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Best Trekking Poles

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Best Hiking Poles Gear Review

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This is a gear review of all the Best Ultralight Hiking Poles for Hiking and Backpacking on the market in 2022 from BikeHikeSafari.

There are many benefits to taking a pair of hiking poles with you on your hike. Not only can they remove the strain from your ankles, hips, and knees when day hiking, backpacking, or thru-hiking for many months. They also provide you with stability on rough terrain.

All of the models I’ve selected are from reputable brands and et’s take a look at the Best Lightweight trekking poles of 2022.


Best Lightweight Trekking Pole for Backpacking 2022

The best lightweight trekking poles for Backpacking in 2022 are:

Best Trekking Poles – Overall

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork trekking poles

Weight per pair: 18 oz / 510 grams
Shaft Material: Aluminum
Pros:

> Cork handles
> Strong
> Comfortable wrist strap
> Flick Lock adjustability makes the trekking poles easier to adjust to your needs
Cons:
> Costs a little more than standard trekking poles

The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork trekking poles are a perfect choice if you prefer poles that feature cork handles and are durable. These cork handles are soft to the touch and offer you an ergonomic grip. I am a big fan of the use of cork on the handles of trekking poles.

Cork grips mold to the grip of your hand over time, making them more comfortable. There’s also an EVA foam grip extension and a comfortable strap.

You can easily adjust the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork poles to suit your needs. They come with Flick Lock adjustability, which makes them easier to adjust at a moment’s notice.

The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork poles are made from aluminum and are a little for durable than many carbon-fiber models without being too much heavier.

Overall, the Black Diamond Trail Ergo poles one of the most popular trekking poles for backpacking in 2022. They are the best compromise between weight, quality, durability, and function. They do everything well without being exceptional at anything but that is what makes them so good and the best hiking poles in 2022.

Best Hiking Poles – Runner Up

MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon Trekking Poles

MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon trekking poles

Weight per pair: 17 oz / 470 grams
Shaft Material: Carbon
Pros:
> Ultralight
> Compact size when folded
> Durable
Cons:
> Expensive

The MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon Trekking Pole does everything right. It is lightweight without being fragile, it is strong without being too heavy and it is comfortable without being the most expensive set of poles on the list.

These poles are both light enough and strong enough to take on a long-distance thru-hike. They are made with kevlar reinforced carbon fiber and are quite strong in comparison to many of the other carbon fiber poles in this review.

The MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon poles are folding poles that are great for travel due to their small pack size.

The handles are made from EVA foam which is comfortable but nothing special.

They are marketed as cross-country ski poles but they are much more than that. In fact, if you are after one set of trekking poles to do everything from mountaineering trips to backcountry skiing to thru-hiking, then these are for you.

Overall, the MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon Trekking Poles are one of the best trekking poles overall. The only thing keeping them from the top spot is the lack of availability at the time of writing this review!

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Best Ultralight Trekking Poles

Gossamer gear LT5 Trekking Poles

Gossamer Gear LT5 Trekking poles

Weight per pair: 10 oz / 280 grams
Shaft Material: Carbon
Pros:
> Ultralight
> Compact size when folded
> Easy to use
> Adjustable
Cons:
> Expensive
> Not as strong as some others in this review

The Gossamer Gear LT5 Trekking poles are one of the few that still use the twist lock system to adjust the height. Although they are not so common anymore they still work well on these poles.

The Gossamer Gear LT5 poles are ultralight and best suited to someone who understands they will not be as durable as some of the other models in this review. So bush bashing or taking post-holing through spring snow melts should be kept to a minimum.

They recently updated the wrist straps but it is interesting to note that many ultralight hikers remove the straps to try and make them even lighter.

They are also one of the most compact trekking poles, a collapsed length minimum size of around 23.5 inches / 60 cm. And a nice touch is the ability to buy replacement segments if you break one.

Overall, these are the best ultralight trekking poles on the market in 2022 and best suited to careful hikers and backpackers who mainly stick to well-formed trails.

