional trekkers, cliff approaching, high altitude expeditions.

Pro:

  • Hi-tech features
  • Lightweight
  • High packability
  • Can sustain very intense use

Cons:

  • Higher price