Black Diamond Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

By | August 4, 2022

Serious hikers accept known the benefits of trekking poles for decades. Bated from providing stability while hauling a heavy load or moving over technical terrain, hiking poles have distinct advantages fifty-fifty on easy trails. They’re great for setting a rhythm and significantly reduce load and impact on hips, knees, and ankles when going downhill. Equally with most hiking and backpacking gear, balancing weight and immovability is the nigh mutual consideration. Below are our top trekking pole picks of 2022, which cover the gamut from ultralight and folding models to sturdy designs for high-mountain adventures. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.


Our Team’south Trekking Pole Picks

  • Best Overall Trekking Pole:
    Blackness Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
  • Best Upkeep Trekking Pole:
    REI Co-op Trailbreak
  • All-time Ultralight Collapsible Pole:
    Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z
  • Best Daze-Arresting Trekking Pole:
    Leki Legacy Lite AS
  • Best Four-Season Trekking Pole:
    Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork


Best Overall Trekking Pole

ane. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork ($140)


Weight per pair:
1 lb. 2 oz.
Type:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft cloth:
Aluminum
Grip:
Cork
What we like:
Solid construction, comfortable experience, and expert cost.
What we don’t:
A little heavy and long collapsed length.

The carbon cobweb and folding designs that get all the attending in the trekking pole market are impressive innovations, only for hikers that just desire a pair of trustworthy sticks at a adept price, we recommend the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork. At $140, they’re a solid value and come with very few compromises. In fact, the all-aluminum construction is only a few ounces heavier than most of the carbon options below just all the same plenty sturdy for well-nigh dirt, rock, and snowfall travel. The Trail also has Blackness Diamond’south comfortable, ergonomically shaped cork grips and reliable FlickLock length adjusters.

What are the downsides of the Trail Ergo? For travelers, climbers, or those that prioritize collapsibility, the 27-inch minimum length may be an issue. It shouldn’t become in the mode when strapped to the outside of a pack, but information technology is a couple inches longer than many other three-section designs (and it can’t come close to a true collapsible pole). As downsides become, that’south pretty insignificant for virtually folks, and the Trail Ergo Cork stands out equally our favorite all-effectually trekking pole. For a cheaper but slightly less comfortable and premium option in this category, see Leki’s Khumbu Low-cal below.
See the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork  See the Women’due south Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork

Best Upkeep Trekking Pole

2.

REI Co-op Trailbreak ($70)



REI Trailbreak trekking poles
Weight per pair:
1 lb. 1 oz.
Type:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft material:
Aluminum
Grip:
Prophylactic
What we similar:
Cheap nonetheless functional.
What we don’t:
No-frills blueprint isn’t ideal for serious hikers or tough terrain.

REI Co-op’south Trailbreak line targets the budget end of the market and includes everything from sleeping pads and bags to backpacks. The Trailbreak trekking pole is the brand’s cheapest offering and has nigh all the features that first and occasional hikers need. Y’all go an aluminum build, a telescoping design with lever locks, and a rubber grip. Cypher is premium hither—no carbon, no cork grip, no padded wrist strap, and the locks are about as minimal as they come. In addition, the Trailbreak is only made in i size, although it is adaptable from 41 to 55 inches. Simply at $70, it’s tough to beat the low price.

What practise you sacrifice with the REI Trailbreak? Sturdiness is a big concession, and for heavy employ and hard terrain, these poles pale in comparison to the build of a more rugged model like the Black Diamond Trail Ergo. And every bit we touched on to a higher place, the Trailbreak is light on features, then yous miss out on useful touches including choke-up extensions and longer-lasting materials like cork handles and burlier and more reliable lever locks. If you stick to established trails and are looking for the nuts in residual and support, the Trailbreak volition certainly exercise the play a joke on. Merely more than serious hikers and backpackers may desire to purchase a higher-cease model. For other well-built budget options, check out Blackness Diamond’southward Trail Sport 2 and Trail Explorer 3.
See the REI Co-op Trailbreak

Best Ultralight Collapsible Pole

3. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z ($180)

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z trekking poles
Weight per pair:
9.2 oz.
Type:
Folding
Shaft textile:
Carbon
Grip:
Foam
What nosotros like:
Incredibly lightweight and folds down modest.
What we don’t:
Pricey and carbon is more brittle than aluminum.

At effectually 9-x ounces per pair depending on the size, the Altitude Carbon Z is Black Diamond’s lightest trekking pole and great for minimalists (they are so light and packable that they’ve even become popular with long-distance trail runners). We dear the Z-Pole technology: A sleeve on the height portion moves down from the grip, the sections slide together and connect, and a small button pops everything into place. From compacted to deployed is a two-second affair, and when complanate, the poles are about 10 inches shorter than near telescoping designs. This tin brand a substantial difference for everyone from travelers and hikers wanting to store them in their bag to ultra-altitude runners that conduct their poles for extended stretches.

What are the downsides of these poles? Carbon is lighter than aluminum but likewise more than expensive and breakable (it’ll snap under heavy pressure rather than bend like aluminum). In addition, the Carbon Z comes in 5 length options merely is not adaptable. Changing up your trekking pole length on the uphill or downhill is a prissy characteristic, and the fixed length makes them less versatile in terms of letting other people use them. If you do value adaptability, Black Diamond makes the Carbon FLZ that has one FlickLock Pro lever at the top for $xx more than and with a pocket-sized weight penalty. Finally, you give upwardly some rigidity with the BD’due south collapsible design, and so thru-hikers looking for better long-term durability should cheque out the telescoping Gossamer Gear LT5 below.
See the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z  See the Women’s Distance Carbon Z

All-time Shock-Absorbing Trekking Pole

4. Leki Legacy Lite AS ($120)

Leki Legacy Lite AS trekking polkes
Weight per pair:
one lb. 2.4 oz.
Type:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft cloth:
Aluminum
Grip:
Cork/rubber
What we similar:
Leki’southward anti-shock technology helps take the sting out of impacts.
What we don’t:
More than moving parts than standard trekking poles.

