I purchased my pair of Leki Corklite Trekking Poles in early 2012 in preparation for what was then a multi-day hike on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. I chose this particular brand after doing my own research and also speaking with people whom I consider "authorities" on such issues. Still...I'm always a bit skeptical until I try something for myself and I can honestly say that I've come to view my poles as one of the most valuable pieces of gear I own!
* Carbide flex tips dig into ice and hold up to rocky surfaces without causing pole chatter.
* Performance basket aids on soft ground
I will personally give credit to my poles for saving me numerous times from falling when stepping out onto slippery rocks/wet ground. I didn't think I'd find them very useful here at home in Florida on flat ground, but I was proven wrong. As a test run, I took them with me on a 22 mile overnight hike down at Myakka River and found them to be invaluable to me in terms of helping carry the weight as well as insuring my balance across the hog-damaged forest terrain where roots and holes were always a potential stumbling block. My most recent hike was a 32 mile trek along the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain to Neel's Gap. For me, this was the true test of the pole's strength and usefulness. Trust me when I say I relied on them heavily to help me haul my 35 pound pack (and my tired self) up over the mountainous terrain and down the other side. Without my poles, I am relatively sure my knees would not have withstood the often rocky mountain descents. I want to also give a shout-out to the SpeedLock system. I have not once had to deal with my poles unexpectedly retracting on me. Once adjusted and locked into place, unless I've actually retracted them for transport, they have stayed right where I wanted them to! Might seem like a minor thing, but I can vouch for the fact that when you're already hot and tired with many more miles to go, the last thing you want to have to do is stop and re-set your pole height....or fall when you step out with one only to have it retract on you. I feel this is an amazing feature!
There are undoubtedly those out there who will argue that trekking poles are for sissies and that "real" hikers don't need to bother with them. Do yourself a HUGE favor and don't listen to their nonsense! You will be very glad you didn't when you finally roll into your camp/destination each night!
Happy hiking everyone!