Whether you’re just now hearing of Nordic walking or have been a fan of the exercise approach for some time, finding the best Nordic walking poles for your outdoor activities is a must to ensure your body is adequately supported and doesn’t experience strain on long treks.
For a detailed guide to selecting the best Nordic walking sticks for your outdoor adventures, plus the top 6 Nordic walking poles on the market, keep scrolling.
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Nordic walking involves regular walking, but with the use of long poles very similar to ski poles. An excellent form of exercise, Nordic walking is designed to work out your upper extremities and core muscles to a higher degree through the use of poles alongside normal walking sequences.
The sport is thought to have originated in Finland in the 1960s and 1970s, but it didn’t reach popularity as a sport until the end of the 20th century when companies started to design poles solely for Nordic walking use.
Nordic walking is an incredible form of exercise, with a wide range of benefits. First, the act of Nordic walking involves using 90 percent of all your body’s muscles. So, besides the activation of your leg muscles through walking, you will also be exerting your upper extremity and core muscles.
Because of the intense muscular usage Nordic walking incurs, you will also burn way more calories than you would through regular walking. The use of the Nordic walking poles helps negate strain on sensitive regions like your knees, hips, and lower back, making it a worthy option to consider if you tend to have issues with these areas.
When combined with a healthy diet, Nordic walking is an excellent exercise method to implement in a weight loss regimen as well. When you’re Nordic walking, you’re literally using two times more muscular groups than you would through traditional walking and burning double the number of calories.
Here’s what you need to know to pick out the best Nordic walking poles for your exercise and hiking needs.
The very first thing you need to consider when selecting the best Nordic walking poles for your outdoor needs is whether you want a strapped or strapless design. Nordic walking poles are a like a distant cousin of cross country skiing poles, which is why many people look at Nordic walkers and naturally assume they are jaunting along with ski poles in hand.
Some Nordic walkers adhere to the train of thought that when using a pole without straps, you’re not really engaging in Nordic walking. The idea is that the use of a strap enables you to position the pole at the correct angle when walking, let go of the pole with the backstroke, and let it spring back into your hand when your arm comes forward again.
Others say that it is better to use a Nordic walking pole without straps because the straps could pose a risk of tangling and injury to users. In the end, it is truly a matter of preference.
When using walking poles for Nordic walking, you are constantly pushing the poles down as you walk, then bearing the brunt as they swing upwards again with the next stroke. These continuous movements are why Nordic walking is so beneficial for your core muscles and upper extremities.
If you are new to Nordic walking in general, you might prefer the straps to give you something to secure your hand in place and offer an extra source of stability. On the other hand, if you think straps will get in your way and you’d rather have your hands free, simply opt for the strapless option.
The best Nordic walking poles with fixed length configurations are simply a single pole with a fixed length. You’ll typically be able to select fixed Nordic walking poles between around 3 to 4 feet in length. The only real downside with a fixed length pole is that you might find it is either too long or too short to align with your height.
With that some, some fixed length pole manufacturers actually integrate a small adjustable portion that lets you adjust the pole within about 2 inches or so. Fixed length Nordic walking poles are typically more lightweight, with more stability and ease of use for beginners than adjustable poles have to offer. Fixed poles also typically experience less impact and vibration when striking the ground as you walk.
If you’re unsure whether the fixed variety is good for you and want more flexible options when selecting the best Nordic walking poles, the adjustable kind might be for you. You can extend the sections of adjustable walking poles as needed or push them in to shorten the device. Most adjustable poles have a lock mechanism so you can lock it in place once you reach your preferred length.
The main downside is that some adjustable poles have a tendency to shorten as you walk, so one pole might be lower than the other when you finish your trek. Also, less sturdy adjustable Nordic walking poles are not as impact resistant, so you’ll definitely feel the brunt more as you walk if you don’t pick a quality option.
The material of the best Nordic walking sticks is definitely something to take into account before making your purchase. Most Nordic walking poles are designed from light metal, typically carbon or aluminum. Carbon is the premium material of the two, but the presence of carbon also typically means you’ll pay more for your Nordic walking poles. The best Nordic walking poles designed with carbon sport cross-linked carbon fibers.
However, you can still purchase quality Nordic walking poles made from aluminum, with the best ones containing 7075 aluminum alloy, which is highly durable while still being fairly lightweight. Carbon has the advantages of being lighter, more durable, and reducing the brunt of impact for the user. Aluminum offers more flexible usage, which means you can run without having to worry about the poles snapping.
Check out our detailed review of the top 5 best Nordic walking poles on the market.
