Trekking Poles – Shock or No?

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    Brian Martin
    BPL Member


    Locale: AZ

    I'm going to be purchasing my first set of trekking poles and was wondering what everyones experience is with the built in shocks. In theory I like the idea, especially since I've developed tennis elbow in one arm. I'm buying the poles to help take some stress off my knees and back, so they will see some weight. On my last trip I used a walking stick and it helped quite a bit, so I think the poles are the next step. I'm 6'2" about 215 if that helps any.

    All opinions are appreciated.

    Jeffs Eleven
    BPL Member


    Locale: NePo

    Personally, I prefer non shock.

    My friend and I were hiking and he has shock and I don't. We traded for a few miles ans I never liked the antishock ones. It felt like I was putting the stick in some mud every time i planted. Even on hard ground.

    I like to know exactly where my pole is and how much pressure I am putting on it. The antishock poles I've tried (albeit not many) are way too soft.

    I suppose if you were hiking on granite for days on end it would behoove you to have antishock. I don't know…

    My hands/ wrists have never gotten sore from the 'shock'.- blisters from the straps, but not 'shock' pain.

    BPL Member


    Locale: .

    Carbon fiber is naturally anti-shock. Ok, it's not really anti-shock per se, it just absorbs some of the shock.

    Steofan M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bohemian Alps

    I'll vote for shock.
    Bought a pair of Leki poles from American Hiking Society and they work well for my knees, wrists and elbows. I don't really feel the "mud" thing just a bit of compression and spring-back on rock/concrete surfaces.
    Good luck!

    Jeffs Eleven
    BPL Member


    Locale: NePo

    Its that compression and spring back that I meant as 'mud'. It is too soft for me. Feels sticky, like mud.

    OK now I'm talking in circles…

    I understand the benefit of some antishock, but at least the ones I've tried were too soft. Like mtn bike shocks when your going uphill out of the saddle. I get the 'pogo' effect.

    Maybe if there were elastomer bumpers instead of a whole spring mechanism, I would like them better.

    And maybe those are out- I just haven't used any…

    Anyway… I walk in the PNW so the ground is usually purty soft

    Jim W.
    BPL Member


    Locale: So-Cal

    Shock yes- but only if it's stiff and adjustable.

    I love the Leki Super Makalu Cor-Tec poles that were given to me halfway down the JMT by BPL member Andrew.

    They're rather heavy as such things go so I ordered a closeout pair of REI lightweight poles last year. One walk around the house (with rubber protectors on) and they went back. The Lekis can be adjusted for a nice stiff action but these felt like mush.

    Lori P
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Valley

    I tried poles with shocks for a few miles – swapped with a buddy – and the repetitive little sproinky noises the poles made just really bugged me. Perhaps there are poles that will not make so much noise, but the shocks added nothing to the experience for me to provide the incentive to research further.

    joe newton
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bergen, Norway

    I swapped hiking poles with my Dad on an overnighter a couple of years ago, his poles had shocks in them. I found them noisy, had a 'rattle' feel to them and pretty much pointless. I can't see the advantage of a shock and as Chris pointed out carbon poles are naturally dampening. Save yourself the weight, distraction and complications and buy a pair of un-shocked carbon poles.

    Spruce Goose


    Locale: New England


    The "shocks" (on the Lekis, anyway) wear out eventually, and get loose and sloppy. I love everything about both my pairs of Lekis…but I've removed all the "anti-shock" apparati…and I've never missed that function.

    Adam Rothermich
    BPL Member


    Locale: Missouri Ozarks

    No shock for me. Scared the hell out of me when I took a stumble and thought the poles were going to give way. I mostly use my poles for balance when crossing creeks so something solid is preferable for me.


    Keith Selbo


    Locale: Northern Virginia

    I second that.' I use my poles for balance, I don't want any give in the suspension to disguise the feel. The one thing I haven't read here is a testimonial from someone who's sore arms were cured by going to shocks.

    Unknown abc


    my poles are "shock-absorbing" but the springs inside are starting to wear out (they're cheap poles) and they are kinda noisy. The next set I buy will not have any "shock" capability. I'm pretty sure that poles w/o "shocks" are usually lighter than those with, and they probably last longer too.

    Brian Martin
    BPL Member


    Locale: AZ

    Good point on terrain, I can see it being a big difference. I live in AZ and most of the trails I see are going to be hard packed or rock. I'm buying these in anticipation of a Grand Canyon trip in April which should have similar terrain. So the shock may be more applicable in that case.

    The repetitive noise would get to me as well. I'll have to go take another look at the shocked ones and see how noisy they are. Something you don't really notice in the store.

    Thanks for all the comments and keep them coming.

