Our Top Pick for 2018: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles
Read our full review.
Trekking poles are the most important gear for balance and stability. They are often used for backpacking, hiking, or climbing and are especially useful for trekking over steep slopes. They can also be used in everyday life. If you have weak or damaged joints below the waist, leaning on trekking poles for stability and support can make a huge difference in your life.
In this article, the four sets of trekking poles being reviewed are the Cascade Mountains Tech carbon fiber quick lock trekking poles, the High Trek Ultralight Adjustable Trekking Poles, the Kelty Range 2.0 Trekking Poles, and the BAFX Products Anti Shock Trekking Trail Poles. All of these trekking poles are excellent beginner’s poles and are excellent quality for the price.
Table of contents
- #1 Gold Pick (1st Place Winner)
- #2 Silver Pick (2nd Place Runner-Up)
- #3 Bronze Pick (3rd Place)
- #4 Budget Pick (Best Cheap)
Quick Look on Our Selected Best Trekking Poles
#1 Gold pick (Winner): Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles
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*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Having been used everywhere from Mount St. Helens to Antarctica, the Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles have been proven to be durable and sturdy. Available with either a black neoprene handle or cork handle, these options give you more choice for what material you want on the grip. Buyer beware, however, because the cork does not look or feel like real cork. Thus, you would likely be better off with the foam grip. Made of high-density foam, these grips have an extension foam grip which is great for side hilling at steep angles. The handle also has a wrist strap to ensure you do not accidentally drop the poles. While this wrist strap is not padded, it is still quite comfortable on the wrist.
This set of trekking poles’ carbon fiber shafts are much better than the standard aluminum shafts. They do not break easily, bending under weight rather than breaking. Carbon fiber is the preferred material for long white canes for the blind specifically for this reason and because of its ultralight weight. Each of these trekking poles are a very light eight ounces, so carrying them on the outside of your pack is no problem because they only add a pound of weight to the pack together.
The Cascade Mountain Tech trekking poles are adjustable in height from twenty-three inches to fifty-three inches, making them great for people of all sizes and both upward and downward slopes. Because they are collapsible to such a small size, they will fit into almost any suitcase. The sections use a quick lock mechanism to snap into place instead of twist locking. Easy to adjust, this mechanism does not slip or need additional adjustments as many twist lock trekking poles do. The poles can vibrate on impact, but that is adequately resolved by tightening the locking mechanisms.
To make the trekking poles great for downhill as well as uphill and flat terrains, the antishock on this pair of trekking poles can be turned on or off. Just twist the middle section clockwise until you hear a click to turn on the antishock, and reverse the direction to turn it off. This allows you to be the decision-maker when it comes to determining when antishock is needed. You can use the antishock on downhill slopes, and turn it off on uphill and flat terrains, or use it in any way you deem appropriate. That’s the beauty of being able to turn antishock off: you are in control of the poles.
These trekking poles also come with three sets of tips. The first set are tungsten carbide tips, great for ice or special terrains. Second are the rubber caps, which are used for general hiking in the outdoors and in the city. Finally, a set of baskets are included for use in snow and mud. Also included with this set of trekking poles is a one hundred percent guarantee against any defects. This means you can return them at any time, for any reason.
#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): High Trek Ultralight Adjustable Trekking Poles
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*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Brought to us by High Trek, these trekking poles make a hike extra wonderful. Available in three beautiful colors (snow blue, arctic white, and sky blue), these trekking poles stand out among the competition. They are made of aerospace-grade 7077 aluminum, which has one of the strongest tensile strengths of any aluminum. This high resistance to breakage under tension allows you to brace against the trekking pole while hiking or climbing in difficult terrain without the worry of snapping a pole. In addition, the poles maintain an ultralight weight. Each pole is only eleven ounces. This means you only add one pound and six ounces to your suitcase or pack.
While the poles do not have as wide a range of height adjustment as others, such as the Cascade Mountain Tech carbon fiber quick lock trekking poles, they do adjust from 25.5 inches to fifty-three inches with an easy twist lock system. The twist lock system allows for quick and simple adjustment of the poles during travel, but do not slip as easily as other twist lock poles. The shorter range of adjustment height means you will have to work with a taller cane even on the steepest slopes, but it is not too much of a difference that you will miss the extra two and a half inches of adjustment. The poles will still fit into most suitcases, though it is more likely that they will have to be placed diagonally. In addition, the poles have nifty clips that snap together to keep the poles close together in your suitcase or on your pack.
The material of a grip can be important for preventing blisters and providing a comfortable hand placement. Unfortunately, the grip on these trekking poles does neither of these things. The grips are uncomfortably made of plastic and rubber. It is highly recommended that you wear a pair of lightweight gloves when using these poles, since the plastic and rubber materials of the grip can cause blisters without gloves. The grips do have one thing going for them. They have foam extension grips, which some people swear by and will not buy a pair of trekking poles without. This is because sometimes you will probably want to make the cane shorter than is possible with the twist lock system. Grasping foam is much better than grasping aluminum in this case. The grips also have a wrist strap to prevent dropping.
