This post may contain affiliate links.

10 Best Trekking Poles for Hiking and Backpacking (2024)

10 Best Trekking Poles

Trekking poles provide many benefits to hikers and backpackers, from added stability and balance on rough trails to less wear and tear on knees and hips, especially when hiking downhill. The most popular trekking poles are adjustable in length, with a lever lock adjustment system instead of twist-locks, because they are more reliable to use and easier to fix.

Here are the top 10 trekking poles that we recommend.

Make / ModelMaterialGrip
Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZCarbon FiberFoam
Black Diamond PursuitAluminumCork
Leki Khumbu LiteAluminumCork
REI TraverseAluminumCork
Leki Back Series FX CarbonCarbon FiberCork
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon CorkCarbon FiberCork
Gossamer Gear LT5Carbon FiberFoam
Black Diamond TrailAluminumFoam
Trailbuddy Trekking PolesAluminumCork
Pacerpole Dual LockCarbon FiberPlastic

Carbon fiber trekking poles have become increasingly popular in recent years and have started to eclipse aluminum poles because of their lighter weight. This trend has been fueled by competition from low-cost manufacturers without huge advertising and marketing budgets, like Cascade Mountain Tech, Trailbuddy, Montem, and others. Some of their products are quite good values, especially for beginner hikers and backpackers, and offer a great way to try trekking poles without breaking the bank.

If you’re still unsure about which poles to purchase, read the explanation of our trekking pole selection criteria and key considerations below. It provides a good introduction to the pros and cons of different trekking pole features and design choices. While brands like Leki and Black Diamond are much more expensive than no-name manufacturers, they are higher quality and have very good warranties that make them worth the price if you’re hard on gear.

1. Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ

Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Ples

The Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles feature a versatile folding design, flick-lock adjustability, and carbon fiber construction that fits easily into packs and suitcases, making them ideal for backpacking and travel. Weighing just 340g (12 oz) per pair, these ultralight poles are available in three lengths when fully expanded: 110 cm, 125 cm, 140 cm, collapsing to 13.8″-16″ in length when folded up. The poles have extended EVA foam grips, with minimal mesh wrist straps. Both carbide and nonscarring rubber tech tips are included, but snow baskets are sold separately. The sizing is unisex, but a women’s model is also available. An aluminum version of the Distance FLZ is also available for $50 less.

Shop at REIShop at Black Diamond

2. Black Diamond Pursuit Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Pursuit Trekking Poles
Black Diamond’s Pursuit Trekking Poles are adjustable aluminum poles with a natural cork grip that molds to your hands over time and absorbs sweat without becoming slippery. They have ergonomic handles designed to improve comfort and reduce hand fatigue. These three-section poles are adjusted using Black Diamond’s reliable flick-lock adjustment system, which is easy to tighten in the field if it becomes loose. They are available in two grip sizes, include snow baskets, and have replaceable carbide tips for extended product life. They’re available in two lengths (100-125 cm) and (125-140 cm), which weigh 16.4 oz and 17.6 oz. These Pursuit Poles are also available in a folding (FLZ) model and in one with shock absorption.

Shop at REIShop at Black Diamond

3. Leki Khumbu Lite Trekking Poles

Leki Khumbu Lite Trekking Poles
Leki’s Khumbu Lite Trekking Poles are 3-section telescoping aluminum poles with ergonomic cork grips that have an 8-degree angle that keeps wrists in a neutral position, providing more efficient pole plants and less pressure on sensitive wrist joints. They are adjusted using Leki’s Speed Lock+ level lock system and have trekking baskets and carbide tips, which are easy to replace with winter baskets or replacement tips. The Khumbu Lite is adjustable from 100 cm to 135 cm and weighs 17.4 oz per pair. They’re also available in an anti-shock model, which reduces the impact on your muscles, joints, and ligaments.

Shop at REIShop at Leki

4. REI Traverse Trekking Poles

REI Traverse Trekking Poles
REI Traverse Trekking Poles are 3-piece adjustable, aluminum trekking poles with ergonomic cork grips.  Adjustable padded neoprene wrist straps are included for added support and comfort. The Traverse Poles have a lever lock style adjustment system and include trekking baskets and extra-durable carbide tips. Many brands charge extra for these accessories, so it’s nice that they’re included in an all-in-one package. Available in two lengths, 95 cm-120 cm and 105 cm – 140 cm, they weigh 18.5 oz and 19.5 oz per pair.

