Walking sticks for hiking may seem unnecessary for some. But they offer many benefits for any hiker and any trail. Many people enjoy hiking, especially because you can do it everywhere in the country. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park or hike up (or down) Lombard Street in San Francisco.
Trekking through the historic district of Boston is just as enticing as the Appalachian Trail. You’ll have differences in altitudes and landscapes, but hiking is a popular way to experience any destination. And walking sticks for hiking, often called trekking poles, can add a measure of support, safety, and style to your adventure.
Come along as we explore the benefits of hiking sticks and the best ones on the market.
The Benefits of Using a Walking Stick for Hiking
For some, a trekking pole defines them as “an experienced hiker.” But rather than just look the part, many use walking sticks for hiking because they need the support a sturdy pole can give them. Some people also have physical ailments or chronic injuries that require extra help. Regardless of the need, these poles provide balance and confidence for everyone.
A hiking stick is also an excellent defensive tool to ward off animal aggression and unwanted plant attacks. For instance, a pole can hold back tree branches while you pass under so no one gets smacked in the head.
Offensively, a trekking pole can clear high prairie grasses or weeds in front of hikers, revealing unlevel ground or small animals, including snakes, that might become startled. This will alert them and you, hopefully avoiding unwanted surprises.
A handy benefit of having a walking stick on any hike is the extra support when crossing a small creek or walking downhill when your legs start feeling like spaghetti at the end of a long trail. It never hurts to have something dependable to lean on.
Pro Tip: Grab a hiking stick and hit the trails on these 7 Best Hikes in the Catskills You Shouldn’t Miss.
The 7 Best Walking Sticks for Your Hiking Kit
If your hiking trail leads you through a forest, you might find a dead tree limb lying on the ground to use as your walking stick for the day. But for those who don’t have woods nearby, we suggest purchasing any of the following modern versions to make your hikes more enjoyable.
1. REI Co-op Traverse Trekking Poles
About: These telescoping poles have cork handles that absorb shock and mold easily to all hand sizes. You can easily adjust the length to fit different slope angles. And the locking levers are tight so that you won’t have any slipping on the pole extension. The pair costs $70.
Our Favorite Features: The baskets on the end of each pole work great for hiking in snow and soft-ground. And the ability to change the length of each pole is perfect for multiple situations and multiple users.
Best For: The Traverse Trekking Poles work best for hiking up and down slopes of varying degrees. The telescoping feature is well-thought-out and easy to use, making the poles helpful in various situations.
2. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Walking Sticks for Hiking
About: Black Diamond has designed the Trail Ergo Cork trekking poles with detail in mind. The cork handles wick moisture away and absorbs some shock.
- Natural cork grip wicks away sweat with updated soft-rubber grip...
- 15-degree corrective angle for optimal grip position
- Double Flick Lock adjustability
The 15-degree angle provides the perfect grip position if the poles are at the right height for the hiker. These walking sticks are lightweight aluminum to avoid extra weight on a long hike. The Black Diamond poles cost $140.
Our Favorite Features: We love the carbide tip replacements included with these poles, as the originals can wear out quickly if used frequently on rock or pavement. The angled grips also help reduce strain on the wrists during those long hikes.
Best For: These aluminum poles are great for flat-ground walks, especially because of the angled hand grips. They have four height positions that make them the perfect selection for hikers ranging from 5’ to 6’ tall.
Pro Tip: Bringing your dog with you on your hike? We found the 5 Best Dog Hiking Boots for your furry friend.
3. LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Poles
About: The Leki Micro Vario hiking sticks break down like a tent pole into foldable sections, making them easy to transport. They have foam grips and hollow carbon shafts for lightweight hiking support. The wrists have less stress with an 8-degree angle on the grips. The carbon fiber poles cost $200.
- Exclusive AERGON grip features a hollow core construction to save...
- Air-textured "no bulk" security strap maintains design dimensions...
- 100% High Modulus Carbon shaft sections for reliable, lightweight...
Our Favorite Features: They thought of everything when they designed these trekking poles. Even the wrist strap is adjustable. And the grips extend to give hikers a ‘hand up’ on any terrain.
