By Fantina Jacquot. Trekking Poles. Published at Tuesday, March 05th, 2019 - 07:26:13 AM.
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 have broken several trekking poles, and I’ve witnessed other hikers break theirs. The common denominator was not the shaft material but user error. Specifically, the poles were being used on steep, loose, off-angle, and/or slick terrain, and the pole either became overly levered (like between two blocks of talus) or broke the hiker’s fall after they slipped.
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, avoid “anti-shock” models, remove the mud/trekking baskets, and consider models with shorter shaft lengths.
The shafts of premium poles are made from carbon fiber, which is stronger by weight than aluminum. However, aluminum is less expensive and better withstands abuse, especially dings and knocks. In cold temperatures, the conductivity of aluminum can be a liability.
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