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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.

Replacement supplies

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.

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.

drunk-pole-tip

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.

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.

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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Posted in on November 22, 2016
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38 Comments

  1. Erik Halfacre on November 22, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Thanks for the post Andrew. My BD Alpine Carbon Corks look about like the ones featured in your shots and I’ve been thinking al season that tips needed replaced before winter and still havent got to it partially because I didn’t know how yet. Glad I have this to go off of now!

  2. Doug on November 22, 2016 at 10:32 am

    I find it takes no time at all to cut them off with my little Swiss Army knife . Just slide the blade parallel to the pole then through the rubber portion of the tip, making sure not to cut into the pole. One cut is usually good enough to allow me to easily pull off the rest of the tip with just my hand. Only takes a minute or two and have done this many times in the field without ever damaging a pole.

    • Andrew Skurka on November 22, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Did you mean, “the plastic portion of the tip”?

      • Boyan on January 21, 2017 at 8:12 pm

        Probably. It is soft-ish plastic anyway so you could call it rubber.

        By the way, this technique does not work on the 2016 update of these poles. CMT has started using glue to hold the tips in place, they are impossible to budge even after a few minutes of boiling. I used the knife technique Doug described above, in combination with 15-20 sec of boiling. The boiling softens the plastic and makes it much easier to cut through. You have to go quite a bit down, maybe 3/4″ in order to be able to pry the existing tips loose. I used a very sharp handknife with a straight spine, I slid the spine along the surface of the pole driving the tip into the plastic and making 3-5mm slits. I then used pliers to peel the plastic down to the end of the cut, then repeated the process. It takes about 3 cuts to get down far enough and be able to pull off the existing tips

        • Barry on July 11, 2018 at 7:44 pm

          Can you clarify how you make the cuts? so you kind of slide the blade along the pole and then dig the tip into the plastic and then kind of peel it down like a banana?

          Thanks

        • Gabriel Freiberg on October 3, 2018 at 11:52 am

          I can confirm that with the poles I purchased (2017) they do not slide right off. I also wasn’t able to cut them off. I’m going to try a dremel with a cutting blade on the plastic, otherwise i’ll just replace the entire lower portion from their website.

          • Kevin Kleinfelter on October 3, 2018 at 4:22 pm

            They are just pressure fit, with a stripe of adhesive to hold them one.

            Take a crescent wrench and adjust it to be just loose enough to slide over the lower section.

            Stick the entire tip into a pot of boiling water. Let it sit there about 20 seconds. This will soften the adhesive.

            Then slip the wrench over the pole and whack down hard on the tip. Do this a couple of times. The grab the tip of the tip with vise-grips and twist. It will come off.



  3. Dan on November 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I’ve only done this once (with Locus Gear poles, where the carbide eventually fell out of the tip). I scored some BD Alpine Carbon Cork poles from a hiker box on the PCT and seriously considered mailed them home, but ended up just poaching the tips and putting them on my lighter LG poles.

    I found they needed more than 10-15 seconds of boiling, perhaps 30 – 60 seconds. Then I grabbed them with a rag and twisted them off.

    • Andrew Skurka on November 22, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Great score out of the hiker box!

      The boiling time probably depends on how well they are on there. Last night I had one that came off quickly, the other needed to be dunked twice. I’m not a materials engineer, but I would suspect that carbon fiber (and certainly aluminum) can withstand the temperature of boiling water with no adverse effect. If that is indeed the case, there is no detriment in submerging it for longer and making the job easier.

  4. Michael on November 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Are the diameters of lower pole sections that consistent among all the makers that you don’t need to use glue? I use generic aluminum 3-piece poles.

    • Andrew Skurka on November 22, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      No, the diameters are different between manufacturers. However, they all taper their lower section, and I’ve never seen a tip that wouldn’t fit snugly onto the shaft. Depending on the tip diameter, shaft diameter, and taper, the tip may sit differently on the pole than was originally intended, as happened to me — I was using BD tips on Cascade Mountain Tech Poles, and the BD tips appear to be narrower than the CMT tips.

