Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Nordic walking poles are an essential part of the sport of Nordic walking. The practical poles are available in many different versions, which differ in the material of the shaft and handle, the loop system, the length and the tip of the pole, among other things.

Which variant you should choose depends on many different factors, such as your size, your level of advancement and your personal feeling.

With our big Nordic Walking poles test 2021 we would like to help you make the perfect choice. Therefore, we have explained to you exactly which aspects you should pay attention to when buying Nordic walking poles.

In addition, we have compared telescopic poles and fixed-length poles with each other and compiled the respective advantages and disadvantages for you. In addition, we have picked out the most important questions about Nordic walking poles and answered them in detail so that you have no more unanswered questions before you buy.




The most important facts

  • Nordic walking poles are a prerequisite if you want to practise the sport of Nordic walking. They not only help you keep the right rhythm, but also work your arms and the entire upper body. They also provide you with support and thus protect your joints and muscles.
  • A distinction can be made between telescopic poles and fixed-length poles. Telescopic poles can be adjusted in length and are therefore particularly suitable for beginners, travellers and people who are growing. Fixed length poles cannot be adjusted and should therefore only be bought if you have already found your perfect pole length.
  • One of the most important aspects to consider when buying poles is the size of the poles. You can calculate which size you should choose based on your height. However, your experience also plays a role. Advanced skiers can choose slightly longer poles. Beginners should always choose the shorter version.

The Best Nordic Walking Poles: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for Nordic walking poles

In the following, we will show you which aspects you should pay attention to when deciding between different Nordic walking poles.

The criteria you can use to compare Nordic walking poles include:

In the next few paragraphs we will explain in more detail what is important in each aspect.

Material

The material from which Nordic Walking poles are made has an influence on the weight of the poles as well as on their resistance, and many other factors. Most Nordic Walking poles are made of carbon or aluminium. Both materials have advantages and disadvantages.

Carbon is about four times stronger than aluminium.

The highest quality poles are made of carbon. The material is very light and dampens vibrations very well, thus ensuring fewer vibrations. Carbon is also particularly resistant.

Therefore, it is less likely that the poles will break, which makes them very durable. Furthermore, Nordic walking poles made of carbon are deformable and allow for a dynamic, powerful push-off.

Due to their properties, poles made of carbon are particularly suitable for tall people or people with high body weights. They are also recommended for people who do a lot of walking. However, the positive characteristics come at a higher price. You usually have to pay more for carbon poles.

Besides poles that are purely made of carbon, there are also carbon composite poles. These are made of a mixture of carbon and glass fibre. They are usually a little cheaper than poles made of 100% carbon.

The more carbon in the poles, the stiffer and stronger they are

Carbon composite poles are also more flexible than aluminium poles and therefore better for the joints. They are particularly suitable for beginners and lighter people.

Aluminium is the cheapest material. It is not as flexible as carbon or a carbon-fibreglass mixture and therefore does not dampen vibrations as well. The material is also heavier and not as resistant. Therefore, Nordic Walking poles made of aluminium break more easily and are not as durable.

Loop system

One of the most important aspects you should pay attention to when buying a pole is the loop system. It is important that the loops have a good fit and are adjustable so that the hand is guided close to the pole. However, there should also be enough freedom of movement.

A distinction is made between loops that are removable and fixed loops that cannot be detached. If you often go walking, you should choose loops that are detachable. This makes it possible for you to reach for things without having to open the whole strap.

It is also important that the loops can be detached from the pole easily and quickly.

This way you can quickly grab your water bottle or tie your shoes while walking.

The poles should also have a thumb loop so that you can easily grab them again after releasing them.

If you plan to use the poles in winter, you should make sure that you can still fit through the loops when wearing gloves. It is an advantage if the loops can be adjusted with a Velcro fastener.

Handle

The handles should be ergonomically well shaped. But the material also plays a big role in the decision. Above all, it should be non-slip and absorb moisture well. Most Nordic walking poles are made of cork, rubber. Foam or plastic.

