by Ted Karr
We have researched, reviewed, tested and talked to hard core hunters to find the Top Shelf trekking poles for backcountry hunting!
BEST TREKKING POLES FOR HUNTING
Last season I shot an elk a couple miles from camp. I was hunting with my dad and a friend and didn’t realize I had inadvertently hit the mute button on my GPS. I radioed out to let them know I had shot a bull. But, nobody responded. Of course, they could not hear me. After I dressed out the elk, I loaded as much meat as possible onto my pack and set out toward camp. After about a mile into my heavy hike I decided trekking poles were a must. So, in anticipation of this next elk season, I set out to find the best trekking poles for backcountry hunting.
My goal was to find a set of Top Shelf trekking poles. There are probably 20-30 different trekking pole manufacturers out there, but there are a few that clearly rise to the top. This review highlights three different trekking pole brands that you can count on for a backcountry hunt. There are a number of reasons a person might want to use trekking poles when hunting:
- Stability when hiking on rough terrain, especially when packing out meat
- Safety and stability – when crossing a creek
- Control when on a downhill slope or when walking sidehill
- Low impact – protect your knees, ankles and back
This trekking pole review post provides what you need to know about the top trekking poles we selected. When we set out to review trekking poles, we decided to focus on the following factors:
- Material (strength)
- Ease of use
- Lock mechanism
In the backcountry, every ounce counts. So, weight was a key factor in this review. Strength and reliability were also key factors. But, just as important was the function of expanding and retracting the poles. The locking mechanisms need to be simple, strong and effective. No slipping of the adjustment mechanism once engaged in the elongated position is critical. Grip material and comfort are also quite important. Price was also a factor, but you can get any of the poles we highlighted in this review for under $200.
Trekking poles come in different sizes and can be further adjusted to best fit your needs. Depending on how and why you are using the poles, you may decide upon a different adjustment. However, with that said, it is best to purchase trekking poles in the size that best fits your stature. That should result in less need for drastic adjustment.
This review focuses on the best trekking poles on the market today for backcountry hunting and like we always do at Eagle Cap Outdoors, we identify the Top Shelf trekking poles to save you time and hassle doing similar research. So, you could purchase any of the three poles we list in this review and you will be happy. But, if you purchase the Top Shelf poles, you will not have buyer’s remorse.
S&S Archery CL Backcountry Trekking Poles: Our Top Shelf Pick
Why you should select the S&S Archery CL Backcountry Trekking Poles: These poles are made of carbon and are extremely lightweight at only 12.6 ounces for the pair and they were designed specifically for the backcountry hunter who uses trekking poles for rugged cross-country “off-trail” terrain. The S&S team has been backcountry hunting for years and they built trekking poles that show it. If you purchase these poles, you will want to kill a monster bull to be able to put them to the test.
Who needs this set of poles: The hunter who wants a very lightweight and compactable set of trekking poles that operate easily and will withstand heavy loads with ease.
Cost: $144.95 MSRP
Why we picked the S&S Archery CL Backcountry Trekking Poles:
The S&S Archery CL Backcountry Trekking Poles are getting Top Shelf reviews by those who have put them to the test, they are ultra-light and they are $20-$50 less than the Black Diamond and Leki poles. Before the CL Backcountry trekking poles were introduced, the S&S Archery crew used top of the market poles for several years in the backcountry and found themselves wanting an even better product since they were breaking the other high-end carbon poles when in tough conditions. That is the epitome of what Eagle Cap Outdoors strives to portray to the hunting community. When someone introduces a better product, we want you to know about it. The CL Backcountry Trekking Poles are ultra-light and ultra-strong. They are adjustable from 40” to 54” (100cm to 135 cm) and their compressed length is 26 inches. Admittedly, some of the other poles on the market are compressible to 13-15 inches, which is considerably better than 26 inches. However, when you look at most packs used today, even day packs, 26 inches will still keep the poles within the vertical profile of the packs. Also, a 26 inch pole has fewer sections and fewer moving parts, as opposed to those that break down to 13 inches which is a feature we really like about these poles. These poles have three sections with 2 adjustment mechanisms. They are very easy to adjust with a simple twist of a nob where the sections adjoin. The only feature we found lacking on these poles is the fact that the grip does not extend down beyond the initial grip handle. Having the foam extend a few inches below the handle allow better grip and traction when climbing steeper hills where the poles are positioned in front of you.
These Top Shelf trekking poles will meet your needs and they are priced below their closest competition!
Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles: Some of the Best Backcountry Trekking Poles Available Today
Why you should choose the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles:
Leki has been producing quality poles since the 1960s and these Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles are no exception. In fact, they are hard to beat. They are easy to use, super lightweight and strong. Choose these trekking poles if you want some of the best trekking poles on the market that have withstood the test of time. While out hiking to test these poles, one of our testers (Chris) met a gentleman who was also hiking with Leki trekking poles. His poles (the orange poles in the above photo) were purchased in 1987 and they are still working great.
Who are these for: The backcountry and day hunter who wants lightweight trekking poles from a proven manufacturer that has been in the business of producing quality poles for several decades.
Cost: $199.95 MSRP
Why we picked the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles:
Tons of hunters use these poles and they are very happy with them. They check all the boxes of high quality poles and they are super lightweight. These poles are made of 100% HM carbon and they weight under a pound for the pair (14.6 ounces), just slightly heavier than the S&S Archery CL Backcountry poles. They are adjustable from 110cm to 130cm (43”-52”). They are very compactible since they break down to 15.4 inches in length. They are easy to adjust and they feature a speed lock system, making them very easy to use. One of our testers pinched his hand when assembling one of the poles but once you get used to the mechanism they are very simple to deploy. The grip is an Aergon Thermo foam and the foam grip extends down below the handle section, which is nice for uphill climbs. If you purchase these poles, you may have a tough time sitting and glassing.
Black Diamond Distance Z Carbon: The lightest trekking poles reviewed
Why you should buy these poles: You want a well-built, lightweight set of poles that are very compactable and lightweight, yet easy to deploy and adjust.
Black Diamond Distance Z Carbon
The Black Diamond Distance Z Carbon Trekking Poles are a great option.
Who are these poles for: The hunter that wants not only Black Diamond’s lightest designed trekking pole, but arguably the lightest trekking pole on the market.
Cost: $169.95 MSRP
Why we picked the Black Diamond Distance Z Carbon as one of our top picks:
These poles are 100% carbon construction, they are crazy ultra-light (just 9 ounces), and they feature a foldable design that allows for fast deployment. One of the downsides of ultra-light carbon is the risk of the poles failing under a heavy load or tough use. Black Diamond has improved the joint support of these poles making them 30% stiffer and they have been designed to be more durable. These poles come with different tip options (rubber and carbide and a stopper basket) and the grips are EVA foam. The foam grip extends down below the handle section, which is nice for uphill climbs. When not using these poles, you will likely forget they are in your pack given their size and weight. Black Diamond makes this pole in an accessory ready configuration that permits the poles to second as tent poles for the black diamond distance tent. These poles also come in different lengths so you will want to select a set that best fits your stature.
What about aluminum trekking poles?
Aluminum trekking poles can be stronger and cost less money than carbon trekking poles. However, you have to be willing to accept the fact that aluminum poles are heavier than carbon poles. For the backcountry, where every ounce counts and trekking poles are often carried in the pack, trekking pole weight matters.
If you are willing to sacrifice a little weight for a great trekking pole that will cost about 1/3 the amount of the carbon poles, check out the Montem Ultra Strong aluminum trekking poles.