Best For: The Leki Micro poles shine on varied slopes. It just takes a flick of the thumb to change the length using the speed locks. It’s so fast that you don’t even have to think about it.
4. MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon Poles
About: Dynalock is the name of the locking system on these carbon poles, and it works flawlessly. MSR has produced extremely lightweight and easy-to-use walking sticks for hiking. You can change the length to meet slope angles. The carbon shaft breaks down into three pieces and folds, acting just as a tent pole would. The price is $170.
Our Favorite Features: This particular design adds 8 inches to the length, making the Dynalock Ascent poles versatile on all kinds of terrain and for use by different hikers.
Best For: Even though the poles can adapt and would help in climbing steep ascents, some reviews mention that they don’t have much strength. So it is our opinion that these walking sticks work best for flatland hikes with less stress from extreme angles.
5. Trekology Trek-Z Collapsible Poles
About: The Trekology collapsible poles are a one-size-fits-all offering at a low entry price point. These aluminum walking sticks for hiking have a foam grip and locking adjustments. They come with two sets of baskets and tip covers, and the poles use flip-lock technology for the extension. They cost only $43 for the pair.
- Increase Your Foot Print! Trek-Z Ergonomic Trekking Poles (set of...
- Engineered and Built To Last: Keeping your Adventurous nature in...
- Compact Design that is Ready to Go When You Are: Trek-Z trekking...
Our Favorite Features: The collapsible feature of the Trek-Z poles is like those of higher quality. The sticks can fold like a tent pole into 15”, making them easy to pack.
Best For: The low price makes these poles appealing to those trying out hiking sticks for the first time. The lightweight makes them just the right equipment needed to navigate almost any trail without spending a lot of money.
6. TheFitLife Budget Trekking Poles
About: For an inexpensive pair of carbon fiber poles, look no further than the FitLife Budget Trekking Poles. They offer dependability on the trail in a lightweight package. Unlike the other walking sticks we’ve reviewed here, the FitLife ones do not break down. At their shortest, they measure 24”, but they do expand up to 51”. These colorful poles cost $40.
- Built for your rhythm: Whether walking on flat ground, uphill or...
- Ultra light, a great helper on any adventure: Only weights...
- Ease of use, one sizes fit all: The flip lock technique is more...
Our Favorite Features: We love how light these trekking poles are. It feels like hiking with feathers at less than half a pound each. The price is also appealing, but so is the wide variety of colors.
Best For: These are lightweight beginner trekking poles built to get more people interested in hiking. So the best places to use them are on beginning hikes without a lot of elevation. The FitLife poles can enhance any kind of walk.
Pro Tip: Take your trekking poles with you on these 7 Hikes in Yosemite That Anyone Can Enjoy.
7. BAFX Products Lightweight Aluminum Trekking Poles
About: These are the least expensive walking sticks for hiking on our list. These aluminum trekking poles have molded grips and a tightening mechanism to lock the pole extensions in place. Anyone 3’ 6” to 6’ 4” in height can easily use them. They come with carbon tips, rubber covers, and baskets. The BAFX poles cost $22.
- [HIGH QUALITY & AFFORDABLE] BAFX Products prides themselves on...
- [VERSATILE] Expandable from 26.5" to 53.25" using a twist lock...
- [COMFORTABLE] The BAFX Products trekking poles come with trail...
Our Favorite Features: The low price is sure to bring some in, but we like the option to choose between black, blue, or silver. This personalizes our hiking sticks and adds a bit of fun to any trek.
Best For: Use these poles for more flatland adventures because the locks on the pole legs can’t handle much weight leaning on them. The legs will just collapse into themselves a bit, defeating the purpose of support.
Use Your Walking Sticks for Hiking Comfort and Endurance
Everyone could use a little help now and then, and a good walking stick for hiking can offer support on any trail. If you are an avid explorer of cityscapes, wildlands, or off-the-beaten-path destinations, give yourself some confidence with a dependable, sturdy trekking pole. They can add a sense of safety and stability to any adventure you choose.
Do you use hiking sticks when you go on an adventure? Tell us in the comments!
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