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Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks

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  • Post last modified:August 8, 2021
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Trekking poles exhibit mixed feelings, some people love them while some prefer swinging with their hands. Needless to say, they save you from joint injuries, provide grip, and make a trek easier. 

A few days ago, my friend Deepanshu solicited me to go on a trek with him. Being a naturalist, I agreed, anticipating the breathtaking views of two shortlisted trekking destinations in India – Kedarkantha and Har Ki Dun trek. This spark caught fire when I read travel blogs and saw jaw-dropping pictures and videos of these treks. 

If you Google, you’ll find both these treks are very long (2-5 days) covering a distance of around 20-26 km or so from Sankri village in Uttarakhand, India. We didn’t finalize which one we’ll go with and when. That trek is yet to happen in reality, but it caused me to research and find out that trekking poles are recommended on these treks.

To whatever amount of itsy bitsy treks I’ve done, I never used a trekking pole. I clearly remember using wooden sticks bought for INR 10 on the Kheerganga trek (by the way, it helped a lot). But considering you’re going on a harsh and long trek, leaving without a trekking pole may not be a good idea, especially in some cases (more on this later).

A trekking pole with mud basket

So, what’s the deal? Should we use trekking poles or it’s just another liability? I’m gonna show in which circumstances you’ll need it and what are its advantages. Everything is backed up by solid research, advice from real travelers (like you and I). Also, I picked 13 of my favorite trekking poles from my recent research. 



Trekking Pole – Is it Worth Carrying?

You should definitely carry trekking poles for your hike or trek if you:

  • Have joint problems,
  • Have back or neck problems,
  • Find trouble balancing your body,
  • Wanna engage your arms as well,
  • Are going to ‘difficult’ or ‘advanced’ level trek.
Two people with two pairs of trekking poles

Trekking poles aren’t necessary piece of travel gear for medium and beginner level treks, where you won’t face troubling trails and difficulty to balance yourself. However, for snow and difficult treks, the game is different. For example, tips and baskets in trekking poles provide better traction on the hard surfaces and help you in balancing.

Let’s discuss in brief the pros and cons of using trekking poles and then you shall make an informed choice based on your common sense. Deal?

Pros and Cons of Trekking Poles

Cons

Let’s not hit the sweet spot right away and look at the disadvantages of a trekking pole.

  1. It Might Feel Like A Liability: Trekking poles are not absolutely for everyone and every trek. Some people feel clumsy or unmanageable carrying a trekking pole. And you know what, it’s perfectly alright to leave it unless your trek or hike strictly doesn’t allow you to do so.
  2. The Good Ones Are Costly: The cheap trekking poles aren’t worth it. a). They tear down easily, and b). They aren’t mostly reliable. But this is understandable.
  3. An Extra Bit of Exhaustion: Carrying a trekking pole will engage your arms and upper body and so at the end of a long trek, you may feel exhausted more than usual. But this is actually not a con if you look from a perception that it has helped to shed more calories and enhance your stamina. On the other hand, if you love swaying with your hands and click nature photos with your point-and-shoot camera, this is concerning.
Snow trekking with poles

Pros

Okay, so after the cons, let’s see the advantages of this travel gear.

  1. Engage Your Arms: When you trek, your lower body part is engaged most. Using a trekking pole gives your arms & upper body something to do and improves blood circulation as you ascend to thin-air (low oxygen) and elevated sites. And it can also prevent swelling of your hands.
  2. Maintain Your Balance: Trekking poles help you to maintain balance. It can help you cross tricky trails, help you stand straight for a sigh of relief, and act as a set of an extra pair of legs. When you trek, the ground isn’t a plain pitch, but an unexpected trail of ups, downs, and twisted turns.
  3. Help The Joints: Have you ever felt that extra weight while descending or hiking down from an elevated trek? I have felt and I am sure you too have felt it. When you use a trekking pole it takes the stress off your joints (hips, knees, ankles, etc). This is true for both hiking up and down.
  4. Increase Your Pace: As a new pair of your legs, trekking poles increase the pace of walking enabling you to cover more distance in a short amount of time.
  5. Help You Measure The Depth: While trekking when you come across a river or trick snow trail, trekking poles can help you. Just dip in with the tip and estimate the danger of crossing that river or hazardous snowy trail.

Anatomy

Here’s how a typical trekking pole looks like, all the parts have been explicitly mentioned in the picture and a brief is given below.

Parts of A Trekking Pole - Misfit Wanderers

Things To Consider Before Buying One

You’ve understood the BIG picture that why trekking poles are necessary (and in cases when it’s not) and have a basic understanding of the parts of a trekking pole. Let me break it further and show you things you must consider before buying a trekking pole. Make an informed choice!

