eed help maintaining your balance while hiking? Enter the best walking poles.
Helping you share the load of your weight, steady you on your feet during rugged or uneven terrains and take strain off your joints during downhill descents, walking poles are a good idea for more reasons than one.
A walking pole – which can also be referred to as a trekking or hiking pole – is essentially a stick with a handle and/or wrist strap that has a spike at the bottom. According to current research, it’s been proven that walking poles can decrease muscle fatigue, which helps you clock up more kilometres than without. They can also better your balance.
And thankfully, there’s no lack of variety to choose from. To make sure you get the most from your walking pole, and pick a suitable accompaniment to your hikes, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Carbon fibre or aluminium?
On today’s market, the body of modern hiking poles are usually made from either carbon fibre or aluminium. The former is a super-strong and stiff lightweight material that’s believed to have an unbeatable strength-to-weight ratio. While the later material is durable, more malleable and tends to last longer.
Folding poles or telescopic?
These terms relate to how your walking pole will collapse down when they’re not in use. Most folding poles are divided into three, four and sometimes five sections. It can also be referred to as a Z style folding pole due to the shape it makes when it folds down. While a telescoping pole is collapsible like a telescope. This means its length can also be adjusted to suit your height.
Grip and tip
The grip and tip of your walking pole is just as important too. Nowadays you can get tungsten tips, rubber tips or steel tips. You can also get different ‘basket’ attachments that stop your pole sinking into the ground, be it mud or snow. While grip wise, there’s rubber hand grips, cork grips, loop handles, plastic handles or EVA foam grips to pick from. The latter seems to be the most popular, thanks to their comfort and lightweight feel.
To discover the best walking poles available to buy right now, keep scrolling.
Alpkit Nanolite Pole Twins
Unlike many of the poles in our guide, Alpkit’s Nanolite Pole Twins come with EVA foam handles and fold in four places instead of three. But why is this noteworthy? It means they fold up into a compact 35cm which you can pack way neatly when they’re not in use.
Plus there’s no assembly time as you simply pull a cord, which makes it easy to construct when you’re looking for poles to help guide you up, down or along treks. And, just when you thought carbon couldn’t get any lighter, these poles are crafted from 3K carbon, which is even more feather-like but with still the same strength as regular carbon.
Black Diamond Distance Z-Poles
Looking for a walking pole that can support your joints? Look no further than Black Diamond Distance Z-Poles. According to the outdoor equipment brand, these collapsible poles come with improved joint support by up to 30 per cent. Meaning once armed with a pair of these aluminium trekking poles, you can take your hikes to new heights.
Depending on what size of walking poles you go for (choose from 100cm to 130cm), these walking necessities weigh in at around 340g. But perhaps one of the best things about these poles is the fact they are designed for trail runners and day hikers. So if you flit between both walking and running, these poles, which come with SlideLock technology, could be perfect for you.
Black Diamond walking poles 2
Black Diamond doesn’t do things by halves. If you love nothing more than a trek through sub minus temperatures, you’ll wonder how you ever did it without a pair of the brand’s Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles by your side.
Complete with a strap and all-carbon fibre shafts, these trekking poles are built for the four seasons. Come rain or shine, snow or sun and everything in between, these telescopic trekking poles, which collapse down to 61cm, can stand up to Mother Nature. While the soft-to-the-touch cork handles offer a stellar grip while the sturdy straps ensure a secure fit.
Vango Basho Folding Walking Pole
Who said walking poles had to cost the earth? Not us. Priced at £29, the Vango Basho Folding Walking Pole proves that price doesn’t always dictate the quality of pole you get. Super light at just 220g, super strong thanks to its alloy construction and able to extend from 117cm to 135cm – there’s not much this foldable walking pole can’t do. Thanks to its tungsten tip, which offers a supportive grip, this piece of walking equipment also comes with a shock absorbing system in the handle which is ideal for when you’re putting your best foot forward.
Komperdell Carbon C3 Cloud Compact
If there’s one brand that will have your back, it’s Komperdell. The brand has been manufacturing hiking poles for nearly 100 years. And its Carbon C3 Cloud Compact is a testament to that. According to Komperdell, this pole is its lightest trekking pole to date.
It’s also the brand’s walking pole that has the strongest lock thanks to its Powerlock 3.0. Meaning when it comes to putting your weight on two extra tips, your walking poles will most certainly help not hinder your climb. But there’s more.
The Carbon C3 Cloud Compact comes with foam handles and an air padded strap which makes sure your poles work with you and not against. Top that with an adjustable height of 90-120cm and you’ve got yourself a recipe for striding success.
Forclaz 1 Ultra Compact Trekking Pole
Any walking pole that’s strong enough to take on Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in the Alps – is a pole worth knowing. Along with the Atlas Mountains and a 550km mission test in the Canaries and the Pyrenees, the team at Forclaz took on the challenge with these poles and they came out trumps. Thanks to its five-part folding design, this walking pole collapses to a length of just 36cm. So you’ll never wonder whether you should or shouldn’t take a walking pole and if you have space to fit it into your bag or not. It’s also crafted with a soft wrist strap. But perhaps the best thing yet? This Z-shape aluminium walking pole will set you back just under £35. We’re sold.
Leki Voyager Trekking Poles
Lightweight? Tick. Aluminium frame? Tick. Comes with a super lock? Tick. The Leki Voyager Trekking Poles help you trek to your heart’s content. The super lock device means it can hold a force of up to 140kg, while the three-section poles can extend to up to 145cm.
But better yet, these trekking poles have removeable trekking baskets to help stop the pole from sinking into soft ground and mud – which is particularly useful if you’re in a damp or rain-ridden area and intend to make the most of your walks. Plus, at £60 these trekking poles are a steal.
Helinox Trekking Poles
After a pair of trekking poles that look good and weigh little-to-nothing? Feast your eyes on Helinox’s Passport TL115s. This is a pair of the brand’s ultra-lightweight walking poles. Weighing in at 156g per pole, it also makes it the lightest poles in our line up which is ideal if you’d prefer a light-as-a-feather type trekking pole. The Passport TL115 is crafted from DAC alloy, EVA foam grips, as well as having adjustable wrist straps and comes with tungsten-carbide pole tips. This makes for a sharp profile no matter the surface. And, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, these Helinox walking poles are backed by a five-year warranty.
Robens Coniston T7
Super compact, at just 37cm, and easy to assemble, Robens Coniston T7s are made for work and play. One of the first things you will notice about the walking poles is that they are super easy to assemble. To do so you just need to click the three shafts together, decide what height you need it at – either between 113.5cm to 133cm – and use the fast clip adjustment to secure it. Then when you’ve ticked off your miles, you can fold it all away in the carry bag. Simples. And, for the price of £49.99, you even get some screw-on baskets thrown in meaning if you’re trekking through soft ground, you won’t sink.
Mountain King walking pole
Made in the UK, Mountain King have brought many of the greatest walking poles to the market, including this Mountain King Country pole. Crafted from Aluminium alloy, fitted with a sturdy steel tip and coming with the option of trekking baskets, no hike or hill is too much of a trek for these beauties. The traditional walking poles comes with a strong T-shaped handle along with a wrist cord. And, when you’re walking around town – rather than trekking through uneven terrain – you can pop your rubber ferrule back on to protect the tip.
In our humble opinion, you can’t beat the Alpkit Nanolite Pole Twins on design or price. From the 3K carbon frame, which is lighter but still the same strength as a regular carbon frame, to the compact design which measures in at just 35cm once folded – no trek, hill or terrain will get in your way – and all for under £70. What more could you want in a walking pole?