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Walking poles - Tried and tested by the Yorkie Talkies Outdoor Team

At Yorkie Talkies Outdoors we LOVE a walking pole (or two!) Some hikers are sniffy about them, but if we've seen people's days on the hill completely transformed by trying some out. So, what are the best walking poles available in the UK and why do we recommend walking poles for beginners and experienced hill walkers?

Why walking poles can be a hiker's best friend

*They take up to 40% of pressure off your knees.

*They make excellent poking sticks to check the depth and squishiness of mud, bog and flowing water.

*Using two can help you walk with a 'smooth flow' and increase your pace.

*If you're a little wobbly on the downhill or crossing water, they will give you added stability and confidence.

*Ever had swollen hands after a long walk? Poles will position your hands and arms so this puffiness is significantly reduced.

*On a tough ascent, they are a great for leaning your forehead on as you wonder about your life choices.

Shopping for outdoor kit can be confusing and expensive. So, to help you choose the walking poles that are perfect for you, here are our reviews!

Best folding walking poles: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking/Running Poles

Price on writing: £160.00 per pair | Buy now from Black Diamond

These are the poles that Emma uses, some of you may have borrowed them. Here's what she says:

"By far the best poles I've had. They are super lightweight yet still feel robust and supportive. All of my clients who borrow them, love them. So much so, one person has invested. They breakdown small enough to go inside my bag, which saves the faff of attaching them to the outside of my bag."

These are a bit of a luxury buy. However, if you know you will get consistent use out of them, or value the ability to tuck them away for occasional use (on a descent for example) these are a fantastic option.

Best adjustable walking poles: Leki Voyager Trekking Poles

Price on writing: £52.00 per pair | Buy now from Go Outdoors

Kerry carries Leki Thermolite Poles and they are almost identical to this newer design. Here's how she feels about them:

"These are walking poles you need to twist to adjust. This is simple to do, however, it is very easy to pull them too far out and it's a faff to get them back into position. One they are adjusted, they are fine. They feel lightweight and attach to my bag with no problems."

I've borrowed Kerry's poles a few times and I agree about the slight issue with the twist and pull mechanism. That said, I felt they were very supportive and that the handles were comfy to hold and didn't get slippy in the rain.

Best lightweight trekking poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles

Price on writing: £95.00 per pair | Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor

These are poles have been my constant companions on hikes for a couple of years. They have a soft ergonomic handle and feel so light that sometimes I forget they are in my hands.

They have sturdy clips to adjust the top and bottom sections, which I find easy to use. I've used them on all types of terrain with no problems and it's simple to attach them to the back of my bag when scrambling.

The only issue I have is that if I'm leaning to hard on them, they can shorten slightly and need pulling out back to my preferred height.

Best budget walking poles: Robens Keswick T6 Walking Poles

Price on writing: £38.00 | Buy now from Snow and Rock

My husband and recce buddy has these and is pleased with them. He doesn't use poles as much as me, but when he needs them, they feel sturdy and supportive and they extend to the ideal length for his height with a simple twist mechanism.

I find them slightly heavier than my Black Diamonds but the handle felt comfy throughout the 10-miles I used them. I am particularly impressed with how long the snow baskets and rubber tips have lasted. You get spares to, that's impressive at this price!

What to look for when buying walking poles

Weight: Whether they are on the outside of your bag or inside, or in your hands, poles that feel lightweight will give you support and assistance without feeling like a burden.

Cork or EVA foam handles: If you get sweaty hands, or find comfy EVA foam handles slip out of your grip when they are wet from the rain, consider a cork handle as they absorb moisture effectively.

Height: High-tech walking poles can come in different lengths, so you walking pole is more suited to your height. Check the manufacturer's 'Size Guide' for more info

Locking mechanism: Twist locks have been around for ages and make the pole more streamlined, they can take practice to suss out however. Righty tighty or lefty loosey? Clip or flick locks open and close like a tiny gate, they are super simple, but sometimes need re-adjusting during a long hike. Smash locks are new tech and just need a small twist and downward application of pressure to lock tight.

The strap: This should only be used if you're not on rocky or slippy terrain (if you trip, you want your pole to fall away from you) When you do use it, it should feel comfy and allow your skin to breathe.

Shock absorption: A small internal 'bounce' which cushions your hand and arm from any jolts as you hit hard rock.

Foldability: Some poles can be folded in half without compromising their strength when in use. This is a great feature if you only use your poles for part of your hikes.

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1 Comment

Glenn Rika-Rayne
Glenn Rika-Rayne
Apr 17, 2023

Love the last reason to use them :)

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