Right off the bat, we’ll annotation that we typically don’t recommend trekking poles with serious stupor-absorbing applied science—they generally are heavier, more complex, and daze absorption isn’t necessary for many. That said, for hikers who want a little extra impact resistance on the trail, Leki’s Legacy Light AS is worth a look. These poles utilise Leki’south DSS (Dynamic Interruption Organisation) engineering to take some of the sting out of rough terrain, which can help reduce stress on the knees and wrists during long descents. Like most of Leki’south offerings, the Legacy is as well reasonably low-cal at just over a pound per pair, well built with premium touches similar reliable lever locks and ergonomic cork grips, and hardwearing with a full aluminum construction.

If it isn’t already abundantly articulate, Leki and Black Diamond dominate the trekking pole market, and BD’s Trail Pro Daze below was too in the running for this spot. Why did we opt for the Legacy? Namely, the Leki is lighter by around 2 ounces per pair, cheaper past $xl, and boasts a slightly more premium structure including the aforementioned cork grips (the Trail Pro Stupor uses foam). Again, both options have more moving parts that tin can intermission or fail over fourth dimension, and we’d but recommend dedicated shock-absorbing poles for hikers that need the added impact cushioning. If you’ve struggled in the past with muscle or joint pain, however, it’s worth giving the Leki Legacy Lite a try.
See the Leki Legacy Light AS

Best Iv-Flavor Trekking Pole

v. Blackness Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork ($190)

Black Diamon Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles
Weight per pair:
one lb. i.1 oz.
Type:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft textile:
Carbon
Grip:
Cork
What nosotros like:
Fantastic build quality, durable, and easy to trust in rough terrain.
What nosotros don’t:
Overkill for nearly 3-season uses and very pricey.

For those wanting a single pair of poles for all four seasons, ranging from summertime backpacking trips to backcountry skiing and mountaineering, nosotros turn again to Blackness Diamond and their proven Tall collection. Compared to the picks in a higher place, the Tall Carbon Cork feels noticeably more than substantial in your hand, and its beefed-upwards construction isn’t decumbent to flexing nether heavy strain. In addition, Black Diamond outfitted the model with all their height-end components, including the trustworthy metal FlickLock Pro lever locks (the vast bulk of designs use plastic), premium cork handles with foam extensions, and a full three-piece carbon cobweb build. You lot pay extra for the poles at $190, but it’s difficult to knock the quality or reliability of the design.

Where does the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon come up up short? In improver to cost, the poles are realistically overkill for many users. Even for wintertime adventures like snowshoeing, a cheaper option like Black Diamond’southward own Trail Ergo above will do the trick (just option upwards a pair of wider snow baskets to proceed them from sinking too deeply in soft snow). Further, the BDs don’t pack downward equally small every bit designs like Leki’southward Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA below, which can exist an event for those needing to strap their poles to the outside of a pack. That said, we found the Alpine Carbon model to be sturdier and meliorate suited for crude uses like ski touring and splitboarding, which is why it wins out as our top twelvemonth-circular choice.
Encounter the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon  See the Women’s BD Alpine Carbon

Best of the Rest

vi. Gossamer Gear LT5 ($195)



Gossamer Gear LT5 trekking poles
Weight per pair:

10.6 oz.
Type:
Telescoping (twist lock)
Shaft textile:
Carbon
Grip:
Foam
What we like:
Incredibly lightweight and well made.
What we don’t:
Non likewise durable; expensive.

Taking the telescoping lightweight crown is the thru-hike-ready Gossamer Gear LT5. These carbon fiber sticks are listed at an incredibly low ten.six ounces for the pair (you tin can relieve even more weight past ditching the straps), which keeps arm fatigue to an absolute minimum. Unlike the folding BD Distance Carbon Z to a higher place, the LT5’s telescoping pattern too adds some sturdiness for uses like pitching an ultralight shelter. Combined with a simple, reliable build and comfortable foam grips, and you get the platonic hiking poles for long adventures where every ounce matters. They’re also adaptable, although the twist lock system isn’t our favorite (we prefer the added security of a lever lock).

Naturally, there are a few compromises in making the LT5 so light. To offset, relative to the balance of the market, these poles aren’t super durable—it’south best to stick to established trails and avoid too much snowfall. Further, they’re a pricey investment at $195 because their relatively elementary characteristic prepare (the similarly expensive Altitude Carbon Z above, for example, can be folded into a much smaller length). And finally, Gossamer Gear is a cottage brand, and we’ve seen the LT5 go in and out of stock often throughout the past few seasons. Just if you lot take practiced care of them and don’t demand them for travel, they’re nigh as good as it gets for an ultralight build. It’south worth noting that Gossamer Gear offers replacement sections of their poles should you damage one, which is a rarity in the market.
See the Gossamer Gear LT5

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vii. Blackness Diamond Trail Back ($90)

Black Diamond Trail Back trekking poles
Weight per pair:
ane lb. 1 oz.
Blazon:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft material:
Aluminum
Grip:
Rubber
What we like:
Proven toughness, proficient all-effectually abilities.
What we don’t:
Rubber grips aren’t the most comfortable.

