Sticks are an invariable attribute of mountain lovers, athletes of any level and even grandmothers in parks. Here you can know about how to choose running poles. The usefulness and effectiveness of sticks has been proven by all sorts of studies, and it is rather a matter of taste to argue about whether they are needed or not when engaging in a certain activity.
In the running environment, the trail runners for which the running poles are made are divided into supporters and opponents. Each of them argues for their choice based on very real experience. And in this article we will not convince anyone, but we will try to reveal the basics of choosing running poles, what they are and how they differ. And about what the runner needs sticks for , we wrote in a separate article.
At first glance, sticks for different sports are almost the same, but they have their own characteristics. Today, according to the scope of use, sticks are divided into:
Nordic walking sticks ;
trekking poles ;
running sticks ;
poles for cross-country skiing;
ski poles ;
sticks for ski touring and backcountry.
In particular use cases, these options may overlap. For example, most novice runners use the simplest trekking poles for their first mountain runs. And experienced mountain runners use ski poles for some types of distances, for example, for the “Vertical Kilometer”. Also, many are unlikely to be able to tell the difference between trekking poles and ski tour poles, as they are very similar.
The confusion in choosing is added by the fact that in different stores and on the sites of specific brands, all the sticks are “piled up in a heap” and signed by some one term, for example, “trekking sticks” or “telescopic sticks” as the most frequently requested word combinations. However, many sticks have a different folding system and are definitely not telescopic.
In the catalogs of online stores, you can find different variations of the names of the same product, and almost always this product belongs to the tourism section. Only sometimes specialty shops clearly write “Nordic walking sticks” and sell a specific product with certain characteristics, and among these sticks there are no suitable ones, for example, for ultra trails.
In the “Sport-Marathon” catalog, we have made a filter by purpose, which will help you navigate the assortment. The division of models is based on our experience and manufacturer’s recommendations.
The main criteria for choosing running poles
Running poles weight
The lighter the weight of the sticks, the more efficiently energy is spent while running / walking uphill. Every extra 10 grams is spent on work with the hands and shoulder girdle, additional energy is expended, which must be saved, especially when it comes to running at ultra-long distances. The lighter the poles are, the lighter your backpack is when the poles are behind your back in the backpack itself.
It seems like a small thing, but experienced trail runners will tell you how much every 100 grams of weight feels. If in ordinary life, holding sticks weighing 150 and 200 grams in your hands, you, most likely, will not understand the difference, then at competitions you will feel almost exactly.
A characteristic feature of running sticks is the weight per pair in the range of 300-500 grams , although more often the manufacturer indicates the weight of one stick, that is, 150-250 grams. There are options and lighter: about 250 grams per pair, but their reliability and durability are questionable. A weight approaching 500 grams is considered heavy for running poles. The golden mean will be the weight per pair of 300-400 grams, excluding snow rings, skirts and removable plastic tips.
Unfortunately, more often than not, the relationship between the weight of running poles and their cost is clear. To save weight, poles are often made of carbon, and these models are always more expensive. Fortunately, with the increasing demand for folding poles, more budget options have emerged.
As a result, by weight, you can divide running poles according to the level of advancement (the weight of one pole is indicated):
- 100-150 grams – top models;
- 150-250 grams – middle segment;
- 250 grams and more – sticks for those who are not worried about weight.
- Running poles design and compactness
According to the type of construction, running poles should be divided into three types:
- Folding sticks
- Telescopic running poles
- Running sticks with combined construction
Folding jogging sticks
The design of the folding poles is similar to the arch of a tent. Most often they have three, less often four sections. When folded, they are most often shorter than sliding sticks, there are models less than 40 cm in assembled form, but they take up a larger volume, since section is folded to section.
The methods of attachment to the backpack depend on the functionality of the backpacks themselves. These sticks can even be attached to a running belt. When folded, their length depends on the number of sections.
The main advantage of folding poles over telescopic poles, besides being compact, is weight . Folding models are often easier when comparing the same stick categories.
The second important advantage is the absence of complex mechanisms for connecting sections that could break or get stuck. The main connecting element of the collapsible running poles is the inner polymer cord (different brands use different cords). If you pull on the handle of the stick, the cord is stretched, and the sections fit into the grooves and do not require fixation with clips or a collect mechanism, as in telescopic sticks.
The disadvantage of folding poles is the inability to adjust the size for yourself and the relief. What size you chose when buying, you will have to use this one.
Folding poles are of a fixed size in working order. Their final height can be in the range from 105 to 145 cm in 10 cm increments. When buying such sticks, you should know your size. How to determine it, we will describe below.
