13 Best Walking Sticks To Help You Trek Better, According to Experts

With help from hiking experts, we found LEKI's Carbon Pole to be the best

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Best Walking Sticks

Verywell / Chloe Jeong

When preparing for a hike, one simple tool you’ll want on the trail is a pair of walking sticks, also known as “trekking poles.” Not to be confused with ski poles, walking sticks can be crucial in maintaining safe posture, reducing fatigue, and preventing injuries.

Reviewed & Approved

Leki's Women's Micro Vario Carbon walking sticks are our top choice because they are durable, sustainable, and suitable for all skill levels. The Unisex Mountain Safety Research DynaLock Ascent Carbon poles are a close runner-up and stand out for their ability to endure all kinds of weather conditions.

The support of walking sticks improves balance and stability while strengthening upper back muscles, and takes a load off your lower back, hips, and knees. Peter Walker, a hiking guide from Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures based in Telluride, Colorado, got his start as a guide in Switzerland where everyone carried trekking poles, “even the young ones with presumably indestructible knees," he says. According to Walker, hikers of all ages can benefit from trekking poles to help prevent future knee problems.

The type of features you should look for when shopping for walking sticks will depend on the terrain, weather conditions, and activities you're planning to do with them. Factors to consider when purchasing walking sticks are durability, weight, and length of the stick relative to your height. We evaluated each pick based on these factors along with special features such as ergonomic handgrips, removable tips, and baskets.

Here are the best walking sticks on the market.

Best Women's Overall: Leki Micro Vario Carbon Pole

4.9
Leki Micro Vario Carbon Pole

Amazon

Pros
  • Ergonomic handles

  • Easy extension and collapse

  • Environmentally-friendly

Cons
  • Expensive

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon Pole's sleek design and easy adjustability quickly made it our best women's overall pick. The walking sticks' ergonomic 8-inch positive angle foam hand grips are comfortable to hold, even on steep terrain.

We love that the poles are made of lightweight carbon construction, which makes them easy to carry and stow when collapsed. And, thanks to their Speedlock 2 system, the poles can be adjusted from 39.3 to 47.2 inches tall. Tips and baskets (not included) can be switched out for additional functionality.

Leki commits to being more eco-conscious than other manufacturers by using water-based paints, emission-free powder varnish, and no heavy metals or AZO dyes—allowing nature-loving hikers to feel good about their purchase.

Weight: 8 ounces | Extended Length: 39.3 to 47.2 inches | Collapsed Length: 14.9 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Folding | Included Accessories: None

Best Men's Overall: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles

4.9
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles

Courtesy of Backcountry

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Comfortable grip

  • Adaptable to changing terrain

Cons
  • Expensive

These Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles are ready to take on even the most challenging outdoor activities. The interchangeable tech tips of these poles enable you to adapt to varying trail surfaces without a long break—this unique versatility is one of the reasons we selected them as our best men's overall pick.

With three carbon-fiber shafts and a sleek aluminum design, the telescoping poles can be quickly adjusted to suit new terrain and stay secure with their Flick-LockPro technology. A soft-touch cork grip and EVA foam extension ensure optimal grip comfort that won't cause blisters.

Although the higher price may not be worth it for those hiking on easier trails, these poles are a tough, great option for your most challenging hikes.

Weight: 8 ounces | Extended Length: 39 to 51 inches | Collapsed Length: 24 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Telescoping | Included Accessories: Additional tips and baskets

Best Unisex: Mountain Safety Research DynaLock Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles

Mountain Safety Research DynaLock Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles

MSR

Pros
  • Durable

  • Versatile

  • Two handle options

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Heavier than other options

These Kevlar-reinforced carbon walking sticks provide great durability for long-lasting use. They come in two lengths—the longer ranges from 47.5 to 55 inches and collapses down to 17.5 inches. The shorter version has an extended length of 39.4 to 47 inches and collapses down to 14.25 inches. With two grips—a higher option made of EVA foam formed to the hand and a lower, smoother straight grip—ascents and descents can be handled with ease.

