Trekking poles are usually built with hard metal or carbide tips at the pole ends, which provide traction on trails, snow and ice. These tips can sustain damage when used on “improved” surfaces, though, and should be covered with rubber tips or “tip protectors” when used often on hard terrain such as pavement. Just as you change your shoes depending on the specific activity you’re pursuing, you should consider your trekking poles’ tips before stepping out with them. In this Expert Advice video, Backcountry Edge Gear Specialist Becky reviews when, where and why to use rubber tips with your trekking poles.
Note: You will need to be sure the rubber tip protectors match the brand of trekking poles you have. Get in touch with the brand to see what type you need, or get in touch with our friendly Backcountry Edge Gear Specialists at 1-800-617-0643 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We carry a range of tip protectors from many of the most popular trekking pole manufacturers.
Gain traction on hard or “improved” surfaces
Using trekking poles on hard terrain like rock, pavement, cobblestones, concrete walkways, etc. can be challenging without rubber tips, as the built-in metal or carbide tips don’t grip like rubber does.
Protect your pole tips
While the built-in metal or carbide tips of your trekking poles are replaceable, you can greatly extend the life of these parts by covering them with rubber tips. This is especially true if much of your trekking pole use occurs on hard or improved surfaces.
Protect the environment (and your luggage)
Rubber tips reduce the impact of trekking poles on the ground, so if you are hiking in sensitive areas, you won’t damage the ground beneath you as much as with metal ends. It’s recommended (and sometimes required) in some parks and tourist areas that travelers use rubber ends on their hiking staffs and trekking poles so that environmentally sensitive or historic areas are not damaged by poles.
When traveling with trekking poles in your luggage, tip protectors also reduce the likelihood of other gear being damaged by the hard metal or carbide tips. (Note that your poles probably came packaged with plastic tip caps when you purchased them; you can also use these for protection in luggage, but they are NOT intended for actual hiking or walking use).
Rubber tips reduce the noise of utilizing trekking poles while hiking as they dampen the vibration of pounding the trekking poles into the ground.
When shopping for rubber tips, you may notice some are labeled “fitness tips” and have a different shape from standard rubber tips. These types of tips are designed for fitness walking and are shaped to aid in forward propulsion. Consider your trekking pole use; if you plan to utilize poles mainly for fitness walking, fitness tips might be the most appropriate choice.