How to Choose the Best Walking or Trekking Pole for You.
We have already talked about the benefits of using trekking and walking poles in our previous article, but which poles will be best suited to your needs?
In this article we use the term walking or trekking poles interchangeably, we refer to Nordic Walking Poles separately.
Some points to consider when choosing trekking poles:
- What type of walking and terrain they will be used for ?
- Whats your budget?
- How light do you need them to be?
- Would you like anti shock or non-antishock?
- How small to do need them to pack down?
Let’s Take a Look at These Features of Walking Poles
What Type of Walking and Terrain they will be used for?
Rugged mountains, steep up and down or rambling tracks. Will you be carrying a heavy rucksack? and have long or short days in the hills? A good all-round option for low level use and mountain days where being ultralight is not your main concern the Leki classic superstrong poles make a good option.
How Light do you Need Them to be?
Lighter is generally better, especially when you consider you’ll be lifting your pole constantly throughout your day. The the weight of poles is affected by the shaft material and its diameter, plus the type of handle. The lighter poles tend to have slimmer, shorter shafts and are made of lighter weight aluminium and have lighter handles. Leki Ultralite pole range offers lightweight poles.
How small do you need them to pack down?
The number of sections a pole has affects strength of the shaft and how small they can be packed down.
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, mountaineering and climbing. Plus you can fit them on your rucksack for carrying.
Four section poles and folding poles compact down smaller, they may fit inside your rucksack, suit case or on the outside of small rucksacks.
Do you want Anti-shock or Non anti-shock?
Anti -shock can help reduce impact by upto 40% thereby protecting muscles, joints and ligaments, is this a concern for you? If you feel you want that extra bit of ‘give’ try an anti-shock. Note that anti-shock can add a bit of weight due to the extra mechanism.
Some people prefer the positive placement of a non-antishock pole. Non-anti shock is also useful when walking over loose terrain that can be unsteady under feet.
It really is a personal thing. Anti-shock and non-antishock options can be found in most poles.
Pole Adjustment Mechanisms
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 Speedlock use a clever leverlock action, these are simple to adjust and lock.
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 Tremalzo poles.
There are also foam grips such as Leki Thermo-grips, these are feel warmer to touch, breathable and are lighter weight. For example the Leki Thermolite XL 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 much 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.
Some Suggestions for Choosing Trekking Poles
1) Classic Trekking Poles
If you are a 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 have (though not always ) rubber handles, aluminium shafts and maybe ‘powder coated’, i.e. less scratch resistant.
Consider choosing from the Leki Classic superstrong poles
2) 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 such as…
If you dont want to compromise on weight or pack-ability then go for the even lighter poles, for a light swing and lighter load such as the 3 section Leki Carbonlite and the Leki Carbon Ti; or choose the compact 4 section folding Leki Vario Carbon and Micro Vario Carbon Lady.
3) 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 are better suited to less strenuous walks and rambles.
Next take a look at our Trekking Pole Selection Guide
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