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Best walking poles tested and reviewed in 2022

Walking poles for casual country rambles and longer treks

Published: April 4th, 2022 at 3:22 pm

Hiking poles help reduce strain on joints, improve balance and stability on uneven or treacherous ground, and provide support – for example in lowering yourself down a steep and rocky path.

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Before we get to the reviews below, three quick pointers on what to look for when shopping for a walking pole.

Materials: Most walking poles are made from carbon (light and flexible, but fragile and expensive) or aluminium (cheaper and tougher).

Design: They tend to be telescopic, with stages sliding back into one another, or have a three-piece Z design, assembling like a tent pole, with a central piece of elastic-like material running through the middle, keeping the pieces together. Telescopic poles are generally longer when packed down, whereas Z poles need a restraining strap to keep them neat.

Smart features: These include extended grip areas – useful when walking on off-camber trails or steep slopes, when you don’t want to stop and adjust the pole length.


The best walking poles tested in 2022

Helinox Ridgeline

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: Highly packable poles made with an extra-strong alloy, these are capable of doing the hard yards

Most telescopic poles have two or three sections – these have four, which means they collapse to a compact size, making them easy to carry when not in use. Assembly and breakdown are quick and easy: lower sections simply slide and click into place, secured by pop-out buttons, while the upper section facilitates height adjustment, and the whole ensemble locks with the flip of a single tightening lever. To collapse, release the lever and slide the top section down in a single action that depresses all the pop-out buttons.

Made with DAC aluminum alloy, Ridgeline poles have thicker diameter than most, providing extra strength and increased confidence on the trails, especially when carrying a pack.

The wrist strap isn’t as soft as some, but the shaped EVA foam handgrip is comfortable, and the lower extension area, although small, has some grip.

Available in four versions, with maximum length ranging from 120cm to 135cm and collapsed length going from 51.2cm to 61cm, Ridgeline poles weigh between 204g and 238g and are covered by a five-year warranty. (PK)

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £159.95
  • Sold in pairs
  • Weight per pole: 204g-238g
  • Materials: DAC aluminum alloy
  • Type: Telescopic
  • Length in use: 120cm to 135cm, depending on version
  • Minimum pack length: 51.2cm to 61cm, also depending on version

Komperdell Carbon C3 Cloud

Best on test

A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: Beautifully made, super light, tough, highly adjustable and up for anything

Komperdell Cloud C3 hiking pole reviewed

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £159.95 (per pair)
  • Sold singly or in pairs
  • Weight per pole: 175g
  • Materials: Carbon
  • Type: Telescopic
  • Length in use: 90 to 120cm
  • Minimum pack length: 57cm

The new quiver of Cloud poles from specialist brand Komperdell are impressively strong and effortlessly adjustable across a wide range of lengths, while remaining compact and extremely light. The Cloud suite includes several models with differing designs.

We trail tested a pair of the C3s: three-piece carbon, telescopic poles that weigh just 175g (each), pack down to 57cm and can be adjusted from 90cm to 120cm. The bottom section extends to one universal point, while the top can be adjusted to the user’s height requirements using cm markers. Once you’ve tweaked the poles to your required length, the sections are reliably clamped in place with the Power Lock 3.0 system, made with forged aluminium, which feels absolutely rock solid.

The padded wrist loops are easy to adjust and comfortable to use, and the foam grip is ergonomically molded, feels good in the hand and causes minimal palm sweatiness. The C3s come with vario baskets, which are supposedly easy to change (not always the case in practice) and tungsten/carbide flex tips.

these are premium poles with a pricetag to match, but every component is top quality.

Made in Austria, these are premium poles with a pricetag to match, but every component is top quality. Minor quibbles include the fact that the measurements are hard to read, the lower grip area is quite short and almost featureless, so your hand can slide off it, and no hard-surface tip cover is supplied. (PK)

Buy the Komperdell Carbon C3 Cloud hiking poles from Komperdell

Why buy hiking poles? 

There's a whole bunch of reasons to consider trying hiking poles – they:

• Help reduce strain on joints (lower spine, hips, knees).

• Improve balance and stability on uneven or treacherous ground.

• Provide support, for example in lowering yourself down a steep and rocky path.

• Encourage good walking technique.

• Can be used as probes, providing protection from everything from deep puddles and snow-covered crevasses to aggressive brambles.

