What Equipment Do You Need for Nordic Walking?
Getting started with Nordic Walking really is easy and accessible as it requires minimal equipment to get started. The main item of equipment you’ll need are the poles. There are quite a few types on the market, so you just need to turn up in outdoor clothing with appropriate footwear; it really is that easy. In this blog, our Nordic Walking instructor, Sarah, talks about her favourite Nordic Walking equipment.
What equipment do you need for Nordic Walking? For Nordic Walking, you will need specialist poles which come with a hard grip or glove. Choose clothing that allows you to move freely, taking into account the weather forecast and the fact that you will be outdoors. Layering systems, including fleeces and jumpers, are best as you can always add or remove layers as needed. In terms of footwear, any outdoor shoes will do as long as they have a flexible, grippy sole.
Are Nordic Walking poles like walking poles? The short answer is no. Whilst they often get mistaken for walking or trekking poles, the big distinguisher is the fact that they have a specialist hand grip and/or glove that connects the hand to the pole which allows for easy pushing off the ground and a quick release when needed.
Carry on reading to find out about our favourite Nordic Walking equipment brands, and product recommendations. We’ve also included some of our own videos to help you find the perfect Nordic Walking gear.*
*all thoughts and opinions are our own - this post doesn’t contain affiliate links.
What Equipment is Needed for Nordic Walking?
The poles are important as they are specifically designed for Nordic Walking. They have specialist grips and gloves as well as spikes at the end which help to ensure the poles make good contact with the ground so you can propel yourself forwards.
Shoes are the second big equipment item, although you don’t necessarily need to buy anything new to get started. Walking boots are fine to use, as well as any outdoor shoes with a good grippy sole and a toe area that is flexible.
All you need is clothing suitable for the outdoors and the weather when you’re out and about in it. We tend to try to start cool (not cold) and dry, which includes waterproof jackets if it’s raining, and hats and gloves if it’s cold.
Find out more about each type of Nordic Walking equipment and our personal favourites below:
Nordic Walking poles have two big manufacturers which most instructors use; Leki and Exel. If you’ve had a Nordic Walking lesson with MVMT before, you’ll know that we have a preference for Leki poles (we also have a variety of types for people to try). Some are aluminium, whilst others are lighter and made of carbon. Nordic Walking poles come in all sizes including adjustable lengths as well as single piece or foldable.
When teaching, we tend to use the Leki Flash Carbon poles which are a single length pole with a glove attachment, spike at the end and rubber removable tip. They are a gorgeous pole, nicely weighted for a great swing!
When it comes to buying poles though, most people we’ve taught seem to have opted for the pole which we carry and use day to day; the Leki Micro Trail. The main reason people are choosing these is that they are super lightweight and also they fold into three so pack down really small. This makes these Nordic Walking poles ideal to pop into a walking backpack so you can carry them when not in use, and whip them out when you need or want to use them.
Living and walking in the Peak District means your footwear needs to be pretty robust and able to tackle slippy grass, loose stones, mud, rock and occasional yomps across the heather. Whilst walking boots are great, particularly for offering ankle support, something with a flexible sole is really needed. This will allow you to get the full movement through the foot for Nordic Walking. You'll be placing your heel on the ground and ‘rolling’ through the length of the foot, so something that flexes under the foot and allows the toes to bend is ideal.
We use trail running shoes, as do many instructors, as they have a grippy bottom and still allow the foot to move. Whether you choose to get ones with gore-tex is up to personal choice, although I have found waterproof socks to be a bit of a game changer in recent years! Keeping it local, yorkshire waterproof socks, Salomon XA Pro shoes are a favourite, as are INOV 8, Scott, Saucony but if you’re getting shoes especially, go to a reputable shop for expert advice.
If you’d like to find out more about our favourite Nordic Walking shoes, you might enjoy one of our recent Youtube videos from instructor Sarah, which you can find below.
Hat and Gloves
If you are planning on joining one of our Nordic Walking classes during the colder weather months, a hat and gloves are essential and easy to pop into your backpack. With gloves, we’d recommend opting for those with a grippy palm. You could even go for a waterproof material if you’re planning to wear them in the rain.