As a market leader, Black Diamond has a fairly all-encompassing trekking pole line-up. A consistent favorite is their budget-oriented Trail Back, which in many ways is a trimmed-down version of the Trail Ergo Cork above. Y’all lose the ergonomic shape and cork grips, but the two trusty FlickLocks remain, as well equally the sturdy aluminum construction. Further, among the options at nether $100, the Trail Backs have a longer track record of durability than the REI Trailbreak above (only do cost $20 more than).

What are you giving up with a mid-range pole like the Trail Back? Despite a contempo iii-ounce drop in weight, the poles are still on the heavier end at ane pound i ounce for the pair and therefore not a top choice for long-distance backpackers or thru-hikers. Also, the safety grips are a definite footstep downwards in comfort from foam or cork, which practise a better chore absorbing sweat and preventing chafing while on the trail. Merely the Trail Back’s stiff, no-nonsense structure makes a lot of sense for those looking to continue price in check while not sacrificing much in terms of quality.
See the Blackness Diamond Trail Back

viii. REI Co-op Flash Carbon ($149)

REI Co-op Flash Carbon trekking poles
Weight per pair:
13.half dozen oz.
Blazon:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft material:
Carbon
Grip:
Foam
What we like:
Splendid value for the specs and quality.
What we don’t:
Non every bit tough as our top picks.

For backpackers looking to proceed weight to a minimum, the REI Co-op Flash Carbon poles are a not bad option, undercutting other high-end competitors by $20 or more. At well under a pound and with a carbon composite build, the poles feel lite in the hands and feature soft cream grips that take the sting out of impacts and do a decent chore at minimizing sweat buildup. We however give the overall edge in comfort to cork, but foam does absorb and dissipate wet well when it’south hot and humid outside. And we like that REI utilizes a quality, metallic lever lock system, which is a more secure and robust upgrade from the previous plastic version.

All that said, the Flash Carbon’s lightweight build does come with ane major drawback: lack of versatility. For example, BD’s Trail Ergo Cork, Trail Back, and even their Tall Carbon Cork above are noticeably sturdier and more confidence-inspiring for navigating crude and rocky terrain. And the Flash Carbon is decidedly less suitable for four-season adventuring, which is confirmed by the lack of snow baskets. But this likely won’t faze virtually off-white-weather condition backpackers and hikers, and with REI’s first-class return policy to back them up, the Flash Carbon poles are a nice UL option. And for those trying to keep majority to a minimum, they’re at present as well available in a Compact variation with a 2-inch-shorter collapsed length for the same price.
See the REI Co-op Flash Carbon

9. MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon ($170)

MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon trekking poles
Weight per pair:
1 lb. 1 oz.
Type:
Folding (lever lock)
Shaft material:
Carbon
Grip:
Foam
What we like:
One of the near well-rounded poles nosotros’ve ever used.
What we don’t:
Overkill for summer utilise and not the most comfortable grips.

Well-nigh of the poles on this listing are intended for summer and lite shoulder-flavour work, but if you’re anticipating significant snow travel, information technology’s worth getting a sturdier design. MSR’s DynaLock Ascent Carbon is only that: Its Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber build is very tough, and you get wider winter baskets to go on the poles afloat in powder. The balance of the Ascent resembles a standard trekking pole, including a collapsible construction that packs down small, 8 inches of adjustability, and a reasonable overall weight of 1 pound 1 ounce per pair (for the 100-120cm version). All told, it’s ane of the most well-rounded designs we’ve ever used. In fact, one editor even brought one on Patagonia’south notoriously technical 43-mile Huemul Circuit, where he and his partner set the current mixed-gender team FKT in a sub-12-hour push—a truthful attestation to the poles’ all-around capabilities.

Priced at $170, the MSR DynaLock Ascension Carbon offers a fair corporeality of bang for your cadet, but it’south overkill for summer use. Y’all tin can become significantly lighter with something similar the BD Distance Carbon Z to a higher place, and the winter baskets are unnecessary for anything simply deep snow (more than meaty trekking discs are included). In addition, nosotros plant the foam grips of the MSR aren’t as comfortable equally a traditional hiking model, especially in the surface area at the top that has a lot of exposed plastic. Complaints aside, if you want a pole that tin can truly be used twelvemonth-round for anything from snowshoeing to aggressive high routes, the DynaLock Ascent Carbon deserves a look. Note: Availability has been hit or miss lately, simply MSR and a few other retailers take decent stock at the fourth dimension of publishing.
See the MSR DynaLock Ascension Carbon

10.

Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA ($140)


Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-TecWeight per pair:

1 lb. 4.3 oz.
Blazon:
Folding (lever lock)
Shaft material:
Aluminum
Grip:
Cork/Rubber
What we like:
Collapsible to 15.five inches.
What we don’t:
Heavy for a folding model.

With a folding-manner blueprint, Leki’s well-loved and ergonomic cork grips, and a competitive price of $140, the Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA is 1 of our favorite poles in this category. This aluminum model folds down to a mere 15 inches, which is amongst the smallest on our listing. And nosotros love Leki’s SpeedLock 2 locking system—it can exist tightened with a small dial, no extra tools needed. The power to hands keep the locks tight adds to the already durable nature of these poles.

As expected, in that location are tradeoffs to this pattern. As with other folding trekking poles, the Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA is compact, but it’southward quite heavy at over 1 pound 4 ounces for the pair (the sacrifice of the more affordable price tag and alloy build). Additionally, folding poles in full general are less sturdy than their telescoping counterparts, making these some of the least weight-begetting aluminum poles on this listing. That said, they’ll surely have a beating improve than the carbon fiber Gossamer Gear LT5 and BD Distance Carbon Z in a higher place, as well every bit Leki’s ain high-end Micro Vario Carbon.
See the Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA  Run into the Women’s Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA

eleven. Blackness Diamond Distance FLZ ($150)

Black Diamond Distance FLZ trekking poles
Weight per pair:
14.8 oz.
Type:
Folding (lever lock)
Shaft material:
Aluminum
Grip:
Foam
What we like:
Calorie-free, packable, and more durable than carbon.
What we don’t:
Not as sturdy as the top-rated Trail Ergo.