  • Trekking Pole Tips: These are the lowermost part of your trekking pole that completely touches the ground. Tips generally are made of two materials – carbide tips and plastic tips. Carbide trips increase traction and pole’s grip on nature’s best surfaces like snow, rough trails, etc, and hence are best suited for the same. Plastic tips are recommended for plain surfaces as they tear down easily when used on rough surfaces of nature. Most poles come with both these and they can easily be changed using a DIY method. These can be bought separately provided your pole supports the installation.
  • Pole Basket/Caps: These are umbrella-like caps installed at the lower part of a trekking pole provide an extra layer of security. It prevents the pole from sinking on soft, muddy, or snowy surfaces. This helps you to stay stable and keep your walking pace. These too can be bought separately.
  • Body Material: The body or shaft of a trekking pole is made of primarily two materials – carbon fiber or aluminum. While carbon fiber is lightweight, sturdy, durable, and reliable, they are not as resilient under stress as aluminum poles are. Aluminum poles are a few grams heavier than carbon fiber poles. Make sure you decide the type of material before buying a trekking pole.
  • Handles, Grip & Strap: – The handles of trekking poles are of two shapes – I-shaped and T-shaped. The handle grip of a trekking pole can be of foam, rubber, cork, or plastic. Cork is the one which you should go with as it doesn’t cause sweat in your hands and provides a firm grip even when wet. Trekking poles with cork grip are a bit costlier than other types of handle grips. The strap of the pole provides you more control over your pole.
  • Locking Mechanism/Adjustability: – It is how a trekking pole folds. Lever lock mechanism, push-button lock, twist-lock, etc, are a few locking/folding mechanisms that come in a pole. Some poles don’t lock/fold at all and I request you to stay away from it.
  • Shock Absorbers: Some poles have anti-shock, meaning they have a suspension mechanism that absorbs the shock and provides you comfortable hiking. Although it’s hard that you’ll practically notice it. So in reality, they don’t come up with even the costliest poles.
A man holding a trekking pole

Our 13 Best Picks

Okay, now that you’ve understood the aspects, let’s look at some of the best poles that you should consider buying under your budget.

Budget?

Oh, yeah! They usually cost you anywhere between INR 200 – INR 12,000 OR $3 – $200. Let me categorize our list of 13, here’s how:

  1. Category 1: INR 500 to 3000 (USD 6 to 40)
  2. Category 2: INR 3000 to 6000 (USD 40 to 80)
  3. Category 3: INR 6000+ (USD 80+)

If you prefer the tabular form, scan this table:

Brand NameApprox. Price in INR & USD (may vary as per availability)Buying Link
UDee700 ($10)Check Here
Medvision800 ($11)Check Here 
Coleman 1200 ($16)Check Here
ADD Gear2900 ($39)Check Here
Forclaz3000 ($40)Check Here
A ALAFEN4500 ($61)Check Here
Grand Expedition Ridgecross5100 ($70)Check Here
Retrospec High Point5300 ($72)Check Here
XMmux5400 ($73)Check Here
TOLKA6500 ($88)Check Here
Foxelli8300 ($112)Check Here
Far North Exchange8500 ($115)Check Here
Cascade Mountain Tech11000 ($150)Check Here

Category 1: INR 500 to 3000 (USD 6 to 40)

1. UDee

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 1Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 2
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialPlastic and foam
Wrist StrapYes, made of foam 
Shaft MaterialAluminum alloy
Basket/CapsNot provided
TipsPlastic, no extra tips.
Weight 100 grams
Locking MechanismPush-type
Shock AbsorberYes

What we like:

  • The lightweight design.
  • Good for beginners.
  • Can be used for beginner level treks.

What we don’t like:

  • The build quality is not up to the mark.
  • It is not durable.
  • Handle grip is made up of plastic.
  • Basket caps and extra tips aren’t provided.

2. Medvision

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 3Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 4
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialPlastic and foam
Wrist StrapYes
Shaft MaterialAluminum
Basket/CapsYes, 1 provided
TipsPlastic, 1 extra tip.
Weight 335 grams
Locking MechanismTelescopic
Shock AbsorberYes

What we like:

  • Good for beginners.
  • It is made of aluminum.
  • Can be used for beginner level treks.

What we don’t like:

  • The build quality is okayish.
  • The shock absorber is based on a spring mechanism.
  • Handle grip is made up of plastic.

