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Get a Grip: Trekking Poles Worth Trying

Posted by Kirsten Sapowicz at Sep 12, 2013 02:14 PM |

Walking sticks may be a retro way to hike, but modern trekking poles offer so much more in the way of comfort and support for hikers. Take a look at which ones our gear reviewers can't get enough of.

Remember the days when you had to forage around for a walking stick as you hiked your favorite trail? It helped sturdy you on the uphills and took some of the load off the downhills, and of course they were ideal on tricky creek crossings. But they were heavy and often broke easily.

These days, you may still choose the natural route, but companies like Black Diamond, Helinox, MSR, and Leki are giving hikers lots of trail stabilization options with ultra-light weights, gender-specific styles, ergonomic grips, powder baskets (for hiking in snow or snowshoeing) and even anti-shock suspension. With so many styles available, it can be tough to decipher what’s worth investing in, but there are some standouts you should look for when shopping for your next set of trekking poles.

Three hiking poles that pass the test

Of the variety of trekking poles I tested, the Leki Cressida Aergon poles were a real winner. They sport an insanely comfortable grip, with natural cork handles that didn’t make my hands sweaty. As I worked them in, they naturally conformed to my hand shape making them even more comfortable to handle. Extending them was a literal snap with the benefit of the SpeedLock mechanism—no pinched fingers from push-buttons, and no breakable plastic twist-locks. Top that off with their lightweight,  sturdy frames, and their ability to collapse down to a good size to fit on the side of my pack and I was set. Available in men’s and women’s styles. $159

Also worth mentioning are the Helinox Passport poles. Weighing in at a scant 11.2 ounces, these were the lightest of the styles I sampled. Constructed of DAC Anodized aluminum, they easily locked in place with a TensionLock system. As a smaller, lighter hiker, they offered great support—and at their price point, a real bargain. $99

Washington Trails magazine editor, Eli Boschetto, tested the Black Diamond Ultra Mountain Carbon Z-Pole. They're a fixed-length model that extends with an innovative, lock-free connecting system for use, then folds down to a mere 16 inches, making them easily stowable. He found them to be ultra-light and ultra-sturdy over all types of terrain, with two-tiered foam grips for choking up or down as needed. Available in a variety of styles and sizes for men and women. $99–$169

Why hike with poles: stability, safety, and stress off your knees

So do yourself a favor and pack a pair of poles on your next hike. They’re so much more useful than just making you look sporty. They help balance heavy loads, easing the weight on your back; they take a great deal of stress off your knees on those steep downhills; and they help support you when crossing talus fields and streams—all to help keep you safer and hiking longer.

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Comments

Trekking poles - better yet broom sticks

I find that trekking poles are not as good as broomsticks from Home Depot or Lowes. Apart from being 4 times more expensive they do not do well on a trail that goes up and down as you need to constantly change the grip down or up the shaft. To constantly adjust is very impractical...whereas broomsticks perform much better and steadier. I and my kids have been using $6-7 sticks for last 8-9 years.
Vrezh

Posted by:


gabr on Sep 15, 2013 09:49 AM

Thanks for the tip

We always love to hear and share DIY gear tips, too. Thanks for sharing, Vrezh.

Posted by:


"Loren Drummond" on Sep 13, 2013 05:51 PM

Treking Poles

  I hike about 50 hikes a year and sometimes I find my hiking poles to be an annoyance while trying to take pictures as much as I do. Several times they collapsed on me at a very bad time going downhill even when I had them tightened down as much as I could.
  I believe Reggie's comment of a hard stick such as broomsticks can be a good ideal and of course they are a lot cheaper. Having some type of strap so they stick with you is nice too. Several times on certain types of trails I stop and collapsed them and mounted them to my backpack as they become annoyance especially on trails that do not have a step downhill.
  Make sure your pack can secure them if they become annoying and that is one advantage of collapsible poles instead hard poles. Either way each person has different ideals of how they can help them for hiking so try something cheap such as hard sticks and work your way up to the more expensive ones if you find a need to use them all the time.
  I admit though they have saved me many a times from falling flat on my face while going downhill.

Posted by:


fox15rider on Sep 15, 2013 09:49 AM

Hiking Poles

Thanks for this article; very timely for me, as I am in the market for a new set of poles after someone made off with my old ones :-(

Posted by:


"Eric Jain" on Sep 13, 2013 09:08 PM