Are you looking for a telescopic or multi-section hiking pole for your walks on the plains or in the mountains? In this guide, we will help you choose the right hiking pole among the many models available for sale in our shop.
There are more and more foldable poles, like tent poles or avalanche probes, that fold and store easily in a backpack or even on a belt. Although they are often lighter than telescopic poles, they have the disadvantage of being a fixed length.
Telescopic poles, sometimes called adjustable poles, are available in two or three sections. Three-section telescopic poles have a smaller folded size than two-section poles.
Walking pole tubes are made of either carbon or aluminium. Carbon tubes are very light but less resistant. Aluminium tubes are extremely robust but heavier. The poles made of 100% carbon are useful to those who seek lightness. In addition, some aluminium tubes offer weights close to carbon because they are made of high-quality aluminium.
The cheapest walking pole handles are made of plastic. They are light, but they don't absorb sweat from hands. This isn't a problem in winter when snowshoeing or in cool weather, but it can be uncomfortable in summer. Whatever the weather, a much better option is foam. Foam walking stick handles are also the most popular, offering comfort through their spongy softness, and excellent hand grip. Cork handle are also available. Cork handles provide a pleasant feeling during use and they limit perspiration.
Budget-friendly telescopic walking poles have a simple strap. In recent years, we've seen more and more poles available with gauntlets specifically designed for Nordic walking. Gauntlets are ideal for a better grip and maximum comfort. A functional component taken from cross-country ski poles, gauntlets provide a real advantage to telescopic or folding Nordic walking poles. Check whether the straps are detachable or not to suit your needs.
Whether you want to use your poles during walks and hikes in the forest or in the mountains, you will need a pointy tip on your poles. You will also need baskets to prevent your poles sinking too deep into dirt, mud or snow. A straight tungsten tip or a bevelled tip generally accommodate classic baskets or crossover baskets for hard terrain.
For winter hiking, you will need to change your baskets or paws to snow baskets. Foldable walking poles rarely include basket options. If you wish to add baskets, you must choose poles with a suitable tip. Usually, trekking poles are sold with baskets. The baskets can be screwed on and removed easily.
Here are the main pole locking systems for telescopic or foldable poles.
Internal screw tightening — the oldest clamping system. Still very popular, especially on budget walking poles. Easy and intuitive, this pole tightening system reaches its limits for walkers who have progressed to have higher demands on their equipment.
External clip locking — the most versatile clamping system. This type of clamp allows a very precise and totally reliable pole clamping. Ideal for mounting or long-distances.
Interlocking clamping — the lightest clamping system. This system is used for foldable poles and is typically seen in tent poles. It provides a significant weight advantage compared with the other conventional clamping systems.
Looking for walking poles? Check out all our walking pole buying guides and more.