What is Nordic Walking?
Nordic Walking was developed from Cross-Country Skiers' off-season training activity. It can be seen as enhanced walking where the object of the activity is to involve muscles in the upper body to add greater intensity to the level of exercise; all while reducing the impact on the legs compared with running.
Do I need special poles?
LEKI Nordic Walking poles differ from regular trekking poles in one main area: the grips and straps. The Nordic Walking straps stay wrapped snugly round the hands and are clipped to the slimmer grip of the pole by a quick release system. This allows the pole to be swung from the hand, with the downward pressure from the arms quickly applied to the pole when the it reaches the desired position.
If Nordic Walking technique is attempted with trekking poles the grip has to be held firmly in the hand which then prevents the quicker motion of the hand when the walker gets under way. The effort from the arms then cannot be applied to the pole until the grip is released, resulting in a clumsy, stilted action.
As well as the information below we also have a general Frequently Asked Questions page on all aspects of LEKI Trekking and Nordic Walking Poles: FAQ
The biggest decision to be made when purchasing Nordic Walking poles is whether to opt for pole that are fixed length, variable length two part or compact three part "Traveller" series.
All three of these types of poles, provided they are properly designed and made from suitable materials, are true Nordic Walking poles. Choosing the type that suits your most likely usage of the poles and preferences will result in greater participation and enjoyment of the sport.
Fixed length Nordic Walking poles offer uncompromised performance for the dedicated, regular user. They are most popular with who have had a bit of experience with variable poles and who have probably had a few days of instruction in correct Nordic Walking technique.
For the serious devotee of the sport of Nordic Walking fixed length poles can offer the following benefits:
- Lighter weight
- No vibration from overlapping sections
- No chance of poles slipping during more strenuous exercise
- Less inertia from the pole meaning it can be placed more precisely at speed
Because they cannot be adjusted, it is important to purchase the correct length of pole for the individual user. This is easy if you are a previous user of adjustable poles as the length that you would normally adjust those poles to would be the correct ones to buy. As a rough guide poles are commonly 65 to 70% of the users height; by multiplying height (in CM) by 0.68 and rounding to the nearest 5 CM an approximation can be made. This gives an approximate starting point for deciding the size of pole required.
Poles that are the wrong length for the individual can be awkward and frustrating to use, especially in varying terrain.
Variable Length Two Part Poles
Variable length poles offer flexibility to the user to try out different techniques, or even to change the intensity of your workout.
For many Nordic Walking participants, variability of the length of pole may convey these benefits when considering ownership:
Adding adjustability does inevitably add a little weight, complexity and cost to a pair of poles. LEKI have reduced the impact of the first two of these drawbacks by careful use of high quality materials and the best locking mechanisms available on any pole.
LEKI use three different locking systems throughout their range of Nordic Walking poles. All are more than capable of holding the adjustable sections in place even for the most aggressive or athletic user. They all exceed, by quite a large margin, the German TÜV Süd certification standards and have the highest holding force of any other systems currently available.
Super Lock System (SLS) - uses internal locking components which are adjusted by twisting the section. Capable of holding up to 140kg.
Speedlock 1 - External levers lock a plastic collar to the adjustable section. Capable of holding up to 75kg.
Speedlock 2 - External levers mounted on a metal collar which clamps to the adjustable section. Capable of holding up to 95kg.
Variable Length Three Part "Traveller" Poles
Similar in most ways to the two part poles in offering all the advantages of adjustable pole length, but in having three parts the poles can be collapsed down to a much smaller size for transport.
Three part poles do feel a little heavier in use, particularly due to the overlap and locking system of the lower section increasing the "swing weight" of the pole. This is reduced by the use of some of the lightest and strongest pole sections available.
Additional locking mechanisms can add a slight vibrating feel to the pole which is mainly noticeable when using the tip without a rubber cover and the tip hits something hard. This is usually seen as a minor irritation by devotees of the Traveller series; the portability of the poles means they can continue their activity in situations that would have otherwise meant having no poles at all.
LEKI use two materials for the tubing used to construction Nordic Walking poles, each with unique characteristics. Sometimes the materials are combined for increased durability or lower cost.
Heat treated aircraft grade aluminium sections offer high load carrying ability and a long service life, even if abused slightly, making it the ideal material for a less experienced Nordic Walker. It is also a little bendier providing a slightly more comfortable, softer feel to the poles.
Pole sections made from Carbon tubing are lighter than the equivalent Aluminium section, but have an even higher load carrying ability. Carbon tubes are also stiffer and absorb less of the effort of the user, but with a slightly more rigid feel. Carbon sections are a little less tolerant to rough handling and their life can be reduced by knocks and deep scratches.
Nordic Walking can take place in all sorts of terrain and on many different surfaces and by people of varying ability, fitness and energy level. LEKI have developed a range of options for the point of contact of the pole with the ground.
This is a very sharp "blade" type tip that is popular with very energetic, experienced Nordic Walkers. The length and sharpness of the pointed tip allows the tip to dig in to firm surfaces quickly, but without getting stuck too deep.
Speed tips are supplied with grippy rubber Powergrip Pads (AKA Paws) for when the poles are being used on solid surfaces, but they need an adapter inserted in to the pads to prevent the blade from piercing the rubber.
Can also be used with the studded rubber Nordic Walking Silent Spike Pads.
These are the same tungsten carbide hollow pointed tips that are supplied with most LEKI trekking poles, although supplied on most poles with a smaller Micro Basket. The Flextips are designed to grip in most conditions except paved surfaces such as tarmac when a rubber cover or Paw such as the Powergrip Pads, which are supplied with most poles, should be used.
Can also be used with the studded rubber Nordic Walking Silent Spike Pads.
Smart Tips were developed by LEKI as a way of combining a grippy soft rubber pad for hard surfaces with a sharp tip for when the rubber will not bite, such as on grass. These tips have become popular amongst more leisurely walkers who are more likely to do their Nordic Walking in country parks, or even city parks, where the conditions under foot are not too broken or muddy, but where differing surfaces are encountered.
The retracting tip, whilst not as suited to muddy ground as the Carbide Flextips, are perfect for use on grassy surfaces or compacted gravel paths. The hard tip can be quickly retracted for hard surfaces, all without having to find somewhere to put your dirty Paws.
The rubber pads of the Smart Tips are just as hard wearing as the Power Grip Pads and so last quite well unless a lot of skidding or dragging of the pads occurs on abrasive surfaces. The rubber pads are removable to un-clog the sliding parts if they become clogged with clay or sand. Replacement parts are also available.