Trekking poles are a must-have piece of gear, especially you’re doing a longer hike or trek. Find out whether you should choose between carbon fibre or aluminum and why you’d want to hike with poles.
What are the Benefits of Hiking with Trekking Poles?
By hiking with poles, you reduce the weight on your knees anywhere from 2 lbs per step up to 5 lbs per step if you’re carrying a heavy load. That adds up to a lot of weight reduction over a day or a multi-day trek.
In addition, you’ll get tired less quickly since you’ve redistributed the weight. And once you find your rhythm, you’ll also hike faster, since you’ll propel yourself forward slightly and therefore take slightly longer strides. And your posture will be more open giving you additional lung capacity than if you were hiking slightly hunched over.
Finally, trekking poles help you balance. They come in very handy on slippery terrain. I don’t know how many times they’ve saved me from slipping down a wet trail. You can read about more benefits here.
Related Reading: Best Backpacks for Hiking.
Do You Need Hiking Poles on Shorter Hikes?
I definitely recommend them for treks (multi-day hikes) and especially if you’re carrying your gear. However, I use them even on day hikes. I’ve had two knee surgeries and find they really help reduce knee strain – especially when you’re descending steep terrain.
If you have bad knees or hips look for hiking with poles that offer a shock-absorbent feature. This will help further reduce the strain on your knees and hips. Check out the options below to find the ones that work best for you.
If you don’t have knee issues you may not need poles on shorter hikes. It’s a matter of personal preference.
Related Reading: Hiking Vs Trekking Vs Mountaineering: What’s the Difference?
How to Use Hiking/Trekking Poles
During Ascent: Shrink the adjustable poles to a shorter setting so that your hands are slightly lower than your elbow.
On Flat Terrain: Your hands and elbows should be parallel to the ground.
Descending: Expand the poles so that your hands are slightly higher than your elbows. Take a few steps and adjust as necessary. On steeper terrain, you may have to expand them even more.
Related Reading: What to Pack On Your Day Hike
Carbon Fibre Vs Aluminium Hiking Poles: Which Is the Better Option?
It depends on how you’ll be using your hiking/trekking poles.
Carbon fibre hiking poles are usually lighter than aluminum. They’re also better at reducing the vibrations in the hand since they’re a stiff material. The downside is that they’re usually more expensive. They’re a good choice if you do hard hikes regularly or will be using them for trekking.
Aluminum hiking poles are more affordable. They’re typically heavier than carbon fibre poles and can be prone to bending. They’re a good choice if you’re new to hiking or will be using them for day hikes.
Related Reading: The Best Snowshoes: How to Find the Right Ones for You
The Best Carbon Fibre Hiking Poles: Our Recommendations
These poles are tiny when they are collapsed at only 21 inches long. Plus they come with a bag for storing them and different tips for different terrains. They’re made of carbon fibre and come with cork grips that help wick away sweat.
Weight: 15.2 oz
This is a great option for those looking for lightweight and compact foldable poles that are durable. Plus, they come with the option to adjust the height up to eight inches.
They are made of carbon fibre and have foam handles.
Weight: 16.9 oz
These poles have all of the standard features that high-quality poles offer like easy to lock system, sturdy construction, and ergonomic cork grips. However, the little detail that really makes them stand out is the padding on the wrist straps. It might sound like a small thing but it can improve your comfort significantly, especially on a long hike or trek.
Weight: 17 oz
These poles have all of the great features of a lightweight carbon fiber pole, with a design that allows them to have more strength. The price is great if you’re looking for a quality product at a good price.
However keep in mind that even when collapsed, they can be a bit long.
Weight: 15.2 oz
These are the relatively budget option for carbon fibre poles. They have almost everything you might want from a high-end pole for a lower price. They’re perfect for any beginners who want to try quality using carbon fibre poles without spending a lot of money.
Weight: 14 oz
These carbon fibre poles come with cork grips, simple lever locks and two sets of baskets for mud and snow. They are not as high quality or as durable as some others. However, they are a good option if you’re budget conscious or just want to try out hiking poles without investing a lot.
Weight: 15.6 oz
Best Aluminum Hiking Poles
The Trail Ergo by Black Diamond is perfect for hikers who are looking for a pair of trustworthy hiking poles that are also comfortable. They’re made of aluminum and feature comfortable cork grips that wick away sweat.
Plus, when you purchase them, they come with different trekking tips and snow baskets. That way you can use them all year long making them a great option for those who just want one pair of hiking poles that work in all four seasons.
Weight: 17.9 oz
These might not be as tough as the Back Diamond ones but they are still a great option if you are not someone who hikes rough trails every weekend.
They are made of aluminum and come with a foam grip. They’re a little heavier than the other options on this list. However, we included them because of the price point and how well they work. They’re competitive with brands that cost double.
Weight: 19.2 oz
These are perfect for a light and fast day hike. Plus they have a great mechanism to deploy them that makes it really fast and easy to get them ready.
These aren’t adjustable, so you have to make sure that you make sure to pick the right size for you when purchasing. Black Diamond offers four lengths that are 100cm, 110cm, 120cm and 130cm.
Weight: 12 oz
This model is made of aluminum and has an Aergon Compact COR-TEC grip. The thing that I love about these is their Carbide flex tips that deflect up to 30 degrees without damaging the lower pole sections. This reduces the risk of pole breakage.
Weight: 19.2 oz
This is another great budget alternative to other foldable trekking poles that cost twice as much. They’ve made of aluminum, collapse to just 16 ” and feature cork handles.
They come with both hiking and snow baskets and. It’s worth noting they can only support 160 lbs so if you’re heavier than this, these aren’t for you.
Weight: 16 oz
Here is another budget option made of aluminum that comes with a foam grip. It is a great option for those not sure about wanting to take up hiking as a hobby. They’re low cost and offer all the support you need from hiking poles. The locking mechanism isn’t the best but it still works and is OK for the price point.
Weight: 18.5 oz
Another foldable design by Leki, these ones are made from aluminum and at a more reasonable price. They fold as small as 15.5 inches and can be easily locked when extended.
They have proved to be the most durable of their foldable options.
Weight: 16 oz
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