Are trekking poles essential? That’s debatable. But many of our testers won’t go hiking without them. And this pair just shot to the top of the heap. “The best grip I’ve ever used,” raves one editor. “It changed the way I hold trekking poles by allowing me to comfortably palm the top of handle.” Testers say the Aergon grip’s egg-shaped top is better for striding across rolling terrain and more confidence-inspiring when descending.
The three-section, carbon-fiber poles lock together via an internal Kevlar-reinforced tension cord. The Speed Lock below the handle, which is easily operable even with gloves on, allows for up to 20 centimeters of on-the-fly adjustment. The tough-but-light carbon-fiber shafts were strong enough to support 275-plus-pounds of hiker and gear, but the swing weight—how the pole feels as you swing it back and forth—was light enough for all-day comfort. $200; 1 lb. 1 oz. (pair); leki.com
Designed for fast packers, trail runners and anyone else looking for lightweight reliability on the trail, the Black Diamond Ultra Distance is a superlight, 3-season carbon-fiber pole that uses our ultra-packable folding-pole technology. The revolutionary 3-section Z-Pole design features a coated inner cord, a single push-button release, and our speed cone deployment, which aligns like an avalanche probe for increased rigidity. The lightweight EVA grip features a non-slip extension for choking up on steep terrain, and the interchangeable tips provide multi-surface versatility.
100% carbon fiber shafts
3-section Z-Pole folding design with speed cone deployment
Lightweight EVA foam grip and breathable, moisture-wicking strap
Non-slip foam mini grip extension for secure choke ups
Includes interchangeable, non-marking Z-Pole Rubber Tips, Z-pole Carbide Tips and stow bag
Stopper basket with shaft catcher secures folded sections
NOTE: Z-Poles do not accept, or have fittings for snow or powder baskets