Shop at REI

5. Leki Black Series FX Carbon Hiking Poles (folding)

Leki Black Series Carbon FX Poles
Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles are adjustable, carbon fiber, lightweight Z-style trekking poles that fold away into 3 sections for travel or easy storage in your backpack when they are not needed. The cork-gripped handles have a slight 8° angle, contributing to a comfortable and more neutral grip and reduced wrist fatigue. They have an adjustable top segment with an external lever lock for easy length adjustments, making them easy to use with trekking pole tents. The superlight and stiff high-modulus carbon shafts provide optimal swing weight. At the same time, an interchangeable basket system makes it easy to screw on/off various Leki baskets for different seasons or uses. They are 110 cm – 130 cm in length and weigh just 16 oz per pair. Read our review. In addition, a non-folding telescoping version is also available and significantly less expensive.

Shop at Leki

6. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork
The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles are three-piece adjustable carbon-fiber trekking poles that use Black Diamond’s proven flick-lock adjustment system. These are serious poles that can stand up to four-season use if you like to snowshoe in winter. They have natural cork hand grips with EVA foam extensions so you can shift your hand position up or down without adjusting pole length in uneven terrain. Weight is just 17 ounces per pair. Both men’s and women’s lengths are available. Read our review.

Shop at REIShop at Black Diamond

7. Gossamer Gear LT5 Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles (ultralight)

Gossamer Gear LT5 Carbon Trekking Poles
Gossmer Gear’s LT5 Trekking Poles are the most popular ultralight trekking poles used by thru-hikers by a long shot. Weighing just 5 ounces each, they’re super lightweight 3-piece twist-lock poles that work reliably. They have a maximum length of 130cm (51″) fully extended but fold down to 60 cm (23.5″) when collapsed. They come with soft EVA grips, straps, optional rubber tips, and small summer baskets.  They are not as robust as heavier carbon fiber poles and are best used on well-established trails without much snow. But fast packers, long-distance hikers, and trail runners love them because they are lightweight and comfortable.

Shop at Gossamer Gear

8. Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
Black Diamond’s Trail Trekking Poles are a great value, combining the durability of aluminum poles with excellent trail performance and reliability. They range in length from 100 cm to 140 cm and weigh 17.1 oz per pair. They have EVA foam grips, ergonomic dual-density grip tops, and reliable and easily adjustable flick-lock (lever lock) pole length adjusters. Trekking and snow baskets are included, along with carbide and rubber tips. A separate women’s model is available that is 99 cm to 125 cm long and weighs 15.6 oz per pair.

Shop at REIShop at Black Diamond

9. Trailbuddy Aluminum Cork Grip Poles (budget)

Trailbuddy Aluminum Trekking Poles
Trailbuddy Aluminum Cork Grip Trekking Poles are three-section aluminum trekking poles that weigh just 19.4 ounces per pair. Priced at a fraction of what Black Diamond or Leki carbon fiber poles cost, they’re a good value if you’re looking for a reliable lever-lock style trekking pole for hiking and backpacking. These are fully featured, durable, and adjustable trekking poles with adjustable length retainer straps, cork handles with extended grips, and carbide tips. Handle-to-tip length ranges from 63 cm collapsed to 137 cm fully extended. Snow baskets, mud baskets, and rubber feet for walking on pavement are included. They’re also available in a wide variety of colors. Unisex.

Shop at Amazon

10. Pacerpole Dual Lock Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

Pacerpole Trekking Poles
Pacerpole Dual Lock Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are three-piece trekking poles with a unique hand-grip that promotes better bio-mechanical efficiency, posture, and pace while helping to engage your larger arm muscles when climbing up hills and mountains. Best known in the UK, they have a cult following in the United States with hikers, backpackers, and mountaineers. The Dual Lock poles have a top lever lock for quick adjustment and a pin lock to hold the lowest section. The molded hand grips eliminate the need for thick hand straps and only require a loose grip, relieving forearm tension and reducing fatigue. When expended, they range in length from 97 cm to 133 cm and weigh 20.1 oz per pair. Snow baskets and rubber tips are included I’ve been using them for over 10 years and love them. Read our Pacepole Review.

