Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Do you want to make your daily walk or even your walk up the mountain easier? Then you should think about buying trekking poles that are right for you. These take the strain off you, especially when hiking, as your muscles are not strained as much and your joints are also protected.

Where and at what price can you buy such poles? What different types of trekking poles are available for you to buy? Answers to the most frequently asked questions can be found here in the big trekking poles test 2022.

We present different trekking poles to help you decide what to buy. In addition, you will find helpful tips and tricks in our guide on which trekking poles are suitable for which areas of use. No matter whether you choose Nordic walking trekking poles, hiking poles, telescopic or folding poles, we will tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of the different types.




Summary

  • A trekking pole supports you in difficult passages when hiking and relieves the strain on your muscles and joints.
  • Telescopic poles can be pushed together, folding poles can be folded. The latter have a much smaller pack size and weight, but are also correspondingly more expensive.
  • Due to the wide variety of materials, features and workmanship, there is quite a wide price range for hiking poles. Inexpensive models start at around €40, high-quality poles can cost up to €200.

The Best Trekking Poles: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a trekking pole

Not only hikers who spend a lot of time in the mountains have seen them frequently – trekking poles have now also arrived in the city and support many people every step of the way. Opinions about trekking poles are nevertheless divided.

Many see them as a useless “walking aid” that has a negative rather than a positive influence on coordination. Others would not want to do without them, appreciate their positive effects on the musculoskeletal system and the additional safety in rough terrain.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of trekking poles?

Certainly, trekking poles offer clear advantages and disadvantages. You will find a short summary listed here. Advantages of trekking poles

  • Relief for the joints when descending, especially the knees
  • Safe walking even when tired and exhausted
  • Special support and protection for older people or people with previous damage due to injury/wear and tear

Disadvantages of trekking poles

  • In case of excessive use, possible restriction of coordinative abilities
  • In case of falls there is an increased risk of injury due to the poles
  • If the poles are not used in the meantime, they can be a hindrance, for example on via ferratas

Our conclusion: The use of trekking poles is particularly useful on descents or difficult passages. However, you should not use the poles excessively in order not to negatively influence your coordination skills and surefootedness.

On easy passages or on level terrain, you can do without your poles and thus maintain a healthy balance. By the way: trekking poles are excellent to stow away in trekking backpacks when not in use!

Trekking poles should be used especially on difficult passages and when descending. Source: Gamopy / pixabay.com

What types of trekking poles are there?

Telescopic trekking poles are the most common model. To use them, you can simply push them apart and fix them in place using screws or clamps. Among telescopic poles, there are the cheapest models, and they are also robust and durable.

However, they have a large pack size that can exceed the length of a trekking rucksack. Folding trekking poles are among the more modern designs. The individual segments of the pole are connected with a thick band, similar to a tent pole.

For assembly, you can put the segments into each other and fix them with a push button or clamps. Folding poles are lightweight and have a very small pack size. However, they are significantly more expensive than other models.

Wooden trekking poles are the rustic classics of trekking poles. It is important to know that with wooden trekking poles you only ever use one pole. Wooden trekking poles are robust and faithful companions. However, they are not suitable for demanding tours.

Which trekking pole is suitable for which area of use? Are you looking for a trekking pole for specific undertakings? Here you will find an overview of which type of pole is best suited.

Activity Trekking pole
Hiking The poles should primarily be comfortable. For the descent, we recommend poles with a light suspension. There are trekking poles specially designed for hiking that are available for a reasonable price.
Mountaineering/high altitude touring Robust, reliable poles are an absolute must for more elaborate tours. If you are travelling with a lot of luggage, light and well-packable trekking poles such as telescopic or folding trekking poles are an advantage.
via ferrata/climbing tours poles with a small pack size are particularly suitable for climbing, as they disappear completely in your rucksack and are not too much extra weight. Telescopic or folding poles are also best here.
Walks/Nordic-Walking For sporting activities on flat terrain, the poles do not need any special equipment. Light Nordic walking poles that also allow you to change your grip if the terrain is slightly uneven are pleasant.

