For some reason, January is always the time of year I think about giving my Nordic walking poles an MOT. Whilst they’re pretty low maintenance, it’s worth checking over the straps and paws every now and then. So here’s some tips on pole care and what to do if things go wrong.
Straps – general maintenance
Don’t forget to wash your straps occasionally. I machine wash mine at 40 degrees. If your straps are quite stiff it’s a good way to soften them. Try also to pick out any wool/grass/other debris that may have stuck to your Velcro otherwise it will lose its stick.
The Velcro on your straps may eventually fail. An alternative to buying replacement straps is to mend your existing ones by sewing on new Velcro. They should then last a good few years more. New straps will cost you around £20.
With the original 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.
Tips and paws – general maintenance
Wash your tips and paws to keep them free from mud and grime.
If you have Exel poles with the All Terrain tip (the one with the paw which hinges back on itself) 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).
If you have poles with a speed spike tip – one that’s sharp and pointed – it can sometimes fall out. If this happens you have to replace the whole tip system. You can replace the tips on both Leki and Exel poles, although you have to stick to the same make. You can’t put an Exel tip on a Leki pole.
Most Leki tips are stuck on with glue so you have to immerse the whole tip in hot/boiling water to melt the glue before you can slide the tip off. Even then you might need a pair of pliers to pull it off. Exel tips have a simpler system, although the hot water treatment is sometimes necessary too.
Here is a video guide made by Exel on how to change a tip using the Exel quick lock system.
Adjustable and travel poles – problems with the locking system
With adjustable/travel poles sometimes the different sections don’t tighten properly. How to fix the problem depends on the tightening system you have.
- Twist lock - 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.
- Super lock – Similar to the twist lock but you need to tighten the screw rather than the plastic widget. Here is a Leki video of what to do.
- Speed (clip) lock – Again here’s a Leki’s video of how to tighten a pole with a speed lock system.
If you have any problems with your poles please let your instructor know and we will do our best to help you.
You can find our favourite Nordic walking poles here and if you're looking for our advice on other walking kit here's our recommendations on the best:
walking socks (socks are an important but forgotten factor)