Whether you enjoy hiking through the woods or across snow covered plains, you are going to want to have the right tools to make your hike easier and more enjoyable. Hiking poles are standard equipment for any hiker, backpacker or trekker. They improve your stability and provide extra support to help you move across all types of terrains. Hiking poles can also help to distribute your energy use in a manner that will help to increase your endurance.
While hiking poles are certainly a beneficial tool, finding the best hiking poles for your needs can be a bit of a challenge. There are so many different types of hiking poles on the market, which can make it difficult to find the right poles for your needs. In order to help you find the best hiking poles, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide. In this guide, you will find out everything you need to know in order to find the best hiking poles, including the different types of hiking poles, the factors to consider when choosing your hiking poles, the different features they can offer, and the best hiking pole brands. After reading this guide, you will be well on your way to finding the best hiking poles for your specific needs, and you will be well equipped to take on longer and more challenging treks.
Types of Hiking Poles
In order to find the best hiking poles for your needs, you first need to understand that there are different types of hiking poles, and you need to understand the difference between each type. Hiking poles can be broken into three basic types:
- The standard hiking pole
- The shock absorbing hiking pole
- The staff hiking pole
Below, you will find a detailed look at each of these three types of hiking poles so that you can choose the best one for your needs.
The Standard Hiking Pole
The standard hiking pole is typically strong, lightweight and telescoping. This is the most basic of all hiking poles. Standard hiking poles can come in both two and three sections. Two section poles are usually sturdier, which makes them ideal for activities that require more stability, such as snow shoeing. Poles that have three sections are better used for hiking and backpacking.
The Shock Absorbing Hiking Pole
The shock absorbing hiking pole has internal air pistons, which compress coiled springs. This adds to the weight and the cost of the pole, but it can help to alleviate the stress places on your joints, especially on the knees and the ankles. On most shock absorbing hiking poles, the spring can be locked, which will turn it into a traditional rigid pole, when there is a need.
The Staff Hiking Pole
The staff hiking pole is a single pole. This is the most traditional of all hiking poles. It is usually taller than the other types of hiking poles. It offers stability and allows you to keep the use of one hand, as only one hand needs to be used with this type of hiking pole. A staff hiking pole is useful when taking casual walks, and it can also come in handy when fording across rivers or when walking down a steep terrain and when stepping over large boulders. Some staff hiking poles can also be used as a center pole for lightweight tents, or as a stable monopod when taking photos.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Hiking Pole
In order to find the best hiking poles for your specific needs, there are a number of factors that you are going to want to take into consideration. By taking these factors into consideration, you will be able to find the best hiking pole for your needs. Some of the top factors to consider include the adjustment mechanism, the terrain you will be traveling across and the material that the pole is made of. To learn more about these and other important factors to take into consideration when you are shopping for your hiking pole, please keep on reading.
What terrain will you be traveling across?
The type of terrain you will be traveling across is one of the most important factors that you are going to want to consider when choosing a hiking pole. The type of terrain you will be hiking across will determine the type of pole you will need. Rocky, snowy and steep terrains will require more stability, which means that you are going to want a pole that offers more stability. If you will be hiking across terrains that will put strain on your joints, you may want to consider purchasing a pole that absorbs shock. Considering the terrain you will be traveling across will help you determine what type of pole will make your hike comfortable and enjoyable.
The material of the pole
You are also going to want to consider the material that the pole is made out of. Hiking poles are made out of two different types of materials: Aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum is heavier and more resistant to impact, which allows it to handle excessive use and rough treatment. Aluminum is a good choice if you are particularly hard on your poles. Carbon fiber is lighter weight, which makes poles that are made out of this material easier to carry and pack. Carbon fiber is also very strong, but it is isn’t as resistant to impact at aluminum.
The adjustment mechanism of the pole
Hiking poles have a mechanism that allows you to adjust them as you are walking. This adjustment allows for changes in the terrain, and in incline. There are two main types of adjustment mechanisms: The lever lock and the twist lock. The lever lock mechanism is usually a bit easier to use while you are on the move on a hiking trail.
The number of sections the pole has
You also want to consider the number of sections that the hiking pole has. Solid poles, or those that do not have any sections in them, are generally the strongest and the most durable. Hiking poles that have two or three sections are easier to pack, as they can be folded up and put into a pack; however, poles the sections can weaken the pole, making it less stable.
