When I’m on the trail, many hikers, both beginners, and seniors see me hiking with my trekking poles. They frequently ask me ” I’m just starting out, what are the best budget hiking poles to buy.”.
Because this old geezer started hiking in the 1970s I have seen my fair share of hiking poles and know what to look for in budget hiking poles as well as expensive ones.
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What Are The Best Budget Hiking Poles
- Budget hiking poles generally cost between $25 and $75
- The best budget hiking poles are strong, lightweight, have tungsten-carbide tips, and comfortable hand grips.
- The best trekking poles are strong enough to handle transfers of body weight from all angles and keep you from slipping on hard rock surfaces.
It can be tricky to figure out the differences between hiking poles.
How do you know which poles are good and which ones are not? Don’t worry, this post will give you my number one recommendation and why I think it is the best value.
I’ll give you a hint: it has everything to do with the construction and materials used to make the trekking pole.
So, let’s explore the reasons I can highly recommend the Hiker Hunger 100% Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles for the beginner hiker and how their features will help keep you safe on your next hiking adventure.
Are Hiking Poles Worth It
The use of trekking poles has dramatically increased over the past 10 -15 years. Although the number of older backpackers keeps increasing, the use of hiking poles has seen the greatest increase in younger hikers.
Backpackers adjust the amount of weight carried on their hips and shoulders by adjusting the shoulder straps and hip belt. In a similar manner, they use hiking poles to transfer part of the load normally carried by their legs to their arms.
This makes uphill climbing easier, cross country trekking more enjoyable and downhill climbing safer and less punishing on the quads, hips, knees, and ankles.
Senior hikers do not have the balance they once had. The Geez used to be able to rock hop when hiking off-trail. But now, I rely exclusively on my hiking poles to keep from falling. Hiking poles compensate for the decline in balance. Because of my age, I can’t afford a major sprain or broken bone. It would limit my hiking too much!
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So why start hiking with budget hiking poles instead of expensive ones? Like anything else, there is a learning curve to using hiking poles.
What you think you may need today may not be what you need in the future.
For example, my first pair of trekking poles were expensive, top-of-the-line LEKI poles. I have since replaced them because they weigh too much. You don’t mind replacing budget hiking poles as much as replacing expensive ones.
What Makes A Good Low-Cost Trekking Pole
The method of construction, materials used, and both longitudinal and crush-twist strength all factor into pole quality.
But, not all low-cost hiking poles are made the same.
However, the best ones include all or most of the following features.
Therefore, I recommend the Hiker Hunger 100% Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles, which you can find here on Amazon. They are among the best of the less expensive budget hiking poles. In addition to their reasonable cost, the Hiker Hunger poles have 100% high-quality 3k and UD carbon fiber with tungsten-carbide tips.
How Much Do Budget Hiking Poles Weigh
Many factors affect the weight of hiking poles. The best budget hiking poles generally weigh between 7 – 11 ounces each.
The shaft of each pole can vary in weight because of material thickness, construction methods, and materials used. For example, hiking pole shafts made from aluminum typically weigh more than those made from carbon fiber.
In addition, the baskets and rubber tips included with cheaper hiking poles add one to two additional ounces of weight to each pole. I find that having the baskets helps in soft mud and snow so the tradeoff in weight is worth it.
What Determines The Quality
The quality of a trekking pole isn’t necessarily determined by weight. How a hiking pole is constructed is directly correlated to its quality.
Generally, the cheapest poles are made out of aluminum.
Manufacturers use cheaper grades of aluminum tubing to keep costs at a minimum. Although there is nothing wrong from a technical standpoint, hiking poles with aluminum shafts generally weigh more than carbon fiber poles.
Most importantly, it is the quality that is affected by the thickness of the aluminum used in the shaft as well as the type of aluminum. Higher quality budget hiking poles use 7075-T6 aircraft grade aluminum for the pole shafts.
Carbon fiber pole shafts are known for their incredible strength and lite weight. Many hiking poles now use carbon fiber tubes for the pole shafts to greatly reduce their weight.
Manufacturers use two different processes to produce carbon fiber shafts.
Pultruded carbon fiber tubes are made using a continuous process of manufacturing composite materials. This process creates tube sections with unidirectional alignment of the fibers. Finished shafts have excellent longitudinal strength but poor crush and twist strength.
As a result, budget hiking poles are generally cheaper because of this type of manufacturing process.
Roll-wrapped carbon fiber shafts are more expensive to make. Hiking pole shafts made this way have multidirectional fiber alignment. This makes for excellent uniform strength in all directions. Above all, twist strength and crush strength are much better as a result.
Most importantly, the best budget hiking poles with a 3k designation are made this way.
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Do Budget Hiking Pole Tips Wear Out
Budget hiking poles sold at places like Wallmart are often inferior quality. Hiking pole specifications are lacking or misleading in many instances. Customer reviews are often not reliable.
This is why it is important to be able to return hiking poles after field-testing them yourself.
The type of metal used for the pole tips is critical. Steel tips wear out quickly. Take it from the Geez, you want tungsten-carbide tips on your poles. After all, tungsten-carbide is the same metal used for studded snow tires. So, it is noted for its hardness and wearability.
The older you get the more you rely on hiking poles to maintain your balance on steep and rugged terrain. Certainly, the last thing in the world you want is to have your hiking pole slip off a granite boulder when you’re relying on that pole for balance.
As a rule of thumb, a tungsten-carbide pole tip should last a minimum of a couple of years without wearing out.
Most importantly, budget hiking poles seldom have replaceable tips so you must be sure that product specifications are accurate when they describe the type of metal used for the tip.
Generally, the accessories that come with your trekking poles are baskets and rubber tips. When hiking on hard surfaces, such as asphalt, you will use the rubber tips over the metal tips for protection. However, I prefer to not use them because they add additional weight to my poles.
Does a Cheaper Trekking Pole Break Easier?
Most pole breakage is directly correlated to the stress placed on the hiking pole shafts.
All hiking poles are subject to breakage if stressed beyond their limits.
If you catch the pole tip between rocks and you do not stop to remove your pole from the rocks, your forward momentum will place too much stress on the shaft. Therefore it will break. Also, falling on your pole may break it.
The cost has little to do with how easy it will break. The type and thickness of aluminum used or the manufacturing process of carbon fiber pole shafts have more to do with it.
Do Budget Hiking Poles Work As Well As More Expensive Poles?
Hiking poles serve three main functions.
First, they assist in hiking uphill. For instance, you are able to use your arms to help pull and push against the pole, thus relieving some of the work required of your legs.
Secondly, by using your poles when descending down the trail you are able to control your forward momentum. Your legs and knees don’t have to do all the work of breaking your forward speed.
Lastly, they help you maintain your balance. All hiking poles can accomplish these functions. Differences lie in comfort, not functionality.
Some hand grips are more comfortable. Lighter weight poles cause less arm fatigue. Higher quality pole tips do not wear out as quickly and provide a more secure feeling.
The Hiker Hunger 100% Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are the poles I recommend for a cost-effective budget hiking pole. They have all the qualities I want in a low-cost pole.
- 3K carbon fiber shaft
- tungsten carbide tips
- quick-locking mechanism
- cork grips that wick away sweat
- non-slip EVA foam grip extension under the cork grips
- the weight is decent at 7.6 oz each
- adjustable height range
- adjustable straps
- accessory kit includes mud & snow baskets, tips, and rubber feet
- a bonus is the carrying case for storage
Go check out this set of the best budget hiking poles sold on Amazon. This trekking pole set comes with everything you will need to get started on your next hiking adventure.