    Joseph Morrison


    Locale: Smokies

    Heres how much I like anti-shock poles:

    On a AT section hike I left a pair of anti-shock Lekis at a shelter one morning and didn't realize it until 2 miles later. It must have been the peace and quiet that distracted me. I actually considered if the poles were worth the 4 mile round trip to get them back. To be truthful they weren't. Gimmick!


    Hal Potts


    Locale: Middle Tennessee

    I've owned both shock and no-shock and I greatly prefer regular lightweight poles without springs. It's like a tight little sportscar, you can feel the road better with a tighter suspension.

    Juston Taul


    Locale: Atlanta, GA

    I vote no. It would be nice to have them for descents, but for uphill climbs I don't like them at all. Like Chris said, carbon fiber poles kinda do the job anyways. I just sold my Leki Carbon poles on eBay. They were 13.6 ounces and I'm trading them out for GG LT-4s. Just waiting on Grant to let me know when he gets more in.

    Matt Allen
    BPL Member


    I vote for shock… I like them on the down hill.

    but… that is one more thing that can break.

    Patrick S


    Locale: Upper East TN

    I vote no. I personally hate them. Too loud, no feel and I've never seen a pair that didn't break.

    But in reality this is one of those things you won't know until you try it out.

    Mark Hume


    Locale: Pugetropolis

    My wife uses Black Diamond Trail Shock poles. I don't notice them making a noise, at all. The few times I've borrowed them they've felt stiff and responsive with no mushy feeling whatsoever.

    I actually like them better than rigid poles for descending a particularly long, steep, rocky trail we frequent.

    Dave T


    I say a BIG NO to shocks in poles.

    Aaron Rice


    Locale: Michigan

    Spruce Goose,

    How did you remove the "anti-shock" mechanism from your poles?

    Spruce Goose


    Locale: New England

    Aaron: "Remove" might be the wrong word. More like "permanently disengage". They no longer rattle around and move freely between settings…but they still have the extra weight of the spring mechanism, etc.

    On the Lekis, the anti-shock mechanism works as follows: There's a metal cylinder that protrudes from the interior of the pole. It's represented by the red dot in the picture below. It's held by a plastic "sheath" with sort of a T-shaped "runner" which guides the cylinder.

    Well, 180 degrees from the vertical portion of the runner, there is a cylindrical hole in the sheath. With a little work, you can move that metal cylinder out of the runner, and get it into the cylindrical hole. Once in the hole, the cylinder can't move, and thus the pole is permanently in "deactivated" mode.

    Leki Antishock internal

    I used a flat head screwdriver, a small pair of vise grip pliers, and a clamp/vise to hold the pole. I've done this on 2 pairs of Lekis. It was easier on the smaller diameter "Ultralite" series than it was on the more robust "Super Makalu". Appears to work equally well on both styles, though. I've put about 600 miles on the Super Makalus since making the change, and I haven't had an issues in that time.

    Mary D
    BPL Member


    Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge

    I have two pair of trekking poles, one Leki Makalu with the antishock gizmo, and one Leki Carbonlite–without. I would never get poles with the antishock device again! I got the Makalus back in my "Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide" days. I also will never again buy anything recommended by that outfit!

    The anti-shock device is noisy (click, click, click at every step) and adds to the weight. I haven't found that it did anything for my wrists (I was worried about my carpal tunnel syndrome), either! I haven't had any hint of a wrist problem with either pole. I still use the Makalus for exercise walking around town (heavier poles = stronger arm and core muscles, supposedly anyway) and in below-freezing weather when, I'm told, carbon fiber is more apt to break; otherwise I use the Carbonlites. I also take the Makalus on my one beach trip per year (don't need them on the beach, except as shelter poles, but do need them for the steep and muddy hike in and out) so I won't get sand in the works on my Carbonlites.

    Thanks, Spruce Goose, for the directions on how to turn the stupid things off!

    Aaron Rice


    Locale: Michigan

    I'm not quite sure that I'm following this. Aren't you accomplishing the same thing that you would by just turning off(push down and twist) the anti-shock feature?

    Spruce Goose


    Locale: New England

    Aaron: You're accomplishing nearly the same thing. There are two differences, though:

    1) The cylinder fits in the cylindrical hole perfectly, and there is absolutely no play. In my experience, when you just turn off the anti-shock, there's still a little play. This is a minor difference, and if it was the only advantage, it wouldn't be worth the time.

    2) This is the big one. After lots of miles, the anti-shock feature on both my pairs of poles actually became a problem. They were just too sloppy, and would engage and disengage on their own…continually. And when they were engaged, the spring was so worn that it didn't offer any resistance…to the point where one pole had a 1/2 inch of play in it, and could just slide up and down freely.

    By forcing the cylinder into that hole, nothing moves anymore…ever.

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