Sunday, November 09, 2008


The Holy Grail

Some Nordic Walkers seem keen on having equipment which can be used in all circumstances and conditions with equal and total efficiency (I include myself!). Perhaps it might be simply the trait of “perfectionism” or “unreasonable expectation” manifesting itself, but it strikes me that in reality, no equipment could ever fulfil such wants. The asphalt “paw” fitted for hard surface walking seems to fit this category well.

When I heard of the Leki “Silent Spike Tip” (photo left) I rushed to their website and bought a pair, in the hope, that at last, all my grip/noise/wear problems were over. I was encouraged by a few brief reviews which had appeared over on the Nordic Walking eCommunity forum (this can be found at so I thought it opportune to do a number of test outings myself and compile a report. In addition I thought it helpful to bring together some of the material I could find on the forum, in particular the report posted by one of my fellow moderators, Iain Leiper (Iain has agreed to me reprinting his review).


Early in 2007, the pole manufacturer Leki introduced their “Silent Spike Tip” which essentially is a rubber “asphalt paw” having six small protruding tungsten carbide studs designed to aid traction (see photo). Leki intend that they would be appropriate in any circumstance where a rubber paw would normally be used, ie. asphalt (tarmac), concrete or hard packed trails. Furthermore, the manufacturer claims that the useful life of these new pads is four times greater than the conventional none-studded article.

Being a direct replacement for the standard part, these tips will fit any current Leki Nordic Walking pole (quite possibly trekking poles as well) and retail at around 15GBP (about 23.5 US Dollars, 34.8 Aus Dollars or 18.5 Euros, although local costs will apply) plus of course, shipping costs. Leki advise me that they will not be suitable for a couple of “top models” due to go on sale in the spring of 2009.


Whilst the Leki supplier here in the UK has advised me that the new paws are intended for the same application as the standard item I have used the studded paws on a number of other surfaces, which may well exceed the design use. However, I obtained some interesting results.

I have had several outings in my local park (the second largest in Europe) which affords a considerable variety of surface – grass, asphalt (coarse and smooth) compacted stone, compacted earth (plus rutted and muddy sections).

Interestingly, I found the best effect was had on grassed areas, whether wet or dry, provided the grass was fairly short. I used this 100% effectiveness as my yardstick for all other surfaces – which was perhaps a little demanding.

Next came a conventional asphalt highway with a coarse surface. Here the paws were just as good as the grassed area – 100%. Where I found very fine, smooth asphalt the effect was not quite as good, say 80%. I have to say, however, that they were not “silent” as the name implies, indeed how could they be on any hard surface? Nonetheless, the noise produced was considerably less than that produced by a conventional open carbide tip. The annoying “tac tac” is replaced by a more muted “scratch” and I find this much more acceptable.

One of our forum correspondents (Richard Roseweir) has informed me that in the US and Canada these paws are called “Rubber Fitness Studded Traction Tips”, there being no mention of “silent”. Richard has also tested the spike tips and informs me: “Although my intent was to use these studded tips on compacted gravel pathways, I first tested them on dry and wet asphalt (tarmac) and concrete surfaces. True to their manufacturer’s claims, they performed quite admirably in both dry and wet conditions. In fact I had a whole lot of fun trying to get them to slip on wet asphalt. They did not disappoint.”

I also encounter paths made of compacted stone with a hard, smooth surface and these paths are almost as unforgiving as asphalt and there is just as much noise generated when using open carbide spikes. Generally, the spike tips provided the same excellent traction as elsewhere, even when walking through puddles and I would rate them as 100%. However, they did become unstuck where the path had a surface dressing of loose fine particles. Here, some slipping was encountered but was largely overcome by going into Exerstrider™ mode. This has been borne out by other users who have reported their experiences on the forum. In November 2007 Doug Baguley wrote: “They don’t work very well on fine, loose, gravelly material, but neither do ordinary rubber feet, in my experience”. Also, Richard Roseweir bought his initially to be able to walk on stone paths in his local park only to be disappointed at their performance where the surface was friable.

Other surfaces on my usual journeys involve paths of compacted earth where here too the traction was very good with perhaps only an occasional slip where the surface was “disturbed”. I gave a rating of 90% here. Muddy sections were readily overcome by using a less angled pole plant and a reduced push.

