Why pay more for expensive walking poles? Are they worth it?

two ladies using walking poles

One of my most popular posts is where I review some budget walking polesOpens in a new tab., ranging in price from a little over £10 up to about £35. I was interested in getting some to try them out, so wanted to take a look at what was available that was not going to break the bank if I didn’t get on with them. But even as I wrote the post, I was always asking myself why people would pay more for expensive walking poles – are they worth it?

As it happens, I am yet to buy my poles – with Coronavirus hitting us my own walking has been severely affected, with only being able to get out locally around my pretty flat town. 2020 has been bad in so many ways and whilst getting out for walks in the countryside is so good for mental health, it’s not been as easy. Thankfully I live in a pretty green town so it’s not been too bad, even if somewhat repetitive.

Prices for walking poles can go up to as much as well over £500! Now I’m never going to spend that sort of money, but I do wonder whether a set of poles that cost say £20 can be as good as a set that costs around the £80-£150 range.

The Value of Walking Poles

Walking poles offer numerous benefits that can enhance your hiking experience, regardless of your skill level. Let’s explore the main reasons why investing in walking poles might be a worthwhile choice for you.

Support and Balance

Walking poles provide essential support and balance, reducing the risk of slips and falls. This makes hiking on hilly terrain safer and more enjoyable, especially for older walkers..

Easing the Strain on Joints

Walking poles distribute weight and ease strain on joints, especially knees. Engage your upper body to reduce impact on lower extremities, providing benefits during longer walks or hikes.

Enhanced Propulsion

Walking poles offer improved propulsion, resulting in greater efficiency and energy conservation, especially during long walks or on challenging terrains. Engage your arms and use the poles to increase your pace and make your hiking experience much more enjoyable.

Differences between cheaper and more expensive walking poles

If this is your first time here, you may want to check out this article about why you would want to use walking polesOpens in a new tab..

    So if all walking poles help you with these three things, do you need to pay more than say £20-30?

    I’ve done some research online – reading articles, watching YouTube videos and checking out some forums – to try and find out what benefits more expensive walking poles have that cheaper ones don’t.

    Weight of hiking poles

    While it’s true that lightweight gear is a growing trend in the hiking community, it’s important to assess the actual weight difference between cheaper and more expensive walking poles.

    In most cases, the disparity in weight between the two price ranges is not as significant as one might assume. While certain sets may offer a weight reduction of around 50 grams or even less, the impact on your overall hiking experience may not be substantial.

    However, if you plan on embarking on multi-day hikes or covering extensive distances, even a slight reduction in weight can make a difference.

    If you’re a backpacker who expects to carry your poles for prolonged periods, the additional weight of cheaper poles can become burdensome over time. For these specific scenarios, opting for lighter, more expensive walking poles might be a worthwhile investment.

    Size of trekking poles when folded

    The size of walking poles when folded is another crucial aspect to consider. Many of the cheaper poles are telescopic, such as these Trekrite 3 section polesOpens in a new tab., and will measure around 60-65cm at their smallest.

    Trekrite 3 Section Walking PolesOpens in a new tab.

    These durable aluminium poles are suitable for all levels of hiking and walking, accommodating various heights and builds. Anti-shock technology helps reduce stress on wrists and knees, ensuring a lower impact hiking experience. The poles are equipped with no-dig straps and lightweight foam EVA handles that provide a secure grip and long-lasting comfort. The set includes 4 ferrules, 2 mud baskets, 2 snow baskets, 2 walking feet, a pole clip, and a storage bag. For added convenience, these collapsible poles can be twisted to lock into a secure position and easily packed away when not in use.

    If you prioritize convenience and easy storage, investing in more expensive walking poles with superior folding capabilities might apeal. These compact designs allow for hassle-free transportation, whether you’re stowing your poles in a backpack or attaching them to the outside.

    Whilst pretty much all walking poles will fold down in size when not in use, you’ll quite often find that the more expensive poles will go down that much smaller.

    Certain models, such as the Black Diamond Distance FLZ poles, can fold down to as little as 40cm at their longest length.

    Black Diamond Distance FLZ Walking PolesOpens in a new tab.

    The Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Hiking Poles are a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts. These trekking poles feature a foldable design for easy storage and portability. Made from carbon fiber and EVA material, they offer durability and strength while remaining lightweight. The carbon fiber shaft provides excellent stability and support during mountaineering, hiking, and running activities. The poles have an extended length of 110 cm. They also have a versatile adjustment range from 110 cm to 140 cm, allowing you to customize the height based on your preference and terrain, as well as height.

    Multiple Lengths

    A key difference between cheaper and more expensive walking poles lies in the range of available lengths. Higher-end poles often offer a wider variety of size options, catering to hikers of different heights. This enables you to find the perfect fit before you set off.

    For example, these Black Diamond Carbon Z PolesOpens in a new tab. come in a variety of sizes – 100cm, 110 cm, 120 cm and 130 cm. This choice means that you can get a pair of walking poles that you won’t need to adjust before starting to use.

    Black Diamond Carbon Z Walking PolesOpens in a new tab.

    Weighing only 280g per pair, these carbon poles are incredibly lightweight making them easy to carry. The latest version features improved joint support and stiffness, along with increased durability thanks to an added aluminium ring that protects the 100% carbon fiber construction. With an innovative design, these poles have a lightweight EVA foam grip with a breathable, moisture-wicking feature that allows for various hand positions.

    Conclusion – why pay for more expensive walking poles

    So as you can see, is paying more for walking poles a good investment? Generally speaking for most average walkers, I would say no. The benefits gained above are good, but personally I think that you can use that money better, by investing in better boots, waterproofs, trousers, and so on.

    Having said that, if you are serious about backpacking for several days at a time, and will also be carrying lots in your rucksack such as tents and sleeping pads, then what little weight you can shed from your load the better. And if you have the money spare, why not treat yourself?

    Interestingly, whilst researching in the forums, there was 2 definite camps, one saying paying lots was a waste of money, and those that swore by the investments they had made in their walking poles.

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