If you have weak or damaged hips, knees, or ankles, you will likely want shock-absorption to reduce the impact when travelling downhill. Fortunately, the High Trek ultralight adjustable trekking poles have a shock-absorbing coil in each pole. The disadvantage, though, is that this antishock coil cannot be turned on or off, so it is on all the time, leaving you with little control of how your cane works.
The High Trek poles come with three sets of tips. First, there is a set of removable rubber ferules for general hiking and walking in the great outdoors and in the city. Next, the poles have carbide trekking tips for ice and gravel. Finally, the poles come with a set of mud baskets, great for mud or snow.
There is a one-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects on these poles. However, you are likely going to never need it. This is because High Trek’s poles are high-quality. The tips do not fall off easily, and the poles do not break easily. If you happen to get a defected product, though, the one-year warranty is there to cover it.
#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Kelty Range 2.0 Trekking Poles
The Kelty Range 2.0 trekking poles are made of 6061 series anodized aluminum, which is airspace-grade aluminum. Beyond the construction of wings and fuselages for aircraft, it is also used in yachts and beverage cans. This grade of aluminum is good for trekking poles, but the tensile strength is not as great. Compared to the 7077 aluminum of the High Trek poles, these Kelty Range trekking poles are less able to hold the full weight of an adult without bending or breaking. They are also more likely to bend or break if caught between rocks.
These trekking poles are a light green with steel tint known as ano green. This color is quite unique for trekking poles and will stand out in the snow. Unfortunately, it will likely blend right into a woodsy terrain.
Adjustable from twenty-seven to fifty-three inches, the Kelty Range 2.0 trekking poles are not as compact as those already reviewed. However, the difference between them is a maximum four inches, which is not really a big deal. In addition, a smaller range of adjustment means fewer sections to adjust. This leads to an easier and quicker adjustment.
Hiking or climbing often requires that you carry the lightest pack possible. These trekking poles add only 1.25 pounds to the pack, so you do not have to concern yourself with the extra weight of heavy trekking poles. Each pole is an ultralight ten ounces, allowing you to maneuver them without stressing your wrists or arms.
Manufactured with a high-quality textured cork grip, the handles of the Kelty Range poles are easy to grab and hold on to. The Eva foam extension grip adds to comfort. They also allow you to use one pole with two hands or shorten the pole beyond the height adjustability to help with fast-changing terrains. Both the cork and Eva foam are all-weather materials, so you need not worry about hiking or climbing in the rain or snow. As an added bonus, the grip has a wide, comfortable wrist strap to prevent accidental dropping of the poles.
Internal antishock technology makes these poles nice for all terrains, but especially for the downhill when you are likely to need the poles the most. The antishock of the Kelty Range 2.0 trekking poles takes strain off your wrists and hands. Unfortunately, it cannot be locked, so the antishock is always on. This lack of control of the antishock may make uphill or flat terrains less comfortable.
Weak twist lock mechanisms bring both a benefit and a problem to these trekking poles. Beneficial to set-up and adapting to changing terrains, the weak twist locks allow for easier and quicker height adjustments. However, the problem it brings is that the poles are more likely to need frequent adjustments just to keep them locked tightly. This may be annoying, but is outweighed by the beneficial ease of adjustment.
With this pair of trekking poles comes the usual three sets of tips. First are removable rubber tips great for many surfaces and general trekking and climbing. Second are the nonslip carbide tips for pole plants on snow or gravel. This tip, which wears down rapidly, cannot be replaced. Finally, these poles come with baskets intended for mud or snow. The company
Two last things come with these trekking poles. The first thing is Kelty’s one-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects. You may not need this, but it is there for security. The other thing is outstanding customer service. Should you need a repair or replacement, or simply have a question about their product, Kelty will help you with quick and painless service and a smile to go with it.
#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): BAFX Products Anti Shock Trekking Trail Poles
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*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
From BAFX Products come these lightweight aluminum trekking poles. Available in three colors (royal blue, black, or silver), these trekking poles will certainly stand out against snow, ice, or woods. Taller than many other trekking poles, they have a height adjustment from 27.5 to fifty-three inches. Fortunately, though, they collapse down further for storage to 25.75 inches, enabling them to fit in most suitcases. The adjustment is done via twist-lock mechanisms, which are easy and quick to maneuver. With that ease, unfortunately, comes a weak locking system. This leads to the requirement of additional adjustments, sometimes as many as six an hour. Marked measurements on the middle section of each pole does help make this less frustrating, since you can adjust the poles to exact placement on every adjustment.
Weighing twelve ounces each, these are the heaviest trekking poles reviewed in this article. Still, adding one and a half pounds to your suitcase or pack is not worrisome, so you will likely not even notice the extra ounces. The lightweight aluminum does have a problem. That is, it breaks quite easily, particularly if caught between rocks.
