How do I choose what hiking pole to use?

Trekking and hiking poles often have a lot of similarities. Most have extension capabilities, anti-shock systems, and other interesting features that make them ideal for your trekking needs. In general, when someone is looking to select on of these poles for their own personal use, the decision comes down to:

·        Price

·        Comfort

·        Dependability

Depending on price considerations, most people look for a pole that is not known to break that often, and also provides them with the comfort they need in order to enjoy their trek more. However, beyond these simple considerations, there are other things that must be looked at before you decide which pole to choose.

Locking Mechanism

One of the biggest considerations that is often overlooked is the ease of adjusting the length of the pole. Some poles have problems locking, while others have a flick lock system that is extremely simple and works quickly. These can make the price differ, but they also differ between brands. For example, only Black Diamond poles will have the well known “Flick Lock” system that many trekkers love. Some of the cheaper poles, on the other hand, may require a great deal of manual effort that can be incredibly time consuming.

Shock Absorption

Another way that poles can differ dramatically is the success of their shock absorbtion system. Again, this often differs between brands, as brands like Komperdell have no anti-shock system at all, while others brands may have advanced shock absorbers that take much of the pressure off your arm and elbow. It is a good idea to check the reviews on each pole since systems within-brands can differ as well.


The lighter the pole, the more prone it is to breaking (unless you spring for some of the more expensive poles). In addition, aluminum poles are known to bend, while carbon poles when made correctly have more give. On the other hand, carbon poles made incorrectly are known to shatter, so much of that, again, has to do with the model of the pole as well as the manufacturer. Many of these pole makers have lifetime warranties on some of these options making them great deals.


Of all of the things that poles are used for, the softness of the grip is extremely important. You will be holding on to these poles for a long period of time over the course of your trek, and if you are finding them uncomfortable at all within the first mile or so, by the end of your trek you are probably going to be carrying the poles on your back rather than using them. Find a pole with a grip that is comfortable enough to use for the course of the hike.

Pick Carefully

Certain brands have certain reputations, and the functionality within these brands can differ a great deal in overall effectiveness. It is a good idea to check out all of the available poles and make your choice based on the ones that feel the best in your hands, give you the functionality you need, and fit within your price range/budget.