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These products are featured in Backpacker’s 2021 Gear Guide. For the full product reviews—and a ton more perks—become an Active Pass member today. We take our responsibility to provide readers with fair and accurate gear advice seriously, and when you make purchases based on these reviews, we may earn a commission.
Best Overall: Rei Co-op Flash Carbon
While it might not be as eye-catching as other poles on this list, the Flash Carbon does everything well. Its lightweight carbon construction supported our weight and reduced vibrations while we scrambled through rocky terrain on Dragon and Independence Peaks in California’s Sierra National Forest. Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Best Value: Trekology Trek-Z 2.0 Pole
We’ve broken our fair share of budget poles, some seemingly right out of the box. But the foldable, three-section aluminum Trek-Z 2.0 has been by our side for five months without a hitch. With an extended foam grip topped by a comfy handle and 8 inches of adjustability, the pole offered comfort and versatility to choke up when we made the 1,000-foot ascent up the Willow Creek Trail in Montana. Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Most Durable: Hilleberg Trekking Poles
We’ve used DAC’s trusty aluminum tech in tents for years, but it’s relatively rare in hiking poles. These Hilleberg sticks leverage DAC’s know-how into the best strength-to-weight ratio in the test, borne out over 300 miles of backpacking in the Northern Rockies. Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Best Features: G3 Pivot Trek
Hear us out: Many poles claim to play well in every season, but this one really is built to tackle everything from backcountry skiing to rocky trails to boot-sucking mud. The folding, aluminum Pivot Trek has a thumb-size hole on top of the handle that we used to anchor guy lines while winter camping in the Smokies. Buy Now / Read the Full Review
Know your poles
There are three types of trekking poles. Here’s how they differ.
Fixed Length: The shaft is one piece. The lack of moving parts means a sturdier, lighter, and more durable product. Drawbacks: not adjustable, not packable.
Telescoping: These two- or three-piece poles collapse into themselves for storage. They have the greatest range of adjustability. Downside: heavier.
Folding: These poles divide into two or three parts, so are packable but also lightweight. Caveat: They’re more susceptible to damage at the joints.