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Best Trekking Poles for Travel

Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ trekking poles

Weight per pair: 12 oz / 340 grams
Shaft Material: Carbon
Pros:
> Ultralight
> Compact size when folded
> Easy to use
Cons:
> Expensive
> While they are strong they are not as strong as some others in this review

There is a lot to like about the Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles. They are ultralight and fold up to a small size. The FLZ is similar to the distance carbon Z model but it has some height adjustment built in.

If you are traveling the Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ poles will be one of the best on the market and one of the main reasons to consider this pole. But they are also comfortable and relatively strong considering they are an ultralight pole.

Overall, the Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ are one of the best travel trekking poles and one of the most compact.

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Best Folding Trekking Poles

Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles

Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles

Weight per pair: 17 oz / 479 grams
Shaft Material: Carbon
Pros:
> Ultralight
> Compact collapsed length when folded
> Interchangeable baskets
Cons:
> Expensive
> They have been discontinued so are not so easy to find

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon hiking poles are just the thing to invest in if you’re serious about your hiking. Weighing only 240 grams per pole these lightweight hiking poles are one of the most popular among thru-hikers.

They feature a hollow core carbon construction to save on weight, so you won’t have to worry about them weighing you down.

The Leki Micro Vario features a security strap for you to attach to your wrist while walking. This helps you to maintain a good grip on the poles. You can easily adjust them to be more comfortable on your wrists, too. And the external lever lock that is used gives the pole just enough adjustment height.

Another great feature of these poles is the interchangeable basket system. This allows you to switch the baskets on or off for different seasons.

Overall, these are one of the best foldable trekking poles on the market at the moment. Just be aware that they are not so easy to find at the moment.

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Best Ultralight Folding Trekking Pole

Black Diamond Carbon Distance Z Carbon Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Carbon Distance Z trekking poles

Weight per pair: 9.8 oz / 280 grams
Shaft Construction: Carbon
Pros:

> Ultralight
> Very compact size when folded
> Good foam grip
Cons:
> Expensive
> Fixed length and not height adjustable
> Not as tough as some of the other hiking poles on the list

The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z trekking poles are just the thing you need if you’re looking for a set of poles that are ultralight and pack away to a very small size.

The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z features a foldable Z design to make them easy to store away in your backpack because of their small collapsed length. This also makes them easier to bring with you on hiking holidays.

They are limited by their lack of adjustability as they are a fixed length. If you own a trekking pole tent then these poles may not work for you.

The trekking pole is constructed using 100% carbon fiber shafts. This makes for a lightweight set of poles that won’t hold you back while you’re out on the trail. In fact, each pole weighs less than 150g. That’s one of the most super lightweight trekking poles of 2022!

The handles of the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles have been completed with a lightweight EVA foam grip. There’s also a grip extension, as well as a moisture-wicking wrist strap. The strap can be easily adjusted for your comfort and will work to give you a better grip.

Overall, the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles are one of the lightest trekking poles in this review. I love the minimalist weight but the lack of adjustability is the only thing holding them back. The Black Diamond Distance FLZ or Gossamer Gear LT5are a better option for most people.

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Best Durable Trekking Pole

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles

Weight per pair17 oz / 486 grams
Shaft Material: Carbon
Pros:

> Lightweight
> Very strong and able to withstand a lot of abuse
> Cork grips
> Good quality wrist straps
Cons:
> A little heavier than some of the other models
> Costs a bit more than some competitive models

The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon cork trekking poles are another fantastic choice if you want a set of lightweight poles.

These particular poles are manufactured using 100% carbon fiber, making for truly lightweight. So you won’t have to worry about these walking poles weighing you down when you’re out hiking.

Another handy feature of The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork is that they come with cork grips. These are soft-touch ergonomic grips that will work to mold to your hand over time and are arguably the best grip material you can use. The hiking poles also come with an EVA foam grip extension for maximum comfort.

