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15 May 2022 Collapsible or Telescopic walking poles explained

Collapsible or Telescopic walking poles explained

There are many reasons you might want hiking or Nordic walking poles to break down smaller when not in use.

You may use Public Transport, you may like to travel abroad a lot or you may enjoy long hikes where you don’t use poles all of the time and want them to go in a backpack. This blog will help to explain the difference between collapsible and telescopic and help you work out the best pair for you…..

There are few European pole manufacturers, namely Leki, Fizan and Gabel, that have really focused on the innovation and design of both Nordic and Trail running poles. Even today, they remain family businesses and are all very proud of their heritage. Leki are probably the most well known and have always been one of the leading innovators in the Nordic poles sector but more recently have been focusing on Hiking and Trail running – however, there is a premium price due to that.  Fizan and Gabel are iconic Italian pole manufacturers rooted in the ski scene and have both been around for nearly a century.


If you’re considering collapsable or telescopic poles, you need to think about what you will be using them for i.e are these poles intended for just travelling, are they poles you want to use for all your walking or maybe, you want to match the feel and quality of your day to day extendable poles.


As we know, the moment we look at the travel poles, there are three, or in some models, four sections with associated joints. No matter how high quality the joint is, there will be some level of vibration.


Let’s look at what we mean by collapsable and telescopic: Collapsable poles are typically designed for competitive trail runners, that need to quickly break down their poles at a push of a button. They come in both set fixed lengths or some have the ability to adjust. They have a wire running through the core that ensures each part remains connected when collapsed but provides the tension to pull the sections tight together when being used. The advantage is that they collapse down into short sections but you do have the volume of three or four sections for each pole. Each section is typically 45-55cm in length and therefore you have 6 or 8 sections (depending on model) to fit in your back pack; whereas, with the telescopic poles, each lower section slides in to the section above, giving you only two poles that are circa 62-65cm, when collapsed. Most days packs will accommodate either type of pole but if you intend to strap them to the outer part of a Back Pack, the Telescopic is better suited. Some Day Packs have elasticated outer pockets, ideal for allowing Collapsable poles to be stored without tking up valuable space inside.


The other aspect to consider is what you looking to use poles for. As much as many of our Nordic Walking customers love their “collapsable” poles, they were originally designed for Trail Running. Each section can twist while being used, which means that they are not designed to be used with Nordic boot shape paws which need to stay facing in the right direction! Also, because you are relying on the tension of the cable to hold them together, there is more vibration from the joints. On the “telescopic” poles however, each joint will have a locking mechanism that not only reduces vibration but will lock the sections, allowing the use of a boot paw, should you wish to walk on hard surfaces. You can use the smaller round trekking paw on “collapsable” poles but they don’t always provide the grip you need if using the poles for propulsion (angled backwards in the Nordic walking position)


So; in summary, if you want to use your poles for Nordic Walking and will be on hard surfaces, the Telescopic poles are a better option. If you’re out on mainly off road trails, either will be fine and consider your preferences to carrying them when not in use. With the quick lock system, unless you are in a competitive arena, I wouldn’t really see the speed of collapsing as something to concern you.


You then have the dilemma of materials. There is Alloy or Carbon:


Alloy has Aluminium as the main material but will have certain other metals added to improve the material for use in poles. Without going too technical, all three manufacturers above, use the highest quality alloys, as used in the aircraft industry. When an aircraft flies across the Atlantic, it will stretch in length up to 10 inches but returns to it’s original structure, after landing. The poles from these manufacturers are made from the same quality alloy and do the same. They can bend to absorb the impact of hitting the ground but will bend back as you lift them. The 7075 aircraft grade Alloy is a fantastic lightweight material, providing us with a strong & robust pole without compromising on the feel of the ground but what is best of all; it is manufactured in Europe and is recyclable.

Carbon can be either 100% carbon or you can have ‘composite’ carbons, that are made up a number of materials including fibreglass or plastics mixed in. There is also the density of the carbon. Some cheaper poles are made of a very thin sheet carbon, which is super light but having carbon poles is not about weight, unless you’re a competitive trail runner. Carbon is all about the connection with the ground when walking. It is a more precise feel of what is under the tip so you know how hard you can push if you want propulsion or if the pole is going to slip. If we’re using our poles in the nordic style, we’re not gripping the handle and what happens to very light pole on a windy day …… It gets blown about. Sheet carbon is also very fragile and the one thing we know about carbon is; it’s super strong in the vertical plane but it doesn’t like getting horizontal knocks or stuck in cattle grids and car doors.

Leki, Fizan and Gabel poles are made from high density carbon so the weight difference from alloy is quite small. When we have joints on poles, there is further weight added and is the same whether fitted to alloy or carbon.

Carbon is a fantastic material but the caveat we would add is; no matter how good they are to walk (or run) with; due to the non-biodegradable nature of glass and carbon fibres, they create a problem for the environment. Carbon fibres especially are wasteful to produce and difficult to recycle.

At WALX we like to ensure that YOU get the right poles for YOU so we provide all makes, all materials and also all of the facts you need too.