Hiking while fun to do for a weekend can be a lot tougher to do once you decide to go for a three or more-day long trip. Many hikers find that having a bit of extra help while walking through the forests of the world can greatly increase the comfort of their trips.
This leads them to add trekking poles to their list of equipment but choosing the right materials for these can be a difficult decision to make.
EVA grips allow for less breathing for your sweat, being more durable and consistent, while cork grips are a lot lighter and allow for more breathing for your sweat but suffer from being easily damaged. These two differences have meant that many people have had arguments for days on end about which grip is truly the best.
Despite the arguments for and against many of these two grip styles, they each have their uses and environments where they work best.
Each type of handle has been refined and perfected in ways to make them the best way of making trekking and hiking their environments, which means one is only better than the other in specific circumstances.
Here everything you need to know for which is the best, cork vs EVA grips!
What is an EVA Grip Trekking Pole?
One of the relative newcomers to the world of grips, first being introduced in 1974 to the world at large it quickly became used in many products that needed some foam.
EVA is loved because of the low cost of manufacturing large quantities, along with the vast amount of shapes that it can be molded into.
EVA is used in everything from shoes to foam pads, and for trekking poles, it quickly became popular as a grip material. The properties that make EVA great everywhere else have made it one of the most loved materials to be used for handles.
This is owing to the durability, comfort, and grip strength that EVA handles offer to those that use them.
Where Are EVA Grips Used?
EVA grips on trekking poles are used primarily in colder regions where you won’t have your bare skin on the trekking pole. Many times, people that know they will be hiking through areas where temperatures can reach well below zero have these trekking poles with them.
The low freeze point of EVA means that the material stays strong and usable without having to sacrifice any of the comforts that you may find with other natural materials. This is why you will see EVA grips used in countries that have beautiful forests even through their winter seasons.
One of the most important tools that you will use when visiting any polar area of the world will be a set of trekking poles with EVA grips. You may even be ridiculed for using rubber or cork gripped trekking poles in these areas.
What Makes EVA Grips Durable?
EVA is a synthetic material that has an exceptionally low freeze point and a low melting point, with the overall feel of the material feeling like rubber.
However, this means that EVA is also durable enough to handle a large amount of abuse without being damaged.
The chemical structure of EVA makes it resistant to many chemical changes that many other materials would suffer from. Further, owing to the sponge-like texture that EVA has it is prone to absorb impacts rather than tear or sheer when being handled roughly.
Trekking pole with EVA grips can handle a lot more abuse than the average rubber gripped pole or even cork-based poles.
Why Are EVA Grip Built Like This?
EVA gripped trekking poles are strong, in the way that few other trekking poles are. Not just because they are usually placed on a steel or aluminum poles either, this means one thing for hikers that need one thing and only one thing.
These trekking poles can be abused, thrown around, used for self-defense, or just forgotten about for months on end. After a quick rinse under some water and a rub down with a cloth, the poles will be ready to take on any challenge that you may be facing.
These poles are usually lightweight inexpensive poles that are perfect for first-time travelers or just those that like going into areas where it may be likely to lose some gear. They are loved by trekkers and hikers around the world for their easy accessibility and low cost.
What is a Cork Grip Trekking Pole?
One of the most natural and lightweight materials in the natural world is cork, the sheer number of things that have been created using the material is shocking.
Used for handles around the world for hundreds of years cork has recently seen a resurgence in usage as the green harvesting of the material became more well known.
Cork is the bark of an indigenous tree that grows in southern Europe, which means that not only are the trees never removed but the farmers actively protect them.
This bark is then shredded and mixed with different glues at different ratios to create a material that is super lightweight and breathable.
Where Are Cork Grip Used?
Cork handles are perfect for anything that needs to be held for hours on end in hot, rainy, or humid environments. This is owing to the unique ability of cork being breathable, not allowing sweat or water to make the surface slippery once sanded and treated.
These trekking poles are used and loved by most experienced hikers that will be taking on the forest, bush, or even desert hikes.
Many backpackers carry these around them when they are traveling around the world, especially in countries like Africa or Asia where they may spend days trekking through dense forests.
Cork handled trekking poles are also used for many beginners that cannot handle taking something heavy with them.
Corkscrew handles are extremely lightweight, but lower quality ones will not be durable and can be damaged by simple handling errors. This causes chipping and tearing in the handle and at times have caused many trekkers to abandon the use of them altogether, favoring EVA in the long run.
What Makes Cork Grips More Breathable?
Cork is a unique bark, one that even when it is on the tree can easily be peeled and is lightweight, which means there are many air pockets in the material. This means that it looks like a sponge when examined under a microscope, which is what makes it breathable.
