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Trekking Pole Tips, Rubber Feet & Baskets: Which One To Use & When

Trekking poles can make moving over uneven and rough terrain easier and provide support for your joints, especially your knees. To get the most out of your trekking poles you need to be familiar with the key features and accessories that are available. One such feature is the tips on the end of the poles.

Using the right tip, at the right time can make your hike so much more enjoyable. In the same way that you have different footwear for different activities, putting on or taking off tip protectors should be based on the particular type of activity you're doing and the terrain.  In this post we'll take a look at each type of tip and why and when you would use it.

Carbide Tips

These are the tips tips that come as standard on your poles. Since they are pre-fixed to your pole you might not even class them as tip and maybe think they are the only tips available - well, they're not. They do however, have  a specific use for certain types of hikes and terrains.

If its durability and a long lasting tip, then you’ll want to buy are step of trekking poles that come with a carbide tips. Carbide tips are extremely durable and can take a long and sustained beating over lengthy and multiple backpacking trips. This is a great grip on a range of surfaces, including rocks, dirt or ice. This is because you can really dig the tip into the ground in order to gain a sturdy and secure footing.

Even with the advantages of durability and usability of the carbide tip, there are some drawbacks and disadvantages to using them.

One major drawback is the noise and vibration. The tip tap noise can be very annoying if you are walking on a long stretch of tarmac. They will also cause a vibration through you hands and fingers too.  This is the time on the hike where you will want to try out one of the other tips for you poles - such as the rubber tips.

Rubber Tips

Rubber Tips fit over the carbide tip of the trekking pole and act as a protector. By using the correct rubber tip, they will fit on securely and won't come of easily. Rubber tips are known for their versatility and provide the hiker with that all important extra grip & stability on slippery terrain.

This is probably the most used type of pole tip when it comes to hiking. Rubber tips will also help absorb shock and vibration far better than carbide tips on hard paved terrain. Unlike carbide tips, rubber tips will cause less damage to the environment - they won't chip rocks and notability alter the trail appearance - far better for leave no trace.

Rubber tips also serve as a protector when traveling or storing your trekking poles in a backpack or basecamp bag. The carbide tips are an extremely hard metal and after prolonged use and sharpen on the edges. These tips could easily pierce through your back, backpack or someone else due to movement during transit. These types of tips can even help reduce the sound that your poles make while on the trail. This will can result in a more relaxing environment to enjoy nature and the outdoors and will not startle wildlife or annoy other hikers in your group.

Overall, even though these little pieces of rubber might look insignificant, they offer numerous benefits, such as decreased pole wear and improved traction while protecting the trail and your luggage.

Remember, not all tips fit all poles.  Over time you rubber tip will wear down and will need replacing. Please be sure to purchase the correct rubber tip protectors for your trekking poles. If you own Leki trekking poles, then take a look at these Leki Replacement Rubber Tips that have been designed and made to fit Leki poles.

Rubber Fitness Tips

Rubber Fitness Tips for trekking poles are a sub-set of rubber tips and are normally used for Nordic Walking. They are placed on in the same way as standard rubber tips, however their function is more specific. Fitness tips are  designed in shape to aid forward propulsion and improve stability.

Moving faster on trails or even pavement might normally compromise your balance if you are using carbide tips or even standard rubber tips. These tips will negate that problem and help you stay on your feet and cover ground faster.

This is preventable by using rubber fitness tips. You can use rubber feet while hiking/walking on hard surfaces such as paved roads and rocky terrain in the mountains.

Take a look at this Leki PowerGrip Pad as an example of a rubber fitness tip. Again, just with standard rubber tips, remember to buy one specific to your brand.

Mud Baskets

Trekking poles usually include a small removable plastic basket towards the end of the pole. They are screwed a few inches above the end of the pole. and can be removed if needed and changed.

If you usually go hiking in dry weather and the ground is pretty firm, you probably won’t even notice the baskets are there. They don’t serve much of a purpose on dry hard ground. However in wetter, muddier conditions they stop the pole tip from getting stuck in the ground by adding a bigger contact surface between pole and ground. They will also prevent the pole tip from jamming between two pieces of rock on more uneven terrain.

Mud baskets on poles are not for everyone and some experienced hikers who go out in 3 season conditions (not including snow), find little use for the. If you don't like them or feel like you have no need for them - they can easily be removed without damaging the pole.

Snow Baskets

Snow Baskets are similar to Mud baskets, except the disc is bigger and as a result cover a bugger area of ground. These disc are typical found on ski poles and have found there way onto trekking poles. Large snow baskets are useful in very snowy conditions where the snow powder is light and deep. Without snow baskets, the narrow shaft would sink deeply into deep fresh snow and create no firm backstop against which to push off.

Depending upon where you go hiking and what country you live in will determine if you are ever going to need or use snow baskets. The chances are if you live in the UK you are not going to really need them. Might be useful if travelling abroad or if we get a rare season with plenty of snow or perhaps if you are in the Scottish Highlands


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