Like any fitness product, several companies have gone out of their way to come up with new and interesting ways to make their products more convenient or effective. Walking poles are no different, as manufacturers of these poles have designed special features as part of their products that make them more of a luxury and a considerable upgrade from simply finding a strong stick on the ground.
The Basic System
Each of these parts can be found on basic walking and hiking poles. Many of these poles come with additional features, such as extendable/retractable shafts, as well as various weather baskets, etc., but on any walking pole you find in the store or marketplace, you will very likely find each of these parts to be present.
Of course, ever walking pole has a shaft that makes up the majority of the pole. The shaft is most often made of either aluminum or carbon fiber. In general carbon fiber is a little better for most hiking trips. Aluminum poles have a tendency to bend and break, and they also conduct electricity better, so if you are walking in thunderstorms or areas where lightning is possible, the poles can represent a danger. Carbon fiber still conducts electricity, but not nearly as well.
Walking poles are designed with a good grip that makes it easy to hold onto the pole for a long period of time. This grip can be made of rubber, plastic, or something else that is easy to handle. It also may have a wrist strap connected to it to make sure that the pole doesn’t fall off your arm as you walk (also allowed more freedom of movement). Cork handles are considered the most comfortable, but plastic is generally less expensive.
The tips of hiking poles may be plastic, rubber, carbide, and aluminum. They also generally come in three different styles – rubber, single point, and chiseled. Most of these tips are acceptable for any purpose, but rubber is best on frictional/hard surfaces, chiseled works well across all conditions, and single point is designed more for icy travelling.
Hiking pole baskets are designed to ensure that the pole does not sink too much into the ground when you walk. Baskets are found on almost every pole, including those that are used in Nordic walking, despite the unlikelihood that the pole with sink into the concrete. Still, in the event where you need the pole for some type of outdoor activity, it is much better to have a basket than not have one. Baskets can often be replaced on poles depending on weather conditions.
5. Anti-Shock System
Most poles also come with their own installed anti-shock system. This takes some of the vibrations and pressure from the walk away in order to reduce arm tiredness and improve overall comfort with the pole. The anti-shock systems are one of the primary reasons that users of these poles enjoy these poles more than standard walking sticks.
Here are some of the most interesting features of walking poles:
1. Camera Mount
Perhaps the newest and most unique feature of these walking poles is an unscrewable top that allows the stick to become a camera mount. The screws on many types of point and shoot cameras fit perfectly onto these walking poles, and the area that can be unscrewed does not impact the efficacy of the walking pole.
2. Shock Absorbers
When someone swings a tennis racket with considerable force, the vibrations from the ball hitting the racket can shake and push your arms, elbows and shoulders. So shock absorbers are added to reduce pressure and injury. Some walking poles have similar features, so that if you slam the pole against the ground, your joints do not experience the same force and pressure that they would otherwise.
3. Wrist Straps
Part of the comfort of using a walking pole is that you can move it to any area you see fit in order to help yourself keep your balance, reduce injury, etc. Part of that freedom requires you to place the pole at angles designed to support your body – angles that may make it hard to hold onto the poles on occasion. Wrist straps make sure that your poles stay by your side, even if you fall, trip, or release the poles for any reason. They also allow you to stretch and rest your hands without putting the pole down.
4. Adjustable Length Shafts
It is not uncommon for some of the more well made poles to have adjustable shafts that allow you to change the length based on your height and comfort level. The adjustable length can also be useful for carrying/storage when not in use, though the degree of adjustments that the pole allows varies considerably, and the more it is adjustable the more expensive it often is.
There are also walking poles that have loud whistling capabilities inside the shaft. The purpose of this is, in the case of an emergency, to give you the ability to whistle for help (or for others) at a moment’s notice, without having to carry a whistle on hand.
Choosing Comfort and Safety over Features
First and foremost when you decide which pole to get is your own comfort and safety – you want to make sure that you choose a pole that is comfortable to use regularly, and will provide you with the safety you need depending on the walking condition. But after you have found poles that have the capabilities you need, there are also many different types of features to consider that can make the poles even more useful.