5 Best Trail Running Poles [For Ultrarunning & Hiking Too] (2024)

Welcome to our best trail running poles buyer’s guide which features the top lightweight trekking poles for trail runners, ultrarunners, and fastpackers. If you’re training for a mountain race and think you’ll be needing poles on race day too, then you’ve come to the right place.

Looking for hiking poles instead? See our roundup of the best trekking poles for hiking buyer’s guide.

Generally, I would recommend going for the lightest running poles you can afford, which are typically made from carbon (rather than aluminum). Consider folding/collapsible poles too, if you plan to stow them in a running hydration vest while not in use.

If you’re short on time, my top pick all-round favorite trail running poles are the Black Diamond Distance Z and the LEKI Ultratrail FXOne Superlight – both are outstanding lightweight folding poles for running.

All poles in this list are made from carbon and have a foldable/collapsible mechanism because I believe the best running poles should have these features as standard.

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This guide is regularly updated so remember to bookmark this page and check back before buying your next pair of trail running or hiking poles.

What are the benefits of using trail running poles?

Below are some of the main reasons why you may want to consider using poles while running.

5 Best Trail Running Poles [For Ultrarunning & Hiking Too] (1)
  • They make light work of uphill climbs on steep (eg mountainous) trails.
  • They save your legs on long, hilly races.
  • They allow you to get into a rhythm!
  • They help with balance on steep descents by allowing you to probe for stable ground.
  • They allow for space (and self) preservation during busy races.

RUNNING WITH POLES GUIDE: If you haven’t used trail running poles before, have a read of our Trail Running with Poles advice guide which explains in-depth, how best to use them while running in the mountains, plus their pros and cons.

Also, if you’re fairly new to trail running, you may find our beginner’s guide to trail running a helpful read.

It’s not just trail runners that can benefit from cutting down on the overall weight of their poles and other gear that gets carried over the trails and mountain passes!

If you’ve arrived at this page because you are looking for some new lightweight trekking poles for hikes including thru-hiking and fastpacking, then you’ve come to the right place.

Some lightweight poles that are marketed to, or suitable for trail runners, are referred to by stores and brands as being lightweight hiking poles (or sometimes also ‘lightweight trekking poles’).

This is changing, however, as the sport skyrockets in growth, and you’ll usually find us calling them ‘trail running poles’ most of the time given that we are typically using them for mountain running.

These trail running poles are therefore also great for hiking if keeping the overall weight of your hiking gear is a concern.

For more on hiking, including our full-day hiking gear checklist, read our hiking for beginners guide next (link opens in a new tab).

What to consider when choosing hiking or trail running poles

  • Weight – Go for hiking poles that are as lightweight as you can afford.
  • Durability – When running with hiking poles, they can get bashed
  • Length – As a general guide, while holding the pole with your arm at your side and elbow at a 90-degree angle, your forearm should be parallel the ground. Have your shoes on while measuring.
  • Folding or fixed length – this list includes only folding hiking poles, as we consider these to be the best options for trail and ultrarunning.

Now that you know what to look out for in terms of features, you’re ready to learn about what I consider to be the best trail running poles right now.

The best trail running poles for mountain running

1. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z

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Weight: 10 oz. (pair)

At less than 10 oz. for a pair, the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles are the gold standard for lightweight, collapsible trail running poles which is why they earn the ‘best trail running poles’ title.

Similar to the other best running poles on this list, the Distance Carbon Z poles are made with carbon, which is why they’re so lightweight.

Related Reading:

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  • Trail Marathon / 50K Training Plan + ULTRA RACE…

They are also designed to fold up into 3 small pieces, which is important if you need to store them back in your hydration packwhile not in use.

Black Diamond‘s latest Distance Carbon Z’s joint support has been further improved, making them 30% stiffer, and they’re now more durable with reinforcements around the locking mechanism and upper shaft.

There are also non-scarring rubber tips and a lightweight EVA foam grip. With a reasonable price point too, these are our current top pick for the best lightweight running poles.