The stock-still-length Black Diamond Carbon Z to a higher place are the lightest trekking poles on this listing, but the adjustable aluminum version arguably has wider appeal. In fact, for almost hikers and backpackers, we think it’s the better option. The poles are noticeably sturdier and more durable (we’ve cleaved one of the carbon models just from sitting on it), which makes them easier to trust and lean into on the trail. In addition, nosotros prefer the alloy FLZ for use with an ultralight shelter as the adjustability (between 6 to 8 inches depending on size) simplifies the set-up process and the thicker material holds better in the wind.

Where the Distance FLZ runs into bug is when compared with BD’s own Trail Ergo above. Despite costing around the same, the Trail Ergo feels even more rock-solid, has more comfy grips, and does a nicer job absorbing impacts. That said, if you lot value a small-scale packed size, the Distance wins out hands (15 in. vs 27 in.), and information technology’s a flake lighter at just under 15 ounces per pair (the Trail Ergo Cork is 1 lb. 2 oz.). In the end, these downsides push the FLZ to a mid-pack finish on our list, but it’south well worth a expect for those wanting a reliable and packable design.
Run into the Black Diamond Distance FLZ

12. Leki Khumbu Lite ($120)

Leki Khumbu Lite trekking poles
Weight per pair:
i lb. ane.4 oz.
Blazon:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft fabric:
Aluminum
Grip:
Cork/rubber
What we like:
Sturdy feel; cork grip and lever locks at a great cost.
What nosotros don’t:
Falls brusk of the Trail Ergo Cork in a few areas.

There are enough of pricey and premium poles on the market for committed adventurers, and budget options abound from brands like REI and Black Diamond. If y’all’re looking for something in the middle that better balances toll and functioning, Leki’s Khumbu Calorie-free stands out as a competitive mid-range option: You become a tough, sturdy, and reliable feel from the aluminum build—it doesn’t flex or curve like cheaper or ultralight options—and comfort is good thanks to the generally cork handle. And despite the reasonable $120 price tag, Leki didn’t skimp on premium touches, including their well-loved SpeedLock+ lever, ergonomic grips that are tilted slightly to continue your wrists in a neutral position, breathable and adjustable straps, and light but durable carbide tips. Added up, it’s a solid all-around effort and a great value from the brand.

The Khumbu Light is a stiff upkeep alternative to our pinnacle-rated Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork, with a similar weight, 3-section telescoping design, and aluminum shaft. Even so, a few small nitpicks push information technology downwardly our list. Commencement, the Trail Ergo Cork offers a wider range of adjustments (from 27-55 in. compared to 39-53 in. for the Leki), and the all-cork grips are a modest pace upwards in condolement from the Leki’due south mixed cork/safety design. The BD also comes with both powder and trekking baskets for four-flavour versatility, which helps bridge the $xx price gap. Finally, the Trail’s grips have a more aggressive angle (xv° vs. eight° for the Leki), which we’ve institute to be a more than natural resting position for your hands. Just many hikers will find these differences hard to discern, and the Khumbu Lite become the edge in toll.
Encounter the Leki Khumbu Calorie-free

13. Mountainsmith Dolomite OLS ($30)

Mountainsmith Dolomite trekking pole
Weight:
10 oz. (single pole)
Blazon:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft material:
Aluminum
Grip:
Cork and foam
What we like:
Bully value for those who just need a single pole.
What we don’t:
Average build quality and pretty heavy at 10 ounces.

The vast majority of trekking poles are sold in pairs, simply some hikers and backpackers prefer to hit the trail with a unmarried pole (including some on our team). For these folks, opting for the Mountainsmith Dolomite is a nice way to save: For $thirty, you get a quality aluminum set-up with a cork handle, EVA foam choke-up grips, and a iii-piece telescoping design that packs downward reasonably minor. The lever locks aren’t annihilation special and the build can’t lucifer the sturdiness of our summit picks above, simply the Dolomite undeniably is an excellent value.

Clearly, there are some compromises in opting for a unmarried pole like the Mountainsmith Dolomite. For one, you lose out on the option to bring a full fix for times when stability is important, such as hikes over specially rough or steep terrain. In addition, many trekking pole-supported tents and shelters require ii poles to set (including popular builds like the Zpacks Duplex and Gossamer Gear’s The One). And a concern we have specifically with the Mountainsmith is its 10-ounce weight, which makes it one of the heavier designs on our listing. For an ultralight but far pricier option, Gossamer Gear sells their LT5 model in a unmarried pole for near $98.
Run into the Mountainsmith Dolomite OLS

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xiv. Leki MCT Superlite ($200)

Leki MCT Superlite trekking poles
Weight per pair:
11.two oz.
Type:
Folding
Shaft textile:
Carbon
Grip:
Cork/foam
What we like:
A nicely appointed pick for fast-and-light enthusiasts.
What we don’t:
Heavier, pricier, and less packable than the Altitude Carbon Z above.

Black Diamond’south Distance Carbon Z above is our favorite ultralight and collapsible design, but Leki offers an intriguing alternative in their MCT Superlite. In sum, these poles are purpose-built for roofing ground quickly: They clock in at a scant 11.two ounces per pair, fold down to just fourteen.six inches for stashing in a pack, and come with thoughtful features like a mesh wrist strap and Leki’s sleek trail running handbasket with a carbide tip for navigating tricky terrain. Leki as well beefed up the lower portion of the poles with 14-millimeter carbon fiber (the residuum of the shaft is 12mm) for added assurance over rough ground. Added up, the MCT Superlite is one of the most specialized options here and a great match for trail runners and mountain athletes.

