Best Trekking Poles 2024 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Trekking Poles 2024

Find your perfect pair of walking or hiking poles with our in-depth group test and buyer’s guide

Trekking poles are a common sight in the hands of elite walkers, hikers, backpackers and ultra-runners and there are good reasons for this. There are recognised physical benefits to using poles. In fact, poles can take up to 40% of strain off your knees. They also help you to generate rhythm and momentum so you can move more quickly.

In addition, they can be used as a probe in thick undergrowth or when crossing rivers; they help to stabilise the weight of a heavy trekking backpack; and they can even be used instead of tent poles for solo backpacking tents.

Beckie Burr using a pair of Helinox poles.


The Best Trekking Poles Reviewed 2024

With dozens of poles out there, what should you look for? This group test includes our picks of the best trekking poles around, comparing features and performance. We’ve picked out an overall best buy and highlighted best value poles for those on a budget.

Note: Prices and weights are given per pair.

  • Best Overall Trekking Pole: Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles

  • Best Value Trekking Pole: Vango Camino Trekking Poles

  • Best Ultralight Trekking Pole: Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon Trekking Poles

  • Best Durable Trekking Pole for Four-Season Use: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ Trekking Poles


Best Overall Trekking Pole

1. Leki Micro Vario Carbon

A shot from our trip to Snowdonia where we tested these out.

Price: £159.99
Weight: 290g
Best for: Seasoned hikers, long-distance trekking
Key attributes: Lightweight, packable, versatile

Designed for optimum performance and convenience on the trail, Leki’s Micro Vario Carbon poles combine ultralight carbon fibre construction with a unique external locking system that’s built to endure. In fact, we like Leki’s specialist trekking range so much that they’ve now featured three times in our Outdoor 100 selection.

This particular iteration of the Micro Varios is suitable for demanding trekking tours, as well intensive trail running trips and the like. They’re made from PRC 1000 (performance racing carbon) carbon fibre, making them extremely light yet with a high strength-to-weight ratio and excellent corrosion resistance. They are ‘Z-style’ folding poles comprised of 3 sections, with a central shock-cord system. This gives them an extremely short length of just 37cm when folded – which means they are compact enough to fit inside most daypacks.

Read our full Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles review. 




Best Value Trekking Pole

2. Vango Camino Trekking Poles

Price: £19
Weight: 560g
Best for: Day hikes and hillwalking
Key attributes: Good value, built-in shock absorption

These Vango poles are the cheapest in our test and offer excellent value. The pole sections are made from a sturdy aluminium alloy. Other components, such as the clamps, are plastic. While these may not be as durable as more expensive metal parts, they felt robust enough. They are straightforward to adjust and the locking torsion can be changed without a tool. We did find that, if pulled too hard, the poles do come apart, as there’s only a plastic ring holding them together. This could be a potential weak point, although over a couple of months testing it was fine.

The pole is telescopic and packs down to 67cm, which is not very compact. This does give them a large adjustment range though – from 105 to 135cm. One feature unique to these poles is a built-in anti-shock system. The spring-loaded handles have a considerable bounce – push down, and they drop around 25cm. For low-level walking this may be very useful, though for trail running or mountaineering you’ll definitely need something more rigid for stability.

Overall, for the price, these are an excellent option for walkers on a budget looking for the best trekking poles under £35.

Best Ultralight Trekking Pole

3. Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon Trekking Poles

Giles Dean using the MCT Varios on a hike around Llyn Ogwen.

Price: £185
Weight: 400g
Best for: Fastpacking, trail running, mountain races
Key attributes: Fast deployment, detachable gloves

The Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon are z-style folding trekking poles that are incredibly easy to deploy. All you need to do is pull down on the shaft below the handle and everything just clicks together. Using their Speed Lock 2 lever you can also slide them from 110cm up to 130cm. This feature will be handy for anyone who needs poles with height adjustment to prop up their tarp or tent.

They break down to just 42cm in length, so they’ll fit easily onto most backpacks. But the most unusual design feature are the straps. Rather than simple webbing straps, these employ detachable mesh gloves. They can be attached to the top of each pole handle with a simple click and removed with the press of a button. This helps to encourage effective power transfer and allows the poles to move more closely and effortlessly with the swing of your arms and wrists.

The handle itself has a slight grip extension for on-the-fly adjustment and, as you’d expect, it’s ergonomically shaped for comfort.

Selected for our Outdoor 100 2021/22. Read our full review of the Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon trekking poles.



