While on vacation last month, I found myself missing my second-favorite cardio workout, Nordic walking. (My first love is inline skating.) I went out for plenty of “regular” walks, but it just wasn’t the same. The problem was, my poles didn’t fit into my suitcase, so I couldn’t bring them along. If only I’d known then about LEKI Traveller Carbon Nordic walking poles.

Nordic walking, in case you’re wondering, is walking done with cross-country-ski-type poles. Why do such a thing, you ask? I’ll give you four good reasons:

  1. Research has shown that using poles while you walk increases your calorie burn by at least 20%—and perhaps by as much as 40%.
  2. It gives your upper body a workout.
  3. It takes some of the stress off your knees.
  4. It makes your workout feel easier (even though you're working harder).

Yep, poles do all that. Now do you see why I use them?

But don’t they look kind of dorky? you may be wondering. Sure, if you have no idea how to use them and just kind of plant them in front of you as you walk, you will indeed look a bit silly. But if you know what you’re doing (here's a good description), you don’t look dorky—you look like you’re training for something. (In fact, this is what many competitive cross-country skiers do to stay in top shape during the off-season.) No one will laugh, I guarantee it.

Now that I’ve hopefully sold you on Nordic walking, let’s get down to business on the Travellers. This is a good, solid set of poles. They’re made of carbon, so they’re super-light and strong. They’re adjustable (just twist to “unlock” the poles and get them to the right height), so they’ll work for anyone who's just under 5 feet tall to just over 6 feet.

Best of all, they're portable: When you’re ready to travel, “unlock” the poles and slide the two lower sections into the top one; the collapsed poles are about 26 inches long, which will just barely fit diagonally into a standard carry-on bag. (It fits easily into larger suitcases and duffels.)

The Travellers come with a short instructional DVD that covers everything from correct form to how to adjust the poles and release the wrist straps (handy if you need to stop for a swig of water). I’ll be the first to admit that I rarely watch the DVDs that come with fitness gear, but if you’re new to Nordic walking, don’t skip this one—it’ll tell you everything you need to know (and keep you from looking like a dork out on the road).

The Travelers are a little pricey (you can get a good pair of Nordic walking poles for around $100), but worth it. I’m hanging onto these, and next vacation, I’m definitely taking them along for the, er, walk.

Product: LEKI Traveller Carbon Nordic Walking Poles

Category: Gear

Pros: Well-made and light, these poles collapse to fit into most suitcases. They’re adjustable, so they’ll work for most heights.

Cons: They’re a little pricey.

Cost: $200 at LEKI.com

Extra tip: Before you head out, make sure each rubber tip is at the proper angle, with the upper part of the curve facing forward.


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