A collection of articles from Great British Walks - formerly The Walking Holiday Company for visitors, customers and the press to read, enjoy and share, regarding the fantastic walks across the National Trails of Great Britain. Great British Walks are proud to be a partner of Discover England to promote the National Trails in the United Kingdom.

Trekking and Nordic Poles

Helen Colwell - Monday, December 19, 2016
Trekking and Nordic Poles

The Difference between Trekking Poles and Nordic Poles.

Nordic walking poles and trekking poles, are intended for two different types of walking activity.

Trekking poles are used by hikers and backpackers to provide stability and balance on all types of terrain. They are:

designed to be placed on the ground in front of you;

designed to support loads;

designed to assist when climbing up slopes;

are NOT designed for use on pavements;

are made with a metal point & not a rubber foot;

have a loose strap that is not designed for pushing on — it’s really more just to prevent the pole falling out of your hands;

are heavier than Nordic walking poles;

come in three collapsible sections.

The Benefits of using Trekking poles: The three main reasons for using walking poles are they offer Support and Stability, Reduced Effort and Propulsion.
Support and Stability: Trekking with poles offers a permanent handrail providing extra support and balance particularly on uneven ground, steep ground or for those who need extra confidence, particularly at the end of a long days hiking. Once you get used to using poles you are much more secure on all rough terrain and they are great on snowy winter walks, although not to be used in place of an ice axe!
Reduced Effort: Using trekking poles helps reduce effort to keep you going longer and scientific evidence indicates a reduction of impact on knee and hip joints. Using poles can reduce the stress placed on joints, ligaments and muscles. Walking with poles can spread the burden of weight carried and they can also benefit your walking posture, improving breathing and reduce the feel of the effort or ‘perceived exertion’. If you develop a good technique when using your poles, bringing the shoulder joint into play rather than just the elbows, this helps to reduce the impact on the elbows and spreads the load to bigger muscle groups; this in turn reduces your perception of how hard you are working so you can get on with enjoying your walk.
Propulsion: Using the poles to ‘push off’ from the ground as you move is a technique used to increase your forward motion. This is used increasingly by fell runners, adventure racers and of course in Nordic Walking which mimics the action of cross-country skiers, bringing very nearly all of the body’s muscles into play delivering an extremely effective workout.


Nordic poles are designed more with a fitness workout in mind than anything else (though they can be used for other purposes.) They provide some stability and balance but that’s a side benefit. They:

are designed for short defined fitness workout periods;

are designed to be placed on ground behind you;

are not designed to support loads;

are designed more with flat surfaces primarily in mind;

are designed for use on all surfaces;

come with both a bare metal point and an angled rubber foot for use on hard surfaces;

the strap is designed to keep the pole very close to your hand, and to be pushed on;

lighter than trekking poles;

come in one, two or three pieces.

Ensure that you purchase the correct poles for the task ahead!

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