The Best Trekking Poles Of 2023 | Top 10 Hiking Poles

Take on challenging terrain on the trail with the best trekking poles of 2023. Find out which hiking poles give you the most support and best value for your next trek!

We like to hike where trekking poles are not an accessory but rather are a piece of our essential hiking gear.

For adventures small and large, trekking poles can help you navigate the terrain while minimizing its effect on your body. Trekking poles have come a long way and, for many, are becoming a vital part of their gear setup.

With so many options on the market, we are here to help you narrow down your search and think you should trust us from our years of adventure travel using a variety of different trekking poles on our list as well as thorough research that has gone into our top recommendations.

BEST RATED
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Our Pick – Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ

Most lightweight on our list

Packs down smaller than all other options

Carbon fiber design is incredibly durable

Other Great Options…

Top Recommended Trekking Poles

PRODUCT

PRICE RANGE

TYPE

WEIGHT (oz)

SHAFT MATERIAL

ADJUSTABLE

COLLAPSED LENGTH (in)

Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ

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$175 - $225

Folding

6.35 oz

Carbon Fiber

Yes


13.4 in

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork

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$175 - $225

Telescoping

17.1 oz

Carbon Fiber

Yes

24 in

REI Coop Trailbreak

$50 - $75

Telescoping

17 oz

Aluminum

Yes

25 in

Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec

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$175 - $225

Folding

20.3 oz

Aluminum

Yes

15 in

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z

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$150 - $200

Folding

9.8 oz

Carbon Fiber

No

13 in

Gossamer Gear LT5

$150 - $200

Telescoping

10.6 oz

Carbon Fiber

Yes

23.5 in

MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon

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$150 - $200

Folding

17 oz

Carbon Fiber

Yes

17.5 in

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork

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$125 - $150

Telescoping

18 oz

Aluminum

Yes

27 in

Leki Legacy Lite AS

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$100 - $125

Telescoping

18.4 oz

Aluminum

Yes

27 in

Black Diamond Trail Back

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$75 - $100

Telescoping

17 oz

Aluminum

Yes

24 in


The Best Trekking Poles – Our Expert Guide

Picking the best trekking poles requires a variety of angles. There are a few clear-cut winners in our list, but they come at a price. Some, however, fulfill a certain niche or budget, making them equally worthy of a spot in our guide.


Our Top Choice: Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ

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  • Price Range: $175 – $225
  • Type: Folding
  • Weight: 6.4 oz
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Collapsed Length: 13.4 in

With its minimal weight, small pack-down size and carbon fiber design, Black Diamond has hit another home run.

The Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ is our top trekking pole as it hits a lot of big needs for adventurers, making it well worth the heady price. Weighing just over 6 ounces and packing down to a veritable fist, the pole works for long-distance hikers unwilling to compromise on weight.

Its carbon fiber design helps to absorb some of the shocks in tough conditions with good durability for a trekking pole of its weight – two things sure to capture the attention of trail runners and alpine climbers.

Although it doesn’t have a cork grip, the foam design makes up for it providing good moisture wicking. There is also an extended grip helpful for traversing steeper terrain.

PROS

  • Covers most bases
  • Lightweight and versatile
  • Packs down very small

CONS

  • Expensive
  • No cork grips

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork

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  • Price Range: $175 – $225
  • Type: Telescoping
  • Weight: 17.1 oz
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Collapsed Length: 24 in

These carbon fiber trekking poles are designed for all seasons and will withstand a heavy beating to be a consistent part of your gear setup through the adventures to come.

Black Diamond is renowned for quality trekking poles, with a strong grasp on the top two spots in our list. The Alpine Carbon Cork works as well in summer as it does in winter, from the front country all the way into remote wilderness. A quality owed to the beefed-up carbon fiber and metal lever locks.

The poles have cork grips that will mold to your hand over time while providing excellent moisture-wicking on those warmer days. Another feature of carbon fiber is its ability to absorb shock. In addition to the cork grips, it creates one of the most comfortable trekking poles going around.

PROS

  • Durable trekking poles
  • Comfort and shock absorption
  • Metal lever locks

CONS

  • Expensive for basic trips
  • Large pack down size
Trekking Poles Group Hike
Trekking poles can make any hike feel so much easier!

