The most important purchase criteria for hiking poles & trail running poles

The selection of hiking poles and trail running poles has increased more and more in recent years, so the agony of choice is much greater. In addition to the optical design still play length , weight material and of course the Price a role.

We'd like to give you a small one here Guideline tell you how to find the right hiking poles for you. Which are the most important purchase criteria for hiking poles and what you should pay attention to when buying.

What types of sticks are there?

First we give you an overview of the different stick types:

One-piece trekking poles / fixed-length poles

These are, so to speak, the oldies among trail running poles/hiking poles. you have one fixed length and are usually available between 110 and 135 cm in length. This brings us to the biggest Disadvantage : the length can Not individually customized will. There is no way to adjust the height of the poles on steep slopes. The same applies to trails that run across the slope. This can make the ascent and descent quite tedious for trail runners.

That is advantageous low weight of the one-piece trekking poles. Likewise there is no surprising and undesirable pushing together the sticks. Due to the continuous stock, the vibration when landing on hard surfaces (gravel, asphalt, concrete,...) reduced . Fixed-length poles enable very good power transmission and are particularly suitable for skyraces or verticals.

telescopic sticks

Telescopic poles are length adjustable Sticks and consist of two to four segments. The poles can be easily pushed into each other and can be perfectly adapted to your needs during trail runs, customized will. This makes every slope passage and every descent easier to master.

By pushing the segments together, they can also be space saving transport. Whether stowed in a backpack or in a suitcase when traveling - you can easily take telescopic poles with you everywhere.

Telescopic poles made of carbon

However, there are a few downsides to this construct that you should be aware of. On the one hand, the different segment parts give you a slightly increased vibration when you hit solid ground. Some telescopic poles have a so-called anti-shock mechanism that is designed to counteract these vibrations.

It should be noted here that this spring suspension brings additional weight and sometimes also unpleasant or annoying background noise . If the sticks are made of carbon, you don't need an anti-shock mechanism at all. Carbon absorbs vibrations by itself.

With cheap locking mechanisms, the segments can suddenly be pushed together . But we'll go into more detail on that below.

Folding Poles / Collapsible Poles / Z-Poles

folding sticks are colloquially referred to as Z-Poles because they fold like a "Z". This folding construction is very compact and can be folded up much smaller than telescopic poles.

The segments , which usually consist of 3 parts, are held together with a metal cord and plugged into one another when used.

Folding sticks can be uncomplicated stow in a trail running backpack. This ensures a quick transition from walking to running. Folding poles are also much easier to transport in the car or when travelling.

The disadvantage is the lower stability . The more segment parts the folding stick has, the smaller it can be folded up, but the more unstable it can become. A combination of material , type of closure and the number of segments play a role in ensuring good stability .

Fixed length folding poles:

Folding poles do not automatically have a telescopic function. So not every Z-pole can be adjusted in height or length. Some models can only be plugged together. So they have the Disadvantages of a fixed length cane paired with that advantage that they themselves fold up leave and a trail weigh less .

telescopic folding poles

With an additional telescopic construction, the individual sections slide into one another. The variable length offers the bonus for uphill and downhill runs that it ideal to the slope customized can become.

Another advantage is that the sticks can also be used by other people different body size can be used.

What length hiking poles?

To put it very simply:

Your hands should be one right angle form when you hold the sticks in your hands.

How high do hiking poles have to be set?

If you want to know exactly, then you can Calculate stick length . Some gifted statisticians have one value determined who to Rating the appropriate length of the trekking pole can be used. To do this, multiply your height (in centimetres) by 0.66.

For example: Your height is: 162cm then you calculate:

162cm x 0.66 = 106.92cm = around 107cm

You should also factor in the thickness of your shoe sole. Depending on the shoe model, the heels can be around 1-4 cm.

According to the calculation, the stick should be adjusted to a length of 107cm and in the best case your arms should form a right angle. To this you add the height of your shoe heels (e.g. 3 cm), then you can adjust the stick to 110cm.

If you are running downhill , it is helpful if you set the stick 5-10 cm higher . So you can compensate for the difference in height. It's the same when you run uphill . Here it is useful to shorten the length of the stick by 5-10 cm.

Table: correct pole length

Here you will find a table with the calculated values

(150 cm – 190 cm height)

These numbers are just benchmarks . Everyone's body is built a little differently and everyone has different preferences.

The same applies here: try it out! You'll quickly realize how good it feels for you .

How do you adjust trekking poles correctly?

at telescopic poles is towards it pay attention that the bottom and top segment in the same centimeters set is. That's the only way she can maximum stability of your sticks are granted.

If you have foldable trail running poles , there is only an adjustment option in the upper area.

The right stuff:
Carbon or aluminum for trekking poles?

Advantages and disadvantages of carbon and aluminum



The weight of a carbon stick is noticeably lower than that of aluminum.

high rigidity

Difficult to bend. If bent slightly, the material returns to its original shape (elastic deformation). As a result, carbon acts as a suspension and dampens the vibration when the sticks hit the ground.

Risk of breakage if overloaded

If it is overloaded, it will break. Carbon cannot be bent too much.


The complex manufacturing process and the light weight are reflected in the price.



A weight difference to carbon can be seen.

lower rigidity

Even aluminum is difficult to bend. However, if bending occurs, aluminum does not automatically return to its original shape

Deformability when overloaded

Aluminum is deformed under very heavy loads. Breakage occurs extremely rarely, if at all.