As nosotros touched on in a higher place, the Leki MCT Superlite goes head-to-head with Black Diamond’s Distance Carbon Z in a higher place. In parsing out the differences, the Leki is heavier past one.4 ounces per pair, a little larger when folded down (14.six in. vs. 13 in. for the Distance in the 110cm length), and costs $20 more. That said, some may discover the weight and price penalties worth it for the MCT Superlite’s premium characteristic set, including the same mesh strap and a more than comfortable cork grip (the BD’s is cream) with choke-up extensions for crossing uneven terrain. If yous don’t mind the inherent tradeoffs in opting for carbon poles, both are well-fabricated and highly capable options for those aimed at moving fast and light. For a similarly targeted and premium UL option from Leki, check out their Cross Trail FX.1 Superlite.
Meet the Leki MCT Superlite

15. Pour Mount Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock ($60)

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock trekking poles
Weight per pair:
one lb.
Blazon:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft material:
Carbon
Grip:
Cream or Cork
What we like:
Cheap and very light.
What we don’t:
Not congenital to concluding.

Carbon fiber typically is associated with high-end builds and premium prices, but Cascade Mountain Tech offers a pair of carbon poles for just around $threescore. On newspaper, the poles stack up really well with a i-pound weight, simple lever locks, and foam grip extensions. Impressively, Cascade Mountain Tech didn’t skimp on accessories either, with rubber tips and ii sets of baskets for mud and snow. The Carbon Fiber poles are available with either a foam or cork grip, and while we typically prefer cork, nosotros lean towards foam in this case every bit a cheap cork grip will break downward over fourth dimension.

The main downside in choosing the Cascade Mountain Tech poles is durability. The carbon shaft does a great job keeping weight depression merely is more probable to get a crack or snap under a load than another budget pole like the aluminum REI Trailbreak to a higher place. Moreover, the overall construction is rather cheap, and the cost-cutting in the plastic adjustment system doesn’t inspire conviction in its longevity. But if yous take good intendance, going with Cascade Mountain Tech gets you a set of lightweight poles for about ane/3 of what you’d pay for carbon from a visitor similar Black Diamond (even REI’s composite Flash Carbon poles to a higher place are effectually $100 pricier).
Run into the Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Cobweb Quick Lock

16. Blackness Diamond Trail Pro Stupor ($160)

Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock trekking poles
Weight per pair:
i lb. 4.3 oz.
Blazon:
Telescoping (lever lock)
Shaft textile:
Aluminum
Grip:
Foam
What we like:
Proven shock-absorbing system.
What we don’t:
Extra weight and price.

As we touched on previously, daze absorption isn’t a must-have feature for many hikers and comes with some notable downsides, including added weight and complexity. But if the extra give is highly-seasoned to you, Black Diamond’s Trail Pro Shock is a popular alternative to Leki’s Legacy Lite As above. Impressive damping and rebound control built into the pole’s handle helps avoid a common pitfall of anti-daze poles: bottoming out and an unpredictable rebound. The arrangement works quite seamlessly and reacts well to both calorie-free and difficult impacts. The residue of the fix-upwardly is classic Black Diamond, with quality materials and components like their metal FlickLock Pro.

Cons are the expected sacrifices for the Trail Pro Shock’s additional tech. Weight goes upwardly relative to not-shock-absorbing options at over 1 pound 4 ounces (even Leki’s shock-arresting Legacy is lighter at ane lb. two.4 oz.), and yous pay a bit of a price premium likewise. At $160, we’d adopt cork grips, but the foam handles with choke-upwards extensions still are fine performers. All told, the Trail Pro isn’t for everyone, simply its iv-season-gear up structure and functional daze absorption earn it a spot on our listing.
Encounter the Blackness Diamond Trail Pro Shock  See the Women’s Blackness Diamond Trail Pro Shock

Trekking Pole Comparison Table

Trekking Pole Toll Type Lock Weight Shaft Grip Length*
Blackness Diamond Trail Ergo Cork $140 Telescoping Lever ane lb. 2 oz. Aluminum Cork 27 in.
REI Co-op Trailbreak $70 Telescoping Lever i lb. one oz. Aluminum Rubber 25 in.
Black Diamond Altitude Z $180 Folding Northward/A nine.2 oz. Carbon Cream 13 in.
Leki Legacy Low-cal AS $120 Telescoping Lever 1 lb. two.4 oz. Aluminum Cork/rubber 27 in.
Black Diamond Tall Carbon $190 Telescoping Lever one lb. 1.1 oz. Carbon Cork 24 in.
Gossamer Gear LT5 $195 Telescoping Twist x.half dozen oz. Carbon Foam 23.v in.
Blackness Diamond Trail Back $90 Telescoping Lever 1 lb. 1 oz. Aluminum Rubber 24 in.
REI Co-op Flash Carbon $149 Telescoping Lever 13.half dozen oz. Carbon Foam 25 in.
MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon $170 Telescoping Lever i lb. 1 oz. Carbon Foam 14.25 in.
Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA $140 Folding Lever 1 lb. four.iii oz. Aluminum Cork/safe 15 in.
Black Diamond Distance FLZ $150 Folding Lever 14.viii oz. Aluminum Foam xv in.
Leki Khumbu Calorie-free $120 Telescoping Lever 1 lb. 1.4 oz. Aluminum Cork/rubber 26 in.
Mountainsmith Dolomite OLS $thirty Telescoping Lever 10 oz. (1) Aluminum Cork/cream 25 in.
Leki MCT Superlite $200 Folding N/A 11.2 oz. Carbon Cork/foam 14.vi in.
Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon $60 Telescoping Lever 1 lb. Carbon Foam 28 in.
Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock $160 Telescoping Lever 1 lb. 4.3 oz. Aluminum Foam 26 in.


