Folding vs Telescoping: Compact or Stability of Trekking Poles

Folding vs Telescoping: Compact or Stability of Trekking Poles

Mar 09, 2023, 00:00:00

Trekking poles are a vital accessory for hikers, providing stability, support, and balance while on the trail. Choosing the right trekking poles is crucial, as it can affect the overall experience of the hike. In this article, we will compare the pros and cons of two popular types of trekking poles - folding and telescoping poles - to help readers make an informed decision about which one is best for their hiking needs. We will also discuss the factors to consider when choosing trekking poles and other relevant considerations. The purpose of this article is to provide readers with a comprehensive guide to choosing the right trekking poles for their hiking adventures.


Telescoping Poles

They are the most common type of trekking pole. They typically have two or three sections that nest into each other, allowing for easy height adjustment. They usually feature either flip locks or twist locks that prevent the poles from collapsing during use. Here are the pros and cons of telescoping poles:




Height adjustment allows for versatility on different terrains.

More durable and sturdier than folding poles.

Easy to adjust on the fly.



Can be heavier and bulkier than folding poles.

More time-consuming to set up and collapse than folding poles.

Best for:


Hikers who are going to use their trekking poles most of the day.

Hikers who prioritize durability over weight.

Folding Poles

They are similar to tent poles in that they feature sections that slide out of the shaft and fold for compact storage. They are usually the most compact option and can be shortened up to 10 inches more than telescoping poles. Here are the pros and cons of folding poles:




The most compact option for storage and transport.

Quick to deploy and collapse, making them ideal for frequent use.



Less durable and stable than telescoping poles.

Not adjustable, limiting their versatility on different terrains.

Best for:


Hikers who prioritize weight and packability over adjustability and durability.

Hikers who need to deploy and collapse their poles quickly and frequently.

Another type

Fixed Length Poles offer no adjustability and are usually the least common type of trekking pole. They are typically made of lightweight materials and are ideal for those who do not need to adjust the height of their poles. Here are the pros and cons of fixed length poles:




The lightest and simplest option.

No moving parts means they are more reliable and durable.



Not adjustable, limiting their versatility on different terrains.

Can be uncomfortable for hikers who need to adjust their pole height frequently.

Best for:


Hikers who prioritize weight over adjustability and versatility.

Hikers who do not need to adjust their pole height frequently.


Other Considerations

Are collapsible hiking poles allowed in carry-on luggage?

When it comes to collapsible hiking poles, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows them in carry-on luggage. However, they must comply with size and weight restrictions, and their tips must be protected to prevent damage to other items in the luggage or the luggage itself. It's also important to check with the airline you'll be flying with, as some may have specific regulations or restrictions.


What is the difference between a walking pole and a trekking pole?

Walking poles and trekking poles are often used interchangeably, but they do have some differences. Walking poles, also known as Nordic walking poles, are designed to be used on flat or gentle terrain and have a more angled grip for pushing off the ground. They're also typically shorter than trekking poles. On the other hand, trekking poles are designed for hiking on more challenging terrain and have a straighter grip for better support and stability. They're also usually adjustable in length to accommodate different terrain and user heights.


Can folding trekking poles be used as shooting supports?

Folding trekking poles can be used as shooting supports in some cases, but it's important to choose the right type and adjust them properly. Some folding trekking poles have a cord in the shaft that can affect stability when used as shooting supports. Additionally, the weight distribution and length may not be optimal for all shooting positions. If you plan on using your trekking poles as shooting supports, it's best to choose a model specifically designed for that purpose or consult with an expert to ensure safe and effective use.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, the best type of trekking pole depends on individual needs and preferences, such as the type of terrain and duration of the hike. However, folding poles tend to be more compact and quicker to deploy, while telescoping poles offer better adjustability and stability.

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