Trekking poles, also known as hiking poles or walking sticks, are a valuable tool for hikers and trekkers, providing support, stability, and balance whilst wandering the trails.
In this article, we will look into the difference between cheap and expensive hiking poles. Helping you to decide which is the best option for you.
The Difference Between Cheap And Expensive Trekking Poles
Having used both cheap and expensive poles over the years, we have found some differences that are worth worrying about and some that are not. Let´s look into these differences and find out why they matter.
Material and Build Quality
Cheap trekking poles are often made from less durable materials, such as low-quality, thin aluminum, or plastic. They may not be as strong or long-lasting as their expensive counterparts, which are usually constructed from high-quality materials like carbon fiber or advanced aluminum.
The build quality of expensive trekking poles tends to be superior, making them more reliable and resistant to wear and tear.
Along with the quality of the body of the pole, manufacturers who make cheap poles will also try to save money on the fastenings, handles, and fabrics. All over a more expensive pole will have a more premium feel and stable feel.
Why Does It Matter?
Quality construction matters when you are carrying/ holding onto your poles on long hikes. Your hands could be in contact with them for hours or even days depending on the adventure. Cheap materials will wear quickly and be more likely to break, which is not ideal when miles from an outdoor store.
Expensive trekking poles often incorporate lighter materials, like carbon fiber, which reduces overall weight.
Lighter trekking poles can be advantageous during long hikes or when trying to minimize the weight of your backpack. Cheaper options may be bulkier and heavier, which can become cumbersome during extended use.
Why Does It Matter?
100 grams doesn’t seem like much. But when you are lifting it over and over again over a day, this extra weight can soon add up and increase fatigue.
Features and Adjustability
Expensive trekking poles typically offer more advanced features and better adjustability.
They may include ergonomic grips, anti-shock systems, and easy-to-use locking mechanisms for adjusting the pole’s length.
Cheap trekking poles might have basic features or lack adjustable mechanisms, making them less adaptable to different terrains and personal preferences.
Why Does It Matter?
Having more features and adaptability mean that you can have 1 pair of trekking poles for lots of different adventures such as snowshoeing, ski touring, hiking, or trail running. Some poles even have pen knives or camping tools built in making them helpful.
Expensive trekking poles often feature collapsible designs that allow them to be easily packed into a backpack when not in use.
This convenience is particularly beneficial for travel or when you need to store them temporarily during specific sections of your hike.
Cheaper poles might not collapse as compactly, making transportation and storage more challenging.
Why Does It Matter?
When Hiking, it’s better to have everything inside your bag to ensure that nothing gets lost by falling off. Cheap poles often don’t pack up very small meaning that you can not put them in your bag or will stick out the top.
Warranty and Customer Support
Expensive trekking poles are generally backed by better warranties and customer support, offering peace of mind in case of manufacturing defects or damage during regular use. Cheaper options might not provide the same level of after-sales service.
Who Should Buy Expensive Trekking Poles?
If you fit into one of the types of hikers below, we would recommend spending a bit more on your trekking poles.
Experienced Hikers and Trekkers
If you are an experienced hiker or trekker and frequently engage in challenging terrains, long-distance hikes, or multi-day backpacking trips, investing in high-quality trekking poles is a wise decision. The advanced features, durability, and weight-saving benefits of expensive poles will enhance your performance and comfort on the trail.
If you enjoy hiking as a regular activity and plan to use trekking poles consistently, investing in a more expensive pair is a good idea.
The improved build quality and comfort will make a noticeable difference during your hikes, providing better support and reducing the risk of fatigue or injuries.
They will also last much longer than cheap poles, meaning that you will have a sturdy pair of poles that will last as long as you do.
Those with Joint or Mobility Issues
Expensive trekking poles often come with shock-absorbing features, which can be beneficial for individuals with joint problems or reduced mobility.
The shock absorption helps to minimize the impact on joints, making hiking more accessible and comfortable for people with these conditions.
More expensive poles will also be more sturdy. This means that you can confidently put your weight onto them and help ease the load during your hike. This is especially important for long descents.
Backpackers and Ultralight Hikers
For backpackers and ultralight hikers who prioritize reducing overall pack weight. Expensive trekking poles made of lightweight materials like carbon fiber can be advantageous.
Every ounce counts when carrying a heavy backpack, and lighter poles contribute to a more enjoyable and less strenuous hike.
Outdoor Enthusiasts with Specific Needs
If you have specific requirements, such as adjustable poles for varying terrains, ergonomic grips to reduce hand fatigue, or collapsible designs for easy storage during travel, investing in expensive trekking poles with specific features is worth the investment.
Because you have tons of cash! Spend a bit more on poles you cheapskate.
Who Should Buy Cheap Trekking Poles?
If you are one of the below, a cheap pair of hiking poles should be perfect for what you need them for.
If you’re on a tight budget or not willing to spend a lot on hiking gear, cheap poles can be a practical choice. They offer basic functionality at a more affordable price point, making them accessible to hikers who want to save money.
If you are budget conscious, we recommend pushing yourself up the price point a little or trying to buy good second-hand poles. This is to ensure quality and it’s cheaper to buy 1 set rather than 2 when your cheap pair break.
If you only hike occasionally or for shorter distances, investing in expensive trekking poles might not be necessary. Cheap trekking poles can serve your needs adequately during these less demanding hikes.
If you’re new to hiking or trying out trekking poles for the first time. Starting with cheaper options can be a good approach. It allows you to experience the benefits of using trekking poles without a significant financial commitment.
If you are venturing out on your first hiking adventures, we recommend borrowing from a friend or renting a pair of poles rather than buying a cheap pair.
As you start to fall in love with hiking (you will) then you can invest in a more expensive pair that will last a lifetime.
For individuals who enjoy casual walks on well-maintained trails or in urban parks, cheaper trekking poles can provide some extra stability and support without the need for advanced features.
If you anticipate using poles for only one specific hike or event and don’t plan on using them regularly in the future, buying cheap trekking poles can be a cost-effective solution.
Some outdoor stores and national park huts do rent trekking poles, consider this option to save money and be less wasteful.
Kids or Teenagers
If you’re purchasing trekking poles for children or teenagers, who may outgrow or lose interest in hiking equipment. Cheaper options may be more practical than investing in expensive poles.
Cheap vs Expensive Trekking Poles – The Conclusion
The selection of trekking poles, whether cheap or expensive has never been better, and as technology moves forward, even cheap poles have some pretty cool features.
By considering your personal preferences, budget, hiking frequency, and the nature of your outdoor excursions, you can make a decision that best suits your needs.
Here’s a summary of the key points to keep in mind:
- Expensive trekking poles are well-suited for experienced hikers, regular outdoor enthusiasts, backpackers, and those with joint or mobility issues. They offer superior build quality, lightweight materials, advanced features, and better adjustability, enhancing overall performance and comfort on the trail.
- Cheap trekking poles cater to budget-conscious hikers, beginners, occasional walkers, and individuals seeking a cost-effective solution for one-time use or children and teenagers.
- While cheap poles may lack some features and durability of their expensive counterparts, they can still provide the basic support and stability needed for less demanding hikes or casual outdoor activities.
- Whichever option you choose, having trekking poles as part of your hiking gear can significantly enhance your experience and contribute to a safer and more enjoyable adventure on the trail.
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