Regardless of the occasion for which you want to use trekking poles, always make sure they are of good quality. Don’t go for cheaply made poles, as they may not only be uncomfortable, but may also increase the risk of injury.

What does a trekking pole cost?

The prices for trekking poles vary greatly and depend on the material and features. As a beginner, you can find a good, basic model from around €50. Depending on the type of pole you choose and the requirements you have for your new trekking pole, you can budget up to 200 €.

When is a folding trekking pole the right choice?

If you are looking for particularly lightweight trekking poles that can be quickly stowed and easily transported, folding trekking poles are the right choice for you.

Where are folding trekking poles often used?

Due to their specific characteristics, folding poles, also called Z-poles, are particularly favoured by hikers and mountaineers on high-altitude tours or alpine terrain. The folding system is simple and is based on the principle of a tent pole: the individual parts of the pole are unscrewed, inside the segments are connected with a cord.

In this way, the pole can be reduced to a fraction of its original size in no time at all. This small pack size is also becoming increasingly popular with climbers, as the poles can disappear completely in the rucksack on climbing tours and are quickly ready again later for a secure hold on the descent.

How much does a folding trekking pole cost?

Folding trekking poles are not among the cheapest among trekking poles due to their special processing. For a pair of new folding trekking poles you should expect a minimum price of about 80 €. Depending on your material and equipment preferences, the poles can also cost up to 180 €.

When is a wooden trekking pole the right choice?

If you value natural products and manufacturing, then a trekking pole made of wood, following the traditional model, is the right choice. With its rustic charm and design, the wooden trekking pole is of course an eye-catcher on any hike, clearly standing out from the industrially manufactured poles made of aluminium and carbon.

If you want a very special wooden pole, you can also have a unique piece made to your specifications by many manufacturers. The absolute plus point of a wooden stick is its stability and durability. If it is made of high-quality wood and professionally processed, the wooden trekking pole can become a companion for a lifetime.

wanderstock

A natural product with a rustic design.

Where are wooden trekking poles often used?

Wooden trekking poles are the classics among walking and hiking aids. In contrast to modern trekking poles, one always uses only one instead of two poles. The stick supports you particularly well on the descent, but also helps you on easy to medium inclines.

For high alpine or demanding tours, the wooden stick or the use of only one walking stick is not recommended for safety reasons. Nevertheless, on narrow ridges it can be advantageous to use only one pole, because often the path is simply not wide enough for two poles.

Ultimately, using only one walking stick also supports your sense of balance and safety. If you move frequently on hikes with the support of two poles, your sense of balance and surefootedness can suffer. So frequent use of a wooden trekking pole is definitely recommended.

With a good wooden trekking pole, you can make your hiking routine safer and more relaxed. Especially for routes that are easy to master, this pole is ideal.

How much does a wooden trekking pole cost?

Of course, you can pick a suitable stick from the forest floor on your next hike and spontaneously use it as your new wooden trekking pole for free – but it is better to invest a few euros and get a wooden pole that has been professionally processed and can thus guide you safely and for a long time over hill and dale.

You can get solid wooden trekking poles for as little as €20 – depending on the type of wood and other features, such as hand straps or carvings, the price can rise to around €200.

When is a telescopic trekking pole the right choice?

Especially when you decide to buy a trekking pole for the first time, choosing the right model is important. A trekking pole that can be easily pushed together (= telescoped) is particularly suitable for beginners, as there are already well-made models at a reasonable price.

Where are telescopic trekking poles often used?

Telescopic trekking poles are particularly suitable for easy to moderately difficult hikes. The poles support the body and bones during the ascent and provide support in unsteady places as well as during the descent.

If you temporarily do not need the trekking poles during the hike, the telescopic system makes it easy to slide them into each other. This allows you to carry them comfortably in your hand or stow them on your trekking backpack.

For high-altitude tours or via ferrata, folding trekking poles can be a useful alternative for you due to their even smaller pack size.

How much does a telescopic trekking pole cost?