Best Durable Trekking Pole for Four-Season Use

4. Black Diamond Alpine FLZ Trekking Poles

Price: £140
Weight: 511g
Best for: Hiking, hillwalking and mountain trekking
Key attributes: Comfortable, compact, durable

These poles are made from a super tough 7075 aluminium alloy and come in three different lengths: 95-110 cm (511g), 105-125 cm (552g) and 120-140 cm (587g). Each pole is split up into four sections; two that collapse into each other and two bottom sections that are loose but linked by a tough wire. This gives them an extremely compact packed size.

Aside from the sturdy build quality, the Black Diamond Alpine FLZ Z-Poles also boast a few handy features. First up is the 100% cork handles which, combined with the EVA foam extensions, provide comfortable grip across the top section of the pole. The long coverage of foam and cork allows you to adjust your grip as the terrain dictates. Thanks to the insulating properties of cork, the top handle is pretty well insulated in cold weather too.

Selected for our Outdoor 100 2021/22. Read our full Black Diamond Alpine FLZ Trekking Poles review



Best of the Rest


5. Helinox Passport TL120

Price: £160
Weight: 380g
Best for: Hiking and running
Key attributes: Very light but also durable

The Passport, which comes as a set of two poles, is supremely light at just 190g (per pole). It’s also tough, passing our durability tests with flying colours.

We liked the comfortable EVA handle and the fact the foam extends down the pole to let you quickly adjust your grip on ascents. We also liked the packability – the Passport is just 53cm in length when it’s collapsed.

There’s height adjustment, so it’ll suit most people and even kids. Really tall people might find it a little on the short side, however.

It’s not the cheapest pole out there, but the quality is excellent.




6. Black Diamond Trail Pro Trekking Poles

Price: £100
Weight: 530g
Best for: Hiking and trekking
Key attributes: Robust, durable

These well-engineered poles from Black Diamond are made from lightweight and durable aluminium. They’re not as light as the carbon fibre poles on test here (though a lighter and more expensive carbon version is available). The two pole sections lock together with a ‘Double FlickLock Pro’ mechanism, which is easy to use, secure and reliable. A supplied Allen key is used to adjust the torsion of the FlickLock clamps. Similar locks on other poles can be tightened or loosed by hand, without the need for a tool – though once adjusted, the Black Diamond poles shouldn’t need changing very frequently.

The foam grip is comfortable all day long, with a strap that is padded on both sides. The carbide tip is hard-wearing, but there is no shock absorption (though again, a more expensive shock-absorption version is available). The tips can be swapped out for a soft rubber option, but you’ll need to buy those separately. The same applies if you want snow baskets, as the poles are supplied with only a single set of narrow trekking baskets.

Thanks to the two-section design, the poles have an impressive adjustment range of 35cm, though this means the collapsed length is a fairly unwieldy 65cm.



7. MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles

Price: £130
Weight: 500g (Large)
Best for: Trekking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, splitboarding
Key attributes: Lightweight, robust, packable

MSR poles just keep getting better and better. These Ascent poles are designed for ‘snowshoers, mountaineers and splitboarders’ as well as trekkers, and are impressively light. They are made from carbon fibre, but with Kevlar reinforcements for added durability. They’re available in two sizes – the small can be adjusted between 100-120cm and the large from 120-140cm. Both sizes pack down very small (44.5cm Large; 36.2cm Small), with a hook-and-loop band that keeps all the sections together.

The three pole sections extend easily and can then be adjusted and locked in place. The tension of the lock can be adjusted by hand and is effortless to use. The long grip is made of hard foam that is comfortable and ergonomically shaped. The tips are solid carbide steel, though there is no shock absorption.

The poles come with two sizes of baskets, one for snow and a smaller one for regular hiking. They’re easy to screw on and off. This is an excellent pair of carbon poles that should be durable and long lasting. In fact, they’re one of the best trekking poles out there and proved a close contender for best buy – though they’re not the cheapest option.



8. Komperdell Hikemaster Trekking Poles

Price: £80
Weight: 586g
Best for: Hiking, trekking and backpacking
Key attributes: Durable and easily adjustable

Tough, fairly lightweight and with no fiddly bits, these durable aluminium poles from Austrian manufacturer Komperdell do exactly what you would expect from a walking pole.

The poles themselves extend between 105 and 140cm and they’re very easily adjustable using the lever locks. They break down simply into three sections to stow easily on the outside (or inside) of your pack.

There’s a comfortable hold as well thanks to the anatomically shaped grip which has a good bit of softness to it. All-in-all, we’d say the Hikemaster is the ideal combination of size and weight for long treks into the mountains.