However, because it is shredded then mixed in with glue to mold it into specific shapes you cannot simply create cork handles by shaping the shredded material and gluing. Many times, handles are made by machining then sanding down of a cork and glue mix.
This allows the handle to be better shaped to the average human hand and allows the pores of the cork to open up, removing the light layer of glue that may be at the top.
This is what gives cork handles their telltale looks and which makes them so perfect trekking poles if you know you are going to either be sweating or you might be trenched in torrential rains.
Why Are Cork Grips Loved?
The love for cork handled trekking poles comes from the complete package that more expensive poles offer. Cork poles are usually of a higher quality than other poles because the grips require more attention and are often hand made.
This makes them perfect if you are looking for a lightweight all-rounder pole that you can take with you when you go to travel the world and might not have the space for something larger. Cork grips have also become a lot more popular as the green movement overtook the world.
Cork wins for me every time as cork wicks away sweat from my hands over the hours and hours of hiking each day, where EVA slowly makes blisters explode.Nomad
This is not just because the production of the grips is so much greener but because when the grips eventually start failing or tearing apart the waste won’t pollute.
The glue that is used and the cork bark itself are both eco-friendly materials that allow you to simply discard it if needed and have minimal impact on the world around you.
However, that being said it is still better to throw the full grip away in a dustbin rather than tearing it apart while hiking.
What to Look for in Your Trekking Pole Grip?
Now that you know the basics of what a cork grip is and how an EVA grip differs from that you may be wondering how you decide which trekking pole to get.
There are many factors beyond just the feel of the grip you will have to consider, the overall weight, feel, and fit of the pole for you is important.
Here’s how to choose the best trekking pole for your next adventure.
Buying a trekking pole online is like buying a shoe, the picture may look good and the size does say that’s what you usually get. But without ever holding the pole in your hands you may never know if it is the right one for you.
This is why you need to be sure that the fit of the trekking pole grip is perfect for you, many times higher end trekking poles will allow you to swap out grips to ones that you find more enjoyable.
The chief factor for many trekking pole buyers for buying cork is the lightweight of the material.
If you are going to be backpacking across mountains, through storms, and across large countries then you will not want to get something that weighs as much as your coffee pot.
Getting something that is either lightweight or heavy enough to ground you will all depend on where you are going to be trekking and how far you plan ongoing.
Most trekking poles are a standard size, with a few adjustments to help you make sure it will be usable by you. However, other trekking poles can be made to only be a few inches long.
Handling a trekking pole before you buy it will be vital in knowing whether or not the pole you are planning on getting will indeed work for your next hiking or backpacking trip.
Some trekking poles are only used for one thing, and that’s walking, however as you become more enamored in the world of hiking and trekking you may find that the standard pole is not doing it anymore.
When this starts to happen, you may want to start looking at trekking poles that have a few extra features, like spikes for snowy mountains or camera mounting locations when you want to record your adventures.
Trekking poles get a lot of abuse, they are not just used to support you while climbing or walking, they can be thrown, shucked, flipped, or slammed down all during one trip across a mountain. While fiberglass might be lightweight and cheap there is a reason few if no trekking poles are made from this material.
Where Can You Buy Trekking Poles of Each Type?
There are many places where you can go to find all the best trekking, hiking, and backpacking materials that you may ever need.
Every camping gear store on earth will have a small section where you can easily go to buy your trekking poles. However, it may not always be possible to go to your local camping gear equipment store.
In these instances, you can buy a trekking pole from the same place where you buy your camping and hiking clothes. These stores may not have such a wide range of poles, but they will have a few basic ones that you can purchase if needed.
However, there are a lot of other specialty websites that sell camping and hiking equipment from brands that are not always listed on Amazon or other larger online retail stores.
What is the best trekking pole brand?
There are several brands of trekking pole that you can find online or in local stores that will easily allow you to get both a high-quality pole, but that can easily be fixed with replacement parts if needed.
While these brands are of higher quality they are usually also loved because they are well known, and many other trekkers and hikers will be able to give you advice about which model will work best for you.
Each brand has shown that they are accessible to everyone around the world, however, there may be some brands that are more prominent in other countries.
Many countries that have larger trekking communities will have brands that are only available there, being locally manufactured and perfect for those environs.
Final Thoughts on EVA Grip vs Cork Trekking Poles
Choosing between the best cork gripped trekking pole and the best EVA trekking pole is almost impossible, while there are some areas where they cross.
The two types of grips are meant for vastly different environments, this means that you will need to be sure that you know where you are going and what you plan on doing before you go out into the world and start using them.
Just be sure you don’t throw them down every trail you hike on!