Most trekking poles telescope down, so that the bottom, smaller segments go up in to the interior of the larger sections. But there are also trekking poles out there that fold up, like tent poles. Folding trekking poles have a few distinct advantages, one of them being that you tend to end up with a smaller, more compact package when you use folding trekking poles, as opposed to telescoping trekking poles. Of course you cant, generally, adjust the length of folding trekking poles.
Folding Trekking PolesWhat to look for when buying folding trekking poles.
- Adjustable – Most folding trekking poles are not adjustable, and are a fixed length. Generally, if you want adjustable trekking poles you need to get telescoping trekking poles. There are, however, a few folding trekking poles that are somewhat adjustable, and an ideal choice if you cant decide on a specific length.
- Weight – Part of the purpose of trekking poles is to take some of the pressure off of your knees, but heavy trekking poles tend to put a lot of strain on the arms and shoulders. So unless you want to trade tired knees for tired shoulders, it’s a good idea to try and find a lightweight pair of trekking poles.
Best Folding Trekking PolesYou don't have too many choices, but these are the best folding trekking poles.
- Black Diamond Distance Z-Poles - These are the basic Distance Z-Poles from Black Diamond. They're three sections of aluminum that fold down just like a tent pole when you're not using them. They actually assemble just like a avalanche probe, which means that you can have them fully assembled in just a few seconds. The pair weighs a total of 12.3 ounces, or 350 grams, and they come in several different lengths.
- Black Diamond Distance FL Poles (Women's) - The Distance FL poles are very similar to the Z-Poles above, the difference being that the top of the three sections has an adjustable length, so that you can actually vary the length by up to 20 centimeters, making them a much more versatile option. They come in several different sizes, and are aluminum, but because they have the adjustable length they weigh a little more than the fixed length Z-poles, at 15 ounces, or 425 grams for the mediums.
- Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles - The Ultra Distance Z-Poles are the lightweight version of the Z-Poles series, and won the 2011 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice award. They're fixed length, like the Z-Poles above, and fold down in to three sections. The difference is that they're made from carbon fiber, rather than aluminum, which raises the price, but also significantly lowers the weight. At just 9.5 ounces, or 269 grams for the medium size they're some of the lightest trekking poles, folding or otherwise, that you'll find anywhere.