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
Our women's specific Z-Pole, built with durable lightweight aluminum and featuring both our compactable Z-Pole technology and FlickLock®adjustability, the Black Diamond Distance FL defines on-trail versatility. Ideal for everything from backpacking to short day hikes, the Distance FL's 20 cm of adjustability let you tweak the length for sidehilling or for use with a tarp shelter. Much like our avalanche probes, our speed cone deployment employs a coated inner cord and conical shaft ends for quick and rigid alignment. We also included a lightweight EVA grip with mini extension for quick choke-ups on steep inclines and interchangeable tips for variable trail surfaces.
3-section folding design with speed cone deployment and FlickLock adjustment
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