Read our full review of the Komperdell Hikemaster trekking poles.



9. CimAlp Distance Carbon Trekking Poles

Price: £95.99
Weight: 230g
Best for: Nordic walking, backpacking and trekking
Key attributes: Lightweight, strong, compact, easily adjustable

Although these poles work well for Nordic walking, we found they really proved their worth on long-distance, multi-day treks with a heavy pack. The compact folded length makes them easy to stow and they are also supplied with both trekking and snow baskets. This gives them the versatility for year-round, all-weather use.

The CimAlp Distance Carbon trekking poles are made from 100% carbon fibre, making them extremely light, but they also have an excellent strength-to-weight ratio and good corrosion resistance. They are ‘Z-style’ folding poles comprised of 3 sections, with a central shock-cord system. This gives them an extremely short length of less than 40cm when folded. The top grip can also be removed if necessary, which enables you to further collapse them to 36cm – and this means they are compact enough to fit inside most daypacks.

They have a good range of adjustment from 110cm to 130cm, and are very easy to assemble and fold away. They also feature extended grips, which makes it easy to choke down on a sharp ascent without having to change the pole length. The rounded top handle also nestles nicely into the palm if using the poles for braking and balance on steep downhill trails.

Selected for our Outdoor 100 2021/22. Read our full CimAlp Distance Carbon Trekking Poles review



How to Choose the Right Trekking Poles for You

When selecting a trekking pole or a pair of them, conventional wisdom is that you should ensure your elbow forms a right angle when you’re holding them.

To work out what length you need, hold your arm in the right angle position and measure the distance from your elbow to the floor.

Many trekking poles come with adjustable lengths and the manufacturer will nearly always give details on the minimum and maximum length that the pole will adjust to.

Trekking Poles: the Best Material

Heavy poles can cause fatigue, whether carried in your hands or stashed on your back. Fortunately, modern poles are getting lighter all the time thanks to the use of aluminium and even carbon fibre. A decent, lightweight pair of poles will weigh somewhere between 450 and 550 grams. Carbon fibre poles tend to be lighter and stiffer, but they can crack. They’re also more expensive. Aluminium poles are usually slightly heavier, but also cheaper and more durable.

Trekking Poles: Fixed length, Z-poles or Telescopic?

You won’t always be using your poles, so consider their packability. How do they fold down, and what is their packed length? Can you carry them easily on or in your hiking backpack? Manufacturers have developed various different systems for shortening poles. Some are telescopic, others fold into sections. These usually break down into two or three pieces, linked by an internal shock cord.

Look for a reliable and easy to use locking mechanism that is easy to adjust if needed. Some poles use a twist lock system, while others use a clamp or lever lock. The latter is the most common as it is generally easiest to use, more straightforward and longer lasting.

Fixed length poles are also commonly available and can often be cheaper than telescopic or Z-lock poles. They also tend to be very light in weight due to the absence of locks or mechanisms – and this means a reduced risk of mechanical failure too.

Useful Features to Look for

Other important design features to consider are the hand grips. Most are made from foam, cork or rubber. Look for ergonomic grips that feel comfortable in the hand, with a good strap or sling. Cheaper poles have handles that are made from plastic – these are best avoided as they tend to become slippery when wet.

The round discs at the bottom of the pole are called baskets. They stop the pole from plugging in the ground, and are especially useful in snow. Almost all poles have interchangeable baskets, but often the larger snow baskets have to be bought separately.

Why You Should Use Trekking Poles

A study into the biomechanical and physiological effects of poles found that they can reduce the pressure on every step by up to seven kilos. That translates as 30 tonnes less pressure on your knees when you’re out on the trails and ultimately means less risk of muscle or joint damage.

Z-poles are great for stashing onto the side of a backpack. Photo: Ed Checkley and Beckie Burr

Here at Outdoors Magic, we all swear by poles (and we’re all spritely young things… by and large!) and that’s for both hiking and trail running. From our experience, they really to help to manage the strain of a heavy backpack when out trekking, while they also help for stability on river crossings or over rocky or boggy ground. For running, they’re excellent for when you’re going the distance over challenging terrain and what that extra bit of boost, particularly on ascents.

A lot of us at Outdoors Magic will also run and hike with tents that require at least one trekking pole as a prop. They can be so handy for a lightweight approach as they give you a boost in the day and, by taking the place of dedicated tent poles, they let you carry a lighter load too.  You can see some of these types of tents in our round up of the best one person tents.


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