If you've found this short article and consequently are reading than I'm betting you're at this time researching and looking to buy new trekking poles, among the variable features you’ll now know poles have will be the grip on the pole handles.
Grips on quality trekking poles more often than not are made in two varieties, either cork and EVA styles that also known in product descriptions as foam grips. There's a third option also, that is rubber, however these grips are generally} found on budget poles and poles lacking that little bit of quality and can often cause sore spots on the hands. For that reason we won't be looking at rubber grips in this article.
Selecting the right grip material for your trekking pole more often than not is dependent on personal choice and the weather conditions that you're going to regularly come across. Let’s take a look at which might be right for you. I personally use EVA Foam handled trekking poles - that's my preference at the moment.
Cork is a natural material; more specifically, it is a layer of internal bark of a specific species of oak. While light and buoyant, it is hydrophobic and impermeable, meaning it does not absorb any liquids for instance sweat or rain. One more fantastic characteristic (that is worth indicating when you are ready to talk to grips) is it is elastic, and for that reason has the ability to form into specific shapes with pressure.
When you first get cork gripped trekking poles the grips will feel a little bit hard and clunky. Don’t Worry about this one bit. That’s not permanent and over time they will form to your hand shape. No more blisters from rubbing even on long hikes. In view of the fact that cork hardly holds any moisture content you won’t get stuck with sweaty or rain-soaked trekking poles. Even though it might absorb a bit of sweat as time goes by, in contrast to foam which works like a sponge. You won’t have to endure blisters on lengthy hikes and they won’t end up getting slippery. You won’t need to worry about perspiration, rain, moisture build-up or condensation soaking into your grips causing all sorts of problems. There won't be a rash and blisters on your hand at the end of the day.
Cork grips are better in both extreme heat and cold. They will remain cool to the touch in the heat of summer and won’t freeze in the winter (unlike EVA Foam). So you’ll stay comfortable regardless of the weather. Cork Grips are Sometimes Less Durable Than Foam. Just remember that not all cork grip trekking poles are manufactured in the exact same way. Cork grips will quickly start to decompose and chip away on cheap trekking poles. Invest a little extra money on a quality pair of poles by companies such as Black Diamond Trekking Poles and Leki Trekking Poles (better customer service, build, design and warranty).
Foam is generally not considered to be comfortable as cork handles. Foam grips will absorb moisture and sweat, causing the foam grips to feel slippery in your hands. An additional disadvantage of moisture absorption is the fact that foam can start to smell from the absorbed sweat. Once they're wet, they often feel abrasive and sometimes cause hot-spots on your hands. In the winter especially, foam grips can freeze.
There are though some positives about EVA Foam grips on poles. For starters, that they are longer lasting and more durable compared to cork grips. As a general rule of thumb, EVA foam grips will generally last longer than cork grips. Again this will also depend on the quality of the pole you opt for.
Foam grips will be lighter than cork grips, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all foam grip trekking poles will be lighter than cork trekking pole grips. Things like material, design, and size are all factors when it comes to the overall weight of the trekking poles.
As a general rule most cheap to mid range trekking poles will come with foam grips (or rubber - ignore these for now). Foam is more cost-effective and much easier to produce when compared to cork. This doesn’t mean that trekking poles with foam grips are bad. Many of the best poles on the market come with a foam grip option. You’re just going to have to pay a little bit more for cork grips
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