Our first pick for the best Nordic walking poles is TheFitLife Nordic Walking Trekking Poles, perfect for lengthy treks on very warm days. We love the handy grips featured on these Nordic walking poles, that sport comfortable foam to cushion your hands from impact and keep them from getting gross and clammy. The poles feature a quality aluminum design, making them durable and shock resistant enough to use for long walks.
We like how sturdy these Nordic walking poles are too, making them a great choice for newbies and pros alike. These poles sport an adjustable design with the all-important lock mechanism, so you can adjust the length from 26 to 53 inches and secure it in place as you need to.
The only real downside with TheFitLife Nordic Walking Trekking Poles is that the bottom is designed from hard plastic, which could be a tad slippery on surfaces like stone. It really depends on the terrain you’ll be hiking in though.
Our next pick for the best Nordic walking poles is the SWIX of Norway Poles from American Nordic Walking System. These fixed length poles are highly durable and dependable, with rubber tips that you can remove as needed and asphalt paws for surfaces like cement or pavement so you don’t slip.
We love the fact that these Nordic walking poles come with carbide metal tips for surfaces like the beach, ice, snow, and grass, making them an incredible choice for just about any terrain you’ll be walking and hiking on. Designed from quality grade metal, the SWIX of Norway Nordic Walking Poles are resistant to breaks and bends, while being very lightweight and easy to use.
The walking poles also sport a hand strap, to give users additional stability and maneuvering power.
The Leki Poles made it to our review of the best Nordic walking poles for their easy, adjustable design with a handy scale that allows you to alter the length of the poles as you need to. We were really impressed with the poles’ steel tipped ends, making these Nordic walking poles a great choice for very rugged or uneven surfaces. The poles are designed from aluminum, so they will hold up well against a range of elements and terrain areas.
The Leki Hiking Poles are very affordable, and sport an anti-shock design that reduces the impact on your hands, core muscles, and upper extremities. We were pleased with the poles’ ergonomic handle and a wrist band that you can adjust for comfort as well. These Nordic walking poles are very lightweight, weighing in at just around 0.485 pounds each.
These best Nordic walking poles come with rubber tips Powergrip Pad.
Designed specifically with the active trekker in mind, the Urban Poling Series 300 Fitness Poles are a versatile option for all-around adventures.
Made out of high-grade aluminum and boasting a carbide metal tip, the Series 300 poles feel sturdy and well-made in your hands. Furthermore, we particularly like that these poles boast a unique strap-free handle, which makes them easy to use for new Nordic walkers.
At the same time, these poles feature a collapsible design and a nifty carry bag, which we found makes them easy to transport to and from the trail. As an added bonus, Urban Poling also designed this model with their patented CoreGrip, which reduces strain on your wrist for all-day hiking.
Of course, the Series 300 poles aren’t as light as some of the other models on the market. But they’re still a solid value for the money and an easy-to-use option for new Nordic walkers.
The York Nordic Ultralight Folding Walking Poles are among the best Nordic walking poles for their super lightweight design and compact configurations. The poles weigh just about 9 ounces total and are very easy to fold up so you can store them in your gear without issue. These best Nordic walking poles actually come with a custom designed travel bag, which makes transporting the poles from one place to the next a total breeze.
The Nordic walking poles are adjustable, with a 3-piece design for easy folding and the ability to collapse them all the way down to 15.5 inches. You can also expand these poles from 42.5 to 53 inches for walking. Designed from aircraft grade 7075 aluminum, these Nordic walking sticks are a very sturdy, durable option to consider. The poles also come with detachable rubber feet for a quality grip on uneven surfaces.
Our final pick for the best Nordic walking poles is another top product by York, with a lightweight design and collapsible configurations. The York Nordic Collapsible Trekking and Hiking Poles feature a camera mount and handles with cushioning to help reduce the impact of walking on your hands. The digital camera mount works with traditional Go Pros and digital cameras, making it a great choice for taking amazing photos and getting your exercise in.
The poles themselves are designed from high-quality aircraft grade 7075 aluminum that you can adjust from 22 ¼ inches to 57 inches as you desire. The York Nordic Collapsible Trekking and Hiking Poles sport detachable rubber feet featuring tips made from tungsten steel for incomparable quality and durability.
Each of the best Nordic walking poles in our review is the best in its class in terms of quality and usage options, but for us, the Leki Spin Nordic Walking Stick are our top pick from the list. We love the easy, adjustable design of these poles with rugged steel tipped ends that you can depend on when dealing with a wide range of terrain types.
The high-grade metal material is of exceptional quality, while the anti-shock design will ensure your hands don’t start to ache after a few hours on the road. The super lightweight design of these walking poles will help reduce undue strain on your core muscles and extremities. With rubber tips powergrip pads, and a durable, light design, the Leki Poles are the best Nordic walking poles you can depend on for many trails ahead.