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.
I don’t have a preference between foam and cork. The grips merely need to be tactile, nonabrasive, and slightly soft (not mushy like the REI Flash Carbon).
There are two types of multipiece shafts: telescoping and foldable. Telescoping shafts nest into each other. They’re more rigid and weigh less for a given strength, but they’re less packable.
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.
Multipiece shafts are much more popular, however, and I generally recommend this style. Because they collapse down, they travel better (and don’t incur baggage fees on flights) and can be more easily lashed to a backpack when not in use, like while crossing extensive talus. Multipiece shafts are typically adjustable...
Given current pole technology and availability, I would rule out any pole that weighs more than nine ounces each or 18 ounces for the pair. People with less arm strength (or scrawny runner arms like me) may want to set an even lower threshold. To keep weight to a minimum,...
These Leki Micro Vario Black Carbon poles (8.5 oz) rival the performance of the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Corks, with strong shafts, seamless hand-extension grips, long-lasting carbide tips, and reliable locking and adjustment systems. In one respect, they’re even better: They collapse to just 15.5 inches, 40 percent shorter than...
For hiking and general outdoor use, adjustable poles are worth the extra weight and expense. They can be used for more activities (hiking, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing) and perhaps by multiple members of the family. They can be adjusted to accommodate changes in terrain—shorter for uphills, longer for downhills, collapsed for...
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