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How To Pick The Perfect Set Of Hiking Poles

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Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors, but it can be tough on your body. Your feet take a pounding as you walk, and your legs can get tired quickly. That’s where hiking poles can help. Hiking poles provide extra support for your body and can help you hike further and faster. We both wish that we had gotten ours a long time ago, so don’t wait until every hike leaves you with sore knees like us. A set of hiking poles will make every hike easier.

We picked up our poles at a garage sale on a whim and we got lucky. They have given us a few years of service, but they aren’t in great shape. Recently we started looking at replacements. When we looked online we were surprised how many there were so we wanted to put together this short post. We aren’t going to overwhelm you with tables and graphics, were only going to share what we are considering buying for ourselves. We recommend checking out each of our recommendations, reading the reviews, and shopping around.

If you have an REI or other outdoor retailer nearby we also recommend going and seeing if you can try out a few pairs. We aren’t that lucky out here in rural New Mexico, we rely on Amazon for everything that Wal-Mart doesn’t carry.

AI generated image of a hiker at the summit

TLDR;

If you already know what you are looking for, or just what to see our picks, here you go. These are our top two recommendations based mostly on budget. Both are excellent choices but if you are budget conscious but still want a high quality hiking pole we recommend the TheFitLife Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles. However if you are the kind of person who demands quality and is willing to pay for it the MSR DynaLock Ascent Foldable Carbon Backcountry Trekking Poles are the ones for you.

Best Budget Hiking Pole

TheFitLife Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles earn the title of our best budget hiking pole by offering an impressive combination of quality, functionality, and affordability. Crafted with carbon fiber, these poles strike an ideal balance between lightweight ease and durable support, making them suitable for a variety of hiking experiences without breaking the bank. The design focuses on providing a comfortable, reliable grip and adjustable height, ensuring they cater to hikers of all sizes and skill levels.

What sets these poles apart is their thoughtful integration of features typically found in more expensive models, such as anti-shock mechanisms and interchangeable tips for diverse terrains, from muddy paths to snowy trails. This makes TheFitLife poles a fantastic choice for budget-conscious hikers who don’t want to compromise on functionality and comfort. Their affordability, coupled with their robust construction and versatile design, makes them an outstanding value for hikers looking to maximize their investment without sacrificing quality.

product image from Amazon

TheFitLife Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles – Collapsible and Telescopic Walking Sticks with Natural Cork Handle and Extended EVA Grips Our favorite budget hiking pole, perfect for almost everyone.

Best Overall Hiking Pole

The MSR DynaLock Ascent Foldable Carbon Backcountry Trekking Poles earn our top recommendation as the best overall hiking pole for their exceptional blend of lightweight durability and user-centric design. Crafted from carbon fiber, these poles provide sturdy support without weighing you down, perfect for extensive hikes and challenging climbs. Their foldable nature enhances portability and ease of use, allowing for swift storage and deployment in varied terrains, from rocky paths to technical trails.

Key to their appeal is the DynaLock mechanism, offering secure and effortless length adjustment to accommodate different hiking needs and preferences. Coupled with ergonomic grips designed for comfort and control, these poles ensure a natural and fatigue-reducing hold. Versatile across all terrains, thanks to interchangeable tips and baskets, the MSR DynaLock Ascent poles stand out as a reliable, adaptable, and invaluable tool for any serious hiker, encapsulating performance and convenience in every aspect.

product image from Amazon

MSR DynaLock Ascent Foldable Carbon Backcountry Trekking Poles Best of the best. Exceptional quality, rugged, and dependable hiking poles

What Features To Look For In A Good Set Of Hiking Poles

Hiking poles, also known as trekking poles, are vital for avid hikers, offering balance, support, and reducing strain on the knees during descents. When selecting the best hiking poles, it’s important to consider several key features to ensure they meet your needs and enhance your hiking experience. Here’s a breakdown of what to look for:

AI generated image of a hiker at the summit

1. Adjustability

Adjustability in hiking poles is super important because it allows you to change the length of the poles based on the terrain you’re tackling. On uphill stretches, shorter poles help maintain stability, while longer poles are better for downhill sections to reduce the impact on your knees. Look for poles with a reliable locking mechanism to ensure they stay at your desired length without slipping.

2. Weight

The weight of your hiking poles matters, especially on longer treks. Lighter poles cause less arm fatigue, making your hike more enjoyable. However, lighter poles can sometimes be less sturdy, so it’s about finding the right balance. Materials like carbon fiber are lightweight and strong but can be more expensive. Aluminum poles are a bit heavier but also more affordable and very durable.

3. Grip Material

The grip is where your hand meets the pole, so it’s crucial for comfort and control. Grips are commonly made from cork, foam, or rubber. Cork grips conform to the shape of your hands over time, offering a personalized fit. Foam grips are soft and absorb sweat well, making them comfortable in warm weather. Rubber grips are durable and insulate well against cold, but they can be less comfortable in hot weather and might cause blisters.

4. Shock Absorption

Some hiking poles come with a shock-absorbing feature that cushions the impact when the pole hits the ground, reducing strain on your arms, wrists, and shoulders. This feature is particularly beneficial for those with joint issues. However, it can add weight to the poles and some experienced hikers prefer the direct feedback of non-shock-absorbing poles for better terrain feel.

5. Tip Material and Design

The tip of the pole is what provides traction on various surfaces. Tips are typically made of carbide or steel and are designed to grip into mud, snow, or rock. Some poles come with interchangeable tips or baskets that can be swapped out depending on the terrain, such as wider baskets for snow. The durability of the tip and its ability to provide stable traction are important factors to consider.

6. Foldability and Packing

If you travel often or hike where you need to stow your poles, consider how well they fold or collapse. Some poles fold down smaller than others, making them easier to attach to a backpack or fit inside luggage.

AI generated image of a hiker at the summit

In Conclusion

In wrapping up our guide to picking the best hiking poles, it’s clear that the right pair can greatly enhance your hiking experience. From offering support and stability on uneven terrain to reducing the impact on your knees and joints during descents, hiking poles are indispensable companions for both novice and seasoned hikers. We recommend taking your time and not picking them up at a garage sale the way we did lol.

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By Summer and Bill

Photo of Summer and Bill

Summer and Bill are the dynamic duo behind Adventureite.com, a blog dedicated to inspiring others to explore the great outdoors. With a combined lifetime of experience traveling and adventuring across America, they have a wealth of knowledge to share. From hiking to camping, kayaking to travel, Summer and Bill are passionate about helping others discover the beauty of the natural world.

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