Posted on March 26, 2019
After several hours of research, I finally made my selection of the 5 best walking sticks among more than forty models available at the moment. If you are like me, you start to think about hiking from the first rays of sunshine. Personally, since my sticks accompany me on each outing, I noticed great differences in performance, and that's why I do not hesitate to advise you to adopt them too. The ones I recommend without hesitation are the Black Diamond Z-POLE.
You will also find at the end of this article a buying guide allowing you to choose the sticks that best suit your requirements and your budget.
The best cheap walking sticks
You do not have the means (or the desire) to invest 200 € in high-end sticks? Here are two economic models that do not skimp on quality or performance!
Terra Hiker: the best cheap
Materials not the most durable
You have a limited budget, but still want to enjoy the many benefits that hiking poles offer in terms of joint comfort and safety?
Let's explore the entry-level Terra Hiker sticks. Designed in carbon fiber, these sticks have the advantage of being extremely lightweight: 225 g per stick, making them easier to transport and less tiring on a long day of walking.
At the same time, we appreciate the shock-proof properties of this material, which makes it possible to reduce the pressure on the joints.
The tips are made of tungsten steel for resistance to heat, rust and wear. The length of the sticks is adjustable, which allows you to adapt them to your size, the terrain you practice and the unevenness.
The length is adjustable between 62 and 135 cm and works thanks to a system with clips. Let's look at the side of the handles: they are made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), which helps absorb perspiration and prevent slipping.
What we like about these sticks: of course, their lightness, already mentioned above. The quick clamping system for adjusting the length is precise, powerful and easy to use. The most we appreciate: the sticks come with different tips for use with all terrains.
What we appreciate a little less, since it must be quibble: we still ask the question of resistance in the long term. If the carbon fiber has the advantage of being extremely lightweight, it breaks at the same time very easily. The foam handles are comfortable to use and absorb perspiration, but it is not the most durable material over time.
These sticks still have many advantages, for a price rather accessible. We recommend them with a little warning: do not expect to keep them for several years.
Alpidex Timok Vario: lightness and versatility
Locking system that goes wrong
For this second entry-level model, we are looking at a product from Alpidex, a company specializing in the manufacture of hiking sportswear and equipment. We discover here the Alpidex Timok Vario, folding carbon sticks rather suitable for trail and Nordic walking.
Once again, there is a carbon manufacturing for ultra light sticks (we are again about 200 g), but also potentially fragile.
These sticks have the particularity to have a clean technology that allows you to continuously adjust the length of the sticks depending on the terrain and the altitude you practice. Once folded, the stick is only 39 cm long. In other words, it is not very bulky and they lend themselves to easy storage and transport.
The sticks also have foam handles, with the advantages and disadvantages they are known for. The tips are made of hard metal, and all comes with two pairs of rubber pads that allows them to be used on asphalt.
This product has the particularity of having two foldable segments and two telescopic segments. Everything is light, easy to assemble and disassemble, but the locking system of the telescopic segment is disordered rather quickly. Since you need two hands to open and close the straps, it's not always very practical when you're out hiking.
Another small problem: the manual and available only in English and German and the photos provided are not very explicit.
We appreciate the versatility of these poles, which are suitable for hiking as trail or Nordic walking. We still keep a small preference for the Terra Hiker tested above, with their clamping system a little easier to use.
The best mid-range walking sticks
Are you ready to invest a little more for a better model? Discover a product that will make you happy.
Black Diamond Z-POLE: the best mid-range
With our best midrange sticks, we've found a deal not to be missed! Indeed, there are recently Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z sticks at a very affordable price.
In other words, if you are looking for a high-end product for a price that is not, take a look at these sticks while sober and elegant.
Indeed, it is a product reduced to its strict minimum. The length is not adjustable, so you should test before buying to see if it suits you. The sticks are once again made of carbon so extremely lightweight (but we remind you, park fragility) for a total weight of about 280 g (this will vary depending on the length you select).
