If you take on some challenging terrains or you just need a little bit of extra support, a trekking pole is an essential piece of gear. In many instances, it might be the only thing stopping you from a serious fall or misstep.
A good trekking pole will help you scale and descend steeper gradients, add a good rhythm to your hike, and even promote optimal blood circulation by keeping your hands closer to your heart.
Being that they’ve become such an important part of any nature lover’s gear, it’s no surprise they can have some pretty serious price tags. The market can look pretty dear and daunting.
But we’re here to prove that you don’t have to rob banks to get yourself some quality gear. Below, we’re going to review the five best trekking poles available for those of us on a budget.
Then we’ll get stuck into a buyer’s guide and some FAQs to keep you stable on your hunt for the perfect pole for you.
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Top 5 Best Budget Trekking Poles
OUR TOP PICK
Our first choice is a pair of wonderfully innovative aluminum trekking poles from the industry giant Black Diamond. They’re not the cheapest trekking poles on our list by a long shot, but considering the quality you get here, they’re very affordable.
The coolest and most practical thing about these poles is that they have two collapsible joints. These allow you to fold your poles into a Z shape and then pretty much flat. This ‘Z’ mechanism actually allows them to collapse smaller than telescopic poles, and because of the reduced material involved, they weigh less too.
Another fantastic thing about the folding function is the rapid deployment system. All you need to do is grab the first pole section and the grip and pull them away from one another and viola! The pole is deployed and ready to go.
The speed cone design even makes it a breeze to set up while running as it guides each section into place. You don’t have to worry about lining anything up manually.
Normally the more connections something has the weaker it is overall, but not in this instance. The Kevlar cord connecting the three sections is incredibly durable and secure when it’s in its rigid form.
The DIstance Z poles extend to a maximum 120 cm or 4 ft which makes them perfect for anyone 6 ft in height or less. Unfortunately, they’re fixed length poles, so you can’t change the height to suit an incline, but the extended grip should provide enough flexibility.
The Distance Z has an EVA foam grip perfect for moisture-wicking, and it has a rounded top if you prefer to palm it on certain gradients. It also has a non-scarring rubber tech tip perfect for tackling harder surfaces.
- Aluminum is lightweight and durable
- Z fold makes them more portable and lightweight than telescopic poles
- Kevlar cord is super durable
- Can be set up fast and at speed with the speed cone design and side lock
- EVA foam grip is comfortable wicks moisture
- Non-scarring rubber tech tips
- Fixed length design
- Price is at the top end of what we consider ‘budget’
Climbing in at number two is a super affordable and strong trekking pole. It’s unanimously beloved by consumers and keeps things simple.
The standout feature for us here is the aircraft-grade aluminum construction. This kind of metal weighs less than regular aluminum, and TrailBuddy claims it’s even stronger than carbon fiber. Durable, tensile poles are great for taking on hard-pack terrains and supporting your weight as you descend an incline.
These telescopic poles have a minimum height of 24.5 inches and a maximum of 54 inches which is about 4.5 feet. This pole will have an ideal length for you even if you’re over 6 foot. They use a lever lock, which isn’t the fastest setup mechanism on the market, but they’re less fiddly in wet and muddy weather.
Another thing we thought was impressive considering the price of these poles is the cork grips. Cork grips are normally indicative of top of the line product. Cork is a great material because it has fantastic water-wick qualities, meaning it will absorb your sweat, it grips well, and it will mold to the shape of your hand.
Cork also tends to be way more durable than your average foam handle.
The handle is shaped at the top to make it comfortable to palm, and they come with wrist loops attached. They come with the standard rubber tips, nothing special, but they should be perfectly capable. You can always replace them with the money you save buying the poles.
- Super affordable
- Cork grip usually found on expensive poles
- Extensive height range
- Telescopic function makes them more portable
- Aircraft aluminum construction is durable but keeps them light
- Lever locks are easy to use in bad weather conditions
- Large minimum height
- Slower setup
The carbon fiber Mountain Tech poles have a really nice cork grip, so you can expect maximum performance and great shock absorption.
The really cool thing about this grip is that it extends further down the pole as EVA foam, very helpful if you need to grasp lower down to deal with certain gradients. They top the handle off with a nice adjustable strap, so even if you take a tumble, your pole won’t be lost down a hillside.
Obviously, the best thing about these poles is the carbon fiber construction. Carbon fiber is the ideal material for trekking poles because it’s much lighter and stronger than aluminum.
These things will be able to handle even the toughest of terrains and they weigh less than half a pound. Normally you’d be looking at paying a pretty penny for a carbon fiber trekking pole, so this is really a great deal.
These poles have tungsten carbide tips which is really impressive. Tungsten carbide is an incredibly hard substance. They also come with a selection of tips to suit different terrain, so you can save money on that front as well.
These telescopic poles have a minimum height of 26 inches and maximum height of 54 inches, so just like our second pick, they’re suitable for people of all sizes. The quick-lock function towards the base allows for fast and easy changes to height on the go.
