Hiking with trekking poles helps build your endurance. When you hike without trekking poles, you are only engaging your leg muscle muscles. When you hike with trekking poles, you are also using your arms which builds overall body strength and allows you to walk further without getting tired.

With a heavy pack, using trekking poles helps support your knees and ankle joints. Trekking poles help you displace the effort required to climb upwards as you can utilise your arms to propel you forward.

Trekking poles can help you develop a consistent rhythm, which over time can increase your average walking speed.

If you are hiking in snow, on a slippery path, or over rocks, having four points of contact helps maintain balance.

How to Choose Trekking Poles

When you are shopping for new trekking poles, there are some things to consider.

Poles vs Staff

Two poles are better than one. A single hiking staff (think about a long wooden stick) is only useful when carrying little to no load on your back and when used on flat terrain. We recommend buying trekking poles which are sold as a pair and used in tandem, and if at any time you only want to use one, just strap the second pole to your pack.


Cork, foam, and rubber are the three most common choices. We love cork grips as they wick moisture from sweaty hands. They also conform to the shape of your hand over time and help absorb some of the vibrations from the ground.

Foam grips absorb moisture. They are also comfortable, but depending on how sweaty your hands typically get, foam grips can retain smells over time.

The third type of grip is rubber, which insulates hands from the cold. So, if you mostly hike in cold wintery weather, consider rubber grips. However, in warmer temperatures rubber gripped trekking poles can cause chafing or blistering on hands.

Selecting the type of grip you want on your trekking poles will narrow down your selection and is one of the first decisions you should make. One isn’t necessarily better than another, and you’ll learn your preference over time.

Wrist Straps

We would recommend getting poles with wrist straps. Taking the weight off your knees and ankles is essential to a more enjoyable trek.

Pole Material

Most poles are aluminium or carbon fibre. Aluminium poles are more prone to bending but are a much cheaper option. Carbon fibre poles are lighter and better at reducing vibrations, but they are more prone to snapping under high stress.


It’s important to think about where you will store your trekking poles when not in use, and how small they pack down. Will you strap them to the outside of your bag? Most daypacks and backpacking packs have trekking pole loops on the back. Will you pack them in your backpack?

Shock Absorbing

Some poles are shock absorbing. Highly encourage if you have weak or damaged ankles, knees or hips.


It is essential you select poles that are adjustable so that you can shorten poles when going uphill and lengthen when going downhill.

Locking Mechanism

Most poles today use an external lever lock instead of twist locks. It is a personal preference. We have had good and bad experiences with both.


Baskets on trekking poles are essential for treks on the snowy or muddy ground. The more snow, the larger the basket you’ll want.

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