Gear roundup: Pole position

Recommended walking poles

Walking poles, once rather a novelty, are now standard gear. But which ones to choose?

Some might say walking is one activity that requires no gear at all. But walking poles provide support and stability, saving energy and reducing strain on the knees, as millions of users all over the world will attest. And if you’re feeling your age, or are recovering from an injury, walking poles can make the difference between going out and staying indoors. Whatever your needs, there’s a pole out there for you, and we hope our selection will give you some pointers. Ideally, try some poles out in a shop before buying, though, so that you can get an idea of the weight, grip and features that suit your needs. Try to avoid using poles in areas with rare or delicate flora.

Great for strength

Leki Khumbu pole
Leki Khumbu Superstrong – Leki are the undisputed masters of walking poles – however, that comes at a price. This pair costs £90. However, for that you do get extras that make the poles that little bit special. They have the Leki patented quick-release locking system – which is handy if you are in the habit of collapsing the poles regularly or wearing gloves. The handles are superior to anything else on test – cork to absorb not only impact, but sweat, too. The wrist grips also have an absorbent lining, and the logo is reflective. The grips have a quick-release system, in case of a fall. These poles come with an anti-shock feature as an optional extra, which can be useful when walking on tarmac. Especially suited to heavy or tall users, these are the weightiest poles on test at 616 grams.

Shaft: aluminium HTS 6.5 Tip: carbide Length: 70-145cm Weight: 616g

£80 per pair (£90 with anti-shock)
I’ll take em

Great for support

Vango Classic Cane
Vango Classic Cane – The Vango Classic Cane has a different type of handle from the other poles on test – it’s almost at a right angle and may suit older walkers who require a different grip option and extra support. Our test model came with a camouflage finish, which seemed a bit strange. There were no measurement marks, making it hard to find your optimum height when extending. An anti-shock feature is standard, and when we used the pole on hard terrain this did reduce impact. The handle is made from solid plastic, though, so no shock absorbing qualities there.

Shaft: T-6061 alloy Tip: c­arbide ­with rubber cap option Length: 68-135cm Weight: 330g

£15 per pole (sold separately)
I’ll take em

Great for durability

Karrimor X-lite poles
Karrimor X-Lite Carbon – These strong but ultra-light poles from the British manufacturer Karrimor are made from carbon fibre. They have a fast-lock system similar to the Leki poles on test, to make it easy when collapsing the poles – and when we tried while wearing gloves, it was a doddle. The foam on the handles was not very absorbent on bare skin, but the grip was pretty decent.

Shaft: carbon fibre Tip: tungsten Length: 63-130cm Weight: 190g

£29.99 per pair
I’ll take em

Great for travelling

Fizan Compact Lite
Kathmandu Fizan Compact Lite – Fizan is an Italian company that has made quality walking poles since 1947. These are the lightest poles in the test, and they fold down to 58cm, so are perfect for stowing on your rucksack when not in use. The locking system is similar to most poles on the market – you twist to lock, which can be awkward for some people.

Shaft: aluminium 7001 alloy Tip: carbide, with rubber cap option Length: 58-132cm Weight: 158g
£34.99 per pair
I’ll take em

Great for balance

Pacerpoles
Pacerpoles – Produced by an independent family firm, Pacerpoles have been developed by a physiotherapist. They are designed to realign the body as you walk, and there’s a right pole and a left pole, just like shoes. There is also a camera attachment to turn the pole into a monopod.

Shaft: carbon fibre Tip: tungsten carbide Length: 65-132cm Weight: 508g

£87 per pair (camera attachment £15)
I’ll take em

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