Shop at PacerPole

Key Considerations for Buying Trekking Poles

Here are the important features to consider when choosing which trekking poles to buy, including pros and cons.

Price and Warranties

There is a big price difference between premium poles from Black Diamond and Leki vs less expensive off-brands like Montem, Paria, Cascade Mountain, and the dozens of other trekking pole companies you’ve never heard of on Amazon. When you buy a set of premium poles, they are of better quality, have tighter fitting parts, and have a stiffer feel. Black Diamond and Leki also have much more generous warranty departments and will often replace broken poles or pole segments for free, which can be a big deal if you hike a lot. The off-brands are less expensive but good for people who want to try trekking poles for the first time and don’t want to make a huge investment. Their poles are perfectly usable for hiking, but there is a noticeable difference in durability and longevity over time.

Three-Piece, Two-Piece, Fixed Length, or Folding Poles

Most hikers and backpackers prefer three-piece poles or folding poles over two-piece or fixed-length trekking poles because they’re easier to stow when not used. Folding poles are especially convenient for traveling, although you can also pull apart three-piece poles and reassemble them when you arrive.

Lever Lock or Twist Lock Trekking Pole Adjusters

Multi-piece trekking poles are telescoping, with thinner sections collapsing into thicker ones. When extended there are two main adjustment mechanisms to make them hold their desired length. Lever Locks, called Flick Locks on Black Diamond trekking poles, are external clamps that fold down over the thinner section and prevent them from collapsing further. They are easy to adjust and repair and are very durable. Twist Lock poles rely on a plastic expander inside the poles that expands inside the thicker segment and prevents the thinner tube from moving higher. These expanders tend to wear out over time and stop working, which can be frustrating if you’re in the middle of nowhere. We’ve used both and far prefer lever lock poles because they are so easy to care for and tighten if they loosen up: you tighten an external screw with a penknife or twist it tight with your fingers.

Carbon Fiber or Aluminum Trekking Poles

Many companies claim that carbon fiber poles are lighter weight than aluminum ones, vibrate less, or are more durable. We have not seen any evidence that one material is better than another because poles made with both still break if you trap the tip between rocks or fall on them. The only advantage of aluminum is that you can usually bend it back into shape, whereas carbon fiber shatters. Besides the price (carbon fiber is always more expensive), the most important thing when deciding between the two is whether you can buy replacement sections from the seller when you break a segment or a pole tip.

Cork Handles or EVA Foam Trekking Pole Handles

Most trekking poles come with cork or foam handles. Both repel moisture and provide an excellent grip. In fact, many cork poles have foam extensions under the handle if you need to lower your hands when climbing uphill. Some people will argue that cork is better because it absorbs sweat and molds to your hand over time, although we’re not terribly convinced it does either. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and price.

Shock Absorbing Trekking Poles or Regular

Some trekking poles have a shock-absorbing component, usually built into the handle or as a spring between shaft segments, that reduces the shock you’ll feel in your wrists or forearms when hiking over rock trails or asphalt. They can be very helpful in reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries in your wrists or inflammation if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. If you want to try them, we recommend buying them at REI so you can return them if you don’t like the feel of the shock absorption.

Ultralight Carbon Fiber Poles

Some smaller ultralight backpacking companies sell extremely lightweight carbon fiber poles that are considerably lighter than carbon fiber poles from Black Diamond or Leki. These ultralight poles are much less durable and may break frequently depending on your hiking style and terrain. For example, I have a friend who’s used the same pair of Gossamer Gear carbon fiber trekking poles for years, while I consistently broke them within a day. Just be aware that there is usually a durability difference between very thin ultralight carbon fiber poles and thicker and heavier ones.

Trekking Pole Baskets

The trekking pole baskets have several purposes. The small ones called trekking baskets, are designed to prevent your pole tips from getting caught between rocks and broken. The wider ones, called snow baskets, are designed to float on top of the snow so they don’t sink in. Many pole companies don’t include snow baskets in the purchase price of their poles, even though you’d want them for snowshoeing and skiing. It’s something to watch out for if you want poles for four-season use.

