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


One of my most popular posts is where I review some budget walking poles, 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.

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 poles. But the main reasons are:

  • Support and balance – especially for older walkers or for people who hill walk often;
  • Making walking easier – spreading distribution of weight which will help your joints;
  • Propulsion – using walking poles will help propel you forward, particularly on longer walks.

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

The first difference between the two price ranges is one of weight. There’s a growing trend of trying to make everything lighter in weight, from lighter rucksacks, tents, boots and clothing. Obviously for people who are hiking longer distances, especially over multiple days, then weight is a big factor.

But how much weight can you save? Well, the difference is not as much as you may expect – depending on the sets, maybe 50 grams, but more likely less. Now obviously this isn’t much at all, but if you are walking many miles over several days, then this may be a factor for you.

Size when folded

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. Many of the cheaper poles are telescopic, such as these Trekrite 3 section poles, and will measure around 60-65cm at their smallest.

However, most of the more expensive poles have a foldable design and as such they fold down much smaller – these Black Diamond Distance FLZ poles fold down to just 40cm at their longest length (and even as low as 34cm for the shortest set!).

Multiple Lengths

More expensive walking poles are also more likely to offer a wider variety of length sizes for different heights of hikers. This variety gives you a better choice in selecting the exact set of walking poles for your needs.

For example, these Black Diamond Carbon Z Poles 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.

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.

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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