- Carbon fiber construction is lighter and more durable than aluminum
- Strong tungsten carbide tips
- Cork grip wicks sweat, absorbs shock and fits to your hand
- Telescopic function keeps them portable
- Affordable for carbon fiber poles
- Extra EVA foam grip lower down
- Great for people over 6 foot
- Comes with different tips
- Don’t minimize all that small
- Set up could be a little faster
Our fourth spot is a formidable pair of trekking poles at a price that’ll keep you smiling all down the trail.
A bit of an amalgam of our other choices, they have the collapsable ‘Z’ function of our number one pick, the cork and EVA foam grips, the aircraft aluminum construction, and the tungsten carbide tips.
The setup isn’t quite as snappy as the Black Diamond poles. The difference is, you have to align the top and second pole manually with these. But where the Trek Zs have the Black Diamonds beat, is the adjustable length.
There’s a quick flip-lock function at the top of the pole that allows you to customize the height easily. We really love the top of the pole lock. It means there’s no need to struggle with a dirty bottom end every time you need to switch up the height a bit.
The ‘Z’ function means these collapse down to a wonderfully practical 15 inches. They have a minimum rigid height of 43 inches and a maximum height of 51 inches. So, if you’re anywhere between 5.2 and 6.3 ft, these poles will be perfect for you.
We couldn’t find out what the connective cable is made out of in this situation. We assume it won’t be kevlar like our top pick. This is probably where Trekology have managed to cut some costs.
- ‘Z’ tri-fold function means they’ll fit in you bag
- Cork grip for wicking sweat
- Lower foam grip for different hand positions
- Tungsten carbide tips
- Come with a selection of tips
- Strong aluminum alloy construction
- Setup not as fast as others
- Cord material is probably not quite as durable as kevlar
Coming in at number five is essentially an aluminum variation of our number three Mountain Tech pick.
Apart from the lack of carbon fiber and the particularly snazzy design of the number three spot, these poles are very similar. They have a cork grip perfect for keeping your hands dry or gripping to gloves. The secondary foam grip is exactly the same, accommodating the maximum amount of hand positions
It’s made from the tough aircraft aluminum alloy that can take a real beating, and it comes with all the same tip attachments. The main difference here is the weight. These are a few ounces heavier than their carbon fiber siblings, but they still weigh less than a pound.
For all intents and purposes, they’re the same trekking poles but at half the price. So, if you really like the idea of our number three spot, but you want to go as cheap as possible, these are the ones for you.
They’re super strong, very lightweight considering they’re not carbon fiber, and they’re incredibly affordable. When you consider that you’re getting two poles for the price as well, it’s a tough prospect to turn down.
- Tough aluminum construction
- Cork grip
- Secondary EVA foam grip
- Weigh less than a pound each
- Super affordable
- Comes with tip attachments
- Quick-lock function
- Great for taller people
- Heavier than carbon fiber
Best Budget Trekking Poles Buying Guide
We know you’re here because you’re on a budget, but you’d be surprised by the range of price points affordable poles come in at.
Setting a specific budget will help you cut to the quick and find the pole for you.
The best material for trekking poles is definitely carbon fiber. Typically, they cost far more than other materials so there won’t be as many in your price range. As you’ve seen from our list, there are some available if you look hard enough.
The next best option is aircraft aluminum which basically means aluminum alloy. Aluminum is nowhere near as light or strong as carbon fiber but aluminum alloy may be minutely tougher.
The weight of your pole will mostly be defined by the material as mentioned above.
The ideal walking pole should weigh as little as possible. Anything below 20 ounces will be great.
You should be paying a lot of attention to the kind of grip your pole has. They come in a range of materials. Ideally, you want a comfortable yet durable material with water-wicking qualities
The most common will be EVA foam or cork. EVA foam is soft and comfortable and wicks sweat pretty well. Cork is slightly harder but wicks sweat well and has the uncanny ability to morph to fit your hand over time.
You should keep your height in mind when choosing a trekking pole.
Some have a limited extension and aren’t suitable for taller people. A pole that extends to around 50 inches will be fine for people under 6 foot.
If you’re taller than that, you should look for a trekking pole that extends to at least 54 inches.
Adjustable or Fixed
Some trekking poles have a locking system that allows an adjustable height.
These are great as you easily change the height to suit different people or inclines. These kinds of poles tend to be a little slower to setup.
Fixed trekking poles only have one height, but they tend to have a super-fast setup and collapse really small.
The tip of your trekking pole needs to be as strong as possible as it bears most of the strain. A common reliable option is tungsten carbide.
You should also consider what rubber tips come with your pole. Some cheaper rubbers will wear down pretty quickly.
This will be one of the areas a budget pole will cut costs. It might be worth investing in some more advanced rubber tips separately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to hike with one pole or two?
It depends what sort of terrain and the length of the hike.
If it’s a challenging environment, two poles may make it easier.
For more relaxing hikes, one trekking pole will be better as it saves on weight and frees up a hand.
What height should I have my trekking pole?
Your pole is set to the right height when your elbow is resting at a 90-degree angle.
It can be helpful to change the height of your pole to deal with different gradients. Going downhill may require a slight extension, while an incline may require a slightly shorter length.
Setting two sticks to different heights may be beneficial on uneven terrain.
A trekking pole really doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.
There are some amazing and affordable options on the market today.
So, no more hunting in the woods for a good wizard’s staff before you hit the mountain.
These trekking poles are all the magic you need.