3. Coleman

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 5Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 6
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialCork
Wrist StrapYes, nylon
Shaft MaterialAluminum
Basket/CapsNo
TipsPlastic
Weight 340 grams
Locking MechanismTelescopic
Shock AbsorberYes

What we like:

  • The handle grip is made up of cork.
  • It is made of aluminum.
  • Can be used for beginner level treks.
  • The build quality seems good.

What we don’t like:

  • There are no baskets or extra tips.
  • I-shape.
  • The strap could have been better.

4. ADD GEAR

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 7Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 8
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialEVA Foam
Wrist StrapYes, nylon
Shaft MaterialAerospace-grade 7075 aluminum
Basket/CapsYes
TipsCarbide-tungsten with 1 plastic tip cover
Weight 260 grams
Locking MechanismTwist-lock
Shock AbsorberYes

What we like:

  • The tip has carbide-tungsten which is more durable.
  • Incredibly lightweight with aerospace-grade aluminum shaft material.
  • The twist-lock mechanism is better.
  • The build quality seems good too.

What we don’t like:

  • There are no baskets or extra tips.
  • I-shape.
  • The handle grip foam could have been made up of cork.

5. Forclaz Compact

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 9Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 10
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialFoam
Wrist StrapYes, good quality
Shaft MaterialA mix of aluminum and polypropylene which is able to withstand higher temperatures
Basket/CapsYes, 1 extra provided
TipsCarbide with 1 plastic tip cover
Weight NA 
Locking MechanismExternal lever-lock
Shock AbsorberNo

What we like:

  • The product is from a well-known brand – Decathlon.
  • The product comes with a 2 year warranty.
  • The wrist strap seems very good quality.
  • The external level-lock mechanism feels easier.
  • The build quality seems good too with a mix of aluminum and PP.

What we don’t like:

  • There is no shock-absorber.
  • The handle grip foam could have been made up of cork.

Category 2: INR 3000 to 6000 (USD 40 to 80)

6. A ALAFEN

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 11Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 12
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialFoam
Wrist StrapYes, adjustable
Shaft Material7075 Aluminum 
Basket/CapsYes, 1 provided
TipsTungsten-steel with 1 plastic cover
Weight 318 grams 
Locking MechanismExternal lever-lock with tension adjustment
Shock AbsorberNo

What we like:

  • The wrist strap is adjustable.
  • The wrist strap seems of good quality.
  • The external level-lock mechanism have a button to adjust tension.
  • The build quality seems okay.

What we don’t like:

  • The tip is of tungsten-steel and not carbide, it’ll wear off easily.
  • There is no shock-absorber.
  • The handle grip foam could have been made up of cork.

7. Grand Expedition Ridgecross

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 13Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 14
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialFoam
Wrist StrapYes
Shaft MaterialAerospace grade aluminum 
Basket/CapsYes, 2 extra provided
TipsTip material unknown, comes with 1 plastic cover
Weight 570 grams 
Locking MechanismClamp lock
Shock AbsorberNo

What we like:

  • The shaft material is good quality aluminum.
  • The clamp-lock mechanism is better than lever-lock.
  • The build quality seems great.

What we don’t like:

  • They haven’t clearly stated the material of tip.
  • There is no shock-absorber.
  • The handle grip foam could have been made up of cork.

8. Retrospec High Point

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 15Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 16
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialFoam
Wrist StrapYes
Shaft MaterialAluminum 
Basket/CapsYes, 4 extra provided
TipsCarbide, comes with 2 plastic cover
Weight 794 grams 
Locking MechanismExternal lever-lock with tension adjustment
Shock AbsorberNo

What we like:

  • They are providing baskets for muddy and snowy trails.
  • They are giving 2 tip cover/boots for flat or rocky surfaces.
  • The shaft material is good quality aluminum.
  • The tip is made up of carbide.
  • The wrist strap is adjustable.
  • The build quality seems awesome.

What we don’t like:

  • They are very heavy.
  • There is no shock-absorber.
  • The handle grip foam could have been made up of cork.

9. XMmux

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 17Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 18
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialCork
Wrist StrapYes
Shaft MaterialAluminum 
Basket/CapsYes, 4 extra provided
TipsTungsten-carbide, comes with 4 plastic cover/boots
Weight 953 grams 
Locking MechanismExternal lever-lock with tension adjustment
Shock AbsorberNo

What we like:

  • They are providing 4 baskets including muddy and snowy trails.
  • They are giving 4 tip cover/boots for flat or rocky surfaces.
  • The shaft material is good quality aluminum.
  • The tip is made up of tungsten-carbide.
  • The wrist strap is adjustable.
  • The build quality seems very good considering except shaft all other parts made of carbon fiber.