The baskets on the base of the pole come in a variety of sizes. On some poles, the baskets are interchangeable for different users. Larger baskets are usually the best for use in the snow; however, they are more likely to get trapped in roots, which is something to keep in mind if you are going to be hiking through the woods or on other locations where roots may be present. Small baskets are the best choice if you are going to be hiking on mountainous terrain. A pole that has interchangeable baskets is the best option if you plan on hiking in different locations.
The pole grips
A vital component of a hiking pole is the grips. The grips are what you will be holding on to, so it is important to choose the right type of grip for your specific needs. Rubber grips do not absorb water, making them ideal for hiking in wet or snowy conditions; however, this material can cause chafing. Foam is soft and does not cause rubbing, making is a good choice for comfort. Foam also feels the least cold Cork molds to the shape of your hands with repeated use. Cork is also cooler, but can also be heavy, and it may be a bit sweatier than other materials. Cork also absorbs water.
The weight of the hiking pole
Another important factor to take into consideration is the weight of the hiking pole. Generally, the lighter the pole, the better; since you will be using your hiking poles for long periods of time and you will be carrying them, the lighter they are, the less cumbersome they become.
The durability of the pole
The stronger the pole is, the more durable it will be. You want to make sure that your hiking pole will last you a long time, which means that you want it to be made out of a durable material.
The tips of the hiking pole
The tips of the hiking pole are also a very important factor to take into consideration. Tips can be made out of a variety of materials. Carbide or steel tips are often used to provide traction, even on the ice and snow. Rubber tip protectors will extend the life of the tips and protect your gear when your hiking poles are being stowed in your pack. Rubber is also good for use in sensitive areas, as it will reduce impact to the ground. Angled rubber walking tips are used on hard surfaces, such as asphalt.
The cost of the hiking pole
The cost of the hiking pole is also a factor that you are going to want to take into consideration. Hiking poles can vary widely in price, so you want to make sure that you know how much you want to spend before you start shopping. Generally, solid poles are more expensive than poles that offer sections. Also, the more features that hiking poles offer, the higher the price tag will be. Make sure you know what you want to spend before you start shopping so you don’t overextend your budget.
The Features Hiking Poles Can Offer
Hiking poles can offer a number of features. These features are intended to make the poles easier to use, more durable, and more enjoyable. As was mentioned above, the more features that a hiking pole offers, the more expensive it will be. It is important to understand the intended purpose of these features so that you can determine whether you want or need specific features, and if the added expense will be worth your while.
Here is a look at some of the top features that hiking poles can offer.
Ultra lightweight material
Some hiking poles are constructed of ultra lightweight material, which obviously makes them lighter, and makes them easier to carry and to use. However, while lightweight material may be easier to carry, it may not be as durable as heavier materials.
A camera mount
Some hiking poles offer a built in camera mount, which is located underneath the handle. This allows the hiking pole to be used as a camera monopod, which can certainly come in handy if you enjoy taking photographs while you are hiking.
The majority of hiking poles come with adjustable wrist straps. As you can probably guess, these straps allow you to keep your hiking pole secure to your arm so that you won’t lose it while you are hiking. Wrist straps can be padded or lined, which improves their comfort and prevents them from causing chafing.
The Best Hiking Pole Brands
There are a lot of companies that manufacture hiking poles. With so many options, it can be difficult to determine which manufacturer makes the best brand of hiking poles. To help you find the best brand, we have tested out several ourselves, and we have also compared user reviews. Our findings have determined that the following brands of hiking poles are the best of the best.
This company produces high quality hiking poles that offer a range of features. They are constructed of durable material, and they can be used on a variety of surfaces.
This company also produces high quality hiking poles that are constructed of durable materials. Their anti shock poles are highly recommended by users and are said to greatly increase comfort.
Foxeli Trekking Poles
This is another company that produces high quality, long lasting hiking poles. Their poles are constructed from the best materials, and they are very thoughtfully designed to provide you with ultimate comfort and great versatility.
Another top brand in the hiking pole industry is Alpine Summit. This company also uses the highest quality materials and durable construction, and offers a range of features to ensure you get the best poles possible.