Last Updated – 27 Jan, 2020
Best Hiking Poles: When it comes to hiking and trekking, a lot of physical activity is a given. Such activities, while fun, also take a toll on our muscles, especially our leg muscles. To combat that, we use hiking poles.
These poles are sturdy, lightweight, offer a lot of support, and have a lot of other functions. To make sure that you purchase the ideal pole for your next trek, we have drawn up this list of the best hiking poles of 2020.
Trekking experts have claimed that using a trekking pole, which is the same thing as a hiking pole, can increase your traction by over 25 percent. This means that you will have extra grip on the surface when you are on hilly or snowy terrain and you will also get to probe and prod the surface on which you are stepping on.
Remember that in case you use tarps on a tenting trip, this trekking pole can also suspend a tarp so that a shelter can be made. This list of the top hiking poles has also been accompanied by a trekking poles buying guide which will help you make a balanced purchase decision.
Our top pick hiking poles
6 Best Hiking Poles of 2020
This is the complete list of the best hiking poles which will help you in having a better trek the next time around.
#1. Black Diamond Trail Pro Trekking Poles
Another model from Black Diamond, this is one of the best hiking poles on this list for several reasons. While they are, in fact, pretty similar to the ones manufactured by Leki, more specifically the Leki Legacy, this model does have more added features. It is, however, a bit heavier than the Leki poles. That can be both an advantage as well as a disadvantage, depending on how it is being used.
One of the first things that we liked about this model is that it has dual density grips, which make it easier to use and is ideal for rocky terrain. It is also useful when being used in very moist and slippery conditions. The models have a collapsible construction and with aluminum shafts, they are at once lightweight and strong. Both these aspects come in handy when a hiking pole is being selected.
The length of the poles can be adjusted depending on the user. With a wide variety of adjustable heights- from 26 to 59 inches- this is a model which is meant for both professionals as well as for the beginners. Most users have said that this is arguably the strongest and the most durable trekking gear that they have ever used, and we do tend to agree.
To make sure that the height is adjusted even when the user is wearing gloves, there is a pretty handy lever lock mechanism which is extremely ergonomic. In fact, we believe that the lever lock mechanism in this pole is a tad better than the other Black Diamond model. Besides, there are non-slip foam grips, reliable and replaceable tips and trekking baskets.
This pole is unique in one sense: it has a shock absorption mechanism, something that no other pole on this list has. That is a huge advantage in its favor. We took it for a spin last year and we were extremely pleased.
Ideal For – Hiking, Backpacking, Mountaineering, Trekking
- Dual-density grip and 360-degree padded webbing strap
- Non-slip foam grip extension
- Double Flick Lock Pro
- Interchangeable carbide Tech Tips and low-profile trekking baskets
#2. LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles
Another model from the house of Leki is the Leki Micro Vario Carbon. As distinguished from the previous item, this model is made of carbon fiber, which makes it easier to use, lighter, and durable.
When we went on a nearly 7 seven trek to the Grand Canyon, this pole was of great use. In fact, this was a perfect companion. When compared to the Leki Legacy, this model is smaller when folded at only 15 inches.
In many ways, this is the best budget hiking pole. The Micro Carbon pole consists of three separate sections which signify the foldable construction of the device. The foldable construction is useful when being used by trekkers and hikers who have to carry a lot of equipment in their backpacks.
The section that is the closest to the grip is the one which can be adjusted the best when in use; this increases the flexibility. This section can also be increased to up to 8 inches in length, which shifts the center of gravity and makes the pole even more reliable.
Using the lever lock mechanism, the user can fix the pole at the desired height. The mechanism is easily adjustable even when the user is wearing gloves. When fully extended, the Leki Micro Vario Carbon pole has a total measurement of 43 – 51 inches in length.
The company has made the folding of this pole relatively easy: it bears a push-button located just beneath the grip which releases the folding mechanism. Besides boasting a variety of different baskets and tips, the pole also has its own nylon bag used for storing the pole as well as for carrying the tips and baskets. This helps in making the pole extra portable.
Ideal For – Hiking, Mountaineering, Trekking, Walking, Excellent for approaching climbing routes
- Exclusive AERGON grip features a hollow core construction to save weight and create an edgeless, rounded grip for comfortable gripping at all angles especially for "palming" on steeper terrain. Thermo foam grip material for extra comfort, light weight and insulation in colder weather. Built in 8deg Positive Angle in LEKI grips keeps wrist in neutral position and provides more efficient pole plants.