These Black Diamond poles are also very popular with backpackers and hikers due to their strength, lightweight, and how easily they store them in a backpack when not in use.

5 Best Trail Running Poles [For Ultrarunning & Hiking Too] (5) Amazon.com $189.95

2 new from $189.95

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BlackDiamondEquipment.com $189.95 See Deal
Rei.com $139.73 out of stock See Deal

Last Amazon price update was: 8th August 2023 11:31 am

2. LEKI Ultratrail FXOne Superlite

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Weight: 9.6 oz. (pair)

These Leki trekking poles are specifically designed for trail running, and are great for quick transitions when running long, ultra-distance races or for lightweight hiking trips.

The Ultratrail FXOne also happens to be the lightest pole on this list, weighing in at only 9.6 ounces for a pair.

The push-button breaks down the poles quickly and once you stow them away in your bag they’ll weigh even less than your water.

Related Reading:

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The breathable, lightweight mesh in the wrist strap offers support and closes around the hand securely so you can focus more on the terrain and less on your grip as you maneuver on scree and technical steeps.

Whether you’re training for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), or another mountain race of that caliber, or maybe the local steeplechase you don’t want your trekking poles weighing you down, weighing in at under 10 ounces, these certainly won’t!

These are a really popular choice amongst ultra trail runners right now.

5 Best Trail Running Poles [For Ultrarunning & Hiking Too] (11) Amazon.com $239.95

2 new from $239.95

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Last Amazon price update was: 8th August 2023 11:31 am

3. KOMPERDELL Carbon Ultralite Vario 4

Weight: 12 oz. (pair)

The Komperdell Carbon Ultralite Vario 4 Compact trekking poles have a four-section folding system that minimizes extra material and allows the pole to pack down to just over a foot in length, excellent for storage!

And at just over six ounces per pole, the Carbon Ultralite Vario 4 is Komperdell’s lightest running pole, so it won’t weigh you down on ultramarathons or multi-day treks.

Carbon keeps these hiking poles light, yet extremely stiff for reliable support. Carbon is also corrosion resistant which means these poles, as with the others on this list, won’t stick when you’re trying to adjust them.

The padded straps and extended handles will help you keep a secure, comfortable grip on steep and rocky sections, which is really important when navigating technical terrain.

Related Reading:

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The tungsten and carbide tip is also hard enough to use on tough glacier snow and packed dirt trails, while the Ice Flex baskets will prevent your poles from sinking too deep.

UPDATE:These Komperdell running sticks are not currently widely available, we’ll be updating this post soon when new ultralight folding trail running poles come on the market – if you want to be notified when this post is updated, as well as when new posts are published, subscribe to our newsletter!

4. REI Co-op Flash Carbon

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Weight: 13.6 oz. (pair)

These REI Co-op Flash Carbon trekking poles are ideal for quick-moving trips along troublesome trails.

They are lightweight, easily adjustable in length, and have versatile grips that fit a variety of hand positions.

Constructed with a 3-section design that offers just enough sturdiness, these poles collapse down rather than fold which means they don’t go as short in length when collapsed, so check your running hydration pack can carry these before purchasing.

The handle grips are nice and light and are made from breathable EVA foam, while the adjustable wrist straps help you control your poles.

The REI Co-Op Flash Carbon is a great entry-level running pole.

Rei.com $159.00 See Deal

I hope you enjoyed reading this best trail running poles buyer’s guide, if you have any questions, please drop me a comment below.

5 Best Trail Running Poles [For Ultrarunning & Hiking Too] (2024)


Can I use trail running poles for hiking? ›

Trail running poles will help you save energy when running or hiking up steep uphills.

How do I choose a trail running pole? ›

What to consider when choosing hiking or trail running poles. Weight – Go for hiking poles that are as lightweight as you can afford. Length – As a general guide, while holding the pole with your arm at your side and elbow at a 90-degree angle, your forearm should be parallel the ground.

What is the difference between hiking and trail running poles? ›

The primary distinction between trekking poles and running poles is the weight and length. Trail running poles are designed to be lightweight, collapsible, and often made from materials like carbon fiber or lightweight aluminum to minimize weight while maximizing durability.