On balance I have found the spike tips a very good investment and they allow me to complete my whole outing without having to mess about taking off/putting on asphalt paws with all the attendant problems. Giving excellent traction on many surface types they give sufficient confidence to really give a firm “push off”. Whilst these items may not be the “Holy Grail”, they come very close. Only time will tell if they outlast conventional units, as the prospect of having to part with 15 GBP on a regular basis is not good. Perhaps another posting is required if and when they eventually wear out or fall apart!
posted by Malcolm Jarvis, Nordic Walker Leeds UK

I am pleased to be able to reprint Iain Leiper’s review here. As you will see, Iain’s conclusions are favourable although he is not able to comment on noise levels owing to the strains of rock music in his ears!

Iain’s "spike tip" review

“Perhaps it seems strange an off road walker trying out the Leki Silent Spike Pad. However, I was keen to try out something which had intrigued me since being gifted a pair and that was whether the Silent Spike Pad could enhance the purchase I could get during elbow extension whilst road walking.

One of my reasons for being an off road walker you see is that I feel road walking does not allow for a full elbow extension and push off – the asphalt pad tending to slip when pressure is applied, especially on wet or slippery surfaces.

For those who are unfamiliar with this type of pad it is basically an asphalt rubber pad with 6 tiny spikes therein.

On a damp Saturday afternoon I set off to a favourite glen and a very quiet road with mountains, heather and wildlife providing landscape postcard scenery to my left and right. The pads slipped easily onto my Leki Varios and provided a sturdy and secure fit. And off I went.

Immediately I could feel the difference. As I drove my elbow extension backwards, instead of the characteristic slip of the asphalt pad suddenly the pole was rooted and planted rock solid enabling me to get the necessary purchase and anchor for a strong push off. For the rest of the afternoon’s walking the pad never once failed to bite and provide purchase.

It’s perhaps interesting that this product has been marketed to reduce the noise or tap of poles in the ground. One website markets this product as follows: “At last – the annoying tic tac sound ringing in your ears when Nordic Walking is about to end! When you use the new ‘Silent Spike Pad’ you can get back to enjoying the sounds around you whether that’s the local wildlife or rush hour traffic.”

I would suggest after my experience that this product’s true value lies in providing secure purchase during elbow extension thus enabling better technique on roads. It was so successful that I am now contemplating undertaking more road walking – especially during wet periods.

For those who are wondering whether it lived up to its true name of being “silent”……I’m afraid I can’t answer that one. With Meatloaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” blaring in my ears the test as to whether it is a silent spike pad will have to wait for another day”.

Iain is both a moderator of the Nordic Walking eCommunity and a Nordic Walking instructor in the Tayside region of Scotland. Iain’s details can be found on his website at:

posted by Malcolm Jarvis, Nordic Walker Leeds UK

Yes i was disappointed to find that my Leki Silent paws were not so silent after all on the plus side i did have increased traction whilst walking and i look forward to finding out if the paws last longer than the paws i have been using. normally my paws last 3days, and i have seen greater improvement with the ordinary leki paws i have.
I curently walk with a pair of Shiraz coloured Overlanders purchased from Michael Gates of Tweed Heads, Australia. I did not remove the rubber paws and find they are fine on all surfaces except tiles where they slip. They are beginning to wear out as when I change from grass to asphalt above the sound of my walkman I hear the click click of the point now contacting the road. I just did not take off the paws when I got the poles as I find that it a nuisance having to stop and replace them or even when an unevenness in the concrete pavement catches them and tears them off. I do not know whether these spiked paws fit all poles or not as they seem to be much more hard wearing than the other paws I have. Perhaps I should drop a line to Michael Gates to enquire. Although during a recent clean up I discovered I have a few unused paws. As I am an avid pole walker usually walking for two hours six days a week and as there are some occasions when I would like to walk up Birrell Street to Centennial Park Birrell Street being very hilly I would like to have perpetual paws on my poles. I also have an adjustable pair of Tim Rutlands Exerstrider poles which are the ones I generally use to walk from my home to Centennial Park. Unfortunately one of them has locked in a lesser height than required and I am waiting for my brother-in-law to come and unlock it for me.

Even in the wind and the rain I just love pole walking with music playing in my ears particularly meatloaf.

Diana Neubacher, Bondi. NSW Australia
Better grip than the standard rubber feet. Not silent but I bought them for grip. I use them all the time in the winter when the tarmac is wet. A good compromise between the bare tip and its nosie and the rubber feet which are quiet but don't grip in the wet on smooth tarmac.
Has anyone got these Silent Paws to work on another Manufacturer's sticks? I have the paws and the LEKI fitting kit fir my SWIC CT2 sticks and I cont make the pads stay on the stick!

Is it me or are these fitting kits a bit of a misnomer?
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