Trekking Pole Guide
From the avid day hiker to the ultralight backpacker, the benefits of trekking poles are abound. However you choose to enjoy the trail, bring along a pair of poles the next time you head out to:
-Enhance your balance, stability and traction across all kinds of terrain
-Utilize your upper body to propel yourself along the way with more efficiency
-Absorb some of the impact of the trail to relieve stress on your joints and to keep your legs and feet from tiring
That means more support and comfort while on the move, and additional stability through tough sections such as loose gravel, sharp ascents and steep descents.
While all providing the benefits listed above, each series in our lineup emphasizes different traits through a chosen combination of materials and features. Read below to discover more about these materials and features while finding the pole that will perfectly fit the demands of your activities or hiking style.
Materials and features in Montbell trekking poles
Will influence packed size and overall weight.
This means the pole shafts will collapse into one another, somewhat like a telescope. Telescoping poles allow for optimized length adjustment, are durable, and enable quick and easy length adjustment for a wide range of terrain. The trade-off is that they will not be as packable as folding models.
Will be much more compact than telescoping models, allowing the user to free up more pack space. Also, our ultralight models are perfect for those who are traveling light and looking to cut grams as much as possible. The drawback of folding type poles is that they will be less durable compared to their telescoping counterparts.
Making up the biggest portion of the pole, the shaft material will affect overall weight and durability.
Does an excellent job of balancing weight, durability and price. Although not as lightweight as carbon, aluminum does deliver high-quality performance at a cost-effective price.
Aluminum / Carbon Composite:
We combine these materials together to bring out the strengths of each. Carbon is lightweight, but will snap if enough force is applied. On the other hand, aluminum is comparatively heavier, but will most often bend before it snaps. Out on a hike, a bent pole will still offer some support to get you back to the trailhead, but a snapped pole will be completely useless. When these materials are combined, the result is a pole with the impressive light weight of carbon with the excellent durability of aluminum.
This is what secures the pole shafts in place. The lock system will determine ease of use, on-the-go adjustability, as well as slightly altering the weight.
Twist Lock System:
Adjust the pole to any desired length simply by twisting the inner lower shaft counterclockwise to loosen, and clockwise to tighten. The lock itself is small, compact and lighter in weight compared to cam locks, although it is comparatively harder to secure while wearing gloves.
Cam Lock System:
Enables quick adjustment to any desired length simply by flicking the lock open and pushing it closed. This system is incredibly easy to operate...even with gloves on! The system is slightly bigger and heavier than the twist lock system, but the ease of adjustability is convenient, especially on trails with lots of up and down.
*Alpine Pole Lock System:
The lower shaft on our Alpine Series poles features a lock button which secures the lower shaft to a set length in one simple motion. This allows the pole to set up and stow away incredibly quickly.
*Folding Pole Lock System:
An inner tension cord is combined with a lock button on the upper shaft. Extend the upper shaft downwards to secure all the shafts in place. The Alpine Folding Pole Series features a cam lock, allowing for a degree of length adjustment, while The U.L. Folding Poles are not height adjustable.
The choice of material will largely depend on if you'll be heading out on hot, sweaty days or in freezing temperatures.
Foam (EVA) Grips:
Foam grips are lightweight, soft to the touch and comfortable. One downside is that they are moisture absorbent and may freeze if you're hiking through wet snow in below freezing temperatures.
Rubber (Elastomer) Grips:
Providing water resistance, rubber grips are great for use in cold temperatures where a wet grip could potentially freeze. However, they are heavier than foam grips and may chafe your hands in hot and sweaty weather.
Small Hand Models
As it sounds, the grips on these models are slightly smaller in length and diameter, and the pole length itself is also shorter. Products with an "S" at the end of the name will be small hand models. Refer to the product page for exact usable/collapsible length measurements.
So, which pole is right for you?
That depends on your activity and what kind of traits you need from a trekking pole. The best pole will be different for a backpacker wanting feature-rich performance, an avid hiker looking to travel lighter, and a trail runner needing ultralight performance. We’ve created this guide to help you choose the perfect pole for your pursuits.
ALPINE SERIES: PERFORMANCE
Are you looking for a superb balance of performance, weight and durability to get you through all types of terrain? The Alpine Series allows optimized length adjustment and comes with a wide variety of features, letting you choose the pole that is perfectly matched to your needs. The Alpine Pole is lightest in weight with its Twist Lock System, while the Cam Lock Dry Grip emphasizes easy deployment and utilizes a rubber grip that is ready for wet conditions in freezing temperatures. The Alpine Series also features a lock button which secures the bottom shaft to a set length in one simple motion, resulting in a lineup of poles that set up and stow away incredibly smoothly and quickly.
ALPINE CARBON SERIES: LIGHTWEIGHT
Made with a carbon/aluminum composite material, Alpine Carbon Series poles allow for easy and optimized length adjustment while achieving an incredibly light weight and maintaining good strength. The Alpine Carbon Pole achieves the lightest weight in the series with its twist lock system, while the Cam Lock model offers easier setup and adjustment even when you're wearing gloves.
