Gear Reviews

The 4 Best Trekking Poles of 2021

Trekking poles take pressure off your knees, aid balance, and make it possible to pitch some ultralight tents. Try these four adjustable pairs—including two bargain picks—on for size.

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REI Co-op Flash Carbon

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

Trekology Trek-Z 2.0 Pole

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

Hilleberg Trekking Poles

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

 

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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.