I have been using walking poles for a few years now. My first pair were from budget supermarket Aldi which served me well until the tips wore out.
Leki and Fizan Walking Poles
My current ones are a pair of carbon fibre Makula poles made by Leki and another pair made by Fizan, which I use for hills walking. The Fizan ones are the Everest model, which have an extended grip, allowing the poles to be used for climbing, without having to shorted the pole length.
The Leki poles are made in Germany and the Fizan ones made in Italy, so both are top quality. Both are light weight and neither have shock absorbers built into them.
The Leki carbon fibre ones are ideal for walking on flat paths and trails and are nice and light to use and to carry.
The weight of poles is important because if the poles are too heavy you will not want to carry them with you when out walking.
I like my poles but some of my friends have to be convinced of their usefulness and think they just get in the way.
Testing Usefulness of Walking Poles
To check the usefulness of the poles I walked around Chatelherault Country Park one afternoon without poles and on another with the poles. The distance was 5.66 miles.
I used my Garmin ETrex GPS device to provide details of the trip, including the average and maximum walking speed.
The results were:
Ave Speed 4.1 MPH
Max Speed 6.2 MPH
Ave Speed 4.7 MPH
Max Speed 7.0 MPH
The results about show that poles do provide an advantage and allow faster walking over varied terrain as encountered at Chatelherault. I was also less tired using the poles and my legs did not feel as heavy as they were without the poles.
Advantages of Walking Poles
The poles allow my arms to do some of the work and take the strain off my legs. They also help me climb slopes faster and descend quicker, as I can keep my balance better on descents. My knees were also not sore, which is something I get from vigorous exercise due to my well-developed leg muscles.
I recommend walking poles to anyone who has never used them. Buy a cheap pair first to get used to using them, then buy a more expensive pair later on. Good makes include Leki, Fizan and Black Diamond, as spares can be bought to replace any worn out parts.