Trekking poles, bought in pairs, are best for balance and comfort in
hiking, but some hikers still like long, shoulder-length staffs. Photographers
may prefer a hiking pole that doubles as a monopod, with a grip that unscrews
to reveal a camera mount. Expert reviews suggest that these features are
important in choosing trekking poles or hiking staffs:
between adjustable or fixed. Adjustable trekking poles are most
flexible for different types of terrain, but fixed poles are lighter.
for flexible carbide tips. Trekking-pole tips that have some flex
built in withstand forces that can break stiffer tips. Carbide
tips are slip-resistant on rock.
least two basket options should be available. Baskets are discs
mounted a few inches from the top and keep your trekking poles
from sinking into the mud or snow. Different baskets are available
for different terrain, including snow and sand.
out the grip size. While reviews say smaller grips are comfortable
for large hands, too large a grip can be uncomfortable for those
with small hands.
or EVA grips are best. Cork molds over time to fit your hands,
and both cork and foam absorb sweat, while rubber and plastic grips
can get slippery (and thus unsafe) when damp. Poor-quality foam grips
don't wear well, and some rubber grips leave marks on your hands.
extra-long grip is convenient. Long grips have foam that extends
down the upper part of the shaft. This gives you extra gripping
surface, useful for quick ascents when you don't want to take time to
shorten the poles; you can just grip them below the handle.
to 15-degree positive-angle (PA) grips are best. These grips are
angled slightly to keep your wrist in a neutral position, to prevent
repetitive-motion injuries and fatigue. Users confirm that they're
more comfortable than straight grips and well worth the extra cost.
shock-absorbing (SA) mechanism should be reliable,
quiet and easy to set on or off. Some trekking poles have a third setting, for 50
percent shock absorption. When this feature is turned on, a spring
inside the trekking pole adds a little flex to the action, to dampen
vibration from the pole hitting the ground. The vibration can otherwise
stress your hands, wrists and arms. Most users like this feature; some
turn it off on steep ascents. It's important that the mechanism be well-built.
Users report that on some cheap trekking poles it rattles and/or
doesn't keep the setting, turning itself on or off.
shafts are light and strong, but make sure the
aluminum is high-grade. Low-grade aluminum is apt to bend under stress. Carbon-fiber shafts
are lightest of all, but not as strong.