- Air-textured "no bulk" security strap maintains design dimensions of grip; efficient wicking and fast drying; adjusts and secures strap adjustment without buckles. Extended foam grip for traversing and climbing. SPEEDLOCK 2 lever locking mechanism is simply THE strongest external locking system in the world as rated by TUV, and the only locking systems to meet the minimum holding force recommended by TUV.
- 100% High Modulus Carbon shaft sections for reliable, lightweight performance in all conditions. PE coated, Kevlar reinforced tension cord for long term reliability.
- ELD (External Locking Device) gives easy access to release the assembly tension of the pole for quick knock down and packing. Maximum tension between shaft sections made possible by internal (serviceable) spring in lower shaft. Carbon section ends are protected by machined Aluminum sleeves for extra long wear. Machined Aluminum connectors help to center shaft sections for quick, snag free assembly.
- LEKI's original Carbide Flextips provide secure hold on all terrain and surfaces for years of adventure; easily replaced in the field. Interchangeable basket system allows a variety of different sized LEKI baskets to be easily screwed on/off for different seasons/uses thanks to offset threads that keep the baskets securely in place.
#3. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z Trekking
This is one of the best-known products manufactured by the Black Diamond company and is suitable for extremely snowy climes. When compared with the trekking poles manufactured by Leki, this pole is different in the sense that it is not adjustable in length. That does not, however, serve as too big a disappointment as the length of the poles vary widely: from 40 to 51 inches.
The Alpine Carbon Z trekking poles are ideal for long distance treks as they are foldable and made of carbon, which makes it extremely lightweight. The shortest available version of the Alpine Carbon Z is 40 inches in length and is useful in hiking uphill using the least effort.
It also weighs a mere one pound and can be folded to only 14 inches in length. Black Diamond has equipped these poles with a new proprietary locking mechanism called the Z-Pole Rapid Deployment System: pressing a single button will now deploy the locking mechanism.
The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z Trekking pole has extremely comfortable and durable hand grips. These grips are also usable when the user is donning gloves, which makes it comfortable as well as handy. In extremely harsh climes, the cork grips come into effect as they are immune to cold or moisture.
Lastly, such a pole is also useful for people who will not go for outdoor trips like trekking per se but who have other types of need, like those who suffer from bad hips and who have mobility-related issues. The black diamond hiking poles have adjustable nylon straps which are also moisture wicking. Overall, this model is one of the best adjustable hiking poles.
Ideal For – Hiking, Mountaineering, Trekking, Walking, Also for those who have mobility issues
- Improved joint support and stiffness
- More durable with added aluminum ring and aluminum sleeve to protect carbon
- Natural cork grip with dual-density top and breathable, moisture-wicking strap
- 100% carbon fiber construction
- Flex Tech Tips allow either carbide or rubber tips to be used
#4. Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles
This product from Black Diamond is one of the best in the business and is used all over the world with various climatic conditions. The main difference between this model and the Trail Pro model which we spoke of earlier is that this one has more features, especially in the grip and the strap. This is the best hiking pole for beginners.
These poles have a two-pronged advantage: they are both inexpensive as well as durable. Recreational users have said that it is one of their favorite poles and we tend to agree. These are, however, slightly heavier than the previous version by Black Diamond. Very robust and durable, this also has the standard lever lock mechanism which can be used even when the user is wearing hiking gloves. This is one point which works in favor of this hiking pole.
The Black Diamond Trail Back also has an adjustable length facility of 25 to 55 inches in length, making it ideal for even the tallest of users. The one thing we liked about this pole when we went on an Alpine trek in 2015 is the presence of the comfortable grips which are made of EVA foam.
EVA foam can withstand a lot of abuse and is sometimes absent in many comparable models. Among other features of this pole are the nylon straps, the handy trekking baskets, and the carbide tips, which provide extreme reliability in rain and sleet.
To help adjust and absorb vibrations, the pole has a rubber grip with a rib pattern making it durable enough for a longer-than-average trip. Moreover, the rib pattern also has the great advantage of adding extra strength to the device without taking up any extra space.
So, while the Trail Back may not have the spring-loaded shock absorber feature, it certainly can withstand usage even in uneven terrain. Good bang for the buck is our final judgment. It must be added to any list of cheap hiking poles 2020 for sure.
