Athletes and military personnel in Finland have been using walking poles during their summer walking and running workouts for decades. Several varieties of nordic walking poles are on the market for use in nordic walking techniques. They have various options.
- Weight: some poles are heavier, some very light. In general, adjustable poles or spring systems add weight to the poles.
- Materials: aluminum vs. carbon fiber. Claims are made for the superiority of each for shock absorbtion, durability, weight.
- Telescoping, adjustable or fixed length: The length of the pole is critical to being able to use the right technique. A fixed-length pole is usually the lightest weight choice, and on even terrain there is no need to adjust the pole height. But for those who want to share the poles or want to be able to more easily pack them, telescoping poles are desirable. Check the pole for a good locking system that is easy to adjust yet resists loosening accidentally.
- Wrist straps and demi-gloves: A comfortable demi-glove is essential to ease of use with nordic walking poles. The glove should fit well and not cause chafing. These glove systems are constantly improving, check the latest models. For some brands, you can order replacement gloves of the newest design.
- Glove/Strap Release Systems: Leki nordic walking poles have an easy to use release system so you can quickly remove your hand and the demi-glove from the poles, and quickly click them back to the poles. This is very helpful for restroom stops, etc.
- Grips: With nordic walking technique, the walker does not need to grip the pole at all, it travels via the strap/glove. A true nordic walking pole does not have a grip that flares at the bottom of the hand, as that hampers releasing the grip at the back of each arm swing. Flared-bottom grips are used in trekking poles where the hiker may bear down on them. Nordic walking grips are usually streamlined and narrow.
- Tips: Spike tips for natural trails, rubber tips for sidewalk or road walking. The rubber tips should be secure enough to stay put, yet easy to remove when you want to use the spike tip.
- Springs or other cushioning systems: These elements are more appropriate for trekking poles, but are found on some nordic walking designs.
A lightweight, sturdy pole of the correct length with an ergonomic grip and a very comfortable demi-glove is ideal.