When you buy a pair of trekking poles you have a few different options available to you, one of the most important being the material that the trekking poles are made out of. Your two main choices in this regard and carbon fiber and aluminum. The main advantage of carbon fiber trekking poles is that they weigh less than aluminum. Carbon fiber trekking poles also tend to cost more, however, and carbon fiber also has a tendency to break easier than aluminum in certain conditions, such as when the temperature dips down.
Carbon Fiber Trekking PolesWhat to try and find on a new set of carbon fiber trekking poles.
- Fixed or Adjustable – Most trekking poles are adjustable, so that you can find the ideal length for you. There are a few, however, that come in a fixed length. The advantage of a fixed length carbon fiber trekking pole is that they tend to weigh the least of any trekking pole out there, making them an excellent option for lightweight backpackers.
- Shock Absorbing – One option fairly common to find on trekking poles is shock absorption. Banging trekking poles against the hard ground all day can lead to a jarred feeling in the hands and arms. Shock absorption helps to negate this by absorbing some of the impact.
Best Carbon Fiber Trekking PolesA selection of the best carbon fiber trekking poles, based on the criteria above.
- Black Diamond Contour Elliptical Carbon - As the name suggests these are an elliptical shape, rather than round, which helps to add strength. They're also an adjustable length, with three sections and the sections locks are quick and easy to use. They also have grip extending down below the handle, for steep descents. About the only area where these fall short is in the weight department. At 1 pound 3 ounces, or 536 grams, they're an especially heavy pair of carbon fiber trekking poles.
- Leki Carbonlite Aergon XL Antishock - Another pair of carbon fiber trekking poles, this time from Leki. Besides three sections and easy to use locks for an adjustable length, these also have anti-shock built in, to absorb some of the impact of thousands of strikes on the ground over the course of a hike. The pair weighs 13.2 ounces, or 376 grams, which is middle of the road as far as carbon trekking pole weights go.
- Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Pole - At the lightweight end of the spectrum are the Ultra Distance Z-Poles. They won the 2011 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice award, and really are a fantastic pair of trekking poles. They're fixed length, so you need to order the right size, as you're stuck with that particular length. The payoff of being fixed length is that they weigh quite a bit less, at just 9.5 ounces, or 270 grams. They also fold down, much like tent poles do, so you don't have to worry about trying to pack around fixed length trekking poles.