The folding and unfolding of the sticks is very simple with the help of an unlocking button. We just regret that the manual is not very detailed: the first time, it can take 10 minutes to understand how it works. But once you're started, it's very simple.
The grip of the foam handle is quite pleasant and absorbs perspiration. The strap, it is not very comfortable and can hurt a little after a few hours of use.
The sticks are delivered with two tips, one carbide and the other rubber, respectively for dry land and terrain. The rubber tip reduces the noise of the stick on the floor but apart from that does not present much use.
In conclusion, a product that is up to the reputation of its manufacturer, both very light and easy to use.
We regret a little discomfort of the strap and the lack of versatility due to the fixed washers, which make it a product rather suited to the trail. In addition, the fragility of carbon makes it a product not recommended for heavier use.
The best high-end walking sticks
Demanding, you are looking for sticks that accompany you over time while being light and comfortable to use. We have what you need !
Cascade Mountain Tech: the best high-end
We continue with the discovery of the very successful trekking poles from Cascade Mountain Tech, offered at a price higher than the poles discussed above. Let's see if their performances are just as good!
Once again, these sticks are made of 100% carbon fiber for maximum lightness and a total weight of 220 g. With this product, you can choose between foam or cork handles.
As you can imagine if you have read our buying guide below, we advise you to opt instead for the cork handles, just as comfortable as those foam, but much more durable. The grip is a bit "plastic" at first but over time the handles adapt well to the shape of the hand.
The poles have adjustable straps, not more comfortable but not likely to cause pain or friction after a few hours of walking. Some prefer to remove these straps to gain weight.
The tips are made of tungsten carbide, a material that is both durable and hangs well on just about any terrain. The sticks come with baskets suitable for snow, mud and rubber for hard surfaces.
Globally, these sticks can increase stability and reduce pressure on the joints so as to avoid possible pain and the risk of falling. The cork handles, even if you choose to remove the straps, offer a very good grip.
The locking system is very efficient and very stable: the sticks do not move, even downhill and when they are subject to a significant weight (loaded backpack …).
It is therefore an excellent value for money for this product that offers both very good performance and quality materials. We recommend it without hesitation!
Kelty Upslope 2.0: the reference sustainability
With Upslope 2.0, Kelty is for people looking for quality, durability and comfort. The American brand is well known across the Atlantic for its range of products for demanding hikers.
Upslope 2.0 are not the lightest, thinnest, or most compact sticks currently available on the market.
Unlike other models that we have discussed, these are made of aluminum, which involves a little more weight … But also sustainability. All the same, we are on 530 g for the pair. The length can be adjusted between 65 and 135 centimeters.
The boats have an easy-to-use and efficient locking system. Unlike many entry-level models, once the length is fixed, the sticks do not slip.
The handles are foam, and it's a bit of a shame. On this high-end model we would have preferred cork handles for more durability. The poles have padded straps for comfort even after several hours of walking.
As with other brands, boats come with a choice of baskets for added versatility. The tips are made of non-slip hard metal for stability on a variety of surfaces.
In conclusion, very strong sticks that you are likely to be able to keep for many years.
As I told you, these are not the lightest sticks on the market today, but they easily compensate for the few grams in addition to their durability and ease and comfort of use. That's why I do not hesitate to recommend this product in its price range!
The products of my selection on offer at the moment
With the beautiful days coming back, you're waiting for one thing: take back your walks in the mountains or in the forest.
If it is, you are among the hikers who have not yet adopted the sticks. However, hiking poles can both relieve the joints, strengthen the balance and reduce the risk of falling.
Some people are content with wooden sticks found along the way, while others prefer to make their own sticks. If you want to enjoy all the benefits of hiking poles in terms of ease of use, depreciation and security, do not hesitate to explore the many models currently on the market.
Many manufacturers of hiking equipment offer sticks that are comfortable, practical, light and powerful. There are currently many models available at very different price and quality levels. Are you afraid of not finding yourself there?
Do not panic ! Find out below our buying guide to help you find hiking poles that fit both your budget and your requirements!
