Many people ask us “which Nordic Walking poles should I buy?”. This is a difficult question to answer, as there are so many factors that should influence a purchase. There are also many manufacturers of Nordic Walking poles. Our current preference is Leki, mainly because we like the gloves and glove attachment as well as the pole adjustment mechanism.
Hopefully, this post will shed some light on the kind of questions that someone considering a purchase will ask. We have also written a review of the current Leki range of Nordic Walking poles. In future posts, we hope to do reviews of other manufacturers to compare against Leki.
What we think
Before we dive into the Leki Nordic Walking pole range, we have some advice for buying Nordic Walking poles:
- Take advice from a Nordic Walking Instructor, if you can – Also, the information below should also help your choice.
- Try before you buy – We have a selection of poles that you can try out before you commit to spending your money.
- Spend as much as you can afford – The more modern products are better but will cost a little more than the equivalent older model.
- Think about how you will use them – Will you want to take them on holiday, for example.
- Go for the more modern features, if you can afford them – These are currently 100% carbon, Trigger Shark 2.0 glove attachment and Speed Lock 2.0 clamps on adjustable poles.
- Use them and enjoy them.
Nordic walking pole length
Length is probably the most important factor in Nordic Walking poles. Your height is a good guide to determine the correct length of pole for you. However, arm and leg length also affects the pole length. Everyone is different. So, it is advisable to speak to a Nordic Walking Instructor, so that they can check what the correct length of pole is for you.
Most types of poles come in varying sizes between 100cm and 130cm. These sizes fit all but the tallest people. The adjustable poles are infinitely adjustable between 100cm and 130cm.
Question: What length poles do I need?
Answer: As we said earlier, this can vary for each person, but a rule of thumb is they should be 0.68 x your height. The table below is a rough guide.
Question: What’s the difference between fixed length and adjustable poles?
Answer: There are several differences between fixed length poles and adjustable poles. We’ll look at this next.
Fixed length poles
Why fixed length? They are call fixed length for a reason, as they are not adjustable, so must be sold in a range of lengths. Leki fixed length poles generally come in lengths of 100cm to 130cm in 5cm steps. This caters for the majority of people.
An advantage of fixed length poles is they only have a single section, so do not have clamps. This makes them lighter and there tends to be less vibration in the pole. Another advantage is that the length will never change (the clamps on adjustable poles can sometimes slip and the length changes).
There are disadvantages to fixed length poles. Storage or transport is more difficult and only people that use that length can use them, as they cannot be adjusted. Also, if you buy the wrong length you cannot change them, you must buy a new set of poles.
Adjustable poles come in two or three sections, which allows the user to change the length and then clamp the sections together. The two types of clamps used in the Leki range are Super Lock (twist clamp) and Speed Lock 2.0 (lever clamp).
The main advantage of adjustable poles are that they are infinitely adjustable between the minimum and maximum length of the pole, making storage and transport easier. They can be set up for anyone (within the limitations of the maximum length).
The Super Lock clamp is still in use in some of the current range of Leki poles, but is an older type of clamp. The Super Lock twist clamp is still good but can be more susceptible to dirt getting in the clamp and making it stick. The more modern clamp is the simpler Speed Lock clamp. This is less susceptible to dirt getting into it and is quicker to adjust.
There is a special type of adjustable pole. These are the Traveller type poles. See below.
What are Traveller poles?
Traveller poles are exactly what they say they are. The three section construction allows them to be shortened (or dismantaled) to fit in luggage when travelling.
Nordic walking pole weight
On average, a pair of Nordic Walking poles weighs about 400g, the same as a tin of soup. The variation in weight between the lightest and heaviest poles is about 140g, or about a third of a tin. It’s not much, so let’s take a look at some of the questions people have.
What are the lightest poles?
Unsurprisingly, the lightest poles are the fixed length poles. The extra few grams added by overlapping tube sections and clamps are absent here. The weight of fixed length poles varies from 166g / unit to 203g / unit, with an average of 176.5g / unit. To compare, the lightest adjustable pole is 171g / unit and the heaviest are 235g / unit, with an average of 206g / unit.
Is the weight of the pole important?
It really depends on how you want to use the poles. For most walkers the weight is irrelevant. The difference between the heaviest poles and the lightest is minimal and in some ways the lighter poles are not good for most walkers.
How does the weight of the pole affect their use?
The weight of the poles affects the action of the poles in various ways. The lighter the pole, the quicker it will move. So, if you are into competitions and activities where speed is key, the lightest poles are for you. The disadvantage of light poles is that they can be harder to control, especially when it is windy. They tend to fly away when you bring them forward.
Nordic pole material
The materials of Nordic poles have changed constantly since they were first conceived. Manufactureres have tried various materials, including aluminium, titanium, carbon composite and pure carbon. The materials used in the current Leki range are aluminium, carbon composite and pure carbon.
Question: What’s the difference between Aluminium and Carbon?
Answer: These materials are very different but both are strong and light. The method of constructing poles is also different. We talk about these below.
Aluminium is the oldest of the current Nordic Walking pole materials. It is the heaviest of the materials but does have some benefits. Aluminium poles are generally heavier than pure carbon or carbon composite poles but they are stiffer, so don’t absorb vibrations as well. Aluminium poles are simple metal tubes and are usually the cheapest poles of any type.
Carbon composite is a combination of carbon fibre and an epoxy resin that binds the fibres together. This was the stepping stone to pure or 100% carbon. This material is lighter than aluminium but marginally heavier than pure carbon. Some of the poles still use this material, often as part of an aluminium/carbon pole.
Pure or 100% carbon is the latest material in Leki Nordic Walking poles. All of the top rated poles are pure carbon. These are the lightest and strongest poles but usually the most expensive.
The pole tip
There are several different tips fitted to the poles in the Leki range. The tip that we are used to is the all-terrain tip, but the Smart tip and the Speed tip are more recent developments for specific purposes. More below.
The Smart tip allows the user to quickly switch between soft and hard surface tip, without touching the tip.
Speed tip is a hook like tip that is fitted to several fixed length poles. This tip provides good placement on all surfaces whilst reducing weight to a minimum.
The all-terrain tip is an all purpose tip fitted to the majority of poles from Leki. It provides good placement an all surfaces and allows a rubber foot to be attached over it, for use on hard surfaces.
Conclusion – Which Nordic Walking poles should I buy?
So, in answer to the “which Nordic Walking poles should I buy?” question, have a think about what you want based on the factors discussed here and then feel free to talk to us for advice.
If you would like to see the range of Leki poles that are currently available and our thoughts on them, take a look at our Leki Nordic Walking Poles post. Alternatively, look at the Leki site for Nordic Poles
Strolls with poles – Nordic Walking for Fun and Fitness