Updated: December 2017

Walking Stick/Trekking Pole Reviews:

Hiking in the outdoors is great exercise and lets you see nature at its best. In our younger days, most of us would never have considered walking with the aid of a walking stick or trekking poles. As our bodies age, the knees begin to fail and our balance just isn't what it used to be so buying a hiking pole/stick makes sense. I remember picking up large sticks that I used as hiking staffs when I was younger, but I played with them more than I actually used them to help me get up and down hills. Today, the choices are vast as more and more companies have moved into the hiking and trekking pole market. Trekking poles are more high tech and come in pairs, while a hiking stick or walking stick is often made of wood and is a single staff/stick/pole. Which hiking stick is best for you? Keep reading to find out about features, pricing, and read reviews on the "best" selections. You can also jump to the list of best-selling walking sticks here.

I like to think of trekking poles as equipment that hard core hikers use. Trekking poles resemble ski poles and they come in pairs. Leki makes the best ones on the market and they are height adjustable and durable. A good walking stick is a useful accessory item for the average hiker who may need a little help in crossing creeks, streams, or rivers, traversing hillsides, or just keeping your balance in tight spots of the trail. Hiking sticks can assist you if you come upon down trees or if you need to go over large boulders. They are excellent at breaking falls and even preventing them from happening in the first place. Many people find that owning trekking poles or a walking stick greatly reduces the stress on their knees, legs, and feet. Having the extra power and balance for going uphills is a great benefit while they come in handy going downhill as well taking strain off your knees and eliminating the shock you feel. We've also heard many women carry walking sticks or poles as a potential weapon for fighting off attackers when they are hiking in the woods. No matter which type of hiking stick you go with, you will want something that is lightweight, durable, easy to grip (soft), adjusts to your height (telescopic), and isn't too expensive.

We found that hikers on trails that go up and downhill more often liked having trekking poles for constant 2 pole support while walkers on flatter trails preferred having a single hiking staff for their support. I like a single walking stick for my leisurely hikes and the one use that has not been mentioned is for testing the depth of small streams or for seeing which rocks may give me "sure" footing as I cross them. The top brands are Leki, Gossamer, REI, Black Diamond, Life-Link, and MSR. We found some excellent articles and reviews online at Backpackgeartest.org, Backpackinglight.com, and in online forums for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Although everyone has their unique preferences, we tried to classify the best trekking poles in various categories (see below).

Best Walking Stick:

Tracks offers walking and hiking staffs and the Tracks Sherlock Staff ($70) is a deluxe walking stick. This rugged hiking stick has a foam grip, weighs in at 16.5 oz, and the stick unscrews into 2 sections you can easily travel with it in carryon luggage or your backpack. The camera mount under the top knob is a nice features and there is a hidden spike tip under the removable rubber foot. The height is adjustable from 42 1/2" to almost 58". The sure locking button system lets you adjust the length every 3 centimeters for the perfect fit. We found this walking stick recommended by many hikers and walkers who didn't want to splurge on the more expensive Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles. For the casual weekend hiker or once a year backpacker, the Tracks hiking staff gets the job done.

Best Trekking Poles:

The Leki Ultralite Ergo Antishock SLS Trekking Poles ($150) are the industry standard by which all others try to match. Leki has a renowned name amongst hard core hikers and backpackers and they stand by their products with a lifetime warranty. The anti-shock springs, ergonomic grips, and convenient adjustment system make these trekking poles the perfect gift for any avid hiker. The 10 degree angle with the new grips keep your wrist in a "neutral position" for the ultimate in efficient arm swings. The aluminum alloy shaft has a 3 section telescoping system that goes from 27 1/4" to 53 1/2 inches. The carbide tips on the Leki trekking poles perform wonders on rock or ice. Backpackers say the Leki poles store easily when backpacking and the foam grips keep your hands comfortable all day. We had heard great things on the Black Diamond trekking poles, but after reading too many reviews about poor durability with some models, we decided not to list them in our "best of" choices.

Budget Hiking Staff:

The REI City and Trail Walker Shocklight Walking Staff ($52) is an excellent entry level walking stick that works great both on pavement and out in nature. The lightweight, adaptable design has an anti-shock feature (easily turn it on or off) and the versatility to switch from a hard-surface rubber walking tip to an all-terrain carbide tip for wildnerness trails. The cane grips are ergonomic and offer a slip-resistance feel. The aluminum shafts telescope from 28 inches to 40 inches and lock into position. They weigh only 9 ounces but are very durable. Reviewers say the REI hiking staff will help save your knees when going downhill and give you the added support and balance when heading uphill. The REI Four Winds Travel Staff ($68) is another excellent choice, especially for those that travel. It can collapse down to 21 inches which will easily fit in the standard 22 inch luggage products. The Titanal alloy poles are extremely light but have the strength of steel. The hidden treasure on this staff is the camera mount that hides underneath the knob on the grip so that outdoor photographers can always get a steady shot. Again, all the best-selling walking sticks can be found here.