Trekking pole weight: Is lightweight always the best?

How to Find Out the Perfect Trekking Pole Weight

Trekking poles weigh between 9 oz to 20oz. Aluminum poles are usually double the weight of carbon poles but are more durable. Also, fixed-length designs are the lightest for their simplicity, and telescopic poles are generally the heaviest.

For a long time, I believed that trekking pole weight didn’t matter.

However, after many hiking adventures and trying out various poles, I’ve realized that the ideal weight heavily depends on the individual and specific trekking requirements.

In this post, I’ll discuss the factors that affect trekking pole weight and help you make an informed decision when searching for the perfect pole.

Why Do Hikers Prefer Lightweight Trekking Poles?

Lightweight trekking poles help you move faster as you can swing your wrists and arms more freely. Also, in your backpack, you carry less weight.

There’s no denying that lightweight gear offers tremendous benefits while hiking. Especially if you’re on a multi-day backpacking trip. With less weight, you can move faster and preserve your energy for more adventurous exploration.

You’d naturally apply the same logic for trekking poles when you want to cut down every last ounce of your trip. And it’s not wrong. For shorter hikes, you won’t feel the difference much. But when you walk long distances, it’s noticeable.

You can’t move your wrist as much as you want with a heavier pole. lifting it up and down constantly would make it an additional burden.

This is why hikers prefer an ultralight trekking pole. They allow greater freedom of movement and minimize the strain on your arms and wrists. Plus, they’re easier to carry in your backpack, adding minimal weight to your load.

Heavier Trekking Poles Are Sometimes a Good Choice

For trekking poles, heavier means durable. Also, heavier poles cost less.

Although lightweight poles are generally preferable, heavier poles might be the better option in some cases.

Heavier poles tend to be more sturdier. You may feel more comfortable, and it helps you withstand weight easily.

Another benefit is their price. For most travel gear, the word lighter translates to expensive. For hiking poles, lighter poles are typically expensive. But there are some ultralight ultracheap options you may see in the market. You should avoid them as much as possible. More on this later.

Heavier poles often cost less than their lighter counterparts, and that’s great if you’re a casual hiker or mostly go on day hikes.

Heavier poles are typically more durable. Lighter ones may easily break, but heavier poles withstand more weight. A special case is when you put pressure on the poles sideways. For instance, heavier ones may not break easily if you accidentally sit on your poles. With lighter ones, you have little luck.

Aluminum Poles vs. Carbon Trekking Poles

Aluminum poles are usually double the weight of carbon poles but are more durable.

The material used in trekking poles plays a significant role in their weight. Aluminum and Carbon fiber are the most common shaft materials used in trekking poles. Both have amazing properties.

Good-quality Aluminum poles tend to be heavier. They are usually made with 7075 alloys. These poles usually weigh around 18 – 20 oz. Even though they are costlier, most hikers prefer them for their durability and affordability. Aluminum poles are around $30-$60 cheaper than carbon poles.

Also, aluminum poles don’t break easily; they bend. So you can straighten it up and continue to use it.

On the other hand, carbon poles are lighter but may be more prone to damage. Yet, most high-end models have carbon options for their lightweight and natural shock absorption properties.

To learn more, check out our latest post that compares the two trekking pole materials.

The Importance of Design in Trekking Pole Weight

Fixed-length designs are the lightest for their simplicity, and telescopic poles are generally the heaviest. Foldable poles are more lightweight than telescopic poles.

Trekking poles are usually of telescopic, folding, or fixed length.

Fixed-length poles have been around for a very long time. They are simple poles with no length adjustments. Thanks to their simplicity, they are extremely lightweight. Yet, fixed-length poles are losing popularity as it’s extremely difficult to pack or adjust them for different slopes.

Foldable poles are usually three separate segments you can join together. They can be folded to a compact length. Often slightly shorter than telescopic poles too. Thus they are usually lighter.

Telescopic options tend to be heavier. You can pull each segment of the pole from its top segment. Because of overlaps between the segments, they are the heaviest design.

Premium Features That May Increase Trekking Pole Weight

Shock absorption poles and poles with added features like a camera mount or pole tent are typically heavier.

The primary role of the trekking pole is to give you balance and transfer some weight to your hands. All trekking poles do this. But we innovate and add more features to trekking poles.

One of the most common features you’d see in trekking poles is shock absorbability. Generally speaking, all trekking poles have some sort of shock resistance naturally. Yet, some poles have a special feature to absorb shock further. This extra feature makes poles slightly heavier.

There are also trekking poles coming with camera mounts. These may come in handy if you make lots of videos. You don’t have to carry a separate selfie stick to do just that. You can use the pole as a monopod.

But I’d suggest a better option is a separate mount gadget. You can buy this little thing just for $9.99 on Amazon. You can remove them and keep them in your backpack when you’re walking. And they only weigh 2 oz.

Beyond these, tent poles are another popular feature you could see.

The Best Ultralight Trekking Pole: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z

At only 9.2 oz (140 grams), this folding carbon fiber pole is one of the lightest on the market.

The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z stands out for its incredibly lightweight and compact folding design. These poles are a top choice for experienced hikers prioritizing minimal weight.

There’s also a Black Diamond Distance Z pole made of an aluminum shaft. As you might expect, it’s double the weight of its carbon counterpart. Yet the Carbon one costs about $60 more.

A Heavier Trekking Pole Worth Carrying: LEKI Legacy Lite AS

Weighing in at 1.3 lb, this aluminum telescopic pole offers superior durability.

The LEKI Legacy Lite AS is a fantastic option for those who prioritize durability and budget overweight. Although heavier than most poles, its sturdy aluminum construction and telescopic design provide reliability in harsh conditions.

The AS is an anti-shock version. You can also get LEKI Legacy Light, which doesn’t have the anti-shock property. The non-anti-shock version weighs 1.1 lbs, whereas the AS version is 1.3 lbs.

Avoid Ultracheap Ultralight Trekking Poles

The extra-light Aluminum poles in the market are made with either low-quality (6-series) alloy or thinner. They are super cheap but unreliable compared to poles made with 7075 alloys.

Ultralight aluminum poles are unreliable. So do ultracheap carbon fiber poles. Such poles are only suitable for walking sticks on an even terrain.

If budget is your concern, we suggest the Moment Ultra strong trekking pole. These poles cost $74.95. But they are far more durable compared to the cheap products you can buy for $20-$50.

Conclusion

It’s not always just about the weight, is it? Trekking poles are more than just sticks to lean on when the trail gets tough. They’re your trusty companions, balance keepers, and momentum makers. They’re all about the material, design, and features – everything that makes your hike not just doable but enjoyable.

In the end, the best trekking pole for you is the one that feels right in your hands and suits your hiking style. Maybe you’re a speed demon who needs a super lightweight, carbon-made pole. Or perhaps you’re a rugged, hardcore hiker who needs more durability.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to trekking poles. Be smart, be discerning, and don’t let a few extra ounces stop you from your next great adventure. After all, isn’t it all about the journey, not the destination?

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