Walking poles Buyer's Guide
Enjoy walking in the great outdoors more with our expert guide to selecting the perfect walking poles.
Choosing the right walking poles for you
With the right pair of walking poles for extra stability, long-distance hikes will be a breeze. It can be hard to decide what’s right for you so here are our top tips on what to look for:
Does the wrist strap work for you?
Put your hand up through the strap and hold lightly onto the handle. You should be able to put all your weight on the strap so there’s no need to grip tightly. Look out for plastic buckles that could dig into your hand. Padded and contoured straps are usually more comfortable than standard webbing.
Are the handles comfortable?
Are the handles made from cork, rubber, plastic or wood? It’s a personal preference, but cork and rubber compounds tend to be more comfortable than plain rubber or plastic. Some poles also offer a foam section underneath the handle as an alternative grab point.
Do you want shock absorbers?
To reduce the jarring when the pole hits the ground, many poles have an in-built anti-shock device. Some allow you to turn the anti-shock on or off. Those without shock absorbers will be lighter and cheaper.
On relatively level ground you should adjust your poles so that your forearms are horizontal to the ground. When ascending shorten the poles. When descending, lengthen the poles so you can place them in front of your feet to aid your balance. All poles are adjustable, but the better ones have a flip-lock mechanism which is normally quicker and less fiddly to use.
Choose the right size basket
Most poles come fitted with a small plastic basket near the tip to stop them sinking too deep into the ground. For snow, especially powdery conditions, a larger basket is better.
Adapt the tips for different terrains
Generally, tips tend to be made from carbide as they are very durable. However they can make a tapping noise on hard surfaces and can risk damaging sensitive environments. Rubber bungs are therefore a good optional extra to muffle the tapping sound and to provide better purchase on hard ground.
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