What are trekking poles good for?
The main advantage of trekking poles is that they cushion the impact on your knees and ankles, relieving your hips and spine. You will appreciate this most when walking downhill or in the terrain. On the other hand, when climbing hills, trekking poles help with proper posture and you will not lean forward - thus saving the lumbar region of your back. They increase stability when walking with a heavy backpack and in rugged terrain. They also allow you to breathe properly and determine the rhythm of walking.
There are trekking poles and Nordic Walking poles for so-called Nordic walking, which can be practiced as dynamic walking or running. The main difference between the two types is the loop that prevents the stick from slipping out of the hand. Trekking poles have a eyelet-like loop, Nordic Walking poles have a glove-shaped loop (so that the pole does not fall out of the hand during dynamic movement). Another difference is in the tip of the pole - trekking poles have a slightly blunter tip.
Which stick to choose?
Telescopic trekking poles have an adjustable length and are therefore very easy to store. However, this is not the only advantage - thanks to the adjustability, you can go uphill better, when the shorter length of the poles is more comfortable than when walking downhill. You can also lend the poles to another person who is not the same height as you. The disadvantage can be that the joints of the sticks wear out over time and their shock absorbing capacity deteriorates.
The second type is folding poles. These consist of several parts that are connected by a cable (they resemble tent poles in their construction). These poles are even more compact than the telescopic ones, but again have a slightly smaller range of height adjustment.
The last option is fixed sticks. You have to buy them in a length exactly according to your height. Although you won't be able to lend them to people of different heights, you'll still have clubs with greater rebound stiffness. Solid sticks are lighter and have a much longer service life (there is no risk of joint wear).
If you like to go on hikes in rugged mountain terrain, where you alternate ascents and descents and the conditions are more demanding, it is better to choose some of the higher quality telescopic poles. You will then be able to adjust the length depending on whether you are going downhill or uphill. On firm terrain, you will find poles that have shock absorbing elements (the Anti-shock system) to reduce the impact transmitted to your body.
If you prefer to walk on flat or slightly rugged terrain and are looking for shorter routes, sturdy trekking poles are the best choice for you.
Intensity of use
If you plan to go on hikes with trekking poles a few times a year, cheaper options will also serve you well. You can easily opt for aluminum or fiberglass folding poles and they will also meet your expectations.
Are you among active tourists and sportsmen? Do you go off-road several times a month? In this case, it pays to invest a larger amount in the sticks. Focus on the material from which the sticks are made - it should be as light as possible. Also, make sure that the handles are comfortable to hold and that the poles have the right tip for your preferred terrain.
The most common materials used for trekking poles include:
Aluminum poles have the heaviest weight, and if the poles don't have any damping elements in them, all the shocks are applied directly to your body. However, the advantage is the low purchase price. Aluminum poles are intended primarily for undemanding hikers who do not walk very dynamically and use poles more as support.
Fiberglass poles are significantly lighter than aluminum, but again transfer shocks to your body unless they have built-in shock absorbers. Fiberglass poles are more suitable for softer terrain and for undemanding hikers. The advantage is again the low price.
Among the best quality poles are the carbon ones. The carbon in the trekking poles ensures that they are lighter, harder and therefore the shocks are not transferred to your body as much. The value of carbon contained in the sticks is given in CI (Carbon Index), and ranges from 20 to 100 % (e.g. CI 650 means that the carbon content is 65 %). Choose the percentage of carbon according to your weight - the higher the weight, the more carbon the poles should contain in order to spring well. Carbon poles will be used by the most demanding hikers and anyone who plans to walk often and regularly with poles. Better quality carbon poles have a higher purchase price than fiberglass and aluminum poles.
Nordic walking poles
How to get the right length?
The length of trekking poles is individual, some people prefer longer ones, others shorter ones. However, it is true that when walking down a steep hill, the poles should be longer, and shorter when going uphill. However, if you have fixed poles that cannot be adjusted, the correct length can be calculated with a simple equation: your body height * 0.68 (eg if you are 170 cm tall, the ideal pole height for you will be 115 cm). To simplify, you can stick to this rule: if you stand straight and grasp the stick that touches the ground, the angle at the elbow should be roughly 90°.
How to take care of the sticks so that they last in perfect condition for as long as possible?
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To ensure perfect functionality and extend the life of your poles, it is necessary to disassemble and clean the poles from time to time. This mainly applies to adjustable poles, which could damage the telescopic system over time.
If only one part of your sticks gets damaged or worn, you can only buy spare parts and you don't have to buy new sticks. For some clubs, spare parts are already included. These are, for example, ends for spikes, plates, spikes themselves or, for example, loops. In our e-shop, we offer replacement loops and tip attachments in several designs.
What are sticks made of?
As mentioned in the introduction, trekking poles have different loops than Nordic Walking poles. In any case, both types of straps must be firm, soft, anatomically shaped and also easily adjustable.
The handle is a key element of the pole for your comfort. Foam, cork or rubber handles are most commonly produced. The foam ones are non-absorbent, light, non-slip and absorb vibrations. Cork handles combine the advantages of foam and a natural material that is antibacterial. But they are a bit heavier and more expensive. Rubber handles are the least expensive option, but they are quite heavy and if your hand gets a little sweaty, the wand can slip out.
We have already mentioned the material from which trekking poles are made. Other properties are strength and flexibility. Wands must be strong, durable and flexible to withstand the shocks and pressures they are subjected to.
For your greater comfort, you can purchase clubs with shock absorbers (Anti-shock system), which reduce the blows of the clubs when they come into contact with a hard surface, transmitted to your arms. This cushioning system is suitable for those who suffer from joint and elbow pain. In our e-shop you can choose, for example, these Hernegg trekking poles with Anti-shock system and cork handles.
Tungsten carbide tips are most often used, while cheaper variants tend to have steel tips (they have a shorter lifespan). Rubber tip covers should be an integral part of trekking poles. These are useful not only for the transport of sticks, but especially on hard surfaces, where they prevent the stick from slipping, dampen impacts and unwanted sounds created by the tips of the sticks hitting a hard surface. Instead of covers, plates can also be placed on the spikes, which are used on soft surfaces such as snow, mud or sand.