We particularly like this pick for its versatility. Simply add the included snow baskets, and they can easily switch from hiking to snowshoeing to split boarding, making them a great option for multi-sport trekkers.

Weight: Small: 17 ounces; Large: 18 ounces | Extended Length: Small: 39.4 to 47 inches; Large: 47.2 to 55 inches  | Collapsed Length: 24 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Telescoping | Included Accessories: Additional tips and baskets

Best Budget: TheFitLife Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

TheFitLife Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Includes carry bag

Cons
  • Rubber tips may slide off

Both seasoned and rookie hikers need a walking stick that's easy to transport to their next adventure. These lightweight poles only weigh 7 ounces, which is less than most other poles on this list. But their lighter weight doesn't mean they aren't built to last—the Fitlife Carbon Fiber Trekking poles are made from lightweight shock-absorbent carbon fiber and include rubber tips that increase traction when traversing slick surfaces (like mud or rock).

The poles can extend from 24 to 53 inches, locking with each adjustment. Comfortable cork handles, an adjustable wrist strap, and a bonus waterproof carry bag make these poles a great value for the price.

Weight: 7 ounces | Extended Length: 24 to 53 inches | Collapsed Length: 24 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Telescoping | Included Accessories: Additional baskets and tips

Best for Hiking: Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles

Montem Ultra Strong Hiking / Walking / Trekking Poles - One Pair

Courtesy of Montem

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Lifetime replacement

  • Padded wrist straps

Cons
  • No anti-shock mechanism

Our top pick for all-terrain hiking, the Montem Ultra Strong trekking poles are incredibly strong and offer a lifetime replacement promise.

Adjustable from 24 to 53 inches, these telescoping poles extend easily and lock in seconds, thanks to Montem’s flip-lock system. Made from sweat-absorbing EVA foam, the handles are comfortable, and the extended foam sleeve enables you to climb and descend peaks with ease. Padded wrist straps prevent chafing and prevent you from accidentally dropping the poles off a steep cliff.

We love these Montem poles for their durability, easy setup, and great value for the price.

Weight: 9.6 ounces | Length: 24 to 53 inches | Collapsed Length: 24 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Telescoping | Included Accessories: Additional tips and baskets

Best Weight Capacity: Trekology Trek-Z Hiking Poles

Trekology Trek-Z Hiking Poles

Walmart

Pros
  • Durable

  • Budget-friendly

  • Includes carry bag

Cons
  • Rubber tips may slide off

  • Heavier than other options

Aluminum construction and reinforced joints make these walking sticks dependable on all types of terrain, supportive for all body types, and our top pick for those who require a little more support.

These poles come in a longer and shorter version, but both fold down to a compact 15 inches, making them easy to stow. We love their textured cork grips which are comfortable in the hand and wick away sweat when things get extra heated. The EVA foam shaft handle enables a quick shift when ascending or descending steep hills.

The durable metal flip-lock mechanism allows for a fast trail-side setup so that you can spend more time walking and less time adjusting.

Weight: 10.4 ounces | Extended Length: Shorter version: 39.3 to 47.25 inches, Longer version: 45.25 to 53 inches  | Collapsed Length: 15 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Folding | Included Accessories: Additional tips and baskets

Best Lightweight: Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

Foxelli Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Includes lots of extra tips and baskets

  • Good for trail running

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • Cork hand grips may chip

These sturdy trekking poles are made from 100-percent carbon fiber, a material known for being incredibly lightweight. Each pole weighs 7 ounces, so your energy can go toward moving faster instead of lifting a heavier pole. This, along with carbon fiber’s shock-absorbent qualities, makes every hike more enjoyable while preventing injury.

The poles’ quick-locking technology allows for easy, safe adjustments (from 24 to 55 inches), and the anti-slip cork grip keeps your hands comfortable and dry. Suitable for all conditions and activities, we like that these poles maintain all the necessary features of a trustworthy walking stick while shedding that unwanted extra weight (and price).

