FINDING THE BEST FIT FOR YOU


When we hit the hiking trails, we never know for sure just when a “helping hand – or two”, in the form of a hiking/walking stick, hiking pole, or trekking poles, may come in very handy.


For those of us who are just beginning on this adventure, and/or some of us who may not be in the very best shape, any type of walking/hiking stick would probably become a much-welcome and essential part of our hiking gear. At times, possibly even an experienced hiker might not mind a little extra support.

There are a few options to choose from. I have compiled some research below to help you consider exactly what type of walking/hiking stick is best suited for you before you decide to purchase one. There are traditional walking or hiking sticks, hiking poles, and trekking poles. Let’s take a look at them now.


Walking/Hiking Stick Or Staff

The traditional walking/hiking stick, or staff, is constructed of wood. It may have a straight, smooth, classic design, or you can find very elaborately carved hiking sticks in tons of specialty or gift shops everywhere, and online. You can even have a hiking stick custom-made to fit your exact personality and style. A good walking/hiking stick, or staff, is extremely durable and solid, should not give under pressure, and is an excellent source of that extra bit of confidence you may need when on the trail, or if you happen to experience any joint pain.


Hiking Poles And/Or Trekking Poles

The next option you have to consider is a hiking pole, and the third option is trekking poles. Trekking pole guidelines work the same as hiking poles, only there are two of them, so we will group these together for the sake of considering our options. The choice is up to you, if you would prefer one hiking pole, or have the added stability and increased capability that two poles will offer. There are varieties in designs which will help you find one to fit you perfectly.



Hiking Pole/Trekking Pole Features To Consider Are:

  • *Adjustable Or Non-Adjustable Length Of Pole -

    Adjustable poles normally adjust from 24 to 55 inches in length. Generally, a hiker will shorten the pole when going uphill, then lengthen the pole when going downhill.

  • *Foldable Or Non-Foldable Pole - Foldable poles function in the fashion of tent poles, rather than collapsing into themselves like adjustable poles do. They are the easiest to pack and carry, are very lightweight, and are most popular with fast hikers.

  • *Shock-Absorbing Or Standard Pole - Shock-absorbing poles offer internal springs to absorb shock when hiking downhill. This feature may be turned off when it is not needed.

  • *UltraLight - have the advantage of less swing weight, which means less fatigue. These poles weigh less than 1 pound per pair.

  • *Camera Mount - Offers a built-in camera mount under the handle, which then may be used as a monopod.

  • *Locking Mechanisms:

  • *External Lever Lock - A lever-based, clamplike lock. Quick and easy to adjust.

  • *Push-Button Lock - Poles snap into place and lock with a simple pull. Press the push-button to release the lock, then collapse the poles. Not all of these poles will adjust in length.

  • *Twist Lock - This lock features an expander and screw setup that will stay consistently strong and durable.

  • *Combination Lock - This type of lock uses a combination of the above locking mechanisms, which achieves a balance of strength, light weight, and ease of use.

  • *Shaft Materials:

  • *Aluminum- the most economical and durable option. Aluminum poles average between 18 - 22 ounces per pair. The total price, and weight, may vary depending on the gauge of the pole, and ranges from 12 - 16mm. Under extreme stress, aluminum poles could bend, but are not likely to break

  • *Composite - the more expensive and lighter option. Composite poles average between 12 - 18 ounces per pair. These poles are good at reducing vibration, but are more vulnerable to breaking or splintering than aluminum poles - something to keep in mind if you are hiking in remote and/or rugged terrain.

  • *Grips - made in a variety of materials; this affects how the grip will feel in your hands.

  • *Cork - resists moisture from sweaty hands/helps to decrease vibration/conforms best to your hand shape. Best for heavy sweaters and warm weather hiking.

  • *Foam - also absorbs moisture from sweaty palms/foam has the softest grip for your hands.

  • *Rubber
    - insulates hands from the cold, shock, and vibration/best for cold -weather hiking. More likely to blister or chafe sweaty hands.*




Tips and Baskets-

These accessories come in very handy, and will help make hiking/trekking easier when you use them for the appropriate weather conditions for which they are made. Tips and baskets will enhance trekking ability on wet, slippery, soft terrain, as well as hiking on rocky trails and on paved walkways. They also have baskets to help you hike through a few feet of snow!!

*Rubber Tips - The most common and versatile tip. Rubber tips help prevent damage to the trekking poles during storage and traveling, are kinder to sensitive hiking trail environments, quieter overall on your hike, and are great on slippery surfaces. They also absorb shock and vibration on paved trails more than a metal tip would. Designed to improve stability and forward propulsion on the trail, allowing you to increase your speed and momentum, they are often called "fitness rubber tips". These tips provide extra protection on slippery and rocky surfaces, and also on paved trails. Rubber tips also absorb some of the shock that goes to your trekking poles.

*Carbide Tips - These tips are extremely durable and can really take a beating on a strenuous, rugged trail. They provide excellent grip on numerous surfaces, including rocks, dirt, and ice, and are perfect for rocky areas as these tips are able to dig right into the rocks, giving you much more stability. Carbide tips do produce more noise and vibration on your hike.

*Mud Baskets - If you suspect that your hike may take you through any mud or wet grass, these baskets are a "must". Mud baskets will keep your trekking poles from sinking too deep into the mud or soft soil, and will also help keep mud from splashing onto your clothing.

*Snow Baskets - If your winter hiking adventures just might take your through snow, these baskets will definitely make your trek much easier. Snow baskets give you support and flotation - just like snowshoes! They will also keep your trekking poles from sinking into deep snow and slow you down. Snow baskets are much wider than mud baskets, and are specifically made for hiking in areas with at least two or three feet of snow.





No matter which type of hiking/walking stick, staff, hiking pole, or trekking poles that you decide is the right fit for you, ANY one of them will help you to be just a little more confident. This confidence will enable you to focus on the sheer joy of your hike, and the beauty of your surrounding!




  1. It was great reading this article. As someone whose hobby is hiking, I learned a lot from this article. I liked your writing style and your breakdown of the shaft materials and grips. My wife and I always hike during the summer here in the Washington DC metro area. I’ll continue to read your articles to learn more about hiking and to get more information about new hiking gears that are out there! Thank you so much for this great platform. I wish you and your family a happy holiday!

    • Hi Patrick!
      Thank you for the kind comment! I am very glad you found some useful information in this article, and I hope you will continue to check back for new articles frequently! If you have something you are really interested in, please let me know, and I will make that article a Priority for you! You and your wife have lots of awesome places to hike in the DC area – I especially LOVE the zoo there, and all the cherry blossom trees in the spring!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family, as well!!


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