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Telescopic jogging poles (sliding)
In their structure, they are similar to fishing rods. When folded, they have a slightly longer length than the first, most often from 45 cm, but a smaller total volume, since the stick moves section into section.
The advantage of telescopic poles is a large range of size adjustment . You can always shorten or increase the length while driving, making the optimal size for the relief. However, this also takes time, and you need to have enough experience to understand which size is still better at the moment.
With the development of the running equipment industry, the preference of the majority of runners has changed from classic telescopic poles to folding poles. Folding poles have become many times more in different price segments, which makes it possible to choose a convenient piece of equipment without being tied to the price. And telescopic running poles are gradually losing their position in the market.
The maximum length of telescopic telescopic poles also depends on the declared size, and most often it ranges from 125 to 145 cm. Their main advantage is the ability to adjust the length while running according to your requirements to any value. If the slope is too steep, make it shorter; if it is shallow, on the contrary, make it longer.
Running sticks with combined construction
A compromise option for those who want to use the advantages of both designs. Compactness, low weight, fast assembly system and the ability to adjust the length of the stick. In the upper section of the folding poles, a telescopic element is added. Allowing you to change the size up to 20 cm. We can say that this combination of designs is optimal and versatile.
Folded fastening method
The growing popularity of folding poles was also influenced by the emergence of a large number of running belts. With a pole mount on their back. If earlier such attachments were only on backpacks and they were sharpened for telescopic poles. Now it is possible to run relatively fast races with a large climb. But not take a backpack just in order to fix the poles on the descent. And in this situation, the compactness, or rather. The length of the folding poles when folded behind the back is a decisive factor. They do not stick out at the sides. Like longer telescopic ones, do not interfere with hand movements and do not risk catching anything while running.
The same is true when attaching to a backpack , which is more variable for folding poles. Due to the fact that they are shorter, the folding poles can fit both in the side pocket of the backpack and in other pockets, if the design feature of a particular model allows this. Sometimes you can find trail runners who attach the poles to the front, which is very original. And this is not the invention of running freaks, this method is used, for example, by the world champion in sky running Luis Alberto Hernando (Luis Alberto Hernando).
In addition, at a lower weight. The folding poles, both when attached to a belt and when attached to a backpack. Do not swing the piece of equipment so much.
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Unfolding and folding speed
Here, of course, a lot depends on the quality of performance. But the most top-end folding sticks unfold in just a couple of seconds.
Some sliding models can be extended to the desired length and fixed with one turn of the collect mechanism or by clicking the lock (clip). In other models each connection will have to be tightened for a long time. If there are not two knees in the stick, but three or four. Then the time lost during assembly / disassembly will be even greater.
Folding is enough to simply insert the section into the section, and further fixation is a matter of technology. Many sticks of this design simply need to be pulled by the handle, the unfolding process will occur by itself, therefore such sticks are called automatic. We can say that the speed of assembling and disassembling sticks on the run is a matter of the runner’s skill, adjusted for the manufacturer’s technologies.
In our video “How to choose trekking poles”. We paid attention to the topic of choosing running poles, see how quickly a model with a combined structure is assembled.
Rigidity of support for running poles
The stiffness of the support is an important consideration. Although professional runners who shift the emphasis of pole selection to weight often neglect this factor.
Skiers have the term “sticks play”, which means the amplitude of vibration of the sticks during support. The thinner the sticks, the stronger they “play”. Therefore, many athletes on vertical races prefer to use high-quality “cross-country” poles that do not require disassembly and have minimal vibration. On these races, it is necessary to invest more force in the push with the sticks in order to increase the ascent speed. If the sticks are not very strong in support. Then there is a high risk of breaking them right during the race. Moreover. There is no direct relationship between the number of sections. The method of disassembly and the strength of the sticks. They can break both in the joint and in the section itself. There are many examples of this,
We recommend choosing those models that meet the balance of reliability of support and weight specifically in your case. Because ultralight poles will vibrate under the weight and strength of a large man’s hand. There is a high risk of fracture at the moment of support or push.
How to determine the stiffness of a running stick
During the selection in the store. You can try to check how strongly the stick “plays” under the weight of the body when sticking into the floor (just do not damage the floor!). Put on the soft attachment and place the stick vertically on the floor, as hard as when walking. You do not need to put your whole body weight on! The greater the vibration amplitude, i.e. vibration. The more likely the stick will break under the weight of the body in real conditions. In this case, a stiffer stick is needed.