Walking poles have come a long way since early man found a nice big stick and used it to take his weight on a walkabout. It’s now common to see Nordic walkers swinging thin carbon poles as they lap the park at 6am, and trail runners stabbing the ground with spiked poles. Why? Is it just part of the “look”? Maybe a bit. But walking poles have many practical benefits. They add balance on all surfaces, take strain away from your legs and knees, make going up and down hills much easier, and improve momentum by helping to swing you forwards. Some hikers even use them to prop up tarpaulins to create makeshift tents. Here, we’ve picked out the best six walking poles you can buy now, highlighting factors such as lightness, durability and adjustability. Before we reveal who’s in pole position, we’ve got a quick guide to buying the right poles for your next trek. Walking poles are designed to be used two by two, with one in each hand to support the weight of each leg as you walk. The idea is to swing each pole in time with the opposite foot moving forwards: right foot, left pole. However, many walkers prefer to use just one. That way, you’ve got a free hand when y...