Whether you’re climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or just on a quick hike outside of Cape Town, trekking poles can make your life a lot easier.
But with all the options and brands out there, sometimes it’s hard to decide which ones to pick.
To get started, there are a few aspects you should always look for when selecting poles.
The first thing you need to decide is what you are going to do with them. Is it casual hiking? Serious mountaineering? Climbing icy terrain?
If you don’t know what you’ll be doing or how often, you should probably just get a casual hiking pole so you don’t blow your budget by overcompensating.
Once your settled on where you’re going, you want to be as comfortable as possible, so its important to actually pick up the poles in your hands to try the grip.
Trekking poles tend to come in cork, rubber and foam, but it’s mostly preference on which one you select — pick the most comfortable and go with it.
The next thing to choose is how much support you want.
Poles come in both standard and anti-shock versions — while the anti-shock tend to weigh more and are a bit more expensive, they will help those who have weak joints.
Another thing you want to check out is the locking mechanism, depending on the brand, some can be pretty easy (or difficult) to adjust.
Try to find one that quickly adjusts so you don’t spend your time fiddling around trying to adjust the height out on a trail.
Weight is also super important, especially if you are mountaineering over long distances.
Choosing an ultralight poll offers the advantage of less swing weight when every step counts.
And for the photographers out there, several poles now have a built-in camera mount under the handle, which enables the pole to be used a monopod.
Other features to consider are wrist straps, pole tips, and baskets.
For instance, you can change out the pole tips or baskets depending on what kind of hike you’re going on.
Finally, while you could just pick any pole up from Walmart or Target, if you’re more than just a casual hiker, you probably want to go with brands like REI, Leki, Komperdell, and Black Diamond.