We’ve had a flurry of pole enquiries recently so we thought it time to post about what’s new, what’s popular, and what’s best for you. Having your own pair of Nordic walking poles is liberating. It enables you to go out any time you want, not just when there’s an organised walk on. You can use them when and where you like and you know that you have exactly the right sort of pole for you.
Cheap and cheerful
If you're not sure whether Nordic walking is for you and want to try it without spending too much cash Gabel Nordic Walking poles can do the job admirably. These Gabel Stride are aluminium so a little heavier than carbon poles but they come with rubber paws if you want to walk on tarmac and a release system for the straps. Fixed length. Cost around £30.
Budget adjustable pole
If you want adjustable Nordic walking poles but at a budget price, the Leki Spin Speedlock is popular. It’s a telescopic aluminium pole made by a quality manufacturer with the easy to use speedlock adjustment system. A great value entry level pole which can be adjusted to different heights (110cm – 130cm). Perfect if you don’t yet know your pole height or want to lend your poles to friends and family. Cost around £50.
Our favourite pole
The Leki Micro Flash is a folding Nordic walking pole which has it all. Originally designed for trail running, it has an elastic cord running through it (much like a tent pole), is super light, and can fold down to a compact 40cm. It's 100% carbon and with one button you can collapse the poles down in a few seconds into 4 pieces - perfect for travelling or popping them in a backpack. This model comes with paws and costs around £125.
Some other questions answered…
The top manufacturers
Many companies make Nordic walking poles but sadly our choice in the UK is limited. Reputations change but currently the general view is:
- Leki – The largest manufacturer of trekking and Nordic walking poles with a huge range to choose from. They offer quality poles from budget to innovative top end designs. You’ll rarely go wrong with a Leki pole.
- Exel – The original Nordic walking pole brand from a high quality Finnish company. If you like trivia you may like to know that the company was formed in 1960 when three chemists started to produce electronic detonators to explosives. The name EXEL is derived from Explosive Eletronics. Their fixed Nordic walking poles and All Terrain tip system are excellent. They are the only manufacturer to sell a curved Nordic walking pole.
- Gabel – They used to have problems with the quality of their straps (on the first pair that I bought both straps failed on my first outing). The quality has since improved and they are now a popular budget adjustable pole.
- Fizan – An Italian manufacturer. Very few poles available in this country. The adjustable poles still use the old spin lock adjustment system.
Why does the carbon content of a pole matter?
It’s all to do with the amount of vibration you feel up the pole shaft when you punch the pole into the ground. The 100% carbon poles absorb the vibration better which is why they are so nice to use. If you’re a regular Nordic walker, walk on pavements or have neck/shoulder issues you should always use a 100% carbon pole. They are more expensive but worth it.
Should I go for fixed length or telescopic/adjustable?
It used to be that the adjustable Nordic waking poles were heavier and had more vibration than their fixed length counterparts, but that is no longer true. Good quality adjustable poles like the Leki Micro Flash are solid and extremely lightweight, although there is always the possibility of something going wrong if you are regularly putting the pole up and down. It's personal choice but we like the convenience of being able to fold our poles up and put them in a bag. Telescopic poles also give you the ability to lengthen your pole if you find that Nordic walking has improved your posture (which is most likely will) and you are walking taller.
What about the straps – do I have a choice of sizes?
Each brand of pole manufacturer have their own strap system and they’re not interchangeable. However they all have straps to suit different hand sizes and most offer integrated strap gloves which give you greater control and power. When you buy new poles ask the seller if they will change your strap to a different size for free (most poles come with medium size straps suited more to mens hands). If they won’t you can always buy the straps separately, although they cost around £20 a pair.
Can I take my travel poles in hand luggage?
You'll need to contact your airline to find out as some allow poles in hand luggage and some don't.
Where can I buy poles from?
A search on the internet should give you a variety of buying options, including Amazon. Other reliable sellers are Exel and Nordic Walking UK.
Don’t forget you can email us for more information about poles and where to buy them. It can be a bit daunting to know what’s right for you and we’re always happy to help.
The Bristol & Bath Nordic Walking Team
If you're looking for our advice on best walking kit here's our recommendations:
walking socks (socks are an important but forgotten factor)