  • Cork / imitation cork: Cork is the most popular, but also the most expensive material. It absorbs moisture, for example sweat, and is very non-slip. It is also very elastic and therefore particularly comfortable to hold. One disadvantage is that it wears out more quickly than other materials.
  • Rubber: Rubber is particularly resistant and durable. It is non-slip, but does not absorb moisture quite as well as cork. On the other hand, it can be cleaned easily and is very easy to shape.
  • EVA foam: Foam is very elastic and light, which makes it particularly comfortable to hold and prevents blisters from forming. It also absorbs sweat and is breathable. However, it is not as durable as other materials.
  • Plastic: Plastic is the cheapest material. It is durable but does not absorb moisture. Therefore, it is slippery and does not feel good in the hand, which can lead to blisters. Plastic handles are therefore not recommended.

Often the handles of Nordic walking poles are also made of a combination of the above-mentioned materials. These grips are then called 2-component grips. In this case, you should make sure that the transitions are well made.

Length

The right length of Nordic Walking poles is extremely important. If the poles are too long, you can get tension in your back, and if they are too short, you cannot push off properly.

Fixed-length poles are available in 5 cm increments, while telescopic poles can be individually adjusted. You can find out which length is best for you with the help of a simple formula:

pole length = body height * 0.66

If you are between two sizes, you should always choose the shorter version. This will help you avoid shoulder and back pain.

An alternative way to find the right length for you is to stand upright and hold the poles in both hands. There should be a 90 degree angle between your upper and lower arms. Then you have found the optimum pole length for you.

Pole tip

It is important that the tip of the pole is made of a high-quality material that is robust and hard, as the tip is subjected to the greatest stress during walking.

Most tips are made of metal and should ideally be slightly bevelled. This gives you the best grip when pushing off and you are less likely to slip.

However, your choice of tip should also be influenced by the condition of the ground.

If you are mostly on soft ground, for example in the forest or on meadows, you should choose a metal tip because it gives you the necessary grip. However, if you often ride on hard surfaces, such as asphalt, you should use rubber pads. You can simply put them on the tips and take them off again if necessary.

You can choose individual pads to go with your Nordic walking poles. The next section explains what you need to pay attention to.

Accessories

Many manufacturers include rubber pads in the delivery. These reduce shocks and vibrations, protect the tip and minimise noise when walking. The pads are available in different variations, which differ mainly in their shape.

  • Round: Rounded and especially suitable for mountainous areas and trekking tours.
  • Stone: Similar to rubber shoes and are suitable for asphalt or tar due to their deep profile.
  • Ground: Roundish and smaller than Stone pads. Well suited for concrete.
  • Spike: As the name suggests, these pads have additional metal spikes. This makes them good for difficult conditions, such as snow.

Decision: What types of Nordic Walking poles are there and which is the right one for me?

If you want to buy Nordic walking poles, you can basically choose between telescopic poles and fixed-length poles.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Telescopic poles Can be used by several people, Good for travelling, Good for children, young people and beginners Heavier weight, Less stable, Doesn't dampen vibrations as well, Locking mechanism can break, More expensive
Fixed length poles More stable and durable, Less weight, Less vibration and better pendulum behaviour Size must fit exactly, Not the right pole for every size, Harder to store

In the following sections we explain in more detail what makes each type different and what the respective advantages and disadvantages of the two alternatives are.

Teleskopstöcke

Telescopic poles

Telescopic poles are Nordic walking poles that can be adjusted in length. The tube of the pole consists of at least two parts that are connected by a locking system.

Since the height can be adjusted individually, telescopic poles are particularly suitable if the poles are to be used by several people of different sizes. The poles are also good for growing children or young people or beginners who have not yet found their optimal pole length.

In addition, the poles can be pushed together and are therefore easy to store. Therefore, telescopic poles are a good choice for people who would like to take their Nordic walking poles with them when travelling.

Advantages
  • Can be used by several people
  • Good for travelling
  • Well suited for children, teenagers and beginners
Disadvantages
  • Heavier weight
  • Less stable
  • Don"t dampen vibrations as well
  • Locking mechanism can break
  • More expensive

One disadvantage of poles is that their weight is somewhat higher than that of fixed-length poles. They are also less stable and cannot dampen vibrations as well as poles made from one piece.