Weight: 7 ounces | Extended Length: 24 to 55 inches | Collapsed Length: 24 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Telescoping | Included Accessories: Additional tips and baskets

Best Heavy Duty: American Nordic Walking System SWIX of Norway Nordic Walking Poles

4.5
Swix Poles

Amazon

Pros
  • Sturdy

  • Durable

  • Customizable lengths

Cons
  • Difficult to stow

  • Not adjustable

If you are looking to make your next walking excursion hassle-free, look no further than Swix and their fixed-length aluminum Nordic walking poles. The poles come in 32 lengths, so even though the actual poles aren't adjustable, you can customize them to your height when purchasing. This means that once you're on your way, you won't have to worry about adjustments, setup, or pesky locking mechanisms—just you and the trail. Extra rubber tips fit over the carbon ends, which is great for when you need a sturdier non-slip surface area.

The poles feature a comfortable cork hand grip and Nordic wrist straps, reducing the risk of drops. We think they're a great sturdy, fixed-length walking stick option for those who need a little extra assistance—or for longer treks.

Weight: 7.5 ounces | Extended Length: Customized when ordering | Collapsed Length: N/A (fixed) | Collapsing Mechanism: N/A (fixed) | Included Accessories: Additional tips

Best for Snow: Komperdell Carbon CR Rocksleeve

Komperdell Carbon CR Rocksleeve

Komperdell

Pros
  • Sturdy

  • Durable

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Expensive

Aluminum and carbon construction and strong powerlock 3.0 locking mechanisms are just two of the many features that make these trekking poles ideal for snowy conditions. Weighing in at just under a half-pound, they provide confidence on tricky terrain, thanks to their sturdy aluminum upper half and reinforced carbon lower half.

The ice flex basket can be adjusted to snow depth and the extended foam grip and padded straps help you navigate tough ascents and descents.

Weight: 7.6 ounces | Expanded Length: 43 to 55 inches | Collapsible Length: 25 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Telescoping | Included Accessories: None

Best for Kids: REI Co-op Kids Tarn Trekking Poles

REI Co-op Kids Tarn Trekking Poles

REI

Pros
  • Adjustability good for growing kids

  • Durable

Cons
  • Difficult to stow

REI’s Co-op Tarn Trekking Poles for kids are our top option for kids, and great for keeping kids safe as they explore the great outdoors. They feature durable aluminum construction and rubber handles that are easy to grasp. Stainless-steel tips keep kids steady as they maneuver tricky terrain, and bonus trekking baskets provide flotation on softer soil and snow. 

Adjustable from 35 to 43.25 inches, we love that these poles will lengthen to grow with young hikers. Now the whole family can enjoy their adventures with confidence.

Weight: 7.6 ounces | Extended Length: 35 to 43.25 inches | Collapsed Length: 26 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Telescope | Included Accessories: None

Best for Seniors: TrailBuddy Adjustable Trekking Poles

TrailBuddy Adjustable Trekking Poles

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Easy to adjust

  • Lots of included accessories

Cons
  • Extension locks aren't the strongest

These easy-to-adjust walking sticks are our top pick for seniors who need more stability. The strong aluminum holds steady, even with increased pressure—good for those who require a little more assistance when walking. Cork handles are built for comfort, molding to hands in hot and cold weather. The poles can be adjusted from 24.5 to 54 inches, with lever locks that securely (and easily) fasten in all weather conditions.

We love that these poles are available in multiple colors, allowing hikers to customize their look. They come with a carry bag, two pairs of rubber tips, mud baskets, snow baskets, and one pair of connectors.

Weight: 9.7 ounces | Extended Length: 25.5 to 54 inches | Collapsed Length: 24.5 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Telescoping | Included Accessories: Additional tips and baskets

Best Single Pole: A Alafen Aluminum Collapsible Trekking Pole

A Alafen Aluminum Collapsible Trekking Pole

Amazon

Pros
  • Durable

  • Comfortable grip

  • Very compact

Cons
  • Heavier than other options

  • Max length is shorter than others

Two isn’t always better than one, and when one trekking pole is all you want, then we recommend this sturdy aluminum pole from A Alafen. It's durable and is easy to collapse and extend thanks to its quick-lock system. It only measures 14.1 inches tall when collapsed, making it a lot more compact than other options on this list.