Salewa Carbonium Ascent

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: A mix-material tough pole that performs well on terrain ranging from footpaths to peaks

These three-part telescopic poles are designed to be both light and durable, with the upper sections constructed from carbon, while high-strength aluminium has been used on the lower section, to better deal with the knocks and scrapes of coming in constant contact with rough and rocky terrain.

This clever design means they’re not as light as some all-carbon sticks (each pole weighs 240g) but they feel really sturdy when used on a wide range of terrain. Overall these are super functional, extremely robust and good-looking poles, available in Salewa’s signature black-and-yellow livery.

They come with standard trekking and winter baskets. (PK)

• Read our full review of the Salewa Carbonium Ascent hiking poles for more details.

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £125 (pair)
  • Sold in pairs
  • Weight per pole: 240g
  • Materials: Carbon and aluminium
  • Type: Telescopic
  • Length in use: 68cm-142.5cm
  • Minimum pack length: 68cm

Vango Basho

Best budget hiking poles

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: Brilliant budget poles with in-built shock absorbers

Vango Basho hiking pole

This three-section folding pole comes complete with suspension, which you can turn on or off by twisting the grip. This allows you to dampen the jolt of repeated impact strikes going through your wrist and arm.

Packing down to 50cm (by our measurements) and with an operational range of 115cm to 135cm, the Basho has a folding design, and once assembled can be easily adjusted and locked into place with a sturdy metal clip. Each aluminium pole weighs 223g. An excellent ergonomically shaped foam handgrip has a really good lower grip area. (PK)

• Read our full review of the Vango Basho hiking poles for more details.

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP £29 each
  • Sold singly or in pairs: Singly
  • Weight per pole: 223g
  • Materials: Aluminium
  • Type: Folding
  • Length in use: 115cm to 135cm
  • Minimum pack length: 50cm

Leki Black Series SLS XTG

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: Supremely versatile, highly trustworthy, top performers

German brand Leki has long been a leading producer of high-end hiking poles, and this all-carbon model is a tried-and-tested mainstay of their comprehensive range, combining versatility with superb performance. You can take these lightweight (185g) technical sticks with you on all sorts of adventures, from mountain epics and multiday backpacking escapades to Sunday strolls.

Easily adjustable, users can set the length of these three-piece telescopic poles anywhere between 110cm and 135cm (measurements appear on both the middle and lower sections), and they twist into place with Super Lock system, TÜV Süd-tested to take 140kg of downward pressure without failing. (Our only concern with twist locks is accidental overtightening, which can happen.)

The poles have easily adjustable, comfortable, soft-lined, breathable wrist loops, plus anatomically-shaped foam top grips and an extended lower grip that’s patterned, to help you keep hold of it. They’re armed with a carbide flexitip short nib (for more placement precision), and come with a trekking basket. (PK)

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £129.95
  • Sold in pairs
  • Weight per pole: 185g
  • Materials: Carbon
  • Type: Telescopic
  • Length in use: 110cm to 135cm
  • Minimum pack length:

Black Diamond Trail Cork Trekking Poles

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: Tough, all-season hiking poles with comfortable cork handles

The cork grips on these poles are instantly comfortable in the hand, with a more natural and warmer feel than rubber or plastic grips; they don’t have finger indents, but this isn’t a problem, and the wriststrap is sumptuously padded and easy to adjust. The lower extension area is EVA-foam coated and a reasonable size, but doesn’t offer any patterned grip.

for the price, the components and inclusions are excellent

These three-piece telescopic poles are very easy to adjust (extending from a collapsed length of 64cm to a generous usable range of 100cm to 140cm) and the FlickLock system offers total security. Made from aluminium, they weigh 256g each, which isn’t especially light, but they are solid and durable.

The poles come in various colours (picante red, alpine lake blue, and granite), and for the price, the components and inclusions are excellent: they come with carbide tech tips (interchangeable), fitted trekking baskets and supplied snow baskets.

A slightly lighter (243g), shorter (64cm extending to 100–125cm) women’s specific version is available, as is an ‘Ergo’ design, with angled handgrips.

