Types Of Trekking Poles – Pick The Best One for You

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Most of us have already seen the trekking poles around. They are an outdoor accessory that we love to hate but have immense benefits to those who decide to try it out. If you are into hiking then at one point in time you might have wanted to know more about the trekking or hiking poles.  

One of the notable questions I have heard from many people is ‘what are the types of trekking poles?’ The truth is there are three main types of trekking poles. In this brief I will highlight not only the types of trekking poles you will find in the market today but also its anatomy. This should give you a clear understanding of this valuable piece of equipment.

Types Of Trekking Poles

Fixed Poles

This is the first design of trekking poles and involves quite a simple design. This type of trekking pole is simply how the name indicates; fixed. Fixed poles come in a predetermined height and are a solid piece. This means that they lack the mechanics to allow adjusting or changing the height as you desire.

They are often lighter and rigid. In most cases, this type of trekking pole is suitable for people that want something with a super simple design and lightweight. However, you will have to keep in mind that they are not the kind of pole that you can pack. For this reason, you will be forced to carry them as they are.

Folding Poles

This is the second type of trekking poles designed to make it packable and easy to carry around in a backpack. The folding poles are actually regarded as the newest design of the trekking poles. Its design is more or less similar to the tent poles and consists of a shock cord that links several lightweight shafts. 

The shafts are usually of a fixed length and can be three or four all of which are strung on a rope. They are given the name folding poles because they can easily be broken down into pieces to make them packable. Additionally, they can have a fixed height or a flick lock to allow for easy adjustments.

The folding poles are recommended as the best for thru hikers, trail hikers, uphill skiers and the splitboarders. A number of people use trekking poles to set up their tents or shelter. I would like to point out that the folding poles are not usually useful in this case because they are not adjustable enough.

Telescoping Poles

Telescoping poles are the most common type that has been around for longer than any other. With this type, you can either opt for the two sections or the three sections. The two or three sections basically slide into each other and out so that you can determine the right height for you. It has a locking mechanism that you can use to secure the poles in position.

The two-section poles are considered more durable by many people who have used them. They are ideal for the people engaging in the tough and demanding activities. Talk about cross country skiing, snowshoeing among other applications. The only drawback associated with this two-piece telescoping pole is its large size and ultimately heavy weight. They are basically heavier and taller than any other packable option.

The three-piece poles are what you will see the most out there because they are the better option for a majority of people. One thing you will love about them is their light weight and the fact that they have the smaller packed size. You can easily pack them in your suitcase or strap on a backpack.  They may not have the same durability as the two-piece but they definitely make for a great companion. You will commonly find them with casual hikers, thru hikers and mountaineers.

The Anatomy Of Trekking Poles


Trekking poles are commonly made of either aluminum or carbon. Some people may choose carbon because its lighter but they tend to break easily and are quite expensive.  On the other hand, aluminum poles may be the better option because they are more durable and generally economic. However, you will be forced to bear with the weight. At the end of the day it’s all about your preferences and budget.

The Grip

Grip goes hand in hand with comfort and manufacturers have already put in a lot of work to make different brands of trekking poles to meet the needs of a variety of people. With that said, you will find a variety of constructions to provide comfort. There is foam, cork and rubber as the common materials that are often used to construct the grip.

Foam-this is most comfortable material because it’s soft. However, it may not be ideal for hiking the wet climates. The foam grip typically absorbs water and gets damaged in the process. It may not last long under such conditions.

Cork- cork is actually moisture resistant. Furthermore, it’s comfortable since it’s designed to mold onto your hand. Other benefits include the fact that it’s antimicrobial and longer lasting than foam. The only drawback is that it’s heavier and quite pricy.

Rubber- rubber is the go to grip for people who like winter activities because it’s more water resistant. On the other hand, it’s not as comfortable as the previous two options.

The Tips

Many of the poles are made of a carbide steel tip. Some have rubber tips but you can also opt for the ones without. Rubber tips are quieter as you walk through the trail and are perfect for the hard surfaces such as the slick rocks. Carbide tips are noisy and tend to skid on the hard surfaces. When choosing between the two you have keep in mind the kind of terrain you will be trekking.


Trekking poles consist of baskets that are small in size to prevent them from getting snagged in the undergrowth. In addition, you can swap the trekking baskets for powder baskets when using the poles out in the snow.

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