Hiking poles have probably been around as long as folks have been walking up hills. Whether they're a staff of sturdy wood or a high-tech carbon fiber adjustable trekking pole, they all help us get up and back down those trails.
But which pole is right for you? Think carefully about the kind of hiking that you do. Are your trails rocky and steep or well-groomed? How long do you normally hike 2-3 miles or longer? Are you using hiking poles for constant walking stability or on an as-needed basis? Scroll down to review a selection of examples of different hiking poles and a list of their pros and cons and choose for yourself.
BUT FIRST! A word about quick-lock versus twist-lock poles. This is just my opinion, but I strongly recommend not buying twist-lock hiking poles. I've tried a few of them and invariably they come loose halfway up the mountain. When they get caught between roots, rocks, etc., they tend to twist a little, and then just as you put weight on them, BOOM!, down you go. Your experience may be different, but I'm not listing any here for that reason.
For ten good reasons to use hiking poles on your next outdoor adventure, check my write up here: https://www.amputeeoutdoors.com/documents/10-reasons-to-use-hiking-poles.
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Carbon Fiber Poles
Plenty of attachments for different conditions
Carbon fiber poles are generally more expensive than their aluminum siblings and the price reflects that. Generally, when it comes to backpacking gear, lighter weight means heavier cost.
I've found that with sustained hard use, carbon fiber can splinter and crack
Pictured: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Hiking Poles
Light, but not as light as carbon fiber poles
Under heavy loads or high-impact use, I've bent and cracked aluminum poles.
Pictured: Foxelli Trekking Poles
Traditional Wooden Walking Staff
You'll remind people of Gandalf
Depending on the wood, very lightweight
Usually just have one tip, no options
No height adjustment, you have to buy the right height staff for your height.
Pictured: Brazos Trekking Pole
Multifunction/Survival Hiking Poles
Comes with a knife, whistle, compass, multi-function tool, etc.
Heavy duty and very durable
Heavy, really heavy
Tools are often cheap quality unless you want to spend more
Pictured: Winsper Multifunctional Trekking Pole