What are the Best Nordic Walking Poles for You?
Nordic Walking Poles – What are the Best Nordic Walking Poles for You?
What are the best Nordic Walking poles? This is a question we get asked all the time and as one of the largest independent retailers of Nordic Walking poles in the country I thought it would be worth doing a quick introduction to help you make the best decision.
Nordic Walking, not trekking
This is one of the most common and costly mistakes people can make.
A trekking pole is for walking in the hills; they are fully adjustable and have a hand strap with a large comfy handle. Brilliant if you are out walking in the hills for the day, but they are not Nordic Walking poles.
A Nordic Walking pole is very much lighter, has a ‘glove’ on the top, so you can strap yourself into the poles and also ‘paws’ on the bottom which are angled. This is because a Nordic Walking pole is used with the bottom of the pole well behind the top, so you can use it for forward momentum, rather than balance, as a trekking pole is used for.
Weight of the pole
One of the deciding factors when choosing a Nordic Walking pole is its weight.
A rough rule is - the more you spend on a set of poles the lighter they will be.
So why do you need a light pole?
If you realise that you will be walking for a couple of hours with a pole at 45 degrees behind you, your arms and hands will feel the difference of the weight of any set of Nordic Walking poles. As you are not holding the poles at 90 degrees to the ground (i.e. vertical) you will feel any excess weight in the poles after a while.
We have great fun weighing poles for customers in our shop. We get the scales that we use to weigh our mail and start weighing poles. The question always comes up; is it worth an extra £25.00 to save 30 grams on your poles? To be honest if you are going to go Nordic Walking 4 or 5 times a week I would say yes, but if you are going to Nordic Walk a couple of times a month I would say no.
What material should Nordic Walking poles be made out of?
Nordic Walking poles are made out of two different materials. These are -
Carbon fibre (often shortened to carbon in descriptions on web sites etc) - this is super light and strong. Formula 1cars are made out of carbon fibre! You will find that the more expensive poles are made out of carbon fibre.
Aluminium – The cheaper alternative. Still very strong but weighs a little more. Also there is a possibility of bending aluminium, which is not the case with carbon poles. But, saying that, we have had many aluminium poles in our training bags for years (being used extensively in schools) and they get very, very well used. In this time I have only ever seen one set of aluminium poles bent slightly in all that time.
What length of pole?
When you are standing with the Nordic Walking pole vertical to the ground your elbow should be at right angles and the lower part of your arm should be flat (i.e. running parallel to the ground). There is a way to work out the length of pole you need, but please use this as a guide only. In our experience everybody is different; some people have long or short legs and other people have long bodies.
The best way is to be fitted for your poles, alternatively if you have had lessons in Nordic Walking you will hopefully know what length poles you used and if you found then comfortable. Another alternative is to buy Travellers, or adjustable Nordic Walking poles, which you can adjust to the exact length for you.
A rough guide is to use your height in centimetres multiplied by 0.68.as follows. This works out as follows –
Pole length - Your height (cm) - Your height (ft and inches)
100cm – 145 to 150 cm – 4 ft 9” to 4 ft 11”
105cm - 150 to 160 cm – 4 ft 11” to 5 ft 3“
110cm – 160 to 170 cm – 5 ft 3” to 5 ft 5”
115cm – 170 to 175 cm – 5 ft 5” to 5 ft 9”
120cm – 175 – 180 cm – 5 ft 9” to 5 ft 11”
125cm – 180 – 185 cm – 5 ft 11” to 6 ft 1”
130cm – 185 – 190 cm – 6 ft 1” to 6 ft 3”
Travellers, adjustable or fixed length
One of the biggest debates we get into is about the type of poles people want. These can either be - Travellers (poles that are fully telescopic, to fold up into a suitcase), adjustable poles (which you can vary in length) or fixed length.
Often this preference comes down to what the customer has been advised during training. Many trainers have strong views on the type and make of pole people use and this often cascades down to the people they teach. I personally believe that your own budget and preference should be the main things to take into consideration when choosing your Nordic Walking Poles.
So when choosing a pole –
Travellers Nordic Walking Poles - If you want to use your Nordic Walking poles overseas (i.e. you need them to go in a suitcase) or you want to also use them to double up as a trekking pole (which you can do if you adjust the height of the pole and remove the glove and paws) Travellers poles are the one for you.
One thing to be aware of; often Travellers are the most expensive and some of the cheaper ones (which won’t be carbon fibre) may be a little heavier than either fixed length or adjustable poles.
The best Traveller Nordic Walking poles on the market – more here
Adjustable Nordic Walking poles – If you may want to share your poles with somebody else (who may be a different height) this is the option for you. But remember you won’t both be able to use them at the same time! One of the other plus points we find with adjustable poles is that you can set them to your exact length, rather than the nearest 5cm. Fixed length poles come in 5 cm options so if you are a 113 cm you can have a 113 cm pole, whereas you would be going for 115 if you bought a fixed length.
Our favourite budget end adjustable Nordic Walking pole is the Spin - more here
Fixed Length Nordic Walking Poles - You will find that the majority of fixed length Nordic Walking poles will be lighter. This is because they have no adjustment mechanism. However, they are more unpopular because of the impracticalities of carrying a fixed length pole.
I hope the above has helped you choose the best Nordic Walking pole for you.
The best plan of action is, if you get the opportunity, to speak to someone who can talk you through the different poles they have. We are open 5 days a week and I am a Nordic Walking instructor, more than happy to assist you.
Alternatively, why not join me on one of our training days (more here) and try the poles for yourself!