Published on August 21st, 2013 | by Greg0
Leki Trekking Poles: Ultra-Rugged, Ultralight Stability
If you enjoy hiking, then you need a good set of poles. Walking sticks have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, 130 or more in King Tut’s tomb alone, and canes have been gone in and out of fashion as a style statement for hundreds of years. But for serious trekkers of any age or fitness level, a good pole (or two) can make a vast difference, especially when you’re carrying a large, heavy pack. You might feel pretty good about your balance normally, but add a steep incline and 15 pounds of gear on your back, and you’ll beg for a hiking pole in minutes. Think of how terrible skiing would be without good poles!
Though you have plenty of options, there is no real reason to look far beyond Leki Trekking Poles. They’ve been in business a long time, since 1948, and though they don’t make a whole lot of products, they do make a variety of poles. From cross-country gear to the nordic walking craze, the company has helped improve nearly every feature, inventing many of them. We’ve been taking a look at two of their models, and have some positive news to report, even if you’re not a rabologist. You can opt for a single pole, and for many situations that’s enough, but a pair of them are suggested for more serious climbs and these generally come in pairs.
The Leki Carbonlite Aergon Thermo XL is just about the best trekking pole that money can buy, and is their top-of-the-line. As you might expect, the carbon in the name comes from the inclusion of the super-strong and lightweight carbon fiber that has been making it’s way into enthusiast gear for a long time. Here, it provides those same features that make it desirable elsewhere (14 ounces total), and the good looks don’t hurt either, plus it’s 100% carbon fiber. The grip is the cornerstone of any trekking pole, and you might be surprised how much effort goes into creating and designing them to be ergonomic and comfortable and fit a few grip styles. We found it easy to wrap our hand around and our grasp never slipped, thanks to nice extra ridges and indents for thumbs and the textured material. We confess that we weren’t climbing Mount Everest, but even on the fairly tame hills around New York State, the durability came in handy at several points. The XL in the name indicates that this one is perfect for taller folks- if you’re around 6-foot or over and don’t need something that packs up tiny (these collapse to about two feet), these are probably the right choice. Plus, it comes with a nifty threaded camera attachment that allows you to use it as a monopod- we loved the extra accessory and it makes the Carbonlite XL an easy recommendation, at around $200 in stores and online.
The Leki Micro Vario Carbon offers the same excellent grip, but weighs a bit more (16 ounces or so) as a tradeoff for a system that allows quick and easy assembly and disassembly. We didn’t mention it above, but the foam grip insulates your hands from the cold, and can absorb sweat to boot. While other poles may collapse like the Carbonlite, this one goes even further, and the three components can be separated but stay connected by a Kevlar-reinforced rope. It’s pretty cool to see just how small it gets, and assembled, just how much weight and force it can take. The whole thing can come apart at the push of a button too. We didn’t try out the optional snowflake or deep powder attachments, but the photo monopod adapter works on this one as well. You can opt for titanium or aluminum to save some money, but the carbon fiber reduces the weight by a significant margin while offering superior strength. Even if you’re not heading to serious alpine ice, some extra stability is always welcome on any mountainous hike, whether you’re a free skiier or just enjoy a good hike. Available now for around $200 as well.