Should I use trekking poles for ultra? ›

Consider these factors before deciding to use or not use poles in your ultra: Generally speaking, the more you are going to power-hike and the greater the amount of vertical change on the course, the more aid you will get from using poles. You should train with poles for at least four weeks leading up to the race.

Do poles help in ultras? ›

Even on a relatively runnable course like the Ultra-Trail Australia - poles could help you to run faster. They help to take some of the load that your legs would otherwise have to take. This means your legs will have more strength for later in the race to power your way to the finish line.

What are the disadvantages of hiking poles? ›

Let's start with the cons because the pros are far more interesting:
  • One of the downsides is that walking poles take up your hands. ...
  • If you are needing to hand-over-hand climbing, poles can make it harder. ...
  • They are extra weight in your pack then if you're not using them.
Mar 1, 2022

Should trail runners be tight or loose? ›

Look for a snug fit without too much pressure in the heel and midfoot. The toe area should feel uncramped.

How do you size running poles? ›

The first one is to multiply your height in centimetres by 0.68 and round this to the nearest 5cm. The second method is to imagine that you are holding a pole with your elbow at 90 degrees angle and measure the distance from the ground to the top of your hand.

Why do some hikers prefer trail runners? ›

Trail running shoes are designed with mesh uppers and lighter rubber outsoles to allow for faster and more agile movement than hiking shoes allow for. Trail runners are generally a lighter shoe than hiking shoes. This is great for anyone looking to bop more quickly and have less foot fatigue at the end of the day.

Is it better to hike with one or two poles? ›

Better Stability

When using two trekking poles, you will always have a stronger foundation of stability and support than just using one. Having four points of stability on the ground while you're hiking is going to ensure that you reach all the way to the end of your hike feeling strong and supported.

What are the two types of hiking poles? ›

The two most common varieties of trekking poles are adjustable Telescopic poles and Collapsible folding poles.
  • Telescopic Poles. Constructed using a series of telescopic pole sections that lock together. ...
  • Collapsible Poles. Collapsible poles break down into several shorter sections when they are packed away. ...
  • Materials.

What are the best trekking poles made of? ›

Most trekking pole shafts are made of carbon fiber, aluminum, or a combination of the two. Carbon fiber is generally considered the better tool for the job, as it weighs significantly less and is stiffer.

Are aluminum trekking poles stronger than carbon fiber? ›

If you are carrying a heavy load aluminum trekking poles are a great option as the aluminum shafts can handle more force compared to carbon fiber poles If you are a hiker who tends to be hard on your poles– this includes hikers who lean heavily on their poles or enjoy rock-hopping on their journeys – then aluminum is ...

Does Kilian Jornet use running poles? ›

If you follow ultra running or run races yourself, you've most likely seen an abundance of people running with poles lately. Kilian Jornet, Courtney Dauwalter, François D'haene, and most sky runners use poles while competing to take advantage of the great benefits that come along with them.

Can I use nordic walking poles for hiking? ›

The simple answer is No you can t! However, you can use Nordic Walking poles for trekking; so anybody who is looking at purchasing poles, consider Nordic Walking poles as they come with extra benefits. The significant difference between the two poles is the wrist strap.

Should I use walking poles for hiking? ›

You might not need walking poles if you're just heading out on a flat trail or across roads. But if you're worried about rough or slippery terrains, we recommend using walking poles to keep you on your feet and protect you from injury or unnecessary strain.

Does trail running help hiking? ›

Now, obviously, the middle ground in regards to this, if you are a trail runner and you're doing things on the trail, you are running on that uneven terrain, yeah, absolutely, that'll get you much closer to hiking.

Can you use trail shoes as hiking shoes? ›

"Trail running shoes can be used from the local city trails to the most technical peaks,” said Small. “From short easy runs to long endurance adventures, these shoes are extremely versatile." While you can hike in trail runners, they don't offer the same durability, support, or protection as hiking shoes or boots.

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