We Love Walking Poles
Maybe “love” is too strong a word. Maybe we should say, “Why We Would Never Walk the Camino Without Poles.” When three of us set out in the Fall of 2007 to walk across Spain, we were not aware of any resources to help advise us about gear, pace, lodging, etc. But we did have a good friend who managed an outfitter’s store in our city, who knows his stuff when it comes to gear for all sorts of outdoor adventures.
We are still thankful to Jody for all the expert advice he gave us, with scientific explanations and experiential stories thrown in for free. Jody was the one who introduced us to Leki Nordic walking poles, something we had never heard about. The physics of using poles includes distributing some of the workload of walking to your upper body, making it easier on your hips and knees in particular. We have found this to be absolutely true. That’s also why walking anytime with these poles gives you a superior “whole body” workout to walking without them. You engage your upper body as well as your legs. Based on what we could find out about the physical terrain we would encounter, Jody suggested we try out the Nordic walking poles rather than the trekking style poles. (If you already own trekking style poles, do not let us discourage you. They will still serve you well, and we advise using them rather than going it without any.)
Now, with thousands of miles walked with our Nordic walking poles among our team, we can’t imagine approaching any long walk, much less one of the Camino routes, without them. Our favorite poles for the Camino are the Leki Traveler Carbon Nordic walking poles. Let us break down our decision for you, who are still deciding or shopping.
While terrain on the most popular Camino routes varies from flat asphalt roadways to steep, rocky Roman roads, most of your miles will be walked on groomed, or even paved surfaces. Nordic walking poles give you an advantage here over trekking poles, in that when you velcro the adjustable hand strap properly, the work of bringing the pole into position for your next step is done without having to grip the handle. Less work is involved as your natural arm swing brings the pole into position, and without having to grip the pole tightly as with a trekking pole. Nordic walkers also perform well on uneven surfaces, steep ascents and descents, and muddy sections, when you do need to grip the handle to help pull yourself along or steady your foot plant. When you encounter any of these types of surfaces, seasoned hikers and walkers recommend disconnecting the hand strap from the pole with a quick release of the “Trigger Shark” connector and gripping the handles in a natural way as a safety measure in case you stumble or fall. Quickly and easily reconnect the handstrap to the handle with a click of the strap loop, and you’re off again. Let the Leki Traveler Carbon adjustable handstraps and your natural arm swing do some of the work for you.
Another feature we like is that the Traveler Carbon poles can be adjusted from their shortest length to accommodate even the tallest person we know. The “speed lock” system makes adjusting your poles to the right length super easy. When collapsed to their shortest length the Traveler Carbons will fit in most backpacks for your pre and post-Camino traveling. The carbide tip offers sure footing on uneven and muddy terrain, but you can pop on rubber fitness feet over these for paved surfaces.
We like to have a fresh pair of the rubber feet when we begin a Camino walk. Leki sells these, but we favor the Stansport Trekking Pole Replacement Feet available for half the price. The rubber feet are a small but important addition to your poles, as they offer better grip on slick, or wet surfaces, and muffle the sound of the carbide tips on hard surfaces, so you and others don’t have to listen to the “klik klak, klik klak.”
The Leki Traveller Carbon Nordic Walking Poles list on Amazon for $199.95 and are our favorites for the Camino de Santiago. Lekis come with a worldwide lifetime guarantee, and warranty parts are available for up to 10 years after your poles are manufactured. The adjustable length can collapse to 24 inches to travel inside most backpacks, and the pair weigh less than one pound: 14.6 oz. For all of these reasons and more, we recommend the Leki Traveller Carbon Nordic Walking Poles, available through our Amazon portal. Your Lekis arrive with a pair of Leki rubber fitness feet included. But while you are at it, save yourself time and order a fresh pair of Stansport Trekking Pole Replacement Feet.