Thursday, December 03, 2009
Nordic Walking Pole Review
This review first appeared on Thursday 26th November 2009 in our sister publication: www.nordicwalkingnewsweekly.com
The following is a review of “Nordic Composite Stream” NW poles which has been prepared by a friend and colleague in the US, Marek Zalewski. Following an invitation from David Downer (Publisher), the US distributor, the Western Pole Company, has kindly sent Marek a complementary pair of ‘Stream’ poles requesting a test and review.
As a preamble to Marek’s excellent review (he walked for 100km to test them!) I include a few details about the product.
This particular model of pole is called “Stream” and they are manufactured in Finland by a company called Nordic Composite. They are distributed in the US by the Western Pole Company, Tampa Bay, FL. They can be seen at:
They comprise a carbon fibre composite one piece hollow shaft with a heat treated carbide steel tip. The handle comprises a two component construction with an adjustable wrist strap and Velcro fastening. The replaceable asphalt paw is made of a durable rubber. There are six standard pole lengths ranging from 42ins to 52ins in 2inch increments.
Marek’s Review - Photo credit: www.nordiccomposite.com
My first impression of the ‘Streams’ was that they looked pretty much like any other Nordic Walking poles that I have used so far, except for the straps.
Having from the beginning of my Nordic Walking “career”, which spans well over five years, always used some variant of the Salomon patent strap, which is a one-piece affair, with a single Velcro strip; the Stream’s strap arrangement certainly did look different.
It actually took several tries to figure out how they were meant to be used. Having experimented with several variants, all of which actually worked to a degree I finally went back to my first hunch, which was confirmed by Tapp Rinne from the US suppliers “Western Pole Company”. The straps are marked “right” and “left”, the fixed part of the strap goes on top of the hand and the separate, loose strap attaches underneath by Velcro, to the fixed one.
Just like in the case of classic – type ski poles, some adjustments of the length of the strap needs to be done initially, securing the straps within the grip with a plastic wedge.
Unlike the Salomon patent design, used by both Swix and LEKI with some modification, the Streams’ straps actually consist of two, separate parts and as I mentioned above, they hark back to the old, proven, ski pole-type attachment to the grip.
Having logged thousands of kilometers with the one-piece straps, these at first seemed confusing and a bit of a throw back. There also wasn’t any provision for the now well-established trigger release, to which many of us have become accustomed over the years and which allow quick and easy removal of the strap from the grip of the pole, for taking a drink, wiping one’s face, or answering a cell phone.
However, after figuring out the strap arrangement, my first impression was that it seemed to distribute the force a bit more evenly than the Salomon patent straps. There also seemed to be a bit less pressure at the base of the thumb and more on the edge of the hand, which offers ideal weight distribution.
After more than 100 kilometers of walking with the Streams, I can safely say that they work as well as any other poles that I have used. The lack of the trigger release turned out to be only a minor inconvenience. All it takes to free one’s hand is removing a single Velcro attachment on a strap and they easily slip off.
Some might object to having a strap between the web of the hand. From my experience, discomfort in this area can be minimized simply by proper strap adjustment, or if needed, by wearing a pair of light gloves.
Many traditionalists, who have been cross-country skiing for a while might like this arrangement, as the strap and wedge attachment system is practically identical to the classic ski pole set-up, with the important addition of a strap, which also works well for Nordic Walking.
The poles are made in Finland and are very light weight (approximately 6 ½ oz). The replacement straps and the asphalt boots are less expensive to replace than in most other brands. The two-component, rubber-lined grips are very comfortable to use.
The pros are definitely the lower cost and the almost infinitely adjustable straps. A more even force distribution seems to be possible through the uniquely designed straps, potentially helping those with thumb and / or wrist problems.
The possible downsides might include some initial confusion, as to how to adjust and use the straps and the lack of the trigger strap release.
Nordic Composite “Streams” are available from:
Review by: Marek Zalewski