There is also a risk that the locking mechanism will wear out or break, causing the height to adjust while walking. Therefore, you should check the quality of the locking system carefully. Telescopic poles are usually more expensive than fixed-length poles.

Fixlängenstöcke

Fixed-length poles

With the fixed length pole, the tube is made from only one piece. This means that fixed-length poles are not adjustable in height.

This characteristic has several advantages. Fixed-length poles are more stable and durable than telescopic poles. They are also lighter and have other positive characteristics, such as less vibration and better pendulum behaviour.

Advantages
  • More stable and durable
  • Lower weight
  • Less vibration and better pendulum behaviour
Disadvantages
  • Size must fit exactly
  • Not the right pole for every size
  • Harder to store

A disadvantage of fixed-length poles is that the size of the pole must be exactly adapted to the size of the user. Therefore, the same pole should not be used by several people of different sizes. In addition, there is not exactly the right stick for every size. Also, fixed-length poles cannot be stored as well as telescopic poles, as they cannot be pushed together.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about Nordic Walking poles answered in detail

Before you decide to buy Nordic Walking poles, you will probably have some unanswered questions that you would like to have answered. In the following sections, we have answered the most important questions about Nordic Walking poles so that you can make the perfect purchase decision.

Who are Nordic Walking poles suitable for?

Nordic Walking is basically suitable for everyone. For overweight people in particular, the sport is a good alternative to jogging, as the poles put less strain on the joints.

When choosing poles, overweight or tall people should make sure that they choose poles with a high carbon content, as these are more stable and resistant.

Nordic Walking Stöcke-1

Nordic walking is a sport that is suitable for everyone. Which poles are right for you depends on your age, size and experience, among other things.
(Image source: NickyPe / pixabay)

Of course, children cannot use the same poles as adults. Telescopic poles are particularly suitable for them. Since children are still growing and the right length therefore still changes, telescopic poles should be chosen because here the length can be individually adjusted.

Beginners, who often still have to find the optimal length for themselves, also benefit from choosing telescopic poles first.

Advanced hikers who have already found the optimum length for themselves can also use fixed-length poles. As already mentioned, these are often more resistant and durable than telescopic poles.

What are the benefits of Nordic Walking poles?

Nordic walking poles are essential for practising the sport of Nordic walking properly. Basically, Nordic Walking is a fast walking activity in which the movements are supported by two poles.

The poles help to keep a constant rhythm and, in addition to the legs, they also activate the arms and the entire upper body. In addition, the poles provide a support function, which protects the muscles and joints.

This makes Nordic Walking very effective but also less prone to injury, which is why it is a very good endurance sport for beginners or older people. The movement sequences strengthen the circulation as well as the heart and muscles.

It also boosts the metabolism and can burn up to 750 calories per hour.

Another advantage of Nordic walking poles is that they provide safety and grip on difficult surfaces, such as snow or muddy paths.

What size Nordic Walking poles should I buy?

The size of Nordic Walking poles you should buy depends mainly on your height. The wrong length can cause you to bend, which can lead to tension and pain.

To determine the right length of your Nordic walking poles, you can choose a mathematical or a practical way.

For the first method, you get the right length by multiplying your height by a factor of 0.66. For the practical method, you have to stand up straight. For the practical method, stand upright and grasp both poles by the handle. Place the poles vertically in front of you. If you now have a 90 degree angle in the crook of your arm, you have found the right length for you.

Nordic walking pole sizes usually start at 100 cm and go up to 140 cm in 5 cm increments. To help you decide, we have listed the right pole lengths for different body sizes:

height pole length
1.52-1.59 metres 100 cm
1.60-1.66 metres 105 cm
1.67-1.74 metres 110 cm
1.75-1.81 metres 115 cm
1.82-1.89 metres 120 cm
1.90-1.96 metres 125 cm
1.97-2.04 metres 130 cm

If you are between two sizes, you should choose the smaller size, especially if you are a beginner. If the poles are too long, the upper body muscles are easily strained too much. However, advanced walkers can also choose longer poles.

