Walking in a Winter Wonderland!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland!

As the clocks go back, the nights draw in and the temperature drops, the temptation to stay indoors becomes greater – But there is no reason why you can’t still enjoy the British countryside and the benefits of Nordic Walking. There’s an old saying “there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing” so with that in mind, here are some tips on staying safe this winter. Continue reading

The art of dressing for the outdoors!

As the winter chill descends, it is tempting to venture out in a big thick winter coat but this can cause problems as you become more active and if it is not ‘breathable’ you will become very damp underneath it as you sweat.

So how do you stay warm, yet dry? It’s all a matter of adding layers that each have a specific purpose and are ideally technical enough to keep you comfortable.

Here we run through them layer by layer with an explanation of what to look for and why.

BASE LAYER
The aim of a base layer is to wick the moisture away into the next layer of clothing and then to allow it to evaporate. This is why it is important to always select breathable garments for each layer if possible. This process will keep your skin area dry which in turn ensures you feel comfortable and do not get chilled. When searching for technical synthetic base layers always remember to check for anti-bacterial properties too or the garment will soon smell unbearable!

The best fabrics to wear close to the skin are merino wool, bamboo or synthetic technical fibres like microfiber, CoolTech and polyesters which will wick away moisture rather than absorb it.

Base layers come as long or short sleeved styles and are ideal for use in all weathers.

Most outdoor stores will stock natural bamboo or merino base layers and if you want top of the range technical clothing you can not get better than the XBionic range which actually harnesses sweat and uses it to keep your temperature constant.
See XBionic range HERE.

MID LAYERS
This is the layer that provides insulation and these can comprise of anything from a fleece to a gilet. In short, anything that can provide warmth without being too bulky. This layer needs to be breathable too and can be made from merino wool or ‘Fleece’ fabrics which are lightweight and can come in different grades of insulation. The more technical ones are made by brands such as Polartec or Thinsulate with the former having a graded range based on how much insulation you require. Look out  for items that are not bulky so they will fit under top layers when required

Some will even include wind proofing and ideally zips which can be used to vent the garments if needed. It is also a good idea to check whether the item is packable because this is the layer you tend to add or remove according to how warm you are. Look for items that squash up small like this great little Microfleece which also comes with the NWUK logo – it packs away to nothing but is incredibly warm when required without feeling bulky or too hot. Some Gilets are made from Goose down which is also incredibly lightweight and does squash down very small for packing BUT…if it gets wet, you will know about it!

SHELL OR TOP LAYER
This is the most important of all the layers because it is the one that keeps the wind and rain out and ideally lets your body breathe! If you are following the layering principles, this outer jacket can literally be a ‘shell’ that is waterproof and windproof. This will also make it light and easy to pack away when not required. However, top layer jackets do come with additional levels of insulation too.

You will also come across ‘soft shell’ items (see below) that are generally water resistant, windproof, lightweight and breathable. These are great for everyday wear but are less likely to keep you totally dry in foul weather unless you invest in the latest highly technical ranges. These are really comfortable to wear on chilly days where maybe only a light shower is forecast. For really wet days, I will wear a hard shell with layers beneath.

The key features to look out for in hard shell jackets are, sealed zips (including on pockets), 100% waterproof (not shower proof) and breathability. You do also need the fit to be loose enough to allow you to add lowers beneath when required.

The difference between the two is reflected in the price – the more technical jacket is £150 and the softshell is £89

TIP – Waterproof breathable fabrics like Goretex do come in a range of grades for different protection levels. Where possible seek advice from outdoor store professionals who really understand the technology. As with most things, the price is generally a good guide to the level of protection the fabric will provide!

The final outer shell that we recommend you carry in case of in inclement weather is a pair of fully waterproof over trousers. These are designed to pop over your usual trousers and the best ones have an elasticated waistband plus poppers or studs up the sides of the legs so you can get them on quickly if the heavens open. An alternative way to protect the lower legs when walking in longer grass or through bracken is to wear a pair of waterproof gaiters which clip under your shoes or boots and zip up at the sides. These also prevent water from entering the top of your footwear so are great in snow too.

gabel expert greyHATS & GLOVES
That leaves us with two other essential items for the Nordic Walker; Gloves and hats which are key to keeping warm and toastie!

In cold weather, a thermal fleece or softshell hat which covers the ears is recommended and one of the most functional is the Sealskinz beanie which is totally waterproof too. As for gloves, go for thin, flexible but warm and ideally waterproof. Once again Sealskinz are a good buy but these Gabel experts gloves are padded where straps may rub and are surprisingly warm yet lightweight.

For more advice about any Nordic Walking equipment from shoes and poles to gloves and socks, call our Expert team on 0333 123 450. They all Nordic Walk and are passionate about helping to get the right kit for you! To visit our on line store to view all of the items outlined above click here.

Get into the swing with our daily smovey workout

Smoveys - tone, energise and increase range of movement

Whether you are a regular Nordic walker and very active or somebody who is interested but not yet ventured out with some poles the SMOVEY is the must have exercise tool of 2012. Just 10 – 20 minutes a day will give you NOTICEABLE results.

The Smovey is not simply a weight that you swing as you walk – this clever little device contains steel balls that move when you do and this has THREE amazing effects. First it increases your range of movement and secondly it provides resistance which makes the smovey feel heavier at some points as you swing it – and if that’s not enough….the smovey also VIBRATES with every swing which increases the toning and energising effects. Continue reading

Day Trippin’ – Have you got everything?

As we approach mid summer and the days stretch on and on, there is no better time to pack up your gear and head out on one of the many walking trails a bit further afield from your local routes.  Here is our guide to all the essentials you may need to really make the most of it: Continue reading

Maintaining your Nordic Walking Poles

We know its really muddy out there and your poles have been subjected to wet weather, snow and road salt recently – here are our tips for giving your poles a little TLC to make sure they keep working perfectly.

To make sure your poles don’t let you down you should:

  • Always clean your poles after use
  • Remove the paws after each walk so they do not get stuck on too tight
  • Loosen your height adjustment regularly rather than keep it tightly at the selected height
  • Not over tighten your adjustment mechanism
  • Store your poles in a dry environment

If you are having trouble with tightening or adjusting your poles our team of experts are on hand to show you how – see videos and explanations below.

Pole adjustment does not tighten up

This is a common problem on brand new poles and is very quick to fix.  Simply watch this video for a full explanation. Pole Tightening Fix Video

The poles are adjusted by tightening an expandable plug to grip inside the pole, which can spin around and not tighten.  By gripping the blue plastic plug in the adjustment collar, this can begin to tighten the adjustment when back in the pole.

 

 

 

Pole Adjustment does not loosen

It is possible to ‘over tighten’ the adjustment mechanism, making it stick.  Also, if the poles have been stored dirty and wet from walks, moisture and dirt can creep up inside the adjustment making damaging the mechanism.  Try heating the outer section of the pole with hot water (be careful) and then with a tight grip and a bit of muscle, unscrew the mechanism.  Sometimes lubricating the join with washing up liquid can also help.

Poles are bent

Sometimes, aluminium poles are bent when you accidentally trip over them or catch them in a hole or drain.  Cheaper models can also bend when excessive force is put through them when used to support your full body weight for example.  However, the most common reason by far is in the storage of the poles – when they are bundled in the back of the car and your shopping piled on top!

Both Carbon and Aluminium poles are very strong but a padded bag can really help protect them in transit.  The Leki 2 pole bag can fit your poles and accessories and will really help keep everything protected.  You should also collapse your adjustable poles to their minimum setting when storing them.

 

If you have any other questions the Retail team at Nordic Walking UK can help – call them on low cost number 0333 1234 540 at any time.

Paws For Thought

Nordic Walking poles have rubber ‘paws’ which cover the carbide tips for use on hard surfaces like pavements. In principle it’s recommended that you remove these when walking on softer ground as you get more traction from the tips whilst it’s always advisable to pop them back on when on tarmac etc. The paws are angled backwards in order to provide grip on harder surfaces but technique does play an important part in mastering how to avoid them slipping, especially if the surface is greasy from wet leaves. If you find it hard to get your paws to grip you may need to chat to your Instructor as there could be a number of reasons for this.
Continue reading

We’re all going on a……… Nordic Walking Holiday

View to Mont Blanc

View towards Mont Blanc. Courtesy of Tracks & Trails

So…… you love Nordic Walking with your local instructor but you want to travel to more exotic climates with your poles to experience some of the fantastic routes and holidays now available (see the holiday section on our website for some ideas).

But transporting your poles can cause problems, especially if you have fixed length poles, as they can be fragile and susceptible to damage if taken in the hold.  Most airlines also do not allow the poles to be carried in the cabin as they are deemed ‘dangerous’ with their sharp carbide tip.

Continue reading

The power of the pole

How can we check that we are getting the most from our poles?

Nordic Walking is known for being a really sociable way to exercise, this is great for motivation but can actually affect the results that people get from the activity as time goes on. It’s easy to fall into the trap of Nordic walking without actually gaining maximum benefit from the poles because technique has slipped as we enjoy a good chin wag with the rest of the group!
Continue reading