Going on your first hiking experience is something that will change your life almost completely, as you experience nature in all of its wonder. However, when you get a hiking pole and start looking for tips, you will be faced with a new issue that you may never have had before.
To choose the best hiking pole tip, you need to consider the surfaces that you are going to be hiking on, the length of your total hike, and the impact the tips will have. A simple rubber tip will work if you are hiking for only one day, but longer hikes will be better with steel or titanium tips.
These are just the basic things you need to know about getting the best tips for your hiking pole; however, many things will influence you. Many hiking poles have a set of tips already included, which makes them perfect for almost any surface that you may find yourself walking on.
Why Do You Need Trekking Pole Tips?
Before we even start going into how exactly you need to choose the hiking pole tips that will work, we need to look at why you should get a range of different tips. Many people mistakenly think that all the tips are the same and can cover any type of ground you go on.
However, the pole tips you are using to climb a mountain will be drastically different from the tips your friends may be using. However, different hikes and trails that you will be hiking up and down on will require that you have different tips fitted onto your hiking pole.
The hiking pole is meant to help you stay stable, relieve some of the pressure from your walking, and assist in hiking over the roughest terrain you can find. If you are walking over the ground that is muddy and wet, then rubber grips will be infinitely better than metal tips.
You need to do some basic research as to which types of surfaces you will be walking across when you are out on the hiking trail. Having the right tips can make a difference to your overall experience allowing you to overcome mountains without breaking a sweat.
Many people mistakenly assume that the tips on their hiking sticks will easily last forever. However, this is not true as the tips are worn away each time you push it down onto the ground, either from rocks, ice, mud, or even sand.
Rubber tips are the softest tips you can find, but they are also the cheapest tips you can find online and in local shops. However, you may need to keep some on hand whenever you go hiking as they’ll break while you are using them, while more expensive tips may last a lifetime.
Oddly enough, the less expensive the tip is, the harder it is to fix, as titanium, metal, brass, or even combination tips are all meant to be twisted on. Making them quick and easy to remove when they become old and need to be replaced.
However, inexpensive rubber tips, sometimes called boots, usually fit over standard tips or twist on. But because these shear, break, or get scratched into the nothingness, they are extremely likely to become a hassle when they have to be removed, even when twisted on.
Hiking tips help to give you more control over your hiking, which means that certain tips give you better control over the hiking experience than others. We have seen several instances where the best hiking pole fails because the tip installed cannot properly handle the surface they are on.
This can be because the tip is too soft to handle being pushed against ice and rocks, or it may be because the tip is much too hard to handle mud. As the ground beneath you gets softer, wider tips are better, while harder surfaces are easily handled by thinner tips that can almost chip them away.
What Are the Things to Consider When Buying a Hiking Pole Tip?
Now that we know why you need to get your hiking pole tips in different sizes, hardness, and materials, we need to take a look at what you need to consider. These are the seven things you need to look for when you are out and about or planning your next big hiking trip.
We always recommend that people keep these points in mind when they eventually have to buy their first sets of pole tips. Most of these are things that you may learn through trial and error, but they also affect the first few hiking trips you are taking with your new hiking poles.
1. Length of Hike
The longer your hike is, the harder your hiking pole tips must be, as the amount of wear and tear on the tips will eventually cause them to break or bend. Even if you have the hardest tips, you need to take at least one spare set of tips with you to ensure your hiking pole does not become dead weight.
When you are in the shop or browsing through an online store, we recommend thinking about this extensively. A short hike that only lasts one day or even half a day can easily be completed by one rubber tip, whereas multiple-day hikes usually benefit from a good set of rubber and titanium hybrid tips.
2. Surface of the Hike
Possibly the most important thing that you need to look for is the surfaces that will appear along your hike, usually listed on the website or by your guide. If you are unsure, there are a few things that are usually the same with all places that will guide your tip choosing processes.
Mountains always have rocks and sand on them, forests always have mud in them even with no rain, while beach walks always have soft sand and rocks with them. In the winter, muddy surfaces can turn into icy surfaces, trails through the bush can have multiple surfaces, and small rocks are bigger problems than big ones.
3. Type of Pole
There are different types of poles out there; some are meant to act as full supports for those who need a third leg, while others are merely there for temporary balance. If you have a small hiking pole that can fold down into nothing, then you most likely will need a harder tip that can handle those situations.
However, if you need the hiking pole to walk after the first hour of the hike, then you need something that is more well-rounded. Doing so will allow you to comfortably have the best tips on your poles for when you need them, instead of changing tips every two hours for the new surface.