Trekking Pole Tips

Most trekking poles come with carbide tips for hiking over bare ground and rock. It’s very difficult to wear these out, and you’re more likely to break them. If either happens, you want to ensure that the poles you buy have replaceable tips and that you can purchase them separately. Many poles also come with rubber tips, which can be used on asphalt. These may be curved on the bottom or just bulbous rubber caps. Either type works well.

Unisex vs Gender-Specific Poles

The main difference between unisex and gender-specific poles is length and grip size. Men’s and unisex poles tend to be an inch longer than women’s poles and have a narrower grip because women tend to have smaller hands. Otherwise, they’re interchangeable.

Trekking Pole Tents

If you plan on using trekking poles to set up a trekking pole tent, make sure you get ones that are long enough and adjustable. Folding poles are often fixed length when expanded and may or may not be adjustable, depending on the make and model.

Check Out All of SectionHiker's Gear Guides!

SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.

26 comments

  1. I recently purchased some Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork poles to replace a pair of REI Traverse poles (non-cork grips) where the twist locks had started to fail. So far so good, I’ve found that I really like the angle on the grips.

  2. When I started hiking more seriously I bought a couple pairs of the Trailbuddy poles. For what they are – it’s good value. The lock adjustment can be finicky and not everything is made with stainless steel (there is some surface rust on parts) and the wrist strap can be a pain to adjust. If you buy multiple pairs buy all the same color so if/when one fails it’s seamless to mix-n-match. I keep them around now in case I go out with other “non-hikers” if they want to try them.

    Moving from the Trailbuddy went to the BD Ergo’s simply because of the angled grip which makes a much bigger difference than one would think just looking at them (I’m sure Pacer’s are similar!).

    • Exactly. In these gear guides I think it’s important to recommend some entry-level and more affordable options for people dipping their toes in our sport/hobby. But there really is a difference in quality and design when you move to the more expensive brands.

  3. In addition to considering length for trekking pole tents, I would encourage hikers to consider poles that expand to a length greater than what would be their regular fit. The reason for this is for water crossings. When standing on a tree limb over the water, or rocks in the water, the additional length can be a big help in getting you safely across.

  4. Phil, do you find there is any difference between cork handles and EVA handles when it comes to rodent chewing? Do the “mini-bears” prefer one over the other?

  5. if anyone’s looking for a great quality:price value point then the Fizan Compact 3’s are fantastic. highly recommend, especially if all your using them for is to keep up an XMid or something like that.

    • They’re ok. Twist locks. I reviewed a pair many years ago when the DROP still promoted outdoor products.

      • yep, I remember that. I’d say imo a better budget choice over the trailbuddy ones. I also like the twist lock over the snap because I’ve had issues – especially with folding types – of having a pair that fits my height (5’7″) while also being tall enough to support the aforementioned kind of tents.

        also, what’s your personal preference of carbon or aluminum? I’ve found the aluminium more dependable than carbon.

        • Carbon vs Aluminum. It really depends on the pole and how you use it. Some carbon fiber poles are thicker than others and therefore more reliable, but if you fall just right, you can snap both types. It also depends on whether you use snowbaskets or straps. For example, I use a CF pole, no straps, and snow baskets all year round. The lack of straps means I can release the pole if I fall so it won’t snap or break my wrist. The snowbaskets prevent me fron sticking the pole tip into a hole and breaking the pole. Then again, I’d probably do the same things with an aluminum pole. So, net net. It doesn’t really matter all that much what its made of but how you use it.

    • I agree, I love the Fizan poles. They give the performance of aluminum but at the weight of the UL carbon poles. It was predictable that they would be dismissed as twist locks, but in this article they praise the lightest poles ast being the most popular with reliable twist locks. Fizan are the same. Ultralight with reliable twist locks. I previously used BD Alpine Ergo Cork poles, and when I use the again on an occasion when my wife is using the Fazans, I am reminded how much I dislike the heavy bulky external lock mechanisms. One feature never discussed is where the weight is. Putting weight near the tip increases it’s moment of inertia, making it harder to swing, even if the total weight of the pole is the same. My Fizans survived 5 days in the Grand Canyon and Isle Royale where the got a tremendous pounding on rocky trails without sipping a mm. Also a nice trick with these poles is both joints can be locked with one quick motion at the same time. Much easier than flick locks.