      You shouldn’t need glue. And you really want to avoid it anyway, because it makes replacement much harder. A few good tips on a hard surface combined with a little bit of abrasive mud or dirt will do the trick.

      • Pritch on May 23, 2019 at 11:11 am

        The Leki “universal” replacement tips do not work on many poles, including the CMT/hundred other knockoff variations of them. They have a very small internal diameter that is too small to even get onto the bottom of my poles.

  5. Norm on November 22, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I don’t know if this works with all treking poles, but when I need to replace the tips I take a good sized crescent wrench, adjust it til it is just a bit larger than the lower shaft of the pole and, sliding it quickly down the shaft, I knock the tip off. It sometimes takes two or three hits to take the tip off, but it has never failed to work

    • Andrew Skurka on November 23, 2016 at 7:35 am

      I’ve used that technique too, but this boiling water technique has much less risk, especially with carbon fiber shafts.

  6. Rick on November 22, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Do you need to heat the new tip before sliding it on the pole shaft?
    And thanks for posting all this great info!

    • Andrew Skurka on November 23, 2016 at 7:29 am

      I don’t. It does not seem necessary, and you might end up with water in the bottom of the tip recess that would stay there (or get into your pole shaft) once you put it on.

  7. Dan Britton on November 24, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Boiling water- a good tip! Much less forceful than my vice and wrench technique.

    A note for other frugal hikers- Before I realized these were replaceable, I wore out my pole tips to the point where the pole itself was starting to wear. I replaced the tips but found they eventually broke without the support of the tapered shaft of the pole fully into the replacement tip. Instead of tossing out an otherwise good pair of aluminum poles, I decided to go tipless. The pole wears out slowly, but their grip on rock was surprislingy good and I used them on the entire PCT. The twist locking mechamism failed before I wore through enough pole to make them useless. Not sure you could get away with this with a carbon fiber pole though.

  8. Don Henderson on April 23, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    Anyone know what replacement tips you can use for Fizan compact 3 trek poles? There don’t seem to be any Fizan brand tips available in U.S.

    • Andrew Skurka on April 24, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      I’ve never seen Fizan tips. I would try BD tips. Most of the shafts are about the same width, so BD fits most other brands (and, if you could find them, Fizan tips would probably fit BD poles).

      • Kevin Kleinfelter on August 4, 2018 at 11:25 am

        Just in case someone comes looking, Black Diamond tips do NOT fit Fizan Compact 4. Nor do the predominant eBay generic tips. Black Diamond poles taper quite a bit more near the end than do the Fizan. The Black Diamond tips don’t push onto the Fizan poles far enough to be stable.

  9. Trevor Plowman on February 7, 2018 at 3:31 am

    Thanks for the brilliant advice. Took literally a minute to get my old tip off once I had the water boiling. New Leki tip, 5 quid. New pole, 35 quid minimum. Didn’t take me long to work out which one to try first….this made it a piece of cake. (I think any pliers with a curved section would do, I used a pipe tool which was fine).

  10. JPritch on September 16, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    I bought the same BD replacement tips, and as in your photo, the replacements are noticeably longer than the originals. I noticed this leaves a bigger empty void space at the tip ends that isn’t reinforced internally by the cf pole itself. When putting weight on my poles, there is considerable flex in this portion. Seems like it would be a sooner rather than later failure point, especially at my weight. I’m trying to source some shorter tips now. Just wondering how yours have held up?

    • Andrew Skurka on September 17, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      No issues with mine.

    • Pritch on May 23, 2019 at 11:16 am

      Just as a followup to my earlier post and concern….both tips failed on me within 1 hour of each other on the AT. They collapsed into an “L” shape at the spot where there is no internal reinforcement from the actual pole. I’d say I got roughly 150 miles out of the BD tips. I was luckily able to scavenge some old worn tips off some broken poles at Uncle Johnny’s. I got some interesting looks as I was boiling my trekking poles!