*Editor’s Annotation:

“Length” is the minimum or collapsed length for the trekking poles.

Trekking Pole Buying Advice

  • Trekking Pole Types: Telescoping, Folding, and Stock-still
  • Shaft Materials
  • Locking Mechanisms
  • Trekking Pole Grip Construction
  • Weight
  • Packed Size
  • Durability
  • Shock-Absorbing Poles​
  • Women’southward-Specific Poles
  • Cheap Trekking Poles
  • Hiking with One Trekking Pole
  • Trekking Pole Tents and Shelters

Trekking Pole Types: Telescoping, Folding, and Fixed

Telescoping poles fabricated of two or 3 sections are the most common type on the market, and are known for their durability and ease of utilise. Every bit such, they’re popular with everyone from day hikers to backpackers and fifty-fifty mountaineers. The unlike pole sections expand from each joint by a locking system that can be opened for adjustment and secured while on the trail. These points of connection also are their greatest weaknesses, so a quality locking machinery is highly recommended (we discuss this in more item below). In this category, nosotros prefer calorie-free poles with simple feature sets: secure locking mechanisms, quality aluminum or carbon fiber structure, and comfy grips.

Trekking poles (REI Flash strapped to pack)
Telescoping poles collapse downwards for strapping to the outside of a pack

Black Diamond pioneered the ultralight folding category with their Z-Pole line. Much like the poles that come up with a tent, you can separate the pieces and pack them down into a meaty size (ofttimes x inches shorter than a comparable telescoping pole). More recently, Leki has made a stiff push with their Micro Vario series, which includes the Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA to a higher place and pricier Micro Vario Carbon (not listed hither). Most folding poles have very thin shafts, can carry less weight than their telescoping counterparts, and are either not adjustable or limited in their adjustments lengthwise. Favored by fast hikers, trail runners, climbers, and travelers, these poles will cause the least amount of arm fatigue over long miles.

Trekking poles (folding down Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z)
Black Diamond’southward Distance Carbon Z poles fold downwardly to a compact 13 in.

A third category of trekking pole is the direct-shaft, fixed-length design. These are relatively uncommon because it tin be difficult to store or transport such a long item (particularly when fastened to your pack or in a suitcase), and they can’t exist adjusted for up and downhill travel. As such, no fixed-length poles made our list. If yous’re in the market, even so, we recommend checking out the Ultimate Direction FK, which weighs but 4 ounces per pole.

Trekking poles (glacier hiking with the Leki Micro Vario )
Crossing a glacier with the Leki Micro Vario trekking poles

Shaft Materials

By and large, hiking poles are made either from carbon fiber, aluminum, or a combination of the two (a three-section pole may have ii carbon upper pieces and an aluminum lower, for example). High-stop trekking poles are ofttimes made from carbon, which is lighter and stiffer but likewise more expensive and breakable (and when carbon cobweb breaks, it breaks; aluminum may just paring or bend and still exist usable). Carbon’s trend to snap under hard stress tin be somewhat showtime by a thicker diameter structure, at the punishment of weight.

Cost and overall durability are the main reasons hikers opt for aluminum poles. There’s something to be said about a confidence-inspiring design like the Black Diamond Trail Ergo, which is super stable and has virtually no wobble even on steep descents. In the end, the casual hiker or someone that is rough on their gear volition probably be happiest with an aluminum or hybrid aluminum/carbon pole. On the other paw, an all-carbon build remains the best option for the weight-focused hiker/backpacker.

Trekking poles (crossing river with BD poles)
Aluminum poles become the clear edge in durability over carbon

Locking Mechanisms

Exterior of an ultralight folding trekking pole, chances are yous’ll be eying ane with some sort of locking mechanism. The classic style used a twist lock: To tighten, you twist each department closed to lock the segments into place. These poles are haunted past inconsistent performance, with hikers either over-tightening to the bespeak of seizing, or twisting too loose, resulting in perpetual issues with collapsing. Needless to say, the twist lock has gone out of vogue. And while there are a few models out there that do a expert job—such as what you go on Gossamer Gear’south LT5—we typically recommend avoiding the twist lock.

Trekking poles (locking mechanisms)
Our preferred lever lock (open) on the right with twist lock on the left

Enter the lever lock. Using an external clench to either open up to suit or close to lock the pole sections, it’s an easy-to-use system. Ameliorate still, the tendency for segments to skid when in the locked position is significantly reduced, giving boosted confidence to the user. There are still a few risks of incidentally opening the lock when moving through heavy brush or the demand to occasionally tighten the lever with a screwdriver (Leki’s SpeedLock + on the Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA doesn’t require a tool to adjust), just these are pocket-size nitpicks. The lever lock is the new standard.

Trekking poles (locking mechanisms comparison)
Leki’due south SpeedLock 2 (left) and Black Diamond’s FlickLock (right)

Trekking Pole Grip Structure

Materials: Cork, Foam, and Condom

Trekking pole grips come in three main types: cork, foam, and rubber, with cork being our personal favorite. A quality cork handle has an exceptionally comfy feel in the hand and wicks sweat very well. It besides will adapt nicely to your hand over time, making it bang-up for long-distance treks and multi-season use. If cork isn’t your matter, the next best bet is foam. EVA foam is soft, provides a measure of daze absorption, and does a decent task at wicking moisture in the summertime months (although it volition typically retain more than moisture than cork). Rubber is the 3rd option and usually institute on budget hiking poles. We’ve constitute these grips to exist all-time for common cold weather activities because they shed rain and snow, but they lack the sweat absorption and premium feel of foam and cork.

