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).