Telescopic trekking poles can now be found in every price range. Especially in the online range, there are price segments for telescopic trekking poles that start at €20 and can rise to just under €200.

In principle, however, it makes sense not to go for the cheapest model straight away, but to pay close attention to the material and features of the poles. Poorly made trekking poles can do more harm to the body during the hike than support and relieve it.

For beginners, a model with basic equipment is recommended, priced at around 50 €. Experienced hikers can invest considerably more in their new trekking poles, depending on their preferences and extras.

When is a Nordic walking pole the right choice?

Are you looking for a way to give simple hikes or walks a little more athletic momentum? Or to train your entire musculoskeletal system without having to travel to the mountains for it? Then Nordic Walking could be the right thing for you!

This endurance sport, which has come down to us from Scandinavia, involves using Nordic walking poles to move your arms in rhythm with your feet. Nordic walking poles are therefore an essential part of this sport.

Where are Nordic Walking poles often used?

Nordic walking can be practised practically anywhere, but it is most beautiful and also most gentle on the joints on soft, natural ground. A trip to the park or the countryside is ideal, but for a quick workout after work it is also no problem to use the poles on asphalt.

How much do Nordic walking poles cost?

Nordic walking poles can be found in every price range. As a beginner, you can go for a cheaper model if you make sure that the materials are well made. You can get a pair of poles for around 20 €. Experienced Nordic walkers can buy higher-quality models for over 100 €, depending on their personal requirements.

Decision: What types of trekking poles are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between four different types of trekking poles:

  • Telescopic trekking poles
  • Folding trekking poles
  • Hiking poles
  • Nordic walking poles

Trekking poles are indispensable for hiking and have long been part of your basic equipment. A trekking pole is a useful support during difficult passages when hiking, as it relieves the muscles and joints.

In addition, trekking poles make hiking more pleasant, especially when ascending or descending and on difficult terrain. Due to the different materials and workmanship, there is a wide price range for trekking poles.

Depending on how far you want to travel and how often you want to use the trekking poles, a certain hiking pole is best suited for you. In the following sections, we would like to introduce you to these four different types.

We will also briefly explain the differences between them so that you can find out which trekking pole is right for you. The advantages and disadvantages of each type are clearly presented for comparison.

How does a folding trekking pole work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Folding poles are short and consist of four individual parts. The folding trekking pole is most similar to the telescopic trekking pole. Unlike the walking stick, they are used in pairs and are extremely small and light.

Folding trekking poles solve the typical packing problem that can quickly occur on long hikes. However, this is solved by folding the poles into small individual parts.

These can be placed in a bag, which can then be attached to the backpack. However, there is also a disadvantage, as the folding poles cannot be individually adjusted in length. The handle can therefore sit a few centimetres outside the usual range.

Advantages
  • Space-saving
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
Disadvantages
  • Less stability
  • Limited choice

How does a telescopic trekking pole work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Most trekking poles are the so-called telescopic poles. They are easy to use because the telescopic poles can simply be pushed into each other for storage. Telescopic poles are ideal for short or long tours where the telescopic pole is not to be used for the entire tour.

The extendable telescopic hiking poles are mostly made of aluminium or carbon. With telescopic trekking poles, the classic twist locks are light and slim. However, the classic twist locks have the disadvantage that they wear out more quickly and can loosen by themselves due to twisting movements during the hike.

To fix them, the individual parts are screwed tight or have clamps. Clamping systems are very compact and can be easily operated even with gloves. In addition, a clamping system can be quickly replaced in the event of a defect.

Advantages
  • Space-saving
  • Lightweight
  • Stable
Disadvantages
  • Faster wear

How does a walking stick work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Hiking poles made of wood are among the oldest models and still correspond to the shapes of poles from earlier years. The varnish makes the wooden walking stick weatherproof and scratch-resistant.

As a rule, the wooden walking stick is only used individually, unlike trekking poles. In addition, most wooden walking sticks have a nickel-plated walking stick tip, which ensures optimum grip on difficult passages.