Tungsten steel rod tips offer good traction, while the rubber tips provide stability on slippery surfaces. The pole comes with a carrying bag, making it particularly travel-friendly, and it comes at an affordable price.

Weight: 10.3 ounces | Extended Length: 43 to 49 inches | Collapsed Length: 14.1 inches | Collapsing Mechanism: Folding | Included Accessories: Additional tips and basket

Best Wood: Brazos Trekking Pole Hiking Stick

Brazos Walking Sticks
Brazos Walking Sticks. Brazos Walking Sticks
Pros
  • Aesthetically-pleasing

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • Not adjustable

  • Heavier than other options

Handcrafted in the USA, we love this authentic Brazos trekking pole for both its beauty and functionality. Made of oak, this walking stick features smooth comfortable handgrips, a wrist strap to secure the stick in your hand, and a rubber tip that improves traction. 

Wooden walking sticks don’t collapse, and this stick is a little heavier than other options on our list, so they don't store or travel as easily. And, since they aren't adjustable, you'll need to be more careful to find the correct size before buying.

Despite these compromises, we still like the heirloom quality, durability, and strength of this option. If you are looking to make a statement and stowing your stick in a pack isn’t as important to you, a wooden trekking pole is a beautiful choice.

Weight: 1 pound | Length: Customizable from 41 to 58 inches | Collapsable Length: N/A (fixed) |  Collapsing Mechanism: N/A (fixed) | Included Accessories: None

Final Verdict

We love Leki Women's Micro Vario Carbon walking sticks because they last for many seasons and are great for serious hikes. We particularly like the comfortable handgrips and how easy to use and durable they are on various terrain.

The Unisex Mountain Safety Research DynaLock Ascent Carbon poles are also a fantastic choice, particularly for those who enjoy year-round trekking. The kevlar reinforcement offers enhanced durability, making them as secure for hikers as they are for snowshoers. Their ability to traverse multiple sports and weather conditions make them a great value, despite their higher price.

How We Rated the Walking Sticks

4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best walking sticks we reviewed. We recommend them without reservation.

4.5 to 4.7 stars: These walking sticks are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.

4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great walking sticks, but others are better.

3.5 to 3.9 stars: These walking sticks are just average.

3.4 and below: We don't recommend walking sticks with this rating; you won't find any on our list.

How We Selected

Walking stick features are as varied as the hikers who use them. We chose our top walking stick picks by speaking to four experts, including hiking guides and trekkers with years of international trail experience. We considered their recommendations for why walking sticks are beneficial, how they collapse, their materials and construction, tips and baskets, and considerations for hikers as they make their first walking stick purchase. We then kept those insights in mind as we looked over various walking stick options by over 15 different manufacturers.

In choosing our best walking stick picks, we carefully reviewed customer feedback on technicalities such as ease of extension, locking mechanisms, durability, collapsibility, and comfort. We chose walking sticks at various price points that we think offer a good value. Whichever walking sticks you choose, we hope they help you to better enjoy your time outdoors!

What to Look for in a Walking Stick

Durability

Walking sticks are lightweight, but they should also be durable. Materials matter, so consider the type of hiking you’ll be doing. More rigorous, mountainous hiking or hiking in harsher weather will require a more durable stick that can help you navigate the terrain. “You’ll want something you can rely on that will hold your weight,” Brosseau says. According to Brosseau, the weakest parts of a walking stick are the connections, so opting for a fixed walking stick may be a good idea if you really need something to hold a lot of weight.

New or casual hikers or even outdoor walkers may be fine with a stick of simpler construction. If you are just starting, it’s OK to go with something less expensive. See what you like and don’t like about the walking sticks you choose, so when it is time for an upgrade, you’ll be ready.

