If you haven’t shopped for trekking poles in a while, you may not have noticed, but they’re getting expensive! What was once basically a glorified pair of walking sticks has turned into engineering marvels of carbon. For several years, I’ve stuck solidly with Kelty, one of my favorite outdoor gear brands that tends to keep things affordable while still cranking out quality equipment.

kelty upslope

The Kelty Upslope trekking pole set (definitely get the 2.0 version) is not the lightest on the market, not the thinnest or the most compact-able. But it hasn’t let me down after dozens upon dozens of hikes and many miles. And it costs only $39.

They weigh 18 ounces for the pair, and each pole can be lengthened from 25 inches to 53 inches. Adjusting them is easy, and unlike some poles I’ve tried, I’ve found that the tightening mechanism used for adjustment does a decent job of not slipping.

Only once have I had my pole suddenly shorten when I stabbed it into the dirt of a trail, and I was able to fix the problem easily.

You get non-slip carbide tips, which can be adjusted with either a protective cap (best used for transport), trekking basket, or rubber tip for concrete surfaces. (A snow basket add-on is also available.)

The latter is excellent for use in European countries such as Italy, known for its uneven cobblestone streets. The wrist strap (yes, it has one) is padded, and the grip is made of EVA foam.

As noted above, the twist-lock mechanism is easy to use, and you can adjust length on the fly if someone else in your party is in need of a pole or two. We have used our Upslopes as tent supports on pole-less tents, as well…works perfectly. With Kelty, you always get a one year warranty, too.

And if you still need to be sold on the concept of using trekking poles, let me tell you that I thought I didn’t want them, either. Then I tried a pair on a rocky trail mid-way through a multi-day backpacking trip in the Sierras, and I changed my tune fast.

Trekking poles literally double your stability, and most are compact enough to bring on international trips where you might be trekking a few times, but not every day. Because most, including the Kelty pair reviewed here, come with several basket attachments, they can double as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing poles as well.

Pick up a pair of Upslopes on the Kelty website for $39, or upgrade another $20 to purchase the Range version, which includes spring load technology. Find them on Amazon as well.

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