4. Your Fitness
If you are extremely fit, chances are you may not need a hiking pole when you are just doing a one-day hike. However, if you are unfit and need the hiking pole to keep your balance overall, we know that you will have to get the pole to safely conquer mountains or rivers.
Again, if you are going to rely heavily on the hiking pole, you need something that is more well-rounded to support you throughout the hike. Whereas someone who is fit and does not lean heavily on the hiking pole can have a tip that is significantly harder that can help overcome only the worst areas.
5. Total Elevation Changes
We recommend keeping this in mind because the higher you go, the less sand and mud you will be walking in. Instead, you will find yourself hiking up mountain trails that are hard, filled with rocks, or even frozen in the heart of summer, making rubber tips nearly completely useless.
If your hiking trail goes up higher than you normally are, you will also start leaning on the pole a lot more than you thought you would. Harder, tungsten tips will comfortably support your weight without bending even when you are slamming the pole into ice that has been there since the dinosaurs.
6. Pole Health
The older your pole is, the more likely it is that you will only be able to fit rubber boots onto it, with most older hiking poles not having replaceable tips. Further, an old fiberglass pole may not respond as well to harder tips, whereas aluminum tips will handle anything as long as they are not bent or dented.
The overall health of the pole determines which kinds of tips you are considering using, with a new hiking pole easily handling the abuse thrown at it when using rubber tips. Whereas a hiking pole that has been beaten a few times should not just be given a harder tip but probably completely replaced.
7. Total Weight
One thing that titanium or hybrid tips are not is light; these metal and metal with rubber combination tips can add several grams to your pole. When just starting the hike, you may not notice this weight at all; if you continue to go, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed by the simple tip.
If you are not sure how strong your muscles are or if you will be able to overcome mountains with your hiking pole, we always recommend that you go for the lightest setup. Shorter, non-collapsible poles are already lighter than fancier ones, with the standard rubber tip weighing half as much as others.
Where To Buy the Best Hiking Pole Tips?
If you have a local store that specializes in hiking and camping, then they will easily be the best place for your to buy your hiking equipment. However, if you are unsure, we always recommend using Amazon, as it easily has the best place to get your hiking pole tips.
If Amazon is not available in your country, you can usually buy tips from the manufacturer of your hiking pole or just the normal online shopping website you use. Fortunately, you do not need to inspect the tip closely before purchasing them; just a picture of them will work best.
Hiking poles, trekking poles, and walking sticks that have replaceable tips usually all use the exact same threads. This makes them all the same, which means that as long as you are getting a tip that will be able to help with your hike, then there is no issue or challenge to fitting it to your pole.
What Surfaces Are Different Hiking Pole Tip Types Meant For?
When you browse through the local stores or search online for your hiking pole tips, you may start wondering what each tip is meant for. The mere fact that there are packs of hiking pole tips, each one in the pack a different shape or size, can be confusing to new hikers.
We recommend that you become familiar with the surface that each type of pole tip is meant for before going ahead. We have covered where they will be used, but not exactly what each type was specifically made for, with many people still thinking that all tips are universal.
- Hard Tips: Hard carbon tips like the one we have here are aimed squarely at rocks, mountains, and other areas where the surface you are hiking on is both hard and abrasive. The harder point is not damaged to such a point that you cannot hike any longer with it because it is simply too hard.
- Rubber Tips: These tips are used as the all-rounders and are usually placed on top of the hard tips, with many inexperienced hikers thinking it is to protect the harder tip. However, they are meant to help with flat, slippery surfaces, muddy surfaces, or just softer surfaces that are not completely sand.
- Hybrid Tips: These are newer tips, and they are made to bridge the gap between hard and rubber tips as they have the best of both worlds. They will last longer than rubber tips, but they will give you a significant grip over a larger range of surfaces than carbide tips will.
- Sharp Tips: These tips are only meant to be used when hiking somewhere extremely cold, like high altitude mountains and arctic conditions. You will need to use carbide tips in conjunction with these to have the best experience; there might also be a higher chance of breaking your hiking pole.
- Wide Tips: These tips are only used when you are walking on sandy hiking trails, ones that are along beaches, through the bush, or on sand roads. Normal tips, even rubber ones, will sink into the sand and make using the hiking pole a hindrance instead of assistance.
Choosing the best hiking pole tip is about knowing where you will hike and over what surfaces the hiking trail will be. Further, if you are going on longer hiking trails, choosing something harder will be better than choosing something that might break on the first mountain.
Whatever you do, please don’t go hiking without spare hiking pole tips, as you may find even the hardest tips fail when tested!