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Trekking poles (hiking in Patagonia)
Quality foam and cork handles are not bad for long-distance backpacking

Ergonomic Handle vs. Standard Handle

Looking across the grip materials, another consideration is whether or not to go an ergonomic handle. These types of grips have a slight forrad angle, typically effectually 15 degrees, which is supposed to mimic where your hands would naturally rest. Not surprisingly, what feels “natural” to i person may non to some other, and this in the end is a very personal choice. That existence said, we’ve enjoyed our fair share of ergonomic grips (Leki is a standout in this area, and we also like Black Diamond’s Ergo models).

Trekking poles (foam versus cork grips)
Choosing a standard (left) or ergonomic (right) grip is mostly a matter of personal preference

Choke-up Extensions

Many poles will have a second, smaller grip beneath the principal ane. This is what nosotros refer to as a choke-up extension, or extended grip. These predominantly cream grips are great for finding a secure hold lower on your poles while climbing steep hills or sidehilling, improving residue and leverage. For those who often travel on steep or technical terrain, extended grips are a must-have feature. For a DIY alternative, yous tin can wrap duct record effectually your poles nether the large grips for a more than secure concord.

Trekking poles (choke-up extensions)
Choke-upwards extensions are valuable on steep climbs

Wrist Straps


The final piece in the grip construction is the wrist strap. There is an impressive diversity of strap designs, ranging from heavily padded to elementary nylon. And some hikers ditch the straps altogether because they’d rather not be connected to their poles should they take a autumn or use the system improperly (correct technique is entering from the bottom opening of the strap). In choosing a strap, the biggest consideration is noticing any potential irritants. If a seam is rubbing against the back of your hand on a curt walk, that tin plow into serious chafing by mile 10. In general, the straps on most quality trekking poles are very comfy. Even the simple webbing on the Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA is very smooth. At the other stop of the spectrum, you get nearly full hand coverage with Leki’due south MCT Superlite, but many hikers and backpackers will find the blueprint overkill and a bit polarizing.

Weight

The weight of the trekking poles is our second biggest consideration (first is comfort), and we wouldn’t arraign y’all for putting information technology atop your priority listing. A calorie-free pole will fatigue your arms less quickly, which is a big benefit on long treks. On short trips, you may not discover a 2-ounce difference, but when you think of the number of times your arms swing forrad over an extended trip, it’due south like shooting fish in a barrel to realize how a piddling weight savings can go a long fashion.

Trekking poles (four pairs on ground)
Weight can add up speedily on the trail, and so information technology’due south important to choose a pair of poles that matches your objectives

For moving light and fast, the lighter the better, with a caveat that durability diminishes once you go into the ultralight category (we encounter information technology happen right around 1 pound). On the extreme end are poles similar the Gossamer Gear LT5 (10.6 ounces for a pair) or Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z (9.two to 10.iv ounces, depending on length). These are great for ultralight backpackers and thru-hikers, but the shaft materials are too delicate for bushwhacking or four-season utilise. Our preference is to go lightweight without having to be constantly worried about snapping the poles, which is why we rank the BD Trail Ergo atop our listing.

Trekking poles (hiking with Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z)
Backpacking in Washington state with the ultralight Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z

Packed Size

Packed size or collapsed length isn’t a brand-or-pause specification for us, but it is a consideration for travelers that need to fit their poles into a suitcase and hikers that strap their poles to their pack. Folding poles take the prize for the smallest packed size, which is as niggling every bit 13 inches. Properly protected, they’re fifty-fifty small enough to store inside a daypack.

Trekking poles (strapped to outside of pack)
Folding hiking poles pack downward impressively small

Not anybody puts such a high value on a meaty size, which is partly why iii-department poles remain the most popular style on the market. Their boilerplate minimum length is 24 to 27 inches, which is pocket-sized enough to attach to the exterior of a backpacking pack, and as well can fit into about luggage. Two-department telescoping designs are where it may become an issue for squeezing into a duffel or suitcase, and you can forget nearly traveling with a fixed-length pole.

Trekking poles (telescoping vs. folding)
A telescoping design (left) compared to a more compact folding model (right)

Durability

For trekking poles, durability and weight nearly always go hand in hand. The first places manufacturers look to cutting weight are the thickness of the cloth and the diameter of the pole. A smaller diameter and thinner pole logically will exist less durable and flex more under pressure than its wider and thicker counterpart. The other part of the equation is the material itself. Every bit mentioned higher up, even though aluminum may not be every bit stiff every bit carbon cobweb, it is the amend selection in terms of durability because information technology has a lesser take a chance of breaking. This is why some manufacturers make a hybrid carbon and aluminum pole with the aluminum section at the bottom. Banging up against trail debris or snagging the pole in between rocks may only paring or bend the aluminum rather than crack or shatter the carbon.

Trekking poles (crossing river in Patagonia)
Aluminum poles, like the BD Trail Ergo Cork, are sturdier than their carbon fiber counterparts

As with any piece of outdoor gear, it’s best to call up through your private needs. Because nosotros like to employ our trekking poles year-round and on varied terrain, we’re willing to bargain with the extra couple ounces to get a more than reliable build like the proven Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork. But if we were setting off on a thru-hike of the PCT, we’d be willing to compromise a lot more on immovability.