The Black Diamond Alpine Carbon poles come with a solution wrist strap. This works to improve your grip on the poles when you use them. You can also adjust the straps to make them more comfortable.

Overall, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon poles are a very good and very durable option.

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Best Budget Trekking Poles

Trekology Trek Z 2.0 Cork Trekking Poles

Trekology Trek-Z 2.0 Cork trekking poles

Weight: 23.3oz / 662g
Shaft Material: Aluminum
Pros:

> Cork grips
> Very affordable
> Durable
Cons:
> Not the best for shorter people

The Trekology collapsible trekking poles will be the perfect fit for those looking for a lightweight design that’s also more affordable.

These trekking poles work to give you the support you need, when you need it most. You can prevent unnecessary injury when hiking with these trekking poles.

These aluminum poles have been designed to be durable and lightweight. Each pole only weighs 11.5 ounces, which is much lighter than most competitive aluminum poles. This aluminum construction also makes them more hardwearing than carbon poles.

Another great feature of these trekking poles is the cork grips. These work to wick away unwanted moisture, and are more comfortable than foam grips.

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More Worthy Trekking Poles

REI Flash Carbon Trekking Poles

REI Co-Op Carbon Flash Trekking Poles

Weight: 14.8 oz / 442 grams
Shaft Material: Carbon Fiber
Pros:

> Comfortable grips and wrist straps
> Reasonably priced
> Lightweight
> Good locking mechanism
Cons:
> Although they are reasonably priced they would be a better option if they were cheaper

The REI Co-Op Carbon Flash is a good solid set of hiking poles that are equal to the quality of many of the top brands. I have used the REI Co-Op Carbon Flash Trekking poles for 1000s of miles of thru-hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail.

The foam grips are comfortable and does a good job or absorbing the shock when hiking. The straps and the locking mechanism also do a good job and are high quality. The REI Co-Op Carbon Flash poles just do a good job at almost everything.

Overall, the REI Co-Op Carbon Flash poles are a good option that does everything right in a carbon fiber pole. They are lightweight but not ultralight, they are durable but not as much as some of the others, and they are affordable but would be so much better if they were only $50 cheaper.

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REI

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber trekking poles

Weight: 14.8 oz / 442 grams
Shaft Material: Carbon Fiber
Pros:

> Cork grips
> Reasonably priced
> Lightweight
> Replacement sections are available if you break them
Cons:
> Locking mechanism could be better but other than that, not much

These Cascade Mountain Tech carbon fiber trekking poles are wonderfully lightweight.

They feature a carbon fiber shaft that will be lightweight enough for your needs, while also being able to handle the pressure of hiking.

The 2×2 twill weave carbon fiber is stronger than normal carbon and works to suppress vibrations and noise.

You can easily adjust these trekking poles to your needs. They are extendable and come with a quick lock function.  You can easily adjust the height of the poles between 26” and 54” to suit the terrain.

These particular trekking poles come with a cork grip. This gives you superior comfort while out on the trail, and works to lower the vibrations as you walk. The cork will also wick away any sweat.

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Cascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Trekking Poles

Cascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Trekking Poles

Weight: 20.8 oz / 590 grams
Shaft Material: Aluminum
Pros:

> If you break any of the sections you can purchase a new section
> Cork grips and extended EVA foam grips
> Affordable
Cons:
> Cork covering is not as thick as some competitive models
> Heavy

The Cascade Mountain Tech aluminum trekking poles are a great choice if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option.

They are certainly one of the best budget trekking poles on the market right now. These particular poles are available at a much more affordable price than most of their carbon counterparts.

These Cascade Mountain Tech trekking poles feature cork grips and extended EVA foam grips. The cork makes for a more comfortable grip that will mold to your hand over time. The cork also wicks away moisture and works to lower vibrations as you walk.

Even though these trekking poles are manufactured using aluminum, they are still lightweight. Each pole weighs less than a pound, making them the perfect addition to your trekking adventure.

The aluminum shafts are also highly durable, which will be essential when hiking through frigid temperatures and across rocky terrain.

