The 4 Best Trekking Poles of 2020

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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Leki Cross Trail MCT 12 Vario Carbon

When you’re barreling down the trail chasing a PR, the last thing you want to worry about is what to do with your hands. That’s where this three-section, collapsible pole’s unique strap system comes in. It’s

ultrawide and has a thumb hole so it fits more like a glove than a loop, meaning you can power uphill without having to clench your hands too tightly. $249 Buy Now From Leki / Read the Full Review


Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork WR

It’s a tent pole. It’s a camera mount. No, it’s an ice axe. Actually, the Alpine Carbon Cork WR is all three, thanks to a cork and foam handle topped with a rubber head, which can be swapped out for multiple accessories. $200 Buy Now From Black Diamond / Read the Full Review

kelty upslope

Kelty Upslope 2.0

Not every pole needs to come with sticker shock. The aluminum, three-section, telescoping Upslope 2.0 is the least-expensive pole here by far, but it’s a great choice for hikers who want a pole that will last and aren’t worried about weight. $40 Buy Now on Amazon / Read the Full Review


Mountainsmith Andesite

The Andesite is the most affordable carbon pole in the test, and it handled more than 1,500 miles of the Continental Divide Trail as sturdily as poles twice the price. $100 Buy Now on Amazon / 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.