How to choose trekking poles (with tutorials)

Besides whacking spider webs and bush out of the way trekking poles are an extremely versatile tool. They help maintain stride, pace and breathing into sync. They also provide a boost when walking up hills. When going down hills they take the shock out of your knees, absorbing your weight.

Because they help with endurance and by using your arms and shoulders you may lose weight. I always found them useful as an extra point of support with a water crossing, preventing slipping over and face planting into rocks.

With many different types and styles on the marketplace (enough for your head to spin), we decided to help by writing an article on how to choose trekking poles with tutorials. We have also reviewed the best poles.

One or two trekking poles

Trekking with 2 poles is more effective than 1 pole.

Humans are Bipedalism is a form of terrestrial locomotion where we swing 4 limbs with two feet on the ground. Therefore, the use of two poles is best.  We are not tripods. I don’t know of any animals with 3 legs.

The only time you may use a single-pole is if you have a sore hand, arm, shoulders, legs or hips. Suggest trying two trekking poles, the other half of the body might thankyou.

Pole Locking Mechanism

The “lever lock” or “flip-lock” system we found to be durable and longer-lasting than “twist locking” type. The “twist-lock” allows to adjust and lock length into place. Remember “righty tight and lefty loosey”, that’s basically how they work.

The Push-button lock type has a locking mechanism that snaps into place and locks with a single pull. Press the push button to release the lock and collapse the poles. Some of these poles do not adjust in length.

There are also “fixed length” poles. You can’t adjust the length of the pole, purchasing the pole based on your height.  These poles can’t be adjusted to fit into your luggage.

Types of Poles 

There are three different types of trekking poles; telescopic, and foldable style poles

Telescopic is the oldest type of trekking poles going around. You can choose from one, two or three sections.

Two sections are found to be very durable. Recommended for hikers who are tough on their equipment or moving through tough terrain.

Three-section poles are found across the hiking community. They are also durable, generally lighter weight than 2 section pole. They are more compact and easily carried on backpack than the 2 section pole.

Folding or Tent Style Pole

Folding or Tent Style poles are new the market, only being around for the past few seasons. with a shock cord linking several lightweight shafts.

The Folding or Tent Style poles are less durable than the poles can come with a flip-style locking mechanism or fixed height. These poles are typically lighter and fold up at short length than the three-section telescopic pole.

trekking poles how to choose trekking poles
trekking poles add stability and speed


Poles are generally made from two types of material

Aluminium which is the stronger and the more economical choice, aluminium poles usually weigh between 18 and 22 ounces per pair. The actual weight (and price) can vary a bit based on the gauge of the pole, which ranges from 12 to 16mm.

Under high stress, aluminium can bend but it is unlikely to break. Ideal for rough and rocky surfaces. Aluminium poles also tend to be cheaper than carbon fibre.

Carbon fibre is the lighter and more expensive option, these poles average between 13 and 18 ounces per pair.

They are good at reducing vibration and are also quite strong. Under high stress, however, carbon-fibre poles are more vulnerable to breakage or splintering than aluminium poles.

If you hike in rugged, remote areas, this is something to keep in mind.

Weight is an important consideration, the heavier the poles the quicker your arms will fatigue compared to lighter poles (vice versa)

how to choose hiking trekking poles how to use trekking poles



Cork is considered the most comfortable grip style. It moulds to your hands over time and naturally dampens vibration while hiking, trekking.

Less slippery and lighter than synthetic grips (rubber and foam) providing you with a better grip when your hands sweat.

The downside to cork is a comparative lack of durability best option for being an eco-friendly choice, If Cork is not your thing, then the next best option is Rubber


Rubber is also inferior to the cork with the exception of hiking in cold conditions. The benefit of rubber is the vibration absorbing ability. Rubber can become slippery in warmer weather caused by sweaty palms. Rubber is found on budget trekking poles.


The foam absorbs sweat and is soft and comfortable on long trips. However, on the hottest days, foam’s sweat absorbing qualities making your grips slippery. Foam is a cheaper and inferior option than cork.

Wrist Strap

We suggest that you have wrist straps on your poles. The most important factor is comfort. If the wrist strap is rubbing against your hand, this could become a nuisance over long distances and become a major irritant.

Final Thoughts

When choosing trekking poles there are many different types. Cost of poles can range anywhere between $20 to $200.

We recommend that you purchase is based upon your needs, comfortable using and price you are comfortable paying.

Check our article on our review of the best trekking poles.

Once you have purchased your trekking poles, get used to them by walking shorter distances, break them in.  The poles might be covered in the plastic film so feel free to remove this.

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