Hiking & Trail Running Pole Buying Guide

Why use Hiking/Running Poles?

Poles are important for stability and support on the trails and can ease pressure on the body, reducing risk of injury. Hiking or running with poles can take the pressure of your spine, knees, hips and ankles so you can walk for longer.  They give you four points of connection to the ground for added stability and balance on uneven terrain. Perfect for bad knees, hips and ankle injuries, hiking poles will activate your core to take pressure of the legs.


Things to consider when buying hiking/running poles:



What will you be using the poles for? Hiking and walking poles have different features and purpose to trail running poles and vise verser. Trail running poles tend to be more lightweight, quick and easy to adjust and easy store away. Whereas hiking and trekking poles offer more support and stability with stronger, more robust shafts. 

Shaft Material

Two materials are predominantly used: aluminium or carbon. 

  Pros Cons
  • High-strength shafts for superior stability
  • High elasticity under stress
  • Less impact senstive than Carbon
  • More econmical
  • Slightly heavier than Carbon
  • Less compact
  • Maximum stiffness with minimum weight
  • Very lightweight
  • Higher stiffness than Aluminium for the same shaft diameter
  • Optimum swing action with highly dynamic movements
  • More expensive
  • More vulnerable to bending and possible breakage under stress


Pole Construction

Walking poles can be telescopic or folding. Telescopic poles are a popular choice for backpackers and hikers as they can be easily attached to the outside of your backpack and are more robust than folding poles. Folding poles are great for their compact size and low weight. 

  • Telescopic Poles

Telescopic poles are made up of different shaft segments that slide into each other. The length of the poles cna be smoothly adjusted by pulling out the middles and lower shafts. Telescopic poles offer variable lengths, fast and easy adjustments and are a robust option for hiking and walking. 

  • Folding Poles

Folding poles are trekking poles with a very small pack size. The pole shaft segments are connnected internally with a tension cable. After use you can release the lock and easily fold the poles and stow them in your backpack. Folding poles are available with fixed and variable lengths. 


Locking Systems

All hiking and trail running poles have locking mechanisms to keep the poles from slipping in length while in use. For non-adjustable poles, the mechanisms lock and unlock so you can extend them to full length for use and collapse them for stowing. Adjustable poles operate in a similar way, but the locking mechanisms also let you adjust the length of the two or three interlocking sections. Leki offer three different locking styles:

Core Locking Device (CLD)
  • Intuative pull-out mechanism
  • Slim, weight-saving construction
  • System inside the pole protected from external influences
External Locking Device (ELD)
  • Easy to handle
  • Special construction for even more stability and safety
Push Button (PB)
  • Quick and easy 
  • Proven system for outdoor equipment



It is important to consider the grip shape, size and material. Ther ergonomic shape referes to the direct connection between the hiker and pole. It must lie comfortably in the hand without causing chafe and pressure marks. Your hand should fit naturally around the grip without causing strain. 

Grip Shapes:

  • Large ergonomic support area at the grip head including soft pad
  • Edgeless outer shape enables variable gripping options
  • Shell cavity technology for lightness
  • PA system integrated
Round Top Comfort
  • Round ergonomic support area on grip head
  • Edgeless outer shape
  • Strap with adjustable function
  • Rounded supporting surface
  • Same geometry as Aergon
  • Strap with adjustable function
PAS Griff
  • Entry-level price
  • Strap with adjustable function


Grip Material:

  • Cork: Resists moisture from sweaty hands, decreases vibration and comforms well to hands. Best for hiking in hotter climates where perspiration is a factor.
  • Foam: Absorbs moisture and softest to touch. 
  • Rubber: Insulates hands from the cold, shock and vibration. Best for hiking in cooler climates. More likely to casue chafing or blisters with sweaty heand so less suitable for warm wather hiking.