REI Co-Op Trail Break

Rei Coop Trail Break Trekking Poles
  • Price Range: $50 – $75
  • Type: Telescoping
  • Weight: 17 oz
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Collapsed Length: 25 in

After one of the most expensive poles, we turn our attention to our pick for the best budget trekking poles for 2022 and beyond. Without breaking the bank, the REI Co-Op Trail Break provides fantastic usability without overloading you with features.

In line with REI’s other Trail Break gears, it offers a way into the outdoors for newcomers and those looking to save some money. You’ll be happy to know that it punches well above its weight.

Sure, there’s no carbon fiber here, but the aluminum bend but don’t break strength will get you through your initial adventures and even beyond.

One major drawback is the pole length, as the Trail Break only comes in a single size, although it features some telescoping adjustments.

PROS

  • Budget-friendly
  • Lever locks
  • Great introductory pole

CONS

  • Rubber grips
  • One size
  • Question over durability

Leki Micro Vario

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  • Price Range: $175 – $225
  • Type: Folding
  • Weight: 20.3 oz
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Collapsed Length: 15 in

The Leki Micro Vario is one of the best choices for those looking for folding trekking poles. This type of design allows for a small pack-down size, in this case just over 15 inches.

A number that makes the Micro Vario as useful for those looking to cut down on size as it is for travelers seeking a pole that fits in their carry-on luggage.

The Leki Micro Vario comes with a mix of cork and rubber grips offering users great comfort and moisture wicking in the warmer months, while your grip won’t feel like a chunk of ice if you strap on when the temperatures drop.

The drawback of this pole is its weight, despite its packed size. This weight, however, contributes to the Micro Vario’s strength and durability, a highlight of which is the pole’s SpeedLock 2 locking mechanism.

PROS

  • Small collapsed size
  • Cork and rubber grips
  • Consistent locking system

CONS

  • Heavy for pole type
  • Folding poles aren’t as strong as telescoping

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z

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  • Price Range: $150 – $200
  • Type: Folding
  • Weight: 9.8 oz
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Collapsed Length: 13 in

Looking to save on weight? The Black Diamon Distance Carbon Z is the even lighter version of its big brother and our top pick, the Carbon FLZ.

With a weight per pair of 9.2 ounces, the Carbon is one of the lightest trekking poles you’ll come across. Add on their great packability, and long-distance hikers and ounce counters can be seen jumping with delight.

These are carbon folding poles that can be snapped into place at the press of a button thanks to Black Diamonds’ Z-Pole tech. Once folded, these lightweight trekking poles pack down to a meager 13 inches.

Unfortunately, the Carbon Z pole is not adjustable, so you’ll have to find the right length for you at the time of purchase.

PROS

  • Lightweight and packable
  • Easy folding design

CONS

  • Limited sizes

Gossamer Gear LT5

Gossamer Gear Lt5 Trekking Poles
  • Price Range: $150 – $200
  • Type: Telescoping
  • Weight: 10.6 oz
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Collapsed Length: 23.5 in

Speaking of lightweight poles, the Gossamer Gear LT5 is another popular ultralight trekking pole. The big difference between this pole and the Distance Carbon Z is the LT5 features a telescoping twist lock design.

The telescopic nature of the Gossamer Gear LT5 makes it potentially a better choice than the Distance Carbon Z because it can be adjusted to a range of heights. Plus, if you’re really looking to cut weight, the pole can hold up your lightweight tent on your next adventure.

The twist lock feature, however, takes this from a potential four-season pole to a three-season as the twist locking mechanism doesn’t pass the durability vibe check.

PROS

  • Lightweight and telescoping
  • Pole replacements

CONS

  • Durability concerns
  • Twist lock system
  • Pricey

MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon

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  • Price Range: $150 – $200
  • Type: Folding
  • Weight: 17 oz
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Collapsed Length: 17.5 in

Simple, yet elegant, the MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon are hiking poles that will offer you great versatility with exceptional comfort.

The trekking poles come with a contouring foam grip that boasts a rounded handing at the top, providing a welcoming home for your hands. Something that is especially important if you’re hiking for many hours over multiple days.

Some may scoff at the Ascent Carbon’s overall weight. But it’s important to know that much of that weight is situated in the handle providing sturdy comfort. Therefore, the pole acts much lighter than first thought.