Ideal For – Hiking, Backpacking, Mountaineering, Trekking, Also for those with hip problems and related issues
- Rubber grip with Rib pattern to reduce vibration
- Rubber grip extension
- Vari-width nylon webbing strap
#5. Leki Legacy Speedlock Trekking Poles
Leki is a pretty well-known brand in the field of tent equipment and other related accessories. The Leki Legacy is essential for any hiking and trekking because they are durable, lightweight, and have decent features. Though these poles are manufactured of aluminum, these weigh a mere one pound.
An aluminum construction also means that these poles will be relatively free of rust for a pretty long time. The Leki Legacy trekking poles are also collapsible and they can be adjusted in length: from 39 inches to 53 inches. This adjustable length means that if you go tenting/camping in a group, you can share it with your companions.
A simple lever lock mechanism is used by the pole which helps it to keep in in position. When going downhill, you can easily extend the pole, making you sure of your footing. The Leki Legacy also has pretty high-quality tips as well as trekking baskets.
These give the impression of a high-quality product with plenty of options. Note that this variety of tips and baskets are sold separately for the pole and which you will find online as well as in offline stores. The pole is handy to use as it comes with foam grips which make it extremely handy especially when your gloved hands are wet with moisture.
When the Leki Legacy is collapsed, it measures a mere 26 inches, making it easy to carry around and store it conveniently inside a tent. Such measurements are ideal for collapsible tents even though the foldable poles are, admittedly, smaller.
Ideal For – Hiking, Backpacking, Mountaineering, Trekking, Walking
- Carbide Flextips: concave, cylindrical tips offer secure hold on all terrain and surfaces; Carbide is extremely hard and durable; entire tip ferrule (Flextip) is replaceable
- The PA Safety Wrist Strap is an integrated safety system which releases quickly when pulled upward. Adjusts with a simple thumb flick and was developed in cooperation with professional mountain guides. Wrist strap is fleece lined for comfort
- Thermo Soft Grip has an edgeless outer shape that can be palmed or held traditionally, for a variety of gripping options. The palm side of the grip has an internal venting channel to help keep hands cool
- SPEEDLOCK 2 is Leki's latest generation of external locking systems. It is 1/3 smaller, 1/4 lighter, and has a 20% stronger locking force than Leki's original Speedlock. This system utilizes direct compression force to lock the pole shafts into place. Touted as the most powerful external locking system in the world, the SpeedLock 2 utilizes an integrated stainless steel pressure plate that provides a vise-like clamp to hold the pole adjustment in place. The cam style lock is made of fiberglass.
- Interchangeable Basket System: baskets easily thread on and off; different size basket options allow poles to be customized for all seasons, all activities (trekking, snowshoe, backcountry touring, etc
#6. Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles
Montem is a New York City-based firm known for manufacturing great trekking products. This item is no different in this respect. Their latest range of products, under the Ultra Strong moniker, boast sturdy aluminum build, besides lever locks, and superbly comfortable foam grips. It’s deserved a mention in this coveted list of best hiking poles 2020 for sure.
Montem trekking poles are having a telescoping design, meaning that it has a sturdy lever lock mechanism. This is the cheapest best hiking pole and its price is about two times less when compared to the products manufactured by Black Diamond and Petzl.
That does not mean that Montem has compromised on quality, however. Far from that. We only spent 4 days with this baby and it left us very impressed.
At 19.6 ounces, this might be a little too heavy for the premium users; however, they will not act as a disadvantage. Montem, however, is a relatively new group and it needs to be seen how well they perform in the long run. It does have certain great features, however; there are tungsten tips and EVA foam handles, both of which will help you get a decent camping trip.
When collapsed, these poles will be easily adjustable inside a suitcase or your average backpack– at 24 inches. This is certainly longer than many comparable poles, however, so make sure that you keep it in mind. The locking mechanism is adjustable in the field and they can be modified in the field, like any decent hiking pole.
Lastly, since they are yet to be time-tested, we will not pass any judgment about the longevity of the product. However, Montem certainly has made excellent progress in this area and only time will tell if we are getting only a bargain price and not bargain quality.
Ideal For – Hiking, Backpacking, Mountaineering, Trekking
- 【EASILY ADJUSTED】Adjustable quick locks allow you to QUICKLY & EASILY lengthen the poles from 24" to 53" in order to achieve the perfect height for your needs.
