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Nordic Walking 2 piece adjustable poles


Nordic walking poles were originally designed to be one piece and fixed length, much like a ski pole. So why do so many people choose to buy an adjustable pole?

Well, if you travel a lot, or like to pack your pole away during a walk, then a 3 piece folding or telescopic pole is a great tool. These days they are super lightweight, so there is less compromise on the swing weight of the pole in exchange for all the convenience of collapsing your poles down and putting them in a rucksack pocket or suitcase.

BUT, you cannot do this with a 2 piece adjustable pole. They are still too big to stow away. So what and who are they for?

The two piece adjustable pole was introduced primarily for instructors. They are perfect when lots of different people of different heights will be using the same pair of poles. To make them robust and long lasting they are often made of materials with less carbon and more aluminium, so they can be thrown into a teaching bag and carted from session to session. As they adjust from 100cm to 130cm, one size pretty much does fit all. Yet here is the big disadvantage; if you buy a pair of two piece adjustable poles for your own use, you will end up with a lot of pole you don't need! For example, I walk with 110 cm poles, but if I use a 2 piece pole, I am carrying around 130 cms of pole with an adjustment mechanism in the middle of the shaft. This makes the poles heavy and prone to vibrate. The adjusting mechanism in the centre of the shaft adds a lot of weight exactly where you don't want it and changes the balance of the pole when it is in flight.

Two common myths about Nordic Walking poles are:

1. As you get better and fitter you lengthen your pole

2. You may need to adjust the pole length when going up or downhill

Neither are true. As a complete beginner it may take a couple of lessons with an instructor to find the perfect length pole for your body. Once you have decided, then there is no reason to ever change the length or your poles, so buying a fixed length pole is not a problem. Back in the day, the better you were at skiing the longer your skis were, that's not the case with Nordic Walking poles. If you walk best with a 110cm pole on day 1 then you should still be walking with a 110cm pole as you win the INWA Nordic Walking world championships!

If you share your poles with someone, then a two piece adjustable pole is perfect. If they are just for you, you will have a much more rewarding experience with a fixed length shaft or, for travel and packability, a 3 piece travel pole. My view? Leave the two piece pole for groups and instructors to use.*

*That is unless, as an instructor pointed out to me today, you have long poles and a small car and you need to shorten them a bit to fit them in the boot!

Karen Ingram is an INWA International Trainer and has Nordic Walked for over 18 years. She co-founded Nordic Walk Store in 2008.


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