Black Diamond Spire Elliptic
Black Diamond Spire Elliptic

Best trekking poles

Reviewers rave about Black Diamond's unique locking system called FlickLocks that allows users to change length even in mid-stride or while wearing gloves -- helpful when the terrain changes. By contrast, other adjustable poles use twisting systems that require the use of two hands. The length adjusts from 41 to 55 inches, and the Spire trekking poles get good reviews for durability and comfort, with EVA handles. Their elliptical shape and 15-degree handle-tilt make them ergonomically sound. Spire trekking poles weigh 20 ounces per pair and come in a smaller size, the Spire Compact Elliptic (*est. $125), for those with smaller frames.
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*Est. $125 per pair Estimated Price
Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3
Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3

Lightest trekking poles

Most experts say adjustable trekking poles are best for most people, but some prefer fixed-length poles. These trade features and adjustability for light weight. Backpackers seem to universally love the carbon-fiber Lightrek 3, which weigh only five ounces per pair. They can be ordered in fixed sizes from 43.3 to 53 inches in length. The carbon fiber shaft dampens vibration, and although there's no strap, reviews say you won't miss it. The downside is that these trekking poles can snap under stress, or when the tip gets caught in a rock -- part of the tradeoff for the light weight.
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*Est. $130 per pair Estimated Price
REI Summit
REI Summit

Budget trekking poles

These budget REI trekking poles are basic. They don't have an anti-shock mechanism or positive-angle handles. REI uses rubber for the grips, which reviews say can get very slick when wet. Most experts say that you're better off springing for top-quality trekking poles, but if $100 or more is beyond your budget, the REI Summit poles are a good entry-level choice. These trekking poles are made of high-grade 7075 aluminum alloy, and they adjust from 25 to 55 inches with a total weight of 20 ounces per pair.
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*Est. $60 per pair Estimated Price
Leki Traveller
Leki Traveller

Nordic walking poles

Also called "fitness poles," this type of pole is used in a sweeping motion to involve the body more fully in walking, which burns more calories. These trekking poles are different than other types because they are meant to be released on the "backstroke." The top-rated Leki Traveller trekking poles adjust from 26 to 52 inches and come with demi-gloves that detach easily. Instructions on proper Nordic walking techniques are included. They come with a lifetime warranty against breakage.
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REI Four Winds Travel Staff
REI Four Winds Travel Staff

Travel hiking stick with camera mount

Though reviews say a pair of trekking poles gives better balance and safety for hiking, some hikers prefer a single hiking staff (you only carry one pole). The REI Four Winds staff adjusts in length from 22.75 to 51 inches, so it can pack in standard 24-inch luggage. The wooden knob on top of the foam grip unscrews to reveal a universal camera mount, and the whole aluminum alloy hiking staff weighs just 8.5 ounces. It carries a lifetime warranty.
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*Est. $80 Estimated Price
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