You may shrug off the need for telescoping hiking poles, but they can prevent a lot of wear and tear on your body during a backpack hunt. While you don’t need to constantly use them, you should have a pair strapped to your pack and at the ready when you encounter uneven terrain, head downhill or carry a heavy load.
There’s a wide array of hiking poles to select from, but they’re all fairly similar in design. Aluminum poles are the most common, and they’re generally the least expensive. But as with most backcountry gear, cheaper doesn’t mean better. Choose the wrong poles and you’ll be tempted to toss them into the campfire.
Carbon fibre or titanium poles are best, since they’ll rarely break or bend as aluminum poles will. As for the grips, most are made of cork, rubber or plastic, so your choice is simply a matter of personal preference. What’s much more important to consider is the shape of the grips—make sure they match the size of your hands and they’re comfortable to use. Proven brands include Komperdell (pictured), Gabel and Black Diamond.
The takeaway here? As with firearms, bows or optics, buy the best camping gear you can afford. Otherwise, you risk a cold, uncomfortable hunt. Or even worse, a failed hunt.