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Leki MCT Superlite Trekking Poles

Leki MCT Superlite

Weight per pair: 11oz / 311g
Shaft Material: Carbon
Pros:
> Cork handgrip
> Super lightweight
> Good support – gives you better placement and control during speed hiking
Cons:
> Expensive
> Length is not adjustable

The Leki MCT Superlite trekking poles are the creme de la creme of ultralight lightweight poles. They weigh only 5.5 oz / 158 g per pole.

Constructed using high modulus carbon, the trekking pole is made up of one 14mm and three 12mm carbon poles for a lightweight, durable addition to your hiking gear.

The foldable Leki MCT Z Carbon model weighs a little more than the trail running version that is a fixed length and is not recommended for backpacking, even though the trail running model weighs only 5.5 oz / 158 grams each.

The Leki MCT Z Carbon has been designed with speed in mind. Their lightweight nature lends itself well to those who prefer to speed hike. You’ll be able to leave all the other hikers in the dust with these Leki MCT Superlite trekking poles in your grip.

Another great feature is the grip and strap system. The combined trigger cross shark grip and mesh frame strap work together to give you the support you need while speeding through your hike.

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Yet to be Reviewed

  • Black Diamond Trail – The Black Diamond Trail poles come in Women’s Pole and Unisex versions.
  • Black Diamond Distance Z – The Black Diamond Distance Z is the same as the one in this review but made with aluminum so is a little more durable for only a minimal weight gain.

Gear testing the Leki Carbon Micro Vario
Gear Testing the Leki Micro Vario Carbon on the CDT

Buyer’s Guide

Searching for the best lightweight trekking poles can be a challenge. There are so many different trekking poles to choose from and at such varying prices, that it can be difficult to distinguish between them.

It might be tempting to opt for the cheapest trekking poles that you come across. However, there are a few factors you will need to consider first.

We’ve put together a handy list of all the features you’ll need to consider when it comes to choosing the best lightweight trekking poles for your needs.

As long as your chosen trekking poles have these covered, then you can rest assured that you’ve found the product.

Take a look at everything you need to know about lightweight trekking poles below!


Pole Types

There are a couple of different pole types: Telescoping; Folding; Fixed and Shock absorbing.

Telescoping

These are the most common of all types of poles. They allow the shaft of the pole to move up and down inside itself. To make them adjust very high or very low they are separated into 2 or 3 segments that use a locking mechanism to adjust the desired height.

Folding Poles

Folding Trekking poles are the best for travel. The Z-style poles fold up into a very compact size for storage when not in use. When they are paired with one segment that has a telescoping adjustment they make for the best trekking pole.

While I prefer hiking poles with this design they have limitations when it comes to adjustability. If you are using an ultralight tent that needs trekking poles then you may not be able to adjust the length to the correct height folding poles. Be sure to double-check the minimum length and maximum length sizes of the poles to ensure they fit your tent.

Fixed

Fixed length trekking poles are not really suited to hiking and backpacking. But trail runners who want the ultralight poles that are of a fixed length for ultra-marathon running may consider these to be a good option. The main advantage they have is their ultralight weight, usually significantly lighter than any other pole type.

Shock Absorbing

Shock absorbing poles are the latest innovation to poles for backpacking. They include some form of shock absorption that is said to reduce shock and vibration. They are yet to live up to the promise of making trekking poles send less shock through the hands. A good set of carbon trekking poles and cork handles will work suitably well at shock absorption when hiking.


Shaft Material

One factor to consider is what material you want your trekking poles to be made from. The main choices will be carbon and aluminum.

Carbon Trekking Poles

Carbon fiber shafts are lightweight, and ideal for taking with you on hikes. These types of trekking poles will be lighter than the majority of aluminum poles. However, they might not be as durable as aluminum.

Carbon will tend to shatter and snap rather than bend like aluminum poles. And I know from experience. I’ve broken carbon fiber trekking poles on 3 separate occasions. Yes, not once, not twice but three times! It is an expensive accident when you slip and fall onto a Carbon Fibre pole and it breaks.