What do Nordic Walking poles cost?

Depending on the quality and material of the poles, as well as other factors such as the loop system, the price range for Nordic walking poles is around 30-200 euros.

If you are a beginner, you should not invest directly in expensive high-tech poles. Inexpensive poles for beginners are usually made of aluminium and cost around 30 to 100 euros. These models are often available at discount stores. Although they are less comfortable and do not dampen vibrations as well, they are very suitable for getting into training and finding the optimal pole length.

Price Level
30-100 euros Beginner
100-150 euros Advanced
150-200 euros Hightech

If you want a higher-quality pole made of carbon, you can get one for about 100 euros. This investment is worthwhile if you train more often per week and have already found your perfect pole length.

High-tech poles are around 150 to 200 euros. The differences to high-quality poles, for up to 150 euros, are not too great here and so you should only buy such a pole if you are an absolute Nordic walking fan. Differences in this price range often only depend on the brand, as well as other factors, such as the grip material.

What are the alternatives to Nordic Walking poles?

People often think that trekking poles or hiking poles can also be used for Nordic walking. This misconception is due to the fact that the poles look very similar.

However, there are important differences between the poles, which is why you should only use Nordic walking poles for Nordic walking. We will explain what these differences are in the following sections.

Nordic Walking Stöcke-2

Nordic walking poles and hiking poles are not the same. Also, Nordic walking poles should not be used for hiking and hiking poles should not be used for Nordic walking. Both have different characteristics and functions.
(Image source: cripi / pixabay)

Nordic walking and hiking are two sports that are performed on different terrains. While Nordic walking is done on flat to hilly ground, hiking is usually done on steeper terrain. Therefore, hiking or trekking poles are always height-adjustable, as you need different lengths for ascending and descending.

Hiking poles are not necessarily needed for hiking.

The functions of the poles are also different. Nordic walking poles are used to support movement and to train the upper body. Hiking poles, on the other hand, are used to support you on difficult terrain and prevent you from slipping.

Due to their different functions, Nordic walking poles and trekking poles also have different characteristics. A high carbon content is advantageous for Nordic walking poles.

This makes the poles lighter and dampens vibrations, thus protecting the joints. Hiking requires more stability. Therefore, hiking poles are usually made of aluminium and weigh more.

The loops of the two types of poles also differ. Hiking or trekking poles have simple loops that can be released quickly. With Nordic walking poles, on the other hand, a well-fitting strap is very important. It should sit firmly on the wrist and ensure that when the pole is released, the movement can be continued.

How do I use Nordic Walking poles correctly?

It is not only important to have good poles, but also to use them correctly. Even though Nordic Walking looks easy, there are many mistakes you can make. Therefore, we have picked out a few rules to explain how to perform the technique correctly:

  1. Note the shape of the cross: Perform a diagonal movement. This means that when your left leg is in front, your right arm is behind your body. The same applies the other way round.
  2. Bend slightly forward: Make sure your upper body is slightly tilted forward. If you are walking uphill or in a very athletic way, you can also bend forward a little more.
  3. Hold the pole close to your body: Nordic Walking poles should be held close to your body and parallel to your body axis.
  4. Relaxed movements: Your neck and shoulder area should not be tense. Loosen your body and perform rhythmic movements.
  5. The right roll: Step up with the heel first and then let yourself roll over the entire foot.
  6. The right arm movement: When you bring your arm forward, your upper and lower arm should form a right angle. The movement should also come from the shoulder joint and not from the elbow joint. When you bring your arm back, you should extend your arm so that it forms a straight line with your pole.
  7. Holding the poles: Grip the poles tightly as you move forward and open your hands as you swing the pole backwards. When you bring the poles forward again, grasp the poles firmly at about hip height.
  8. Direct your gaze forward: Avoid looking at the ground or your feet. Keep your gaze straight ahead. This will help you avoid tension in your neck and shoulders.

In order for you to see the correct technique performed, we have selected a video in which the technique is explained and demonstrated in a comprehensible way.

Picture source: maridav/ 123rf.com

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