The Best Trekking Pole

Trekking poles are a favorite hiking and trekking accessory in the Alps. Investing in a good set can reduce hundreds of pounds of carry-weight and investing in a bad set can result in more of a hassle than a help. Alpenwild’s CEO, Greg Witt, is doing us all a favor as he shares his opinion on which is the best trekking pole.

Greg’s go-to “best trekking pole” is the Black Diamond Alpine FLZ. Greg prefers this pole because of it’s cork handles, foam tapered straps, strong aluminum build, and “Z” fixed length attributes. Here’s why:

best trekking pole grip

Grips 

You’ll notice that inexpensive poles often have plastic or rubber grips. These grips can easily chip or tear, and are more likely to give you blisters over a long hike. The last thing you want on a trek is to get blisters on day one and have to stash the poles while your hands heal. 

Foam grips are a step up from plastic and rubber grips. They are soft, durable, and absorbent. However, if you’re hiking in hot weather with foam-gripped poles, the foam can become a bit spongy. 

Cork grips are high-quality. Sweat from your hands will cause cork grips to conform to the shape of your hand over time. Cork naturally absorbs and wicks moisture. Greg will use foam or cork gripped poles, however, Greg has a slight preference for cork grips.

Strap Buckles

Straps

Greg notes that he often sees walking pole strap dangling as hiker’s use them. The straps are there for a reason: to balance the pole between the thumb and index finger. Using the strap the proper way can evenly distribute body weight while hiking. Buying the right straps can make a big difference over a hike. Greg recommends a solid, set-length strap that is free from stitching and buckles as they can scratch and irritate the skin.

Shaft Material

Hiking poles often come in two types of materials, aluminum and carbon fiber. Right off the bat, carbon fiber poles sound luxurious, strong, yet lightweight. However, carbon fiber poles are more prone to breaking on the downhill and shattering in cold weather. Aluminum can twist and break but it is not prone to breaking on impact and shattering in the cold like carbon fiber.

flick lock trekking pole
A flick lock pole is quite common and a popular pick among trekking pole users.

Locking Mechanism and Length Adjustment

Trekking poles utilize the locking method as a way to adjust pole length. Twist lock poles never seem to lock in place and can unexpectedly give out on the trail – especially on the down hill. Push button locks are more reliable in terms of setting pole length. However, the buttons can become jammed and stuck overtime. Not to mention that the button sliding feature can result in hand pinches. Z-fixed length poles are as the name implies – a fixed length pole that looks like a Z held together by the tension of silicone or rubber. The material seems to last longer and worries about pole giving out greatly diminish with a fixed-length pole.

As you can see, there are many pole attributes and options. Greg has found the best trekking pole for himself. As you explore the options and benefits of each feature, hopefully, you can find the best trekking pole for yourself! 

In your opinion, what is the best trekking pole? We want to hear from you in the comments below.

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