Length, Grips, and Tips

The ability to maintain good posture is important when choosing a walking stick. The length of the stick should allow for a 90-degree elbow bend when standing with the pole touching the ground. Men’s and women’s poles generally differ in height, with women’s poles being shorter and men’s poles longer. The height of most carbon and aluminum poles is adjustable—important particularly when walking up or downhill. Adjusting on the fly may be necessary to keep that comfortable 90-degree elbow bend.

Hand grips are important considerations too. The grips on women’s poles are usually made for smaller hands than men’s poles. Make sure your grips feel comfortable.

Walking sticks that come with interchangeable tips may be helpful to those hiking on varied terrain. Brosseau urges caution when hiking above the tree line where vegetation is thin and soil degradation is more likely when using carbide tips. “Just be aware of where you are,” he says. In this situation "You may want to put rubber tips on to protect the ground.”

Adjustability

Adjustable trekking poles will extend and collapse in one of two ways: either by telescoping or folding. Telescoping is the most common, where sections of the poles are nested together and slide and lock into place. Folding poles generally have an interior band running through the center of the poles that keep the nested sections together.

Walker recommends poles that collapse into three sections, as he says they're easier to stow. “Those that telescope in two sections will be harder to fit in your carry-on luggage and will also project awkwardly from your backpack when you're not using them.”

Material

Most walking sticks are made from carbon or aluminum. Carbon is more expensive but lighter in weight. Aluminum is more durable but heavier than carbon. “Much is touted in terms of the strength and lightness of carbon,” Walker says. "Carbon’s strength is primarily in the long axis of the pole. If you jam the pole in a crack and then torque it left/right etc. it will break and splinter. Aluminum will not do this so fast or catastrophically.”

Those looking to run on trails, not just walk, and for whom a stick’s weight is especially important, may like carbon fiber, which is even lighter in weight than regular carbon. Wooden walking sticks are also popular hand-crafted, more aesthetically pleasing and classic options.

Special Features

Walking sticks can have a variety of special features, from shock absorption to snow baskets. With most poles, the tips are interchangeable, not brand-specific. That’s great when you need to purchase new tips on the fly. If that functionality is important to you, make sure you know how the tips you're eyeing affix to your walking stick before making a purchase.

No matter what kind of hiking you enjoy, there’s a walking stick for you. So, take your time to consider which walking stick best fits your needs, then get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are walking sticks really that helpful?

    “My experience is that trekking poles make you hike 'smarter' in that your brain is receiving information from places other than your two feet when it decides to inform you how to stay balanced,” Walker says.

    In addition to easing the load, walking sticks can help you to burn more calories, improve your upper body strength,, and help to reduce ankle fractures and muscle soreness.

  • What is the best height for a walking stick?

    Countless sources, from trekking pole manufacturers to guides, agree that walking sticks should be tall enough to allow for a 90-degree bend in your elbow. This generally means the handle of your stick should come up to your waist. If you’re taking on a lot of hills, you’ll want your stick to be a little longer. Many walking sticks come with an upper and lower grip so that you can change the positioning of your grip depending on the type of trail you're navigating.

  • What's the difference between a walking stick and a cane?

    While both walking sticks and walking canes provide assistance, generally, walking canes are intended for ambulatory support, taking a load off of injured body parts and increasing functionality. The ideal height of walking sticks versus canes differs as well, with canes being lower so that the elbow is only slightly bent, versus at a 90-degree angle as with walking sticks.

  • On which side should I hold my walking stick?

    The majority of walking sticks will be sold as a pair. However, should you prefer to carry just one pole, that’s OK too. The side on which you carry it will vary depending on what feels comfortable to you and the type of terrain you're navigating.

    Many carry their walking stick on their dominant side, however, if you are navigating tricky terrain on either the right or left you may wish to switch your single stick to the challenging side. That being said, “using two poles will help keep you better balanced,” Brosseau says.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a long-time fitness enthusiast and group fitness instructor, Amy Scanlin, ACE-GFI, MS, always sources the best products through expert opinions and first-hand reviews. When choosing top products for articles, she always balances product features, value, and practical application before recommending them to her readers. Amy is passionate about helping enable her clients and readers to live a life of activity, both in the gym and in the great outdoors.

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