The grip of the BAFX Products trekking poles is made of a plastic material with added ribbing for a better hold. The plastic is very durable, but has little give and almost no comfortability. Blisters form easily, unless you wear gloves, due to the lack of give of this material. The one thing this grip has going for it is the wrist strap, which is wide and nicely padded for comfort and extra support.
Inside the top section of each pole is an antishock spring. This spring helps absorb the impact of each pole placement. However, because it cannot be locked, this antishock system can be awkward at times. It also has been known to be defective. Fortunately, this is covered by the BAFX Products’ one-year warranty.
Like the other trekking pole pairs, this set comes with carbide tips for ice and gravel and baskets designed for snow and mud. In addition, it has not one pair, but two pairs of rubber feet, which are used for general hiking and climbing. These rubber feet tend to wear out quickly, which is why they included two pairs. Many users have reported that the tips fall off easily, but this is covered by the one-year warranty. Just call them and they will repair or replace your defective trekking poles.
The two most common shaft materials for trekking poles are carbon fiber and aluminum. Carbon fiber is the lightest material you will find for your poles. Carbon fiber is also good because it bends under tension instead of breaking. It will, however, snap under extreme tension. The other potential material is aluminum. Trekking poles made out of aluminum are usually constructed with aircraft- or aerospace-grade metal, making the poles tough. These poles are only ounces heavier than carbon fiber poles and more resilient under stress. Fiberglass is a third material you may find trekking poles made out of, but you are not likely to find many made out of this material because it shatters easily under tension.
Grips are important to the trekking poles as they give a comfortable place to hold on and keep your hands from slipping. There are four materials a grip can be made from: cork, foam, rubber, or plastic. Cork is the preferable grip material because it is breathable in hot weather and insulating in cold weather. Over time, cork will come to fit the grip of your hand and provide the perfect place to grasp. Foam grips meanwhile are a good choice for warm weather hiking. They soak up sweat and have a good texture for grasping. However, this material can cause blisters from rubbing. Rubber does not retain moisture and are the best insulator against the cold. This type of grip is also excellent for reducing vibration, thus making it well-suited to high-impact activities. You are likely to get blisters from this material, as well. Plastic does not mold or mildew and usually does not stain, but it has no give and is quite uncomfortable to grasp. Blisters are also very likely with this type of grip, thanks to the lack of give and constant rubbing.
What type of locking mechanism the trekking poles have can make a lot of difference in how easy it is to adjust with changing terrain and how frequent you will have to readjust the poles. Quick lock mechanisms provides stabilization by snapping into place. Adjustments are not the easiest, but you will rarely have to readjust the poles unless you want to change the height. Twist lock mechanisms make height adjustments a breeze, since all you have to do is twist to loosen, adjust the height, and twist it back until it is tight. However, twist locks loosen over time and you will likely have to make frequent readjustments to tighten the mechanisms back.
Trekking poles can be recognized by their two or three sections that interlock to adjust the height. The height range has several points of importance. First of all, the height range makes a difference in the field. Depending on the terrain you are hiking or climbing on, you may have to go ultra short for the uphill and ultra long for the downhill. The wider the range of heights available on a set of poles the more options you have for adjustments. Second, you may need to get the poles into your suitcase at some point. Shorter the minimum height the easier it will be to get those poles in. If they are too long, you may have to invest in a bigger suitcase or smaller trekking poles. Thirdly, trekking poles are good tent poles for temporary shelters. The added height of a longer trekking pole will allow you to have a higher clearance, enabling you to move around easier. The average trekking poles go no longer than fifty-five inches, but a few go longer.
Chances are, if you are hiking or climbing, you have a pack to carry on your back. It is common practice to make this pack as light as possible while still having all the supplies needed for the adventure. Thus, the lighter trekking poles will be more beneficial to your packing needs. As said earlier, carbon fiber is the lightest material for trekking poles and as such, if you are looking to lighten your weight, are the best option available to you. Aluminum, though, does not weight many more ounces than carbon fiber, so is not enough different for most people to notice it.
Trekking poles come in a range of colors from artic white to black. It is important that you not camouflage your trekking poles to the environment you plan to use them in the most. For example, arctic white trekking poles would not be a good idea in Antarctica because they would camouflage with the environment. Likewise, green poles would not be good in a woodsy environment. Look for a bright color that will stand out in the environment you will be using the trekking poles the most in. The reason this is important is that other adventurers will want to be able to see you and hunters need to see that you are not part of the environment. Like a long white cane stands out in the city because it is white, a brightly colored trekking pole stands out in the snow, woods, or any environment you enter to make it easier to see your position.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Which trekking pole set is right for you? Of course that is a matter of personal preference. You probably want to weigh the advantages and disadvantages and decide on the poles that best match the activities you plan to do the most. The important thing is that you use trekking poles, as they provide stability and balance for the adventurer and can mean the difference between making it down the trail in one piece and slipping and falling.