So you know the benefits of using trekking and walking poles, but which poles will be best suited to your needs?
There are 3 main points to consider when buying trekking poles:
What type of walking and terrain they will be used for ?
- How much can you spend on a good pair?
- What features do you require from your poles?
Here we use the terms walking & trekking poles interchangeably. Nordic Walking poles are specifically referred to as such.
Walking and trekking poles differ on features including weight, ( how light do your poles need to be?); the number of sections in the pole (compact-ability), with anti-shock or without anti-shock and the type of pole adjustment mechanism (internal or external).
Other features you may also consider include handle grips and construction materials.
Let’s Take a Look at These Feature Options of Walking Poles
What Type of Walking and Terrain they will be used for?
Rugged mountains, steep up and down or rambling tracks.
How Light do you Need Them to be?
Lighter is generally better than heavier, especially when you consider you’ll be lifting your pole constantly throughout your day.
The Number of Sections your Pole may have
Three section poles are height adjustable, they are compact when they are packed down and strong when extended for what most people buy them for e.g. hiking, trekking, backpacking, mountaineering and climbing. Plus you can fit them on your rucksack for carrying.
4 section poles and folding poles compact down smaller, they may fit inside your rucksack, suit case or on the outside of small rucksacks.
The number of pole sections affects there pack-ability.
Do you want Anti-shock or Non anti-shock?
Anti -shock can help lessen the stress on you joints? is this a concern for you? If you feel you want that extra bit of ‘give’ try anti-shock.
Anti-shock can add a bit of weight due to the extra mechanism.
If you like the positive feel of placing a pole down with no ‘give’, try non-anti shock.
Non anti shock is useful when walking over loose terrain that can be unsteady under feet.
It really is a personal thing.
The Pole Adjustment Mechanism
This is the mechanism that locks and adjusts the sections. Traditionally poles have had internal ‘twist- lock’ mechanisms, these are proven in strength and reliability.
External locking mechanisms such as the Leki Speed-lock use a lever lock action, these are simple to adjust and lock, they do tend to add weight and bulk to the pole shaft, so consider each type of pole carefully.
Handle grips are generally made of rubber, some rubber is softer than others. Soft rubber hand grips absorb some of the shock from your hand for example the Leki Softlite poles.
There are also foam grips such as Leki Thermo-grips, these are softer, feel warmer to touch, yet are less sweaty as they are breathable. For example the Leki Thermolite Poles
Trekking Pole Materials
Most poles are either aluminium or carbon fibre. Aluminium is comparatively heavier than carbon, but it can take the knocks better than carbon and is more flexible.
Carbon is lighter and stiffer, its strong but can’t take the impacts like aluminium can. Carbon poles are the lightest you can get however.
Types of Walking Poles
Classic Trekking Poles: If you are a regular to fairly regular weekend hiker or trekker the most popular poles are 3 section adjustable poles, which are durable yet still light, no extra bell or whistles for a good price.
These tend to, though not always, have rubber handles, aluminium shafts and maybe ‘powder coated’, i.e. less scratch resistant.
Consider the Leki Trail Poles you can choose Leki Trail with anti shock or Leki Trail without antishock. Classic Walking Poles
Ultralite and Carbon Poles: If you are are regular walker enjoying your long days in the hills and mountains you may want to consider some ultralite aluminium poles for the strength, lightweight, comfort handles and options of smooth anti-shock.
If you dont want to compromise on weight go for carbon options, for a light swing and lighter load.
Ultralite and Carbon Poles
Use a Pair of Trekking poles
To get the most benefit you should use a pair of trekking poles rather than a single pole. Trekking poles are designed to be used in pairs providing balance, stability and shock absorption.
Walking sticks or monopoles such as the Leki Wanderfreund are better suited to less strenuous walks and rambles.
Next take a look at our trekking pole selection guide
Head to the Hills Walking Pole Shop Sections