We have all seen walkers, ramblers, and hikers enjoying the countryside with a couple of poles (not to be confused with people from Poland who may or may not also be out walking) but do we know what they are for. In this post, I will be reviewing the benefits of using walking poles. I will explain what they are, how to use walking poles properly, and reviewing some of the best sellers.
This post contains affiliate links so I earn a commission – however, I will only recommend products I believe in.
What Are Walking Poles?
You can leverage any stick as long as it is long enough and sturdy enough. In fact, if you go trekking in some countries like Bali or Indonesia, local children will search for suitable fallen tree branches and sell them to tourists (Only to ask for their stock back when the tourist returns from the trek and no longer needs or wants to carry a lump of dead tree, genius business idea)
However, you can get a much more suitable product in stores or online. Typically they will be a pair of identical telescopic poles that extend to about 130cm and fold down to about half the size, and they will be made of a lightweight but extremely robust metal. Your walking poles may have a variety of bits of plastic to attach to the bottom for walking on different surfaces, i.e snow or ice
My Karrimor Trekkers, are made of aluminium, with a tungsten tip. The ergonomic hand grips make them comfortable to use. They have a little clip in the middle to keep them together when not in use and they have little rubber grips on the bottom to prevent slipping. They also came with little plastic spikes for walking on Ice but I have misplaced them. The Trekkers are simple to extend using fast lock levers and at 135cm fully extended, they are longer than a lot of the competition which is great news if you are tall.
Karrimor is stocked at SportsDirect.com, which is a great place for cost-effective sports clothing and/or equipment.
Who Should Use Walking Poles?
I adore off-road walking in nature and highly recommend it to anyone who has access to a large park, some woodland, or the countryside.
Walking poles change the game when it comes to walking on uneven terrain (including steps). If you are intending to take your walk off-road, you should definitely consider investing in some.
Walking uphill, the poles will transfer some of the effort required from your legs to your arms, making it feel easier while letting your arms share the workout benefits. Walking downhill, the poles will act as a breaker, reducing the risk of falling and reducing the impact on your joints.
If you are only going to be walking on flatland or you have minimal elevation to navigate, then you might want to leave the poles at home as to use them properly you will use more energy than just walking normally. However, the increased effort required will mean you can get more out of your workout using techniques such as Nordic Walking.
How Do I Use Walking Poles?
Using walking poles is easy when you know how to, and easy to get wrong when you don’t. The first thing you are going to consider is height. Shorter people are less likely to have a problem but if you are taller, you should look for something on the longer side. I am 6’4″ (about 195 CM) and my legs are disproportionately longer than my body. at 135 CM fully extended, my walking poles are great and I now know I would also be fine with 130 CM, if you are taller than me, you may want to head into a shop and play around with some to find the right size.
You want to adjust your poles so that when you are standing up straight with your elbow pinned by your side and bent at a 90-degree angle so your forearms run parallel. In this position, you should be able to comfortably hold the handle grips with the bottom of the poles firmly planted on the floor.
When walking uphill, you pair opposite legs and arms, so when you step with your left leg, you want to extend your right arm applying pressure to the walking pole as it makes contact with the ground in line with your left heel, then do the same with your right leg and left arm then repeat. For particularly steep hills you should use both poles for each step. Still keeping the poles in line with your heel, you can leverage the full strength of your arms to get you up.
If you think of the poles as an aid to progress when walking uphill, they are a safety measure on the way down. When walking downhill, you should lean back slightly transferring some of your weight onto your poles and into your arms. keep your knees slightly bent and take small steps. The steeper the hill the lower you want your center of gravity to be so you may end up in a squat position. It feels a bit weird getting used to it at first but as soon as you do, you won’t look back.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Walking Poles?
When we are out walking, generally our legs do all the heavy lifting (literally), and when we take this off-road we might put them through a bit more than they are used to. However, here are some of the benefits you will see if you choose to invest in a set of these useful beauties.
- You can reduce the strain on your leg muscles allowing you to cover further distances and still be able to walk the following day.
- You will reduce the impact on your joints when dealing with steep incline and decline.
- You will have a better balance heading downhill which is much safer.
- You will let your arms do some of the walking providing you with a more well-rounded fitness activity
Which Walking Poles Should I Buy
If you are interested in purchasing the same walking poles as I have, they are available at SportsDirect.com for £19.99.
I like them because they are lightweight, comfortable to use, completely sturdy, and no matter how much punishment I have put them through, they wipe clean and look new.
Cons: The problem with walking poles is how to carry them when they are not being used. The Trekkers only have a little clip keeping them together that is easy to lose. I would prefer a little bag. However, this is small fry as far as problems go as I was easily able to secure these on the outside of my backpack.
Alternatively, let’s look at some of the best sellers on Amazon: (As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases)
Glymnis Trekking Poles – £29.49 (Yellow) or £28.99 (blue)
Ranked as #1 on amazon in the walking poles category (at the time of writing this), Glynis offers a lifetime guarantee and this may negate the only drawback I can see which is the price.
Fully extended, these poles reach 130cm which is quite a common maximum length.
The absolute best feature I can see is that they collapse down to 36 CM, which is the smallest I have seen and will fit neatly into your bag.
The majority of almost 2000 reviews are 4 and 5 stars (19% and 69% respectively), it appears as though the general consensus is positive. However, 5% of 2000 is 1000 and that’s how many people gave the Glymnis Trekking poles 1 star. I have looked at some of these reviews and I would not be put off, the majority are 1 line reviews with no effort. One of the reviews was that there are no instructions, but I scrolled past the instructions on the website before I got to the reviews. Another said they bent which I assume would be covered by the lifetime guarantee.
Verdict: The Glymnis Walking Poles are a safe bet. I personally might opt for a cheaper option but I would seriously consider the extra few pounds for the 36 CM collapsed size and with the lifetime guarantee, it may be the only pair you ever need to buy.
TheFitLife Hiking Walking Trekking Poles – £24.98
At the time of writing, this was the #2 ranked product on Amazon under walking poles. They seem to rely on aviation aluminium as their USP highlighting the strength and quality.
TheFitLife’s offering also maxes out at 130 CM but it only collapses down to 65 CM so you would probably have to strap them to the outside of your bag while not in use.
The reviews suggest TheFitLife is a more popular option. Like the Glymnis reviews, TheFitLife reviewers have also come in at 88% for 4 and 5 stars (17% and 71% respectively and only 2% have given a 1-star verdict. However, with over 5000 reviews, this also equates to about 100 people.
Some of the 1-star reviews are pretty comprehensively written and may offer a cause for concern, however, over 4000 are extremely happy and TheFitLife have a 6-month gaurantee, more than enough time to know if they are good enough.
Verdict: TheFitLife offers a cost-effective and high-quality option.
Trespass Unisex Transduo – £19.99
I wanted to include a budget option between £10 and £20 but options are limited. Most of the listed products are single sticks or accessories. However, Tresspas do a no-frills option, they do not really list any USP’s leading me to believe they are relying on the lowest price point to make the sale. However, my Karrimor Trekkers are no-frills and they have got some mileage. The Tresspass Transduo is the highest-ranking product at this price point (#30)
This product only has 6 reviews (all 5-star), which I cannot actually find.
Verdict: No frills are not the problem, but the review situation means I am not sure I have enough trust yet.
What Are You Thinking?
Now you know what walking poles are, who they are for, how to use them and you have a few ideas about what’s on the market, which ones will you choose?.
If you found this content useful, have any suggestion of your own or would like to comment on my suggestions, please leave a comment below