Walking with trekking poles has many benefits. Using a pair is of hiking poles is best because they enhance the benefits of walking, facilitate body symmetry and help prevent joint and back pain. Trekking poles also help maintain balance and stability during dangerous journeys, downhill walks and slippery conditions. Many amateur and professional walkers today use trekking poles.
• Occasional walker: You walk in the forest or enjoy snowshoeing. Look for a pair of walking poles that are reliable, practical, compact and versatile. You might consider the lowest-priced telescopic models with steel tips.
• Regular hiker in summer and winter: Look for versatile, high-end hiking poles with a powerful, high-end tip and adaptable baskets
• Practicing Nordic walking: Look for a practical pair of Nordic Walking poles. Depending on how often you walk, choose the performance to suit your needs, as long as they’re suitable for Nordic walking
• Trail runner or fast walker: You need performance poles, perhaps light and foldable.
• Skier: Look for one-piece, full-length, non-foldable poles with a basket sized according to your skiing type.
Below, learn about the different parts that make up a trekking poles and ski poles:
• The body:
One-piece: Light but not adjustable. Ideal for Nordic walking and trails.
Multi-piece: In 2 or 3 pieces, these telescopic poles can be adjusted to size very easily. They are compact and can be stored easily in a backpack. They are found in the versatile hiking stick ranges and high-end trail running poles. There are also telescopic poles in junior skiing and hiking as they can be adjusted in height as kids grow. The main clamping systems are twist-lock, clip-lock and foldable.
Some walking poles and ski poles are compounds of several materials to be more versatile and useful. For example, a Nordic walking pole made of carbon compound and glass fibre absorbs vibrations while being flexible and hard-wearing.
Aluminium: Super-strong tube, lightweight and a great price. However, aluminum ski poles and walking sticks reverberate vibrations.
Carbon: Strong, rigid and lightweight, carbon walking poles and ski poles absorb vibrations for added comfort.
Fibreglass: Resistant tube, yet flexible at the same time.
Bamboo: Naturally solid, bamboo retains some flexibility.
An important deciding factor when buying poles is the handle. It’s in contact with your palm for the duration of the march, so the handle should feel comfortable to hold and have good support for the hand.
Cork: Comfortable and lightweight, cork handles are great at regulate sweating. Cork is more fragile than the other types of handles, so it requires care not to crumble. Find our care and maintenance tips lower down on this page.
Foam: Comfortable and lightweight, foam is easy to clean and absorbs sweat relatively well.
Plastic: Resistant and affordable in terms of price. However, plastic handles can make your hands sweat. Plastic is therefore normally only used for ski poles (used with ski gloves which will wick sweat) or for short walks and hikes.
Rubber: Robust, rubber is quite comfortable.
• Wrist straps:
Very useful on ski poles, hiking sticks, Nordic walking poles and trail poles for not having to grip the pole, allowing the hands to be free.
Simple: Classic adjustable strap
Doubled: generally made of neoprene to prevent slipping, and therefore these straps are often more comfortable.
Small diameter baskets are used in the summer to avoid the sticks getting stuck in stones, but also in winter on groomed trails. Larger diameter baskets are used in winter so that the pole does not sink too deeply into the snow, as well as for snowshoeing, freeride skiing and ski touring.
Tungsten tip: provides excellent grip and a high durability while maximising ground support. There are straight or bevelled models.
Steel: strong and traditional.
Buy your hiking poles on SnowUniverse — link to our choice of hiking poles for sale.
Indispensable for Nordic walks, gauntlets offer real support, more accuracy and comfort on long walks. When pushed on, they distribute the weight of the pole on the handle (feeling lighter to use) and systematically place the handle in your hand pulled back.
Detachable gauntlet: A simple push on the top of the handle and a lateral movement frees you from your pole. Essential for Nordic walking. Available on the VDF range of Nordic walking poles Guidetti, as well as TSL Outdoor Nordic walking poles with either clip-on or magnetic release in the TSL Tactil range.
This rubber piece on the tip of a trekking pole provides better grip depending on the type of terrain. There are different types of pads depending on the model and brand of pole. New Nordic walking poles, TSL tactil only work with the Crossover Pad, and the French brand Guidetti offers different padded pieces depending on whether the tip of the trekking pole is tapered or not. TSL Outdoor has created the simple and effective Push & Pull system, which allows piece changes depending on the type of terrain: rubber tip on tarmac and a more advanced tip on soft ground.
On SnowUniverse.com, you will find every spare part you need for pole maintenance: pads, baskets, tips, straps, handles. All these parts are exchangeable on most walking sticks. Lengthen your equipment’s life by replacing only the worn parts.
Don't forget to clean your trekking poles regularly. The majority of handles (foam, rubber and plastic) can be washed with soap and water. For cork handles, use water with a little bleach and linseed oil to make it supple to touch and to keep it moisturised.
If you need further advice before buying from SnowUniverse, such as which size to choose when buying trekking poles, get in touch.
Photos © Dan Ferrer/Dynastar / Photos © TSL Outdoor