Best Walking Pole
Best walking pole to buy in the UK (October 2020).
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Walking Poles : A Buyer’s Guide
Walking and hiking is a pastime that’s more thrilling than people make out. Sure enough, many people spend their lives walking from place to place – but why not make a hobby out of it? The UK alone is home to some wonderful natural walks and hiking trails. If you’re tempted to start traversing various patches of woodland, hills and dales, however, it’s time to start thinking about any support you might need.
It might not seem too necessary to many people, but there are plenty of great benefits to investing in walking poles. We’ll cover these in more detail further down, but it’s a common misconception that only people with low mobility ever use poles to hike and walk around with. The fact is, hiking and walking poles are a great resource for people of all ages and abilities. However, even those who are interested in buying these poles might not know what they need to look for before they buy, nor what some of the major differences might be.
That’s where we come in. Surprisingly, walking poles come in all shapes and sizes. They all do the same thing – on the whole – but there are always a few crucial differences which separate budget poles from more expensive choices. In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about walking poles, including what to compare when buying, and which options might work best for you in the long run. We’ll also cover a few frequently asked questions at the end of the guide, too.
Why Buy Walking Poles?
It’s a good question, and one many people are likely to ask if they have never hiked or gone on an adventurous walk before. Ultimately, walking poles do more than just complete that classic ‘hiker’s outfit’, along with a woolly hat, backpack and waterproof trousers.
• Walking poles are ideal if you are likely to walk or hike up and down steep slopes or surfaces. For example, if you are walking over hills, mounds and valleys, you are likely going to need a little more grip than those in your shoes or boots.
• They are also great for helping people who strain easily. If you suffer from weak knees or already have a strain or two in your legs or feet, walking poles can help shift a lot of the pressure and effort away.
• They are also great at lessening the risk of injury. Believe it or not, walking and hiking can be very dangerous! This is especially the case if you are elderly or struggle to walk long distances. Walking poles with firm grips and deep spikes will help you to keep your balance.
• For more able-bodied people, walking poles can actively help to lessen fatigue. Therefore, you may find that you can walk further for longer than you normally might. If you have a heavy backpack full of supplies, too, you can help to shift the weight away from your back and lower extremities onto your poles. It is a very good way to make sure you keep things in balance.
• You may even find that you walk or hike quicker with poles. You might be able to cover more ground in less time, and it may be useful if you find it hard to keep up with other people or a group of younger, speedier walkers.
These are just a few ideas as to why walking poles might be a worthy investment for you. However, the benefits will differ from case to case. Therefore, your own comfort or activity level may vary.
Things to Consider
Now that we’ve looked a little deeper at why people buy walking poles, we now need to think about what separates the different models from one another. Yes – believe it or not, there are some key differences between walking poles which you should probably do best to sift between.
Of course, the weight and portability of your walking poles should be a main concern. All walking poles are designed to be used on the go – obviously – but do be careful when comparing poles which are light in weight. These aren’t necessarily going to give you the best stability on the go. What’s more, the very lightest poles tend to be less easy to compact. It’s strange but true!
Therefore, be ready to compare for this trade-off. Look for walking poles that are light enough and easy enough for you to move around with, but do also consider stability, strength and storage. These can all fall down in the name of keeping things lightweight.
If you’re going to be walking long distances, you’re going to need grips that are comfortable for you to handle over long periods. You may find that some walking poles come with rubber or cork grips as standard. What may appeal to you might vary. Therefore, if possible, it may be worth trying out rubber or cork in person before you choose to buy online.
However, you might also want to look for grips or handles which absorb shock, in which case a foam option may be the best choice for you.
Strength isn’t something that’s so easy to judge online, unless you of course bear verified reviews in mind. One thing to look for if you want a particularly strong set of poles is a ‘Nordic’ style. Nordic walking poles are built to withstand walking around rough, hilly terrain, particularly on the continent and for piste-walking purposes. However, you may expect to pay a little bit extra for the privilege!
A wrist strap is going to be your easiest way to keep hold of a pole if you lose your grip. There’s no way of telling if or when you’re going to slip free, so make sure to buy poles that have comfortable straps which are easy to fit to various wrists. Walking poles are a great safety aid, so make sure you take their various safety features seriously when shopping around!
Baskets and Tips
A pole basket will stop the pole unit from sinking too deep when you spike it into the ground. Good poles should have adjustable and changeable baskets, which you can therefore chop and change when you walk across varying terrain. Your pole tips should also change if you walk tough or soft terrain. For example, hard spikes which are great for tough surfaces aren’t necessarily going to keep things stable for you if you’re walking across soft or muddy ground.
Many walking poles compact right down, meaning you can fold them up and pack them away when not in use. If you’re on holiday or are walking long distances, this is likely to be a plus point for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
New to walking or hiking? Maybe you just want to know more about how walking poles can help you from trip to trip. Don’t worry – here are a few common queries to help you on your way.
Should I Buy Walking Poles at a Specific Length?
The ideal length of walking poles will differ depending on your own comfort and stance. This is a good reason why you should consider looking at retractable walking poles, and/or why you should look into trying out poles in public before buying online. Either way, it’s worth getting a feel for the market rather than just making an assumption based on your height.
Can I Use One Pole On Its Own?
Not ideally. Unlike walking sticks, walking poles are sold in pairs to offer maximum stability and strength. Using just one pole is going to put you at risk of falling or suffering injury. Therefore, don’t ever be tempted to use a single pole when two are available.
Should I Use Walking Poles Without Wrist Straps?
You may feel that walking poles are easy enough to use without straps, however, it’s never a good idea to leave them hanging loose. Make sure to strap yourself up as comfortable as you like, not too tight, but safe enough so that you’re not going to go falling or flying at short notice.
How Much Do Walking Poles Cost?
Generally, you won’t need to stretch your budget too much when buying walking poles. You can buy a good pair for around £20-£30, possibly less. However, it may be worth investing more money if you are likely to be walking or hiking long distances, or on a regular basis.
Do I Really Need Walking Poles?
Even if you are healthy, fit and able-bodied, you may find that walking poles can help you go further for longer. If you’re a walking enthusiast and want to keep covering terrain for as long as possible, it’s worth making the right investment.
Walking poles are fantastic investments if you are just starting to hike, or if you’ve been walking for a while and are suffering from fatigue. There’s more to compare than you might think! Take a look around and see what you can find.