Trekking pole (holding up shelter)
Thru-hikers are often willing to sacrifice a little durability to shave weight

Winter Apply

To keep your gear closet from overflowing (and your banking concern account plentiful), it’s always nice to find a single piece of gear that tin be used year-circular. A durable trekking pole can be just that: slap-up for unproblematic day hikes or backpacking trips in the summer, but burly enough for snowshoeing or even the occasional ski bout. So what makes a trekking pole suitable for wintertime? Typically information technology will come from the telescoping category. The stiffer design and telescoping function is important for uphill and downhill travel, particularly for skiing or mountaineering. That said, there are some robust folding poles similar the Black Diamond Alpine FLZ

Across having a stiff shaft fabric, interchangeable baskets are a must for winter use. Many trekking poles come with, or offer as an accessory, powder snow baskets. The wide bore baskets keep the poles from sinking in deep snow, just similar a ski pole. Not all trekking poles accept this choice, even so, so make sure to verify prior to purchasing.

Trekking poles (MSR DynaLock Ascent in snow)
Using sturdy, 4-season trekking poles in snowfall

Daze-Absorbing Poles

Calculation shock absorption to trekking poles seems like a no-brainer. They accept the built-in give that takes additional stress off of knees as well equally your wrists on a long descent. Simply, a quick scan of the picks above will evidence only a few poles with shock absorption fabricated our list. What gives? Outset and nearly importantly is the actress weight. On longer treks, those additional ounces actually count (although the Leki arrangement only adds 1 ounce per pole). Most importantly, simplicity in the outdoors is your friend, and 1 fewer office to suspension is a win for us. There are undoubtedly proficient reasons to become a shock-arresting pole, just we encourage you to think through the compromises to brand certain they’re worth it.

Trekking pole (Leki DSS shock-absorbing technology)
Leki’south low-profile daze absorbers are congenital into the bottom of the pole

Women’due south-Specific Trekking Poles

Most trekking poles are billed every bit unisex products, but there are a number of models that include a women’south version (Leki also has an entire drove of women’south-specific poles). What differentiates the women’due south trekking pole is a narrower diameter grip, intended for smaller hands, and a shorter maximum length. For reference, the women’s version of the BD Trail Ergo Cork can exist extended to 49 inches, while the men’s extend to 55 inches. Realistically, anyone that doesn’t need the actress length and would benefit from the smaller-diameter grips should cull a women’s trekking pole. Some other benefit is women’due south poles accept a shorter minimum length (typically around 4-5 inches shorter in telescoping models), which makes them easier to stow away in a suitcase for traveling.

Trekking poles (wading through river in Patagonia)
Women’s-specific poles typically accept narrower grips and shorter maximum lengths

Cheap Trekking Poles

Uncomfortable cream, cork disintegrating into your palms, wrist straps chafing your hands, frail locking mechanisms collapsing. Need we continue? A poorly made, inexpensive trekking pole is just not worth it. Now we’re not saying you have to spend $150 to feel safe and secure; in that location are a number of poles nether $100 that we withal highly recommend. Moreover, if y’all are looking for a trekking pole for stability around town or want to endeavour them without paying through the nose, yous can forego some of the fancy lightweight features and get a archetype aluminum pole at a reasonable price.

The REI Co-op Trailbreak telescoping poles (#2 on our list) are a great deal at $seventy and will do the trick for easy local trails and twenty-four hour period hikes. If you plan to use the poles for backpacking, we nonetheless recommend sticking with the pricier options on the list. As with almost items you become for the backcountry, it’s well worth it to get a slice of gear you tin rely on.

Trekking poles (Montem descending)
Inexpensive trekking poles are fine on easy trails, but don’t look them to hold upward to serious use

Hiking with One Trekking Pole

Although the vast majority of hikers utilize two trekking poles, information technology’s worth mentioning that a certain contingent prefers ane. We’ve institute that this is most often thru-hikers who want to behave the least possible weight and gear, and one pole does afford you added balance and back up compared to not using any at all. For those using an ultralight shelter with trekking pole support, apparently the design volition demand to crave only ane pole. For example, most Hyperlite Mount Gear shelter models require one pole, while pop ultralight tents similar the Zpacks Duplex require 1 pole on each cease (two full). In the end, the choice comes downwardly to personal preference, and one pole tin be a fine selection for those who desire some of the benefits while keeping a hand free. And in terms of buying, nigh all hiking poles are sold in sets, although the Mountainsmith Dolomite above is a notable exception. Further, some cottage brands like Gossamer Gear do allow you to order one by including a note to “ship but ane pole and refund fifty%”.

Trekking poles (hiking with one pole)
Hiking with i pole tin cut downwardly on weight while however offering added stability

Trekking Pole Tents and Shelters

For ultralight backpackers and thru-hikers, a trekking pole-supported shelter is a neat fashion to trim weight. If you’re considering one of these designs, keep in mind you’ll need a compatible set of poles. 1 key factor is pole length, and many shelters are designed to function with set up dimensions. For instance, Zpacks’ popular Duplex works with poles approximately 48 inches long, while Gossamer Gear’southward The I is best with two 49-inch poles. In addition, nosotros’ve institute adjustable pole designs simplify the ready-upward procedure (stock-still-length poles are cumbersome and harder to go far place). Finally, the durability of your trekking poles is important: Ultralight carbon models may be great while hiking, just if they snap, yous’ll need to become creative to make your shelter functional. For us, a balanced pattern like the Blackness Diamond Distance FLZ makes a lot of sense. It’due south reasonably light at 14.8 ounces per pair, sturdy and tough with its aluminum build, and the adaptable length ensures the Distance FLZ will fit with about shelters on the market.
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Source: https://www.switchbacktravel.com/best-trekking-poles