Another thing about carbon fiber poles, they have a great ability to absorb that shock of constant banging into the ground. Making them more comfortable than aluminum over time.

Aluminum

Aluminum poles are slightly weightier than carbon fiber poles, however, they are much more durable. They can deal with trickier terrains and support heavier weights. If you are unfortunate enough to take a fall and land on the poles they will tend to bend. If you are careful they can be bent back into shape. Well, most of the time anyway. And did I mention they are cheaper than carbon!

Crossing a river with hiking sticks
Trekking Poles are great when trying to keep the feet dry crossing a river!

Locking Mechanism

There are two common locking mechanisms used by trekking poles to allow the height to be adjusted to suit the individual hiker. Twist Lock and Lever Lock.

Twist Lock

Not that long ago it seemed that all trekking poles used the Twist lock to allow the pole to telescopically adjust into itself to adjust the height. In recent times they are mainly used on budget models. While they work great they do not offer the same kind of grip as the lever lock.

Lever Lock

Lever locks are used as the method of adjusting the height on all the best hiking poles on the market in 2022. They allow a more solid and adjustable way to lock the poles at the required height.

On one side it the opening lever and on the other side is an adjustable screw mechanism. To adjust the height you simply open the lever lock, slide the shaft to the required height and close the lever lock. If it is adjusted either too tight to close easily or it is too loose causing the shaft to slide rather than lock in place, tighten the screw. After using them a couple of times it is easy to work out the way they work


Adjustable Height

Another great feature to look for is adjustable height. This will make the trekking poles easier to use across different terrain, as well as different parts of your hike. When walking downhill, you will need to extend the trekking poles to give you the proper support you need to prevent injury or unnecessary strain on your joints.

Trekking poles with adjustable heights will also be more versatile. You can easily adjust them to suit your personal height, so you can get the right support when you need it most.

As a general rule, the height of the trekking poles should be set so that the angle of the elbow is 90 degrees when the hands are placed on the grip of the trekking pole. This is not a rule and some people enjoy the poles being adjusted a little higher or lower.

You should also look at how to adjust the height of your trekking poles. Is this easy to do while you’re out hiking? Does it feature a twist lock design or a flip lock design?


Handles

You should look for a set of trekking poles that come with a comfortable set of trekking pole grips. Most grip material is either cork or EVA foam. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Cork

Cork handles are arguably the best grip material for handles on trekking poles. They are good at absorbing sweat but the best feature is their ability to absorb shock.

Cork handles have a couple of disadvantages that need to be considered. Firstly, cork as a material is being used quicker than it can be replaced. Even though it is a renewable resource it is being overused. And secondly, it is more expensive than EVA foam handles.

EVA Foam

EVA foam is the most common material on hiking pole handles. It is comfortable, lightweight, and absorbs sweat. But it is not as durable and after being exposed to heat, sweat, and lots of use it will start to fall apart. If you hike using the same poles for 3 or 4 thru-hikes you will know what I mean. Most people, will not use them that much.


Wrist Straps

Trekking poles that come with a wrist strap will be much easier to use. These work to give you a better grip on your trekking poles. It might be worth looking for straps that are able to wick away moisture, as this will make them more comfortable to use on long hikes.

The better straps should be easy to adjust along your wrist so that they’re more comfortable. Take a look at how easy the wrist straps are to adjust so that you can get the right support.

Trekking Poles for thru hiking gear testing in the mountains
Trekking poles in the high mountain of the Sierra, California

Weight

Generally speaking the lighter the better when it comes to trekking poles. But there is a limit when the poles are too light and not solid enough to withstand the rigors of hiking and backpacking trips. Carbon will be lighter than aluminum but also not as strong so if weight is your most important consideration then aim for carbon.

It is best to aim for a weight of 17 ounces / 481 grams or less for the pair of poles. Keep in mind that the ultralight trekking poles will not be as durable and you may cry when you break them!


