Poles come in many different styles and designs. They can be as simple as a wood stick picked up at the side of the trail or a highly engineered tool in the hiker’s gear repertoire. Here is a quick tour of the different styles and options of hiking and trekking poles without mentioning brands or models.
· shafts made of wood, aluminum, titanium, fiberglass, carbon fiber or some combination thereof;
· ornate or carved wood walking stick;
· carbon fiber or other substance manufactured to look like wood;
· non-adjustable fixed length, adjustable and collapsible two or three section poles;
· one-click, one-hand adjustment mechanisms for the adjustable poles;
· contoured or straight shafts;
· with or without adjustable wrist straps or security loops;
· quick release wrist straps;
· cane type handle, rounded palm knob or contoured hand grips;
· ergonomically molded rubber, foam, cork or thermoplastic hand grips;
· right and left hand-specific hand grips and wrist straps;
· rigid or pivoting hand grips;
· straight or contoured hand grips;
· with or without anti-shock devices built into the shaft;
· removable and replaceable baskets, tips and tip sections;
· removable rubber tip covers (“paws”) for hard and slippery surfaces;
· pair of poles designed to screw together to make an avalanche probe;
· walking-stick with built-in umbrella;
· removable or built in ice axe or camera tripod head.
As you can see from the above comprehensive list, a wide variety of trekking poles are available and manufacturers are regularly coming up with new designs. Which options work best will depend a lot on how the poles are used, as well as individual preferences.