      • Boyan on May 27, 2019 at 7:40 pm

        I agree – the BD tips are not a suitable replacements. The depth of the opening on the BD is ~3″, while the depth of the original tips is ~2″. That leaves a full inch of unsupported plastic at the bottom. I tried boiling the BD tips aggressively and even that did not soften the plastic sufficiently to bottom out. Unfortunately CMT does not sell standalone tips but only bottom sections. Since they glue them in place they probably do not consider them a user serviceable part. Can anyone suggest suitable tips for the CMT poles?

        • Pritch on May 28, 2019 at 7:21 am

          These should do the trick. I just put them on my poles. Secured with a touch of glue. They are shorter than the BD, but have the same diameter opening. Do not buy the universal Leki tips, the opening is too small. My poles are identical to the CMT….there are about a dozen mfrs putting their logos on the same poles. Good luck!

          https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PHBFKXH?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

          • Boyan on May 28, 2019 at 10:09 am

            Thanks! I was looking at these last night but it seemed that the threads for the baskets are too high. Did you try putting baskets on? I sometimes use the trekking poles in Canada in the winter and want the option of adding baskets when I need them.



          • Ed on June 2, 2019 at 3:09 pm

            These tips are too large for my BD z-poles. The BD pole tips are 8mm and these tip ends are 11mm.



  11. Frank on January 11, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Should have read the comments before I ruined my poles. “Twist off easily” is apparently no longer the case with some versions of this pole. Proceed at own risk and have a backup pair of poles handy. Anyone have experience with the aluminum version of this pole?

  12. Robert Rice on June 8, 2019 at 8:31 am

    If I need to use little glue to put the leki tips back on, what kind should I use.

    • JPritch on June 9, 2019 at 10:09 pm

      The pole should wedge tightly into the tip by itself. If for some reason it doesn’t, use something not as strong as super glue, and don’t use much – like one dot of glue per tip. It will make future changes easier and avoid damage to your poles.

  13. Rosa on June 30, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Has anyone tried these tips on Montem hiking poles?

    • Jim Boissonnault on October 22, 2019 at 4:29 am

      Hi, Rosa. I don’t know if you got a response or did this already, but I am about to test my Montem poles with Mons Peak IX Trekking Poles Universal Carbide Tips. Boiling water removal worked great. The Mons Peak tips seem to fit. I won’t know until I get them on a trail, which is likely to be sometime in the next few weeks. No sure, but maybe you want to post the question on the Montem Facebook “Hiker’s Network.” Anyway, I’ll come back to this post after I get to test the new tips.

  14. Paul on July 26, 2019 at 11:18 am

    Andrew do you recommend carbide or rubber tips for race like UTMB? I already tried rubber tips (70mi of UTMB 2017) without much issue, and the tips I have still seem ok, I wouldn’t swap them out unless there is some benefit from carbide tips I am unaware of. I’ll be trying out carbide myself in the next month or so as I’m at UTMB again this year, but appreciate any insight you can provide.

    • Andrew Skurka on July 29, 2019 at 8:16 am

      I’ve always used the carbide tips, since they get better bite on softer surfaces like dirt and mixed rock. On pure rock, nothing sticks that well.

      • Paul on July 29, 2019 at 11:27 pm

        3 day response on 3 year-old article, much appreciated! time to switch out these tips and give carbide a try 🙂

  15. Julian on August 7, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Has anyone found replacement tips that work for the Zpacks poles? I’ve removed the original worn tips (were steel, not carbide) and tried to install the BD flex tips, but the diameter and taper is significantly different (BD is narrower and more gradual taper), leaving a good 2 inches of tip without pole inside. Interestingly, even Joe Valesko didn’t have a particular replacement to suggest..

    • Julian on August 10, 2019 at 8:34 pm

      I appear to have found a solution, so I thought I’d post it here for future readers.
      The BD Flex Tech Tips had too much play and too much empty length to feel secure on the Zpacks poles, but the BD Z-Pole Baskets fit much better:
      https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_CA/trekking-poles/z-pole-basket-BD1121260000ALL1.html
      They leave about an inch more pole showing than the original tips (and increase total length about an inch too), but the taper seems to match and I think they bottom out, or nearly. I heated in boiling water prior to install to get the snuggest possible fit and they feel quite secure. Will have to see how they hold up to regular use..

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