A waterproof jacket is a must when spending any time outdoors. The weather really can change fast, so I always recommend a lightweight waterproof jacket that will pack up small and you can leave in your backpack (more on that next…) and take it out when you need it. Other than making sure it’s waterproof and lightweight, ensure your Nordic Walking jacket has room to fit some layers underneath if the weather is on the colder site. Your chosen jacket must give you good freedom of movement as you’ll be using your arms a lot!
As well as the fabulous Outside shop in Hathersage, who sell all things outdoor, Decathlon and Go Outdoors have great selections of outdoor clothing and accessories that are ideal for Nordic Walking.
To give a better idea of what to wear in different weather scenarios, watch the video below to get our top tips and recommendations for Nordic Walking-appropriate clothing.
Walking trousers are perfect, as are leggings, or even shorts in warmer weather. Lighter materials that are waterproof, breathable, and allow you good freedom of movement are ideal. We wouldn’t recommend opting for jeans as they get very uncomfortable in warm, wet or cold weather, which just about covers most weather scenarios!
As Nordic Walking is an outdoor activity, having somewhere to store extra layers, waterproofs, an emergency chocolate bar, and a bottle of water is really useful and recommended. This is the minimum of what you’d usually carry with you at all times, along with cash, a mobile phone, and emergency first aid kit.
If we’re teaching somewhere near a cafe or a carpark, you could use a waistpack, such as one from Patagonia, which carries essentials but leaves your arms free to move. If you’re going on a longer walk or joining a large Nordic Walking group, you’ll likely pack more, in which case we’d suggest taking a sturdy backpack. We use a 12L Osprey bag which has a lovely design, as well as being incredibly comfortable - even after a long walk!
If you’d like to find out what else we take with us in our bags when we go Nordic Walking, watch our recently-uploaded video:
How are Nordic Walking Poles Different from Normal Walking Poles?
Below, we outline five of the ways that Nordic Walking poles are different from standard walking poles:
1. Nordic Walking poles have a glove that is attached to the pole through a loop, which is stitched onto the glove. Walking poles have a looped handle that wraps around the hand and wrist. You cannot Nordic Walk with walking poles as the glove attachment is missing.
2. Nordic Walking poles are sold in pairs, whereas Walking Poles are often sold singly. Nordic Walking is a whole body workout that works both sides of the body, hence why two are needed!
3. Nordic Walking poles have a straight or ergonomically shaped grip at the top that you hold onto whilst walking. It doesn’t have the ‘bulb’ end that walking poles often have, as this would restrict the ability to release the pole and propel you forwards properly.
4. Nordic Walking poles have ‘spikes’ on the ends of them to help make good contact with the ground; again this is all designed to help with forward propulsion. They often have rubber ‘feet’ or tips that go over the spikes that give a different grip over tarmac and pavements, for example. Walking poles do not have the specially adapted spike or rubber foot.
5. Nordic Walking poles should be properly sized for you. The sizing is based on your height, but also takes into account your walking style and body geometry - your Nordic Walking instructor will advise on the best poles for you. Walking poles are not usually sized specifically, and tend to be set to a length that people feel gives them the support they want.
Still not sure what the difference is? Nordic Walking looks active and is active! The poles are usually held at a 45 degree angle to the floor and the arm extends fully past the hip. This helps to propel the walker forwards, whereas walking poles are often just held in front by those using them for stability.
Nordic Walking Classes & Retreats with MVMT
Nordic Walking really is an easy exercise to start, and doesn’t require you to fork out on loads of expensive equipment to have a go. If you join a Nordic Walking class with MVMT, you’ll be able to borrow our equipment and get a feel for what you like before making any commitments!
If you’re interested in powering up your walking with guidance from an expert instructor, explore our Nordic Walking classes in the beautiful Peak District. Our classes are a great way to explore the area whilst making new friends and learning new skills! We also offer one-day wellness retreats, which include a day of yoga, Nordic Walking, as well as great food and drink.
If you have any questions or need advice about anything mentioned in this blog post, or you want to find out more about our Nordic Walking classes, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our friendly team.