Review: LEKI UK – Micro Vario Carbon Treking Poles
I have used trekking poles for many years but more so recently due to my ageing joints and a need to augment my balance. However, I have never found a pole that felt right, suited my needs or lasted more than a few months. The vast majority I had bought or been given rattled, bent, collapsed or snapped!
Following a conversation with a good outdoor buddy of mine, I was put in touch with the lovely people at Spring PR. They offered me the chance to try out a pair of the LEKI UK Micron Vario Carbon Trekking Poles, to see if they would meet all my requirements.
As a consumer, my expectations are very high, for me, the clock starts ticking the instant the order is placed. In a lot of cases I have to wait up to a week for delivery. So, I am delighted to report that the order was agreed on the 11th, dispatched on the 12th and delivered on the 13th. That is how it should be done!
- This lightweight, 240g folding pole is made of 100 per cent carbon and is equipped with LEKI’s quick and easy-to-use Speed Lock 2 external adjustment system. Enabling it to be variably adjusted from 110 to 130cm depending on height and terrain.
- LEKI’s new, technically sophisticated External Locking Device (ELD) system gives walkers even faster and simpler handling when folding. The small silver lever on the ELD makes the mechanism easily visible – loosening the cable at the push of a button; allowing a quick assemble or dis-assemble, even when wearing gloves. Once folded, the poles are small and lightweight enough to fit into hand luggage or a backpack.
- The edgeless, ultralight Aergon grip on the pole handles fits palm-perfect and saves even more weight thanks to its shell cavity construction. The grip extension provides variable gripping options and added comfort, particularly when travelling over varying terrain. And the LEKI Skin Strap is highly breathable.
- LEKI’s External Locking Device offers even more stability and safety. A high-performance tensioning cable offers lifelong fibre protection. The lower segment spring ensures optimum tension and automatic cable length compensation. And special aluminium sleeves protect the highly modular carbon fibres and ensure a perfect inter-segment connection.
Over a few weekends I used the poles on mixed terrain ranging from the chalk slopes of the South Downs with its steep climbs and descents, to the narrow, uneven tracks of the Low Weald.
The first thing that surprised me was the weight of the poles, they are impressively light at 240g each. They seemed too light to be able to give me the support I require. Secondly, was the fact that they come with a carry bag to keep them tidy when stowed away.
I was very impressed was with the quality of the construction. There were no sharp edges or crudely made surfaces, that I have experienced from some other brands. The instructions are clear and concise, especially when it came to locking out the lower sections. This is also backed up with videos on You Tube.
The assembly of the poles is quick and easy. It takes literally 5 seconds to extend the poles and lock the sections into place. This is made possible by the Speed Lock 2 external adjustment system and the External Locking Device (ELD) system. Adjustment is variable between 110 and 130cms and is clearly marked so I can see it without having to put my glasses on!
The Aergon grip handles offer a very smooth surface with no mould marks or seams to irritate the hands. They fit perfectly into the palm of my hand, again something that falls short with some manufacturers. The surface of the handgrip runs down the upper shaft, which I found useful when climbing very steep slopes.
The wrist straps are made of ‘highly breathable’ LEKI skin strap and are easily and quickly adjustable. This is a great advantage when I found myself having to remove gloves as the day warmed up. I was able to instantly adjust the strap size without the need of a tool kit. I did, however, note a small amount of slippage which required occasional readjustment.
My biggest concern from the outset was one of stability and durability. As I have got older, I find I am needing extra support especially when walking down steep slopes. I also needed something to help take the pressure off my ‘knackered’ knee joints. My initial comment of their weight kept playing on my mind during the first walk – were they going to be able to do what I wanted?
Their first use was over steep terrain, with slippery chalky slopes that offer little grip to boots. The Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles supported me and allowed me to move quicker and more safely over terrain that usually slowed me down.
On one occasion my boot slipped forcing me to place my entire weight on the poles – I need not have worried. The 100 per cent carbon construction did not even flinch! There was none of the flex you get from other lightweight poles
One thing that has really annoyed me in the past, are poles that rattle and ‘clunk’ when I am using them in Nordic Walking fashion. With the solid construction of the Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles, I had good clean, and rattle free operation. The advantage to me with these poles now is an increase in walking speed of an extra half mile an hour.
After years of searching for the perfect trekking pole, I feel I have arrived in the right place. LEKI UK have produced a quality, light weight yet strong product that fits all my current requirements. They are impressively light, easy to use and quick and easy to assemble and stow away.
The Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles have improved my balance and stability on uneven ground and during descents. They have enabled me to increase my walking speed and have also reduced the fatigue in my legs by allowing the upper body to take the strain and in so doing increase my calorie burn.
If there was one criticism, it would be with the wrist straps. I rely heavily on the straps to transfer most of my weight to the poles. Whilst the straps are nice and lightweight, I found them too ephemeral and, at times, uncomfortable to use. That having been said, they still did the job for which they were designed.
If you are of a ‘certain age’ and find that you need more support when walking over rough terrain, then you cannot go far wrong with the Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles. They give you the confidence you need to keep on hill-walking as long as the legs allow you to.
Whilst the price tag may be considered slightly high – it is a very small price to pay for peace of mind.
Disclaimer: I was supplied with a pair of Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles by Spring PR, on behalf of LEKI UK for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.