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Walking Poles: Adjustable vs. Fixed Length

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Updated October 13, 2010

Should you buy adjustable walking poles or fixed-length one-piece walking poles?

Advantages of One-Piece Poles

From a safety standpoint, one-piece poles are safer, more durable and lighter. They work well uphill and downhill, as well as on the flat.

Disadvantages of Adjustable Poles

As a nordic walking clinic coach, I see adjustables as being appropriate for extreme travel only. A quick review of the current users indicates that adjustable poles prove to be a hassle - while one-piece poles are user friendly and hassle free.

I have seen many walkers buy adjustable poles (hiking/trekking/snow shoe/nordic walking) and have problems with them - unexpected collapsing, one pole shortening a few inches while walking, twist locks breaking, poles totally pulloing apart and other issues. Seniors and folks with balance issues should not use adjustable poles.

A Solution for Travelers

When folks wish to buy adjustable travel poles, I almost always talk them into a one-piece pole plus padded travel bag when travel is an issue - for $30.00 less.

Adjustable poles are heavier, clunky, sometimes noisy, not as safe, not as durable and not as user friendly as one-piece poles.

Pete Edwards is a Nordic Walking coach who has conducted Ski Walking Clinics throughout the USA.

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