ALPINE FOLDING SERIES: COMPACT
If pack space is at a premium, then the Alpine Folding Pole is a great option with its compact folded size. This model features a cam lock on the top shaft to allow for optimized length adjustment to match your height. Keep the pole folded up and stored in a pack pocket, then quickly and easily deploy it for support and stability when needed.
U.L. FOLDING SERIES: ULTRALIGHTWEIGHT, HIGHLY COMPACT
The U.L. Folding Series is for people prioritizing weight over everything else. These ultralight and highly packable poles are designed to provide an extra bit of balance for those traveling with minimal pack weight such as trail runners, fastpackers and ultralight backpackers. A longer grip allows you to change up your grip depending on the terrain, but remember, these models are fixed length. So, be sure to check that the length will fit you. As with most ultralight gear, these are not invincible and will break if not handled carefully. If you’re traveling with a large and heavy pack, or you can’t sacrifice durability for weight, we recommend a more robust pole from our lineup.
*A note when buying
Poles are sold individually. If buying a pair, select 2 in the quantity drop-down. This allows you to buy a single pole if that’s all you need, or if a replacement is needed in case of a mishap.
All Montbell poles feature a tungsten carbide pole tip which provides excellent durability and a great grip on dirt, rocks and even ice. Why the Point Protector? It not only protects the tip of your pole, but also other gear and clothes when poles are stored inside your pack. Perhaps most importantly of all, it reduces damage and impact to trails and vegetation. Montbell point protectors feature a groove on the interior, delivering a secure connection to the pole tip so that it doesn't come loose while hiking. Rubber point protectors are highly durable but do wear down over time, so be sure to purchase a replacement when the time comes.
Trekking pole baskets
The Trekking Basket keeps your pole from slipping into muddy terrain or cracks in rocks. The Snow Basket features a larger diameter than the Trekking Basket and a semi-circular shape, promoting stability while hiking in snowy conditions and allowing it to easily pack away without interfering with the pole shafts. Both models are designed to easily attach and detach, while securely fitting to the pole so that they don't come off during use.
Keeps your poles together when storing.
Never used trekking poles before? Here are some tips!
How to grip
Simply place your hand through the underside of the strap, then wrap your hand around the grip while holding the base of the strap. This allows you to place weight onto the pole through the strap without needing a tight grip.
Optimizing length adjustment
Adjust the pole to a length where your elbow rests at about a 90°angle while gripping it. *For a pole with a T-shaped grip, it should be come to about half of your height.
Shorten the pole length so you can easily place it in front of you, then use it to push your body up the trail. Be careful not to place it too far in front of you, as it will place too much load on your arms.
When descending, lengthen the pole appropriately to cover the extra distance from your hand to the ground. When on the move, place the pole first, then step. Be careful not to place the pole too far in front of you. This will place a greater load on your arms, and will make it easier to lose your balance.
To match the terrain, shorten the pole on the uphill side, and lengthen the pole on the downhill side.
How to hike with trekking poles
It may feel awkward hiking with trekking poles at first, but that’s ok. You’ll be using them easily and naturally in no time. When you take you first step, the pole opposite that foot should land on the ground. It will be left foot and right pole, then right foot and left pole, over and over until you’re back to the car.
If you’re at a particularly steep section of trail, or you need to get up a small ledge, plant both poles in front of yourself to help hoist your body upwards.
*Remember, trekking poles are there to provide some support, balance and some forward energy from your arms. However, they’re not designed to bear your entire weight, be used as a climbing fulcrum or in place of an ice axe when glissading. Doing so may result in breaking or damaging your poles.
Want to get longer-lasting use? Follow these pointers!
Cleaning and Maintenance
Coming home from a long weekend adventure, it might be tempting to shove your poles in the closet, turn on the TV and relax. However, a little care will help you get longer-lasting use. Remember to disassemble, dry and store!
Step 1: Disassemble
After use, disassemble your poles and wipe away any dirt or moisture. If you have Anti Shock model, be sure to gently wipe away anything in the gaps of the Anti Shock spring. For a twist lock model, make sure you remove the stopper and wipe away any moisture or dirt.
Step 2: Dry
Pesky moisture tends to stick around in the shafts and twist lock stoppers. So, be sure to thoroughly dry the product in a well-ventilated, cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
Step 3: Store
Reattach small parts (twist lock stoppers, etc.) to the shafts so you don’t misplace them. To prevent deformation of small parts and condensation inside the shaft, store the shafts separately, not assembled as the entire pole. Be sure to store in a well-ventilated, cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
Preventing Broken Poles
Pole models with adjustable shafts have a "STOP" mark printed clearly on the top end of the shaft. Using a trekking pole while secured above this marker will result in too much stress on your pole and may quickly lead to damage. Always use your poles with all shafts secured below the "STOP" marker.