Now that the weather is starting to improve (if the air pollution is ignored…), you may be thinking of digging out your walking boots and heading outside.
If you are merely contemplating a pleasant stroll around the park or your local area, you probably won’t need much more than a good pair of shoes, some waterproofs and/or suncream, a drink and some snacks. However, if you are planning a longer walk, or a hike on undulating terrain, then I cannot sing the praises of a good pair of walking poles enough.
Before you have walking poles, you wonder why on earth you would need them. I felt the same way, once. I hiked around Mayrhofen, marched up hills in Derbyshire, and traversed Mousehold Heath – all without the use of a pair of poles. I couldn’t see how they would be useful. But then I got a pair for Christmas.
The Karrimor X Lite carbon walking poles are lightweight, sturdy, and have a good range of adjustable lengths. You are able to put your whole bodyweight on them without the poles bending or collapsing, which is fantastic if you need a bit of extra support on slippery or steep ground.
These particular poles are broken down in to three sections, which make them highly practical for storing in a suitcase, or strapping to the back of a rucksack. Poles that only divide in to two sections can often be too long for putting in a case (as my boyfriend found out last year…) and they can be annoying to store when not in use.
Another bonus of these poles is that the three sections are secured with a fast-lock clamp. If you are looking to buy some poles, this is a feature I definitely recommend. Many poles come with a twist-lock, which can become loose, especially if you suddenly have to put a lot of weight on to the poles. If you are picking your way down a steep decline, you don’t want your poles to suddenly ‘give’ beneath you should you happen to slip.
These Karrimor poles are also very adaptable to different terrain because they come with rubber tips and baskets. Adding baskets to the end of the poles is really useful in snow or sand, while the rubber tips are good for adding extra grip on stone or rock.
The handle grips are also very comfortable, and the top of the grip is quite big and flat. This is really handy if you are coming downhill and need to lean on the top of the poles for support.
If you’re tall, it can be tricky to find a pair of poles that extend to the required length without losing some of the tightness in the locks. However, these poles extended enough so that my boyfriend (6’6″) could comfortably use them. They didn’t slip or collapse once.
When you have a found a decent pair of poles, you will wonder how you managed without them. Poles help you to keep a steady pace, they act as leverage going up and down obstacles, and they can stop you from slipping in ice and snow. I even used my poles to walk to work last year when we had loads of snow. No one else powered along like me!
So, if you enjoy your walking, but you don’t yet own a pair of poles, then I really recommend that you get some. There are some good deals around at the moment – so make the most of them!