Trekking pole replacement tips: Buyer’s guide & instructions
With extensive use, trekking pole tips must eventually be replaced. This post includes a shopping guide for replacement tips and DIY instructions to do it easily.
In my experience, hiking pole tip longevity is correlated with distance and ground surface. The more hiking you do and the rockier the ground, the more quickly they wear down. The failure point is not the actual tip, which is made of carbide and nearly as tough as diamond, but rather the aluminum and plastic parts of the tip.
The wear is slow and gradual, making this a good maintenance project for a long November night.
To easily replace your hiking pole tips, you will need:
- Slip-joint pliers,
- A pot of boiling water, and
- Replacement tips.
Based on first-hand experience I would recommend using Black Diamond replacement tips, specifically the:
I have used both, and don’t see a practical advantage to the newer Flex Tech version unless you plan to swap the stock carbide tips for the Rubber Tech Tips. If the carbide tip was the weak point, I suppose it could be easily replaced with a new Carbide Tech Tip. But, as I said earlier, the aluminum and plastic are the first to fail, which necessitates a wholesale replacement.
Bottom line: Go with the less expensive of the two versions. Amazon normally has the best prices. As I’m writing this, REI has replacement Leki tips for $20, and Backcountry has replacement G3 tips for $9. These tips all perform about the same, and they are all compatible with poles made by other manufacturers, although replacement tips sometimes subtly change the pole length.
Black Diamond Flex Tips (left) and used BD Flex Tech Tips (right). You’ll notice that the carbide tips on the Flex Tech Tips look as good as new, whereas the nearby aluminum and plastic is showing signs of wear. Ultimately, this will be the point of failure, not the carbide tip itself.
Replacement directions: The easy way
This should be a one-person job, and require little muscular strength and no additional tools.
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. The water depth should allow you to completely submerge the old tip.
2. Dunk the old tip in the boiling water.
3. After 10-15 seconds, try twisting the tip off with the pliers. Clench low on the tip. If you clench too high, you may also be unintentionally clenching the pole shaft.
If unsuccessful, repeat the process. The old tip should twist off easily, almost like it’s been greased.
Clench lower on the pole tip than done here, so that you do not accidentally clench the pole shaft, too.
4. After removing the old tip, clean the shaft of dirt. Old glue residue can be left alone.
6. If you would like to determine if the replacement tip changed the pole length, install one new tip, then measure the difference between the “new” pole shaft and the old one.
The BD replacement tips are longer and smaller in diameter than the original tips. As a result, the lower pole shaft is now about 3.75 cm (1.5 inches) longer than it used to be. I will have to account for this when adjusting my pole length now.
7. Repeat Steps 1-6 for the second tip.
8. To secure the new tips, tap them on a hard surface like concrete a half-dozen times. Do not use glue.
Any additional advice for buying or replacing hiking pole tips? Please share.
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