By Geneve Roche. Trekking Poles. Published at Monday, March 04th, 2019 - 17:43:06 PM.
This summer, I tested eight pairs of poles representing a range of prices, features, and designs. I had used some of these models in years past, but I gave them all a fresh look while guiding and hiking in California and Colorado. My first pair of trekking poles cost $100 and were nothing fancy. Poles have improved over the past 16 years, and while I really liked some options that push $200, the poles I recommend for most people, Cascade Mountain Tech’s Carbon Fiber Quick Lock trekking poles, retail for just $45.
Adjustable-length poles will have twist- or lever-style locks. Avoid twist locks, period. Lever locks are more reliable (no slippage) and easier to adjust and troubleshoot.
Consider models with foam, cork, or faux-cork grips. Choose rubber grips only if they will be used exclusively in winter. Always avoid plastic grips—they’re cheap but terrible.
Most hikers, though, will be unable to overlook a serious shortcoming: They’re not collapsible. That means they don’t travel well, they’re unwieldy when lashed to a backpack, they can’t be adjusted for different terrain or outdoor activities, and they’re fussy to use with many trekking pole–supported shelters. But if you don’t need poles for any of that, you’ll fall in love with the FKs—nothing performs better.
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