Packability: The Pack Size is Important

When not using the hiking poles they will usually be either stored on the outside of the backpack or carried by hand with you. With the exception of fixed-length poles, all will pack down small enough to be attached to the side of your pack.

The ultimate in packability is the folding models. When you carry protection for the pole tips you can even store them inside your backpack if you want. A set of rubber tips work well for this purpose even though they were designed for walking on hard surfaces such as paved paths. The telescopic models are not quite as compact but their pack size is still good enough for most people.


Durability

Trekking poles are a compromise between weight, strength, and function. If you feel you will be using your poles in rough terrain then aluminum will be better than carbon. If you fall and bend the aluminum you can bend them back rather than carbon which will shatter.

The most ultralight poles in this review will not be as strong as the heavier models. When you make your purchase decision just be sure to take this into consideration.

Trekking pole gear review crossing a river with hiking poles
Trekking poles can assist in crossing deep, fast-flowing mountain streams

Women’s Trekking Poles

Women’s trekking poles are made by some manufacturers. It is important to note that all the poles in the review are unisex and can be used by both men and women. Women’s hiking poles are usually shorter and with narrower hand grips than the unisex models. If you are shorter or have smaller hands, regardless of your gender then consider the Women’s Trekking Poles as a very good option.


Trekking Pole Tips

Pole Tips are usually made from super strong tungsten carbide. They are incredibly wear-resistant but will wear out over time and need to be replaced. All the models in the review above can have the tips replaced when they wear out.

There Are Two Things You Need To Be Aware of. Firstly, be careful when packing poles in your car. Keep the pole tip away from windows as they will shatter glass with even minor contact. A set of rubber tips can prevent this from happening. Secondly, they will not be allowed as in cabin baggage on a flight and must be placed in checked baggage.


Trekking Baskets and Snow Baskets

Trekking Baskets attach to the tips near the very bottom of the pole. They are primarily used in sand, mud, and snow to assist in preventing the trekking pole from sinking too far in the soft terrain. While trekking baskets are not necessary they are worthwhile. Most of the time I don’t use them and take them off.

When hiking on snow you should use snow baskets to stop them from sinking too deep.

Backpacking on the snow with trekking poles while doing a Trekking pole review
Adding Snow baskets to trekking poles helps when backpacking in the snow

Value

If you are anything like me the price and weight are the two most important considerations. In some cases, the cost of the poles does not indicate the quality. The cheapest model in this review would make a good value trekking pole for beginners or for someone wanting to try trekking poles.

My first ever trekking poles were a very cheap model. Once I realized that they were for me I purchased a better pair of carbon trekking poles.


Traveling with Trekking Poles

As a rule, you will not be able to take any type of trekking pole as carry-on luggage on a flight. They must be placed in your checked baggage.

I’ve traveled all around the world with trekking poles and from my experience, the Z-Style folding poles are significantly better than the rest for travel.


Conclusion

The Best Lightweight and ultralight trekking poles for 2022 are:

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.


Frequently Asked Questions

What Company Makes the best trekking poles?

The best trekking poles are made by Black Diamond, Leki, and MSR. They are the premium hiking pole companies in the world. While there are other companies making good trekking poles these companies have consistently produced the best.

Are Black Diamond Trekking Poles any good?

Black Diamond makes some of the best hiking poles in the world right now such as the Trail Ergo Cork, Distance FLZ Carbon, Distance Z, and many more. They make poles for hiking and backpacking that are a good blend of quality, price, durability, and function.

Why do hikers use trekking poles?

Trekking poles offer extra support when walking on difficult terrain. They also serve the important function of reducing stress on knees, ankles, hips and feet which serve to reduce fatigue.

What trekking poles do thru-hikers use?

Long Distance Thru-Hikers use ultralight trekking poles to reduce fatigue when hiking 100s or 1000s of miles. Some of the best ultralight hiking poles are from Gossamer Gear, Black Diamond, and Leki.


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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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