Nordic walking poles generally need very little maintenance. However, it’s worth taking a look at them every now and then to ensure they’re in good working order. Here’s some advice on what to do:
Your wrist-straps (Exel, Leki and Gabel)
- Keep the velcro in good nick by picking out any wool/grass/other debris that may have got caught up in it.
- Straps don’t mind going through the washing machine (I wash mine at 40 degrees) and look very smart afterwards. When did you last wash yours?
- Does the velcro still work efficiently or does it come undone during a walk as you push down and into strap (more of a problem with Exel straps then Leki)? If this is happening it’s because the velcro has lost its adhesiveness. This can be annoying, but there are a couple of solutions. The first is to buy another pair of straps which will set you back about £20 (visit the Exel or Leki sites). The second is to buy a short length of black Velcro, get out your sewing machine and sew over the existing, poor performing material. I’ve done it very successfully.
- With the Exel straps, sooner or later the strapping on the toggle which clips into the pole handle stretches. This creates a sloppy connection between the strap and the pole and can compromise your Nordic walking technique. Unfortunately you can’t repair this so your only option is to buy new straps.
Wash your tips and paws (the stopper covering the tip) to keep them free from mud and grime.
Exel All Terrain tips
Do you have Exel poles with the All Terrain tip - the one with the paw which hinges back on itself? If so the paw will eventually become slack from the frequency of being opened and closed and from general wear and tear. It then starts to knock against the pole shaft when you plant the tip into the ground, presenting as a sort of vibration up the shaft of the pole, even with 100% carbon poles. To counter this you have a number of options:
- Try and squeeze the paw at the hinge so that it sits more tightly against the pole.
- Put an elastic band around the paw to stop it knocking on the shaft.
- Tape some insulation tape (or similar) around the pole shaft where the paw sits so the paw once again rests tightly against the pole.
- Remove your paws altogether (which rather defeats the object of having an AT tip).
- Replace the tip entirely. It’s reasonably straight forward and there’s a useful video on what to do. If the tip won’t budge try immersing it in hot water for five seconds – it should do the trick! You can buy replacement tips from Exel.
The pole shaft
- Fixed length poles: The only thing that can go wrong is that the shaft itself shatters or splits. This can happen if you knock the pole shaft hard against something, or if you get the pole caught somehow whilst you’re walking (the classic is between the grills of a drain cover or two rocks).
- Adjustable and travel poles: The different sections sometimes don’t tighten properly – they just spin round and round. If this happens to you, pull the shaft out until you can see the little ‘tightening’ widget and twist it until it splays open a bit more. Then push the shaft back to where you want it and try again. It should now ‘bite’ quite happily, allowing you to get on with your walk.
- Hot weather: All manufacturers recommend that poles aren’t kept in a hot car as it can damage the carbon.
It's also quite handy to keep your poles in a pole shaft bag. Again you can buy these online.
If you look after your poles they should last you for a lifetime, so if you're thinking of buying a pair we recommend buying good quality poles for minimal vibration and a lighter weight.