Nordic walking poles and trekking poles are both walking poles but they are meant for two different types of walking activity.
Here’s a great video by Linda Lemke of Minnesota who discusses with you which one you might really want. This is the best and clearest explanation I have come across so far:
Here’s a written summary of the differences.
Trekking poles are used by hikers, backpackers and snowshoers to provide stability and balance on all types of terrain. One of the things they do is transfer weight and stress from your knees and ankles to your shoulders, arms and back. They :
- are designed for day-long use;
- are designed to be placed on the ground in front of you;
- are designed to support loads;
- are designed to assist climbing up slopes;
- are not designed for use on pavement;
- never come with a rubber foot, only a metal point;
- have a loose strap that is not designed for pushing on — it’s really more just to prevent the pole falling out of your hands;
- are heavier than Nordic walking poles;
- always come in three collapsible sections.
Nordic Walking Poles
Nordic poles are designed more with a fitness workout in mind than anything else (though they can be used for other purposes.) They provide some stability and balance but that’s a side benefit. They:
- are designed for short defined fitness workout periods;
- are designed to be placed on ground behind you;
- are not designed to support loads;
- are designed more with flat surfaces primarily in mind;
- are designed for use on terrain or pavement;
- come with both a bare metal point and an angled rubber foot to put on for use on hard surfaces;
- strap is designed to keep the pole very close to your hand, and to be pushed on;
- lighter than trekking poles;
- come in one piece, two-piece and three piece.