Hiking in the summer is a pleasant and rewarding experience. There’s nothing like appreciating verdant landscapes and moving out of your comfort zone to traverse the roughest of hiking trails. For us to have a more enjoyable trek in the mountains, we need to invest in quality multipurpose hiking gear, including trekking poles.
Yes, we’re serious. You don’t hike without whiskey, just as you can’t plan a serious trek in the Great Smoky Mountains without a reliable pair of trekking poles. These tools offer safety and stability when walking on uneven terrain. They can also prevent serious knee or hip injuries on the road. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, we recommend giving trekking poles a try. Below are the best trekking poles to purchase for summer 2021. We’ll expound on the benefits of using these bad boys and teach you how to choose the best one for your upcoming hike to the backcountry.
Cascade Mountain’s trekking poles are constructed from durable “Aircraft Grade” aluminum that can endure the rigors of hiking in frigid or technical terrain. They feature a quick-lock mechanism for that extra support you need for your outdoor excursions. It’s not that complicated to adjust. Open the tab and lengthen (or shorten) the poles to your desired height, ranging from 26 inches to 54 inches. Then, tighten the thumbscrew clockwise and close the quick lock tab.
The trekking poles come in either cork grip or EVA grip options. The Cork grip option conforms to the shape of your hand and wicks away moisture — all while providing a secure grip. We recommend choosing the cork grip option if you’re hiking in warm weather. The EVA grip variant, meanwhile, absorbs moisture and provides ample abrasion resistance. Like the cork grip, it also offers a comfortable grip. You may want to choose the EVA grip variant if you want to make your trek to the mountains a bit easier on your hands.
Do you have sweaty hands? Or do you plan to hike in wet weather? Don’t leave home without the TrailBuddy Trekking Poles. The poles come with moisture-wicking handles to keep your hands dry and sweat-free rain or shine, not to mention that they take the shape of your hands over time. They are made to handle support heavy load thanks to their aluminum construction, which offers more impact resistance than carbon fiber. The easy-to-adjust lever locks can be easily lengthened or shortened even when you’re trekking on rainy days or wearing gloves. Honestly, that’s a convenient and time-saving feature as some trekking poles with lever locks require an iron grip or are difficult to adjust with gloves on.
They’re remarkably easy to collapse or adjust, they’re lightweight but sturdy thanks to their tubular anodized aluminum construction, and we love how the cork and foam handles feel — and how they look. There’s a retro charm to a wooden handle that works perfectly with the otherwise advanced design of these poles. While we’ve seen many a hiker cursing his way down the mountain with a bent or snapped pole hanging off the back of his pack, we’ve never felt so much as a wobble out of these babies. The bottoms of the poles have a nonslip carbide tip that digs into rocks, roots, and more, and you can slip on a thick rubber cap for use on easier terrain or for storage or travel.
As you probably expect from a product made out of carbon fiber, these poles are very lightweight and quite sturdy and durable. They’re also more expensive than the Keltys, though not by much. They use a quick flip lock that allows for single-handed length adjustment or collapsing. Just a caveat emptor warning for you: They come with several different tip attachments and baskets that make them suitable for use on snow or ice.
These trekking poles cost just twenty bucks, so don’t be surprised if they collapse on you someday, but do be surprised by the fact that thousands of satisfied customers have reported using them for hundreds of miles with no problems. The grips aren’t as fancy as the core and foam handles of the options above, and they’re heavier than both of the other brands, not to mention they have carbide tips and anti-shock springs. So are they worth the money? Yes, yes they are.
That is largely a matter of personal preference and budget. However, the best trekking poles are actually ski poles. Why? There’s no risk of a pole’s joint failing when no joints exist. That said, we’d prefer to grab a pair of collapsible if we’re hiking up the mountains.
The best trekking poles provide several major benefits to the hiker. First, they give you two more points of contact with the ground, making you significantly more stable and sure-footed even over rough, uneven, or loose terrain. In other words, they reduce your chances of falling over. Which is nice.
Second, hiking poles allow your arms to do some of the work of moving your body along the path and/or up that mountain. The general expectation is that poles take about 10 or 15 pounds off your legs with each and every step. Over the course of a long hike, that adds up. Third, trekking poles greatly reduce the force of impact on your joints, helping prevent both acute and chronic injuries to the ankles, knees, hips, and various other body parts.
Fourth, the poles can be used to push thorny brambles aside, to test the depths of puddles or snowdrifts, or to move unsavory whatnot out of the walking path — all things you’d probably rather not do with your hands or feet, no?
And, finally, the poles come in handy in myriad ways even when they’re not in your hands. They can serve as a place to dry out sodden clothes or hiking boots. They’re necessary for the proper pitching of some camping tents and for many tent vestibules. They make a handy tool for beating back ravenous marmots. (Don’t actually beat marmots, please. They’re feisty, but innocent.)
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