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP £95
  • Sold in pairs
  • Weight per pole: men's 256g, women's 243g
  • Materials: Aluminium
  • Type: Three-piece telescopic
  • Length in use: men's 100cm-140cm, women's 100-125cm
  • Minimum pack length: 64cm

Alpkit Nanolite Twin Poles

A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Our verdict: Poles for pace setters and trail runners who spend as long carrying their sticks as using them

Four-piece, featherweight, folding carbon poles, the Nanolite Twins are aimed at ultrarunners, fastpackers and walkers who like to travel light. Three sizes are available – 110cm, 120cm and 130cm – but the length is not adjustable. The middle-sized 120cm poles weigh just 123g, and fold down to 35cm, making them easy to stash inside a backpack or hydration vest.

A Kevlar-reinforced cord umbilicus keeps the sections together, and when pulled from the top achieves instant assembly. The pieces connect like folding tent poles, and then you loop the knotted cord through a purpose-made notch to lock sections in place.

Quick to deploy and superlight, these reasonably priced poles will suit gram counters, but they don’t offer the same level of confidence more robust designs supply – the cord-based connecting system feels basic, and the surplus string flaps around when you’re moving.

The wriststrap and handgrip are functional but rudimentary, and there’s no lower grip – which, given you can’t adjust pole length, is a problem for tackling trails running along or up steep slopes. They feature a carbide tip and come with a removable rubber cover and basket. (PK)

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £64.99
  • Sold in pairs
  • Weight per pole: 123g (120cm pole)
  • Materials: Carbon
  • Type: Folding
  • Length in use: three fixed-length versions: 110cm, 120cm or 130cm
  • Minimum pack length: 35cm

Buy the Nanolite Twinpoles from Alpkit

One pole or two? Some people choose to use a single pole, but for optimum results, and to enhance your cadence (get a good fluid, efficient walking rhythm going) it’s best to use two, which brings arm movement into the equation. Note that many poles are sold in pairs, not singly.

Decathlon Forclaz M-trekking 500 Ultra Compact Walking Pole

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: Budget poles made to a brilliant design, which perform perfectly on the trails 

These very attractively priced, five-piece, folding poles boast a load of features missing from many more-expensive sticks. The wrist strap is wide, comfortable, easy to adjust and secures with Velcro. The molded-foam handgrip is anatomically shaped, and the lower grip is a decent size and has ridges for better confidence and control.

the assembly and locking system is ingenious

The height is easily adjustable, ranging between 110cm and 130cm; they fold down to a smart, three-section format, easily packable at 36cm in length; and the assembly and locking system is ingenious: you pull down on the top telescopic section until you hear the click of a pop-out button, which means they’re securely fixed in place, and then adjust the overall height with a single plastic clip at the top.

Made with aluminium, they weigh 275g per pole, which is a tad heavier than others on test. However, the wide tube diameter (20mm at the top) adds strength, and a tungsten tip provides toughness at the pointy end. They come with a summer basket and a protective nib. The components aren’t all especially high end, but for the price, there is a lot of pole and plenty of clever design going on here. (PK)

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £34.99 (per pole)
  • Sold singly or in pairs: Singly
  • Weight per pole: 275g
  • Materials: Aluminium
  • Type: Folding
  • Length in use: 110cm to 130cm
  • Minimum pack length: 36cm

Craghoppers Venture T-Grip

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: A technical walking stick offering impressive versatility, which can be used on a wide variety of terrain

Standing out from the crowd is this T-Grip pole, sold singularly, which can be used as a solo walking stick or paired with another and employed like a standard hiking pole.

The plastic head has the profile of an ice axe (minus the adze), and it can indeed be used like a piolet, or pick, with users placing their hand on top and thrusting the pole down into mud, snow or scree to gain traction during hill climbs. Or, you can grasp the ergonomically molded EVA-foam handgrip below the head and use the wrist strap, just like any other trekking pole.

it has a sturdy and robust feel, can take a bit of bashing and offers something different

The pole itself is a three-piece telescopic design, made with aircraft-grade aluminium, which extends from 100cm to 135cm and secures with a twist-lock system. Boasting anti-shock capability, it has a steel tip and comes with a trekking basket and rubber road caps.

The whole ensemble packs down to 66cm in length and weighs in at 270g – while not as short or svelte as others on test, it has a sturdy and robust feel, can take a bit of bashing and offers something different. (PK)

Facts at a glance:

  • RRP: £25 (per pole)
  • Sold singly or in pairs: Singly
  • Weight per pole: 270g
  • Materials: Aluminium
  • Type: Telescopic
  • Length in use: 100cm to 135cm
  • Minimum pack length: 66cm

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Reviews by Pat Kinsella

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