- 【FREE LIFETIME REPLACEMENT PROMISE】We at Montem promise to replace your poles for life. Shop the most trusted brand in trekking poles today!
- 【ULTRA STRONG & LIGHT 】Montem trekking poles weigh only 9.6 ounces per pole so you don't feel weighed down - you've already got enough to carry, your poles are here to help you, not hinder. Crafted out of Aluminum 7075 - the same material used to build airplanes. Experience truly strong trekking poles. Lifetime Replacement Promise(!)
- 【COMPACT & TRAVEL READY】Our trekking poles pack up easily for storage in luggage, backpacks, and duffle bags. Montem hiking poles also come with easily storable rubber tip protectors, pole connectors, and mud baskets.
- 【NEW IMPROVED MODEL!】Strap up - Your trekking poles come with padded straps to ensure the most comfortable and ergonomic grip. Never worry about dropping your trekking poles again.
Based on the criteria and on the usability, we believe that the best hiking pole of 2020 is the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z Trekking. It has all the attributes of any good pole and also comes with an affordable price tag. Overall, a must buy.
Also read – Best teepee tents of 2020
Best Hiking Poles Buying Guides
A trekking poles buying guide is a set of criteria that must be fulfilled before a hiking pole can be declared fit to buy. To put things into perspective for you before you arrive at a purchase decision, these are the features that the hiking pole must-have.
If you are going camping or trekking, make sure to choose a lightweight hiking pole. Such a pole will not only lessen the load that you will have to carry in your backpack, they will also be more maneuverable. It is a common misconception that only the heavier poles offer greater stability or balance. On this list, we have only chosen the lightweight ones, with 1 lb. 6 oz. being the heaviest.
Type of the Hiking Pole
In essence, there are three main types of a hiking pole: collapsible, foldable and foldable-cum-collapsible. The collapsible pole has an adjustable length which ensures that it gets shorter as you go uphill and longer as you go down. They are also slightly heavier than most comparable poles.
The foldable trekking poles have several parts which are interconnected via a cord, ideally made of Kevlar. Their lengths are not adjustable and they can be packed into a small case. They are comparatively lighter.
The third type is a combination of the two types and has a Kevlar component as well. The section that is closest to the grip is the one that can be adjusted. So, before you buy one, make sure that you really know the type that you are looking for.
Locking Mechanism Type
There are two main types of locking mechanisms: one is lever lock and the other is the screw lock. The lever lock mechanism is accessible even when the user is wearing gloves while the screw lock is a little more complicated to function. We recommend that you use a pole which has a lever lock mechanism.
Length of the Pole
How long the pole is also something that has to be taken into account. This is even more so if you are using foldable trekking poles. Remember that when holding the hiking pole, the elbow should be at a 90-degree angle. This sort of arrangement is necessary when one is navigating difficult or unfamiliar terrain as it provides greater stability. Taller persons should use longer poles.
Typically, the shaft of a trekking pole is made either of aluminum or of carbon fiber. Usually, the carbon fiber is lighter than the metallic counterpart; however, they are also more expensive. And under pressure, the aluminum shaft will bend and not break, unlike what will happen to the aluminum shaft. Decide wisely.
As you have seen on this list, most of the poles have grips made of EVA (or ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam which are easy to use and also offer a firm grip. On the other hand, some poles also come with a cork grip. While there are some proponents of the cork grip, they are slightly less comfortable to use and we recommend that the EVA grip is used. These grips are also easily replaceable.
Some of the best hiking poles of 2020 offer an inbuilt internal spring which is the basis of a shock absorption mechanism. Such a mechanism is useful when the user is on uneven terrain. However, those which have a shock absorption mechanism are often heavier and more expensive than the ones that lack this feature. Depending on the terrain that you are going to, you should make your purchase.
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Tips and Baskets
Most of the best poles have carbide tips which have better durability and also offer greater traction. Choose one such model. The round rings located at the bottom of the poles are called baskets which prevent the poles from being stuck inside holes on the surface. Ideally, you should choose one which has prominent baskets.
Before you go out on your trek, ensure that you do some practice with the pole you have purchased so that you can acclimatize with it and also get to know about the ups and downs of the item that you intend to use. In case you have any comments or additions to this list of the best hiking poles of 2020, do use the comments section.