Wooden trekking poles are robust, but less suitable for demanding and long tours. These poles have the disadvantage that, unlike modern models, they are relatively heavy and not adjustable.

Advantages
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Weatherproof
Disadvantages
  • Relatively heavy
  • Not adjustable

How does a Nordic walking pole work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The endurance sport of Nordic walking involves an effective whole-body workout. With the help of the walking poles, fast walking is supported. Nordic walking poles are available in different versions. The market offers different models in different sizes.

In addition, each Nordic Walking pole has a rubber buffer that is placed on the tip of the pole to ensure optimal grip on asphalt surfaces. However, Nordic walking poles are more commonly used for sports. Trekking and hiking poles, on the other hand, are used more for hiking.

Advantages
  • Whole body training
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for hiking

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate trekking poles based on these factors

Material

For trekking poles, you can choose between poles made of hardened aluminium and carbon. The absolute classic here is aluminium. It ensures that the trekking poles are light, hard-wearing and therefore durable.

Aluminium trekking poles are quite flexible and bend easily when overloaded, which makes them the perfect companion for changing terrain. Unfortunately, aluminium also transmits vibrations, which can be unpleasant and not particularly beneficial for the bones, especially when descending.

Therefore, look out for specially installed anti-shock systems, these counteract the vibrations and relieve the arms in particular. Modern poles made of carbon fibre composite are characterised by the fact that they are even lighter than hiking poles made of aluminium.

The carbon absorbs vibrations, so there is no annoying vibration in the poles when hiking. However, they are much stiffer and also more expensive. If overloaded, there is also a risk of the poles breaking, which can happen very suddenly due to micro-cracks in the carbon.

A combination of the two materials is also possible: special trekking poles are made of carbon at the bottom and aluminium at the top. In this way, the respective advantages of the materials can be combined in one pole.

leki-trekkingstoecke

Modern trekking poles are made of lightweight carbon.

Pole length

An important criterion when choosing your new trekking pole is the right pole length. Of course, this depends on your height: on level ground you should be able to hold the poles so that your elbow is bent at about 90 degrees.

There is also a rule of thumb for the optimum pole length: body height in cm x 0.68 = pole length. For a person with a height of 1.80 m, a walking stick with a length of 122 cm is therefore perfect.

Nevertheless, you should make sure that your trekking pole is variably adjustable: It is optimal for your body if you adjust the poles 5-10 cm shorter uphill and 5-10 cm longer downhill and at a fast pace.

Not only can your safety be negatively affected by the wrong pole length, but your posture can also suffer. Make sure that your poles are the right length for your height.

Handles

The handles are the connection between you and the trekking poles. Therefore, you should also make sure that you choose the right material. It is definitely not advisable to use pure plastic grips, as they are usually found on particularly inexpensive trekking poles.

They make your hands sweat more and inevitably lead to blisters. Grips made of foam or, especially for summer hikes, light cork are much more suitable. Hand straps are standard equipment on most poles.

They take the strain off the hand, as the force from the wrist is transferred more easily to the handle. Many trekking pole models also offer a handle extension, which can be particularly useful for ascents.

ski

When choosing the right trekking poles, attention should also be paid to the handles. Grips made of foam or cork protect against blisters, hand straps relieve the strain on the hands. Source: steinchen / pixabay.com

Tips

Hardened steel is particularly suitable for the tips of your trekking poles, as it is especially robust and durable. With cheaper pole models you will mostly find aluminium tips, but these can wear out quite quickly.

Rubber buffers for the tips are almost always included. The buffers should be placed on hard, e.g. asphalted, surfaces when touring. This prevents increased noise and protects the tips. Snow pads can also be attached to the tips so that you can use your Nordic walking poles safely even in winter.

Extras

Depending on your individual needs and wishes, many trekking poles offer useful extras and gadgets. For example, rubber pads for the pole tips on hard surfaces such as asphalt can be a useful addition.

Replaceable plates let you make your poles a safe companion even on winter tours. And for amateur photographers, there are hiking poles that can be converted into a camera tripod in a few easy steps.

Picture source: pixabay.com / Simon

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