The pole packs down to 17.5 inches, longer than some on our list, but one of the best for a telescoping pole. Importantly, the pole features a beefy aluminum lever lock, creating durability for all occasions.

PROS

  • Great for almost all adventures
  • Comfortable
  • Durable locking system

CONS

  • Higher overall weight
Trekking Poles
It’s worth it to invest in good-quality trekking poles.

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork

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  • Price Range: $125 – $150
  • Type: Telescoping
  • Weight: 18 oz
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Collapsed Length: 27 in

Carbon fiber poles steal a lot of the limelight when it comes to trekking poles. But as much weight as they save and the shock absorption they provide, the peace of mind that comes with aluminum poles is sometimes too hard to ignore.

The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork is unashamedly aluminum. It offers no compromises over durability and features, while still being a solid lightweight option.

Featuring the brand’s notable cork grip design and FlickLock lever locks, the pole will perform in all conditions, from above the treeline to rocky valleys.

Its main drawback, however, is its pack-down size which comes in at 27 inches.

PROS

  • Value for money
  • Durable and comfortable
  • Metal lever locks

CONS

  • Lengthy pack-down size

Leki Legacy Lite AS

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  • Price Range: $100 – $125
  • Type: Telescoping
  • Weight: 18.4 oz
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Collapsed Length: 27 in

Carbon fiber poles generally come with solid shock absorption. But if you’re seeking genuine shock-absorbing trekking poles, then look no further than the aluminum Leki Legacy Lite AS.

This pole features Leki’s highly-rated Dynamic Suspension System that will help you traverse tough terrain with ease. This system particularly comes in handy during lengthy descents offering extra support for your wrists and knees.

The Legacy Lite AS comes with ergonomic cork grips that stand at the end of an 18-ounce pair of poles. This weight is quite reasonable for a pole with a serious suspension system, plus the added weight of the aluminum construction.

PROS

  • Top-shelf shock absorption
  • Durable with level locks
  • Value for money

CONS

  • Numerous moving parts could cause pole failure

Black Diamond Trail Back

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  • Price Range: $75 – $100
  • Type: Telescoping
  • Weight: 17 oz
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Collapsed Length: 24 in

Closing out our guide to the best trekking poles is the Black Diamond Trail Back. These are a set of telescoping aluminum poles that are known for their durability. Plus, at just around $90 bucks a pop you’re receiving excellent value for money.

The Trail Back is, in essence, a simplified version of the above-listed Trail Ergo Cork. It offers some of the features at a starkly cheaper price, but users will have to get used to the rubber grips.

Most importantly, both poles offer the FlickLock design and sturdy aluminum construction. If it was a similar price to the REI Co-op it could have easily snuck in as our top-budget trekking poles.

For a simple design at a drive-away price, you can’t go wrong with the Trail Back.

PROS

  • Budget-friendly
  • Durable with FlickLock system

CONS

  • Rubber grips

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Choosing the Best Trekking Poles

Are you a future thru-hiker, a trail runner, a mountaineer or even a front-country traveler? There’s bound to be a trekking pole that suits your needs and desires.

Regardless of your budget, the expansive list of options gives you the privilege of choosing between a variety of weights, grips, packability and even carbon poles.

Now that we’ve covered the best trekking poles on the market, let’s dive into what makes a pole the right one for you and your coming adventures!

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Trekking poles are ideal for hiking in risky weather or terrain.

Types of Trekking Poles

Fixed

Starting off our list of types of trekking poles is the fixed design. As technology expands, fixed-length poles are becoming less common. They offer zero adjustability and can’t be packed down.

Their true quality lies in their strength, however, the advancement of carbon fiber poles has quickly closed the gap between this option and the ones below. Fixed-length poles are instead more common as ski poles.

Telescoping

Most trekking poles are telescoping poles, which will usually come with two or three sections. The convenience and the poles’ noted durability help it to be the most popular choice among weekend warriors, long-distance trekkers and even more advanced mountaineers.

Much like the beloved telescope, this type of pole extends from within via a locking mechanism. This allows not just for easy readjustments but also simple storage.