What we don’t like:

  • There is no shock-absorber.
  • The shaft could have been of carbon fiber and hence made the pole lighter.

Category 3: INR 6000+ or USD 80+

10. TOLKA

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 19Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 20
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialNatural Cork
Wrist StrapYes, adjustable
Shaft Material7075 Aluminum 
Basket/CapsYes, 4 extra provided
TipsTungsten-carbide, comes with 4 plastic cover/boots
Weight 658 grams 
Locking MechanismExternal lever-lock with tension adjustment
Shock AbsorberNo but they claim to have a ‘springy-feel’

What we like:

  • They are providing 4 baskets including muddy and snowy trails.
  • They are giving 4 tip cover/boots for flat or rocky surfaces.
  • They are giving 2 year warranty.
  • The shaft material is aluminum, still quite lightweight. Other parts are made up of impact-resistant ABS material.
  • The tip is made up of tungsten-carbide.
  • This pole is similar to the previous one in terms of features yet lighter than that.
  • The build quality seems awesome.

What we don’t like:

  • There is ‘kinda’ shock-absorber.
  • Shaft could have been of carbon fiber.

11. Foxelli

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 21Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 22
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialNatural Cork, full length
Wrist StrapYes, adjustable and cushioned
Shaft Material7075 Aluminum 
Basket/CapsYes, 4 extra provided
TipsCarbide made, comes with 4 plastic cover/boots
Weight 266 grams 
Locking MechanismExternal lever-lock
Shock AbsorberNo

What we like:

  • This is perhaps the only pole yet which has all the features and yet weighs only 266 grams or ~9.5 oz.
  • They are providing 4 baskets for all seasons.
  • They are giving 4 tip cover/boots.
  • They are giving a 3-year warranty for defects and a 120-days warranty for the complete pole. 
  • The tip is made up of carbide.
  • The build quality seems superb.

What we don’t like:

  • There is no shock-absorber.
  • The shaft could have been of carbon fiber.

12. Far North Exchange

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 23Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 24
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialNatural Cork
Wrist StrapYes, padded
Shaft Material7075 Aluminum 
Basket/CapsYes, 4 extra provided
TipsCarbide made, comes with 4 plastic cover/boots
Weight 612 grams 
Locking MechanismExternal lever-lock
Shock AbsorberNo

What we like:

  • They are providing 4 baskets for all seasons.
  • They are giving 4 tip cover/boots.
  • The tip is made up of carbide.
  • The color variants are appealing.
  • The build quality seems superb.

What we don’t like:

  • There is no shock-absorber.
  • The shaft could have been of carbon fiber.

13. Cascade Mountain Tech

Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 25Why Do You Need A Trekking Pole? And 13 Best Picks 26
Handle Grip TypeI-Shaped
Handle Grip MaterialNatural Cork, extended
Wrist StrapYes
Shaft MaterialCarbon fiber
Basket/CapsYes, 4 extra provided
TipsTungsten-carbide, comes with 4 plastic cover/boots
Weight 220 grams 
Locking MechanismExternal lever-lock with tension adjustment
Shock AbsorberNo

What we like:

  • This only weighs 220 grams – incredible.
  • The shaft is made from carbon fiber.
  • They are providing 4 baskets for all seasons.
  • They are giving 4 tip cover/boots.
  • The tip is made up of carbide.
  • The cork is extended beyond handle.

What we don’t like:

  • There is no shock-absorber.

In The End

If you have minutely scanned this post, you must have noticed two things:

  1. Shock absorbers aren’t even on the costliest ones.
  2. None of the poles were T-shaped.

For shock absorbers, I already told them that they make very little difference. So practically they are not of much use. On the other hand, T-shaped poles have become obsolete and this shape mostly comes up with walking sticks or cheap trekking poles. They are replaced by a wrist strap which is more gripping during treks.

Our best picks are Cascade Mountain Tech and Forclaz Compact trekking pole.

Trekking Pole isn't a necessary piece of gear

So, what do you think? Are you going to buy a trekking pole? Have you wishlist-ed any of our picks? Let me know your thoughts. In case you have any problem, please speak as well.


VivaciousVipin

Vipin is a techie, traveler, and entrepreneur. He has done engineering in computer science and is an Apple Fan Boy. He is behind all the tech and content management of this website. Often, he shares his entrepreneurial learnings and thoughts on his Twitter.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ashok Kumar Gupta

    Trekking pole is also helpful while trekking to keep the wild animals at bay if you encounter one.

    1. VivaciousVipin

      Yes indeed, Ashok. Thanks for sharing this 🙂 With your permission, can we also include your suggestion in this post?

Comments