There are many reasons why you should use poles when going for a walk in the forest or in the mountains. Using sticks helps to reduce impact and load on your knees and other joints, reducing the risk of long-term injury.
Sticks strengthen your balance and stability and make you less likely to slip or fall. At the same time, they allow you to test the stability of rocks that may come off.
You can also use your poles to help you overcome obstacles, such as rocks, or tree trunks. They can also help you cross rivers or muddy passages.
The sticks help to preserve the joints, but also to reduce the muscular fatigue of the lower body … by soliciting the muscles of the top! After a long day of walking, you will have much less heavy legs. At the same time, the poles propel you and allow you to walk faster for an equivalent effort.
As you can see, the clubs can have a real beneficial impact on your balance, on your energy level, and allow you to reduce the risk of falling or injury.
This is of course an important element. Lightweight poles are much more comfortable to use and wear, while being less tiring when walking. Their weight depends primarily on the materials used.
Be careful, ultralight sticks, usually carbon, can also be very fragile and easily break.
When you do not use them, you tend to stick your sticks to your backpack. It is therefore in their interest to fall back easily.
The different sticks have different storage systems to reduce their size. This will depend mainly on the number of strands: two, three, or four depending on the model. The least bulky sticks are those with more strands.
The folding or deployment system is an element to take into account when choosing your sticks. This will vary greatly by brand, but there are three main systems.
As its name suggests, it is a system that works through clips (also called external blockers) that can slide the strands into each other to adjust the length of the stick.
As with clip systems, the strands and screws are slid to the desired length. This is one of the most common systems, and is often found on entry-level models. It is a system a little less easy to use than the external blockers, because over time everything can go wrong and start to slide.
The strands are connected thanks to an elastic thread. To deploy the sticks, unfold the strands and fit them into each other. The main disadvantage of this system is that it does not allow to adjust the length of the sticks.
There are various materials of manufacture that generally correspond to differences in lightness and strength.
Aluminum alloy is the most common material. It is both economical and relatively resistant.
There are also hiking sticks made of carbon. These have the advantage of being extremely lightweight, and damping vibrations. The main disadvantage of carbon sticks is that they break very easily.
Titanium has appeared relatively recently on the market, and can offer sticks both light and strong.
There are more and more models on the market with a shockproof system, which reduces vibration and thus bring more comfort downhill. If you have fragile joints in the arms and shoulders, this may be a choice for you.
It is essential to find handles that suit you to avoid blisters and allow you to walk comfortably for several hours in a row. Look for sticks that have handles that are comfortable to hold and do not rub or slip.
In some models, there is a left hand version and a right hand version.
There are four types of main handles.
We find them rather on top-of-the-range models: they are comfortable handles which evacuate the perspiration well. At the same time, they are durable, but quite expensive.
Much cheaper than cork handles, they tend to sweat and are therefore much less comfortable to use. They are still quite durable and inexpensive.
These are durable handles, comfortable to use for long periods, and inexpensive.
Comfortable to use and quite inexpensive, it does not last for very long.
Spikes are an essential part of your hiking poles. Indeed, they are in contact with the ground and must hang well in order to prevent you from falling or sliding.
At the same time, they must be durable enough so that you do not have to change every three months.
There are steel spikes, quite inexpensive but at the same time unsustainable. There are also sticks with tungsten carbide tips, which are more expensive, but which hang better and are more durable than steel.
At the same time, there are sticks with rubber tips, rather adapted to hard surfaces.
In conclusion, which sticks to choose?
This will largely depend on your requirements. If for you the lightness is imperative, privilege a model in carbon fiber such as the very successful Terra Hiker or Black Diamond.
If you do not rely on carbon sticks and are looking for something very resistant, which can accompany you on several days of walking without risking falling, opt instead for Kelty Upslope 2.0.
You are looking for a model of great comfort of use? Go for the Mountain Tech Cascade sticks with their cork handles.
Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec AS: light, stable and resistant. We'll talk to you soon!
Leki Micro Vario: high-quality sticks with ultra-fast folding.