  6. El Diablo Amarillo

    Helinox poles didn’t make the cut I see. I have a pair and really like them. The locks are hard to beat when you are packing out 75# more than you went in with

  7. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles are one of my gear. I love this because it’s adjustable.

  8. I just picked up my second set of Cascade Mountain Tech carbon fiber poles at Costco for $35. They have lever locks and cork handles and I think they’re an outstanding value. I recently completed the Sheltowee Trace with the first pair and never had an issue. I didn’t need the second set, but for the price, I felt I couldn’t pass up having a spare set in case I break one or a friend needs a set.

    • I have a set of BD Trail Ergo and a set of Cascade Mtn Tech from Costco. I really like both. I use poles daily, and I choose based on my mood. They probably get about equal use.

  9. I had a pair general Leki aluminum poles with cork grips and anti shock and I liked them until I tripped one day and caught myself with poles. Unfortunately being over 225lbs and close to 300lbs in winter with a full pack I quickly realized that the poles would not support my weight and I broke them. I realize that they are probably not intended to support people’s full weight but in the winter especially descending some icy areas or crossing water I often rely on that support. I went to the store and tried out some new poles. If I extended a normal pole and put an open palm on top of the pole and pushed down (without leaning on it) I was able to bend the pole (I did not purposefully break them in the store but I am confident that I could have) I called Black Diamond and Leki and asked if they had any recommendations. Both told me that their carbon ones would not be any stronger. BD essentially suggested one of their most popular version and told me a could buy replacement pieces when I broke them. Leki it turns out sells what they call a mountaineering/four season pole. They have some which have a larger diameter aluminum shaft than the regular Leki or BD poles. I ordered the “Sherpa” model and have used them this past winter and have been very pleased. I am sure they are heavier but I feel much more secure and confident with them. They are certainly not indestructible but I am not able to bend them just by pushing down on them and I can lean on them without worry of them breaking.

    • That is a very good point. They can be much stronger and I have tried them. I prefer being able to adjust the length shorter on the ascent and longer on the steep sections going down. Ski poles are a great idea though and much cheaper if you already have them.

  10. Suggest looking at availability of parts (buying sections that you might break). Friend has/had a pair of REI Carbon poles, snapped a section and found out REI does not sell replacement sections so the whole pole is trash. BD historically good about “parts”. Agree with Philip though that if all they’ve updated is a name, that’s hardly justification over a lower model.

  11. In reference to PClemons breaking a section of REI poles, the manufacturer is Komperdel, a big European ski/trekking pole company. Call them for replacement parts. Several years ago I loaned an old pair of aluminum REI poles to a friend. The twist lock froze up. Turned out the plastic expander broke. I called Komperdel, sent the pole section to them for repair. Costs was price of postage. As I recall, they have a 5 year warranty period on aluminum poles they make.

  12. So I am wondering what your recommend for folding down into the smallest vans how best to carry / attatch to your pack… I’m always concerned with getting stuck in the head with them in a side pocket because the ride high.. or I worry they will poke a hole in the side pocket… all my concerns, lol!
    Thanks for all you do! You’re sooo generous.
    PS I’m getting ready to do the Pemi loop and wondering what you recommend starting up over the Franconia Rich and coming out the bonds or doing it the other way? Thanks again.

  13. I’ve been using the Cascade Mountain tech Ultralight Carbon Fiber Quick Lock 2-Section Trekking Poles for about 3 years now and have been quite pleased with them. At 5.6 oz each , they are light and have proven durable at a good price point. I really like the single adjustment instead of 2 adusters/3 sections. I would have preferred a cork grip however. I use these with my Xmid tent(s). Interesting that the new Durston 2 piece trekking poles look very similar (although without wrist straps). Like many folks I started out with the Costco CMT 3 piece poles then found these. BTW, I definitely appreciate Section Hiker and am a big fan of your reviews. Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *