Today I received the new poles from Exel, the Nordic Pro that I’m testing for trail running. To do so I decided to go for a tour on the Lauvet d’Ilonse (2000m) with mixed ground surfaces and inclinations.
But first let’s see what the poles look like. There are profiled carbon sticks, pretty light, with a quick release glove on one side and on the ground side you have a sharp pick that can be covered with a rubber pad.
About the ground grip. The rubber pad is amazing on rocks. It works well also on grass climbing or going down. When going for gravel, pine needles, and very dusty ground then the sharp pick is your best friend and will give you a reliable grip, again climbing or going down. When switching from the rubber pad to the pick, the pad is locked to the front of the pole providing extra protection to the narrow and lower section of the pole. The rubber pad is also an effective and simple protection from the pick when carrying the poles.
The handle gloves are made of a breathable fabric. There design with the loop on the back of the hand and a strong support on the edge let you pull and push all the strength in the glove and with little to no grabbing of the stick i.e. less effort needed. By the end of the tour I had absolutely no irritated, pinched or red area on my hands. In addition to the glove, the stick itself has a cork fabric where the fingers grab the pole. Even with sweaty hands you never lose the grip and control of the poles.
The quick release system is very accessible, fast to release the glove and easy to plug it back. Yes a small cubic part remains between thumb and index when untying the glove. That still lets you grab both poles in one hand or allow you handling a camera The insertion point and the fabric tying it to the pole supported my full weight when going down.
The profiling of the poles is indeed a very nice feature:
- Going flat or climbing, it is providing a more natural angle for the wrist when maximum propelling strength is applied on ground.
- Going down, it is providing a greater chase while the picks are nailed in the ground with a greater angle providing a better grip.
Are those carbon poles solid? Well, I have been sticking like hammering rocks; on the way down, I jumped from stones to stones lifted on the two poles and everything is fine. The sticks are 100% carbon, no joints.
Any room for improvement? If you want some lighter grips, you can go for the World-Cup handles that are shorter and lighter. Similarly, if you consider that the rubber pad is not for you, you can choose the AeroII tip that is significantly lighter.
I’m now looking forward to test them in exclusively stony and rocky trails.
Exel Nordic Pro Poles.