However, this feature can pose issues as any problems with the locking system can quickly make the pole obsolete. So make sure to choose a pole with strong aluminum or preferably carbon fiber.

Folding

These compact trekking poles are a common choice among those who like to hike fast along with trail runners looking for extra support and travelers seeking a lightweight option.

Folding trekking poles aren’t renowned for their adjustability. However, they win over users with their extremely lightweight makeup and how small they can pack down. Something that is sure to make an ultralight smile!

Weight

Weight is one of, if not the most important element in choosing the right trekking pole. Your ability to walk stride for stride with your pole will decide how enjoyable your experience is.

If you’re planning a long-distance trip, light or ultralight poles will make a big difference in the long run. You can save some daily fatigue in your arms while enjoying a faster pace.

These poles tend to also be more brittle than heavier options and lack performance across all four seasons. If you want to venture into the backcountry come summer or winter, a lightweight aluminum pole should be at the top of your list.

Comfort

The overall feel of your trekking pole is an obvious importance. There are a number of ways outfitters have made their designs more comfortable for you.

The implementation of cork grips and ergonomic handles can help you achieve a more natural resting place for your hands as you venture into nature.

However, comfort is uniquely subjective. It’s worth trying a few to see which fits best in your hands and with your gait.

Locking Mechanisms

Found in the most common trekking poles are locking mechanisms. For eons, the twist lock was the most common design, but as we mentioned above, they have long been prone to performance issues.

A twist lock can fail by either being too tight to be useful or too loose, causing the pole to collapse. Some poles, including Gossamer Gear LT5, promise to allay your fears. But it’s safe to say another locking mechanism has become more popular.

The lever lock is so simple, you wonder why it wasn’t the first design. The lever is essentially an exterior clamp that holds the pole in place at your chosen length. Slipping is vastly reduced and the performance of the clamp is higher and it will last longer.

Trekking Poles
There are lots of details to consider when picking a pair of trekking poles!

Packed Size

When choosing your next trekking pole, packed size may not be at the top of the priority list. After all, telescoping poles which have a longer packed size still reign supreme over the market.

Travelers should, however, consider how they plan to use their new addition. Some will want to fit their poles into a small day pack, making a folding pole a great choice.

Most hiking packs and carry-on luggage are large enough to contain telescoping poles. But you will want to leave the fixed-length pole at home if you need to save on space.

Materials

Pole Material

Those on the look for new poles will have a choice (sometimes a combo) or two shaft materials: carbon and aluminum trekking poles.

They both have their pros and cons. Mostly it will come down to budget and weight preferences. Aluminum poles have a tendency to bend and not break while carbon is light but can potentially snap under too much stress, making the former a more durable option.

Being lighter, carbon fiber poles are a common choice for those looking to shed weight, but it will come at a price premium.

Grip Material

Pole material and construction is vital, but you’ll spend more time interacting with the grip material. So you best pick a grip that you’ll fall in love with.

There are three types of grip material: rubber, foam, and cork. The latter is the most popular thanks to its superior wicking ability, along with comfort.

Foam comes in second as it’s soft, provides some shock absorption and has decent moisture wicking.

Rubber is most common on cheaper trekking poles. It won’t conform to your hand but does a better job during rain and snow conditions.


The Wrap Up

Just like the rest of your outdoor gear, choosing trekking poles is a subjective exercise. What we’ve done is brought to light the best of the best across a wide range of categories.

With additional discussion on different types of poles, their packed size, materials and grips, you’re well-placed to make the right choice for you.

For now, the Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ remains a cut above. It may be designed for serious adventures, but its weight and packed size make it great for all.

EDITOR’S CHOICE:

Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ

Coming in hot as our best trekking pole is the Black Diamond Distance FLZ.

These carbon fiber poles will speak to a wide range of travelers, hikers and extreme adventurers.

Sure, they are designed for those who run over mountains and climb through the high alpine country.

Yet their overall pack size of 13.4 inches is one of the smallest going around.

Once you also consider its diminutive weight, you can see why it’s perfect for big trips and also for keeping down the weight in your checked luggage.

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Although it doesn’t have a cork grip, you can’t go wrong with the foam design.

You’ll enjoy good moisture-wicking abilities and the light carbon fiber poles will do a solid job of minimizing shock as you make your way along the terrain.

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About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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