Aluminum is usually much cheaper.

one of the biggest purchase criteria This is probably the case with trail running poles or hiking poles material and the related weight the sticks. Carbon poles are clear pioneers when it comes to weight. Yes one low weight should not be the main criterion when it comes to the right choice of trekking poles.

Is a low weight of the sticks really always better?

For climbs and (day) hikes without much equipment or at flatter can dismount carbon poles definitely be beneficial. At very steep and rocky dismounting and when carrying a heavy backpack on your back aluminum sticks the better choice. So generally when a lot of weight is transferred to the poles.

Load Weight, Fracture & Deformability

The material used and the load acting on the poles therefore have an influence on the breaking strength or deformability.

If carbon poles are overloaded, this always leads to a break . Carbon cannot be bent too much. A broken carbon stick can therefore become an unwanted weapon. A stick made of carbon often breaks when it gets caught in a crevice in the rocks, when the load is too heavy on one side or when the force is too strong.

In the case of a carbon break , however, many factors play a role such as pole width, fastener material, structure (telescopic, fixed length, folding poles, ...), steepness of the route, body weight, heaviness of the backpack/equipment, load balance, etc.

Aluminum sticks, on the other hand, only deform if the load is too high. Of course, this has the advantage that the risk of injury is lower and bent sticks can (with the right technique) be bent back into reasonably good shape.

A mix of both materials

Often it will lowest element from foldable sticks aluminum made and the upper segments out carbon . The reason for this is that trekking poles are subjected to greater stress at the lower end. Stones, rubble, gravel, etc. can have a negative effect on the durability of carbon. That's how you have it advantages of both materials in one stick united .

Fixed-length poles and telescopic poles are usually made entirely of carbon or aluminum.

Closure systems - one of the most important purchase criteria for trail running poles

The locking system is a small detail, but one of the most important Purchase criteria for trail running poles is. The different segments of a trail running pole are held together with special locking systems. There are two common closure variants: screw cap and clamp closure .

It is important that the locking mechanism does not give way under load and the pole unexpectedly collapses. the quality of the material is very important, because a cheap piece of plastic breaks quickly and the whole trail running pole becomes useless. High quality metal fasteners They're a few grams heavier, but they can withstand more.

The twist lock

In this variant, the upper and lower segments are twisted together with an expansion dowel to fix the length. If turned incorrectly during use, the closure can open on its own. This closure is light, but is no longer up-to-date and, in our opinion, not suitable for trail running poles.

The clamp closure

A very modern and reliable variant is the clamp lock. Here the segments are held in place with a clamp. Often they are also called flip lock, speed lock or power lock. Tightening the screw and squeezing the clamp prevents the segments from slipping together.

stable clamp closure made of metal

handle systems

The materials of the handle differ depending on the brand and model.


cork is a natural material with excellent properties. Cork handles are characterized by the fact that absorbs sweat and vibrations reduced will. It is the same low weight to mention. In addition, the material adapts to the shape of the hands individually after some time. It can happen that cork begins to shine a little over the years, i.e. it looks greasy.

Foam (EVA = ethylene vinyl acetate)

The advantage of a with foam covered Griffs is that this material too absorb sweat can and yourself pleasant feels. The foam is not only soft but also easy . On cool days, the grip doesn't feel that cold either.


plastic is the most cost effective Version. The plastic can no Absorb liquids and this leads to increased sweating on the hands. In addition, plastic does not offer the desired grip. The palms slide on the plastic handle very much easy off and Blow are pre-programmed for longer operations.

loop system

A good side effect of loops on the grip is that the poles cannot accidentally fall out of your hand. the main function but consists in the power transmission from the arms to the stick. A good wrist strap is good padded and large enough to be used with gloves even in winter. Accordingly, each loop should size adjustable to be able to customize them.

Choosing the right stick attachment

Last but not least, the final question arises, which tip for which surface suitable is. There are basically three main groups of essays:

rubber buffers

Soft rubber buffers

Soft rubber buffers offer better grip on the ground and prevent you from slipping away quickly. However , they also wear off quickly . Click here for our Atacama "Asphaltheld" rubber buffers .

Hard rubber buffers

Hard rubber pads have poorer grip on the ground, so they offer less support. As a result, they also have less abrasion and thus less rapid signs of wear .

snow plate

As the name suggests, this attachment is suitable for use in snow. He prevents the stick from being too much in the snow sinks .

Snow plate about 10cm

mud plate

For muddy and soft substrates. A mud plate ensures that the stick not too deep in the ground sinks in .

Difference between hiking poles, Nordic walking poles and trail running poles

Hiking poles / trekking poles

walking sticks are mostly thicker and are composed of two or three segments that can either be folded or pushed together. Trekking and trail running poles are characterized by a low own weight out.

Nordic walking sticks

The majority of Nordic Walking poles are in one piece . The diameter of Nordic walking poles is usually smaller than that of hiking poles and trail running poles due to the reduced load . The tip is either curved or there is a slanted rubber cap at the end of the stick.

All in comparison

Hiking and trekking poles are particularly stable and therefore heavier than Nordic walking poles. Trail running poles are both light and strong . While Nordic walking poles are not exposed to such great loads when walking on level ground, hiking poles, like trail running poles, have to withstand high loads.

With this information, you should now know the most important purchase criteria for hiking poles or trail running poles . We really hope that we were able to help you with this article and that we were able to eliminate one or the other open question.

Finally, we would like to introduce you to our favorite hiking poles. We have divided these into categories:

Top 3 hiking poles

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