These aren’t running poles or walking poles, they’re cross trail poles and what that means is that they’ll work for either activity.
At just 400g for a pair you’d be forgiven for thinking these are going to be a little on the flimsy side, but the reality is that they’re made to handle very difficult terrain, a fast pace and, perhaps most importantly, a heavy loading force of up to 100kg.
These would certainly be right at home on an ultra race like the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc considering their light weight, packability and reliability. But those aspects also make them suited to just plain old hiking too. Nordic walkers will also really dig what these bring to the table.
The Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon are z-style folding trekking poles that are incredibly easy to deploy. All you need to do is pull down on the shaft below the handle and everything will click together in a quick and amazingly satisfying way. To break each one down, you just flick the Speedlock 2 mini lever open, pull down on the shaft until it clicks and the whole thing will relax and break apart for you.
This kind of design is fairly common these days, but you don’t often get height adjustment as well. Using that Speed Lock 2 lever you can slide from as short as 110cm up to as high as 130cm, a useful capability that’ll help on those trails with varied altitude. It will also be handy for anyone who needs a pole or two with height adjustment to prop up their tarp or tent.
Another thing worth nothing is that the lever is cleverly designed so that it can easily be tightened up without the need for a tool. It’s nifty stuff.
“They are made to handle very difficult terrain, a fast pace and, perhaps most importantly, a heavy loading force.”
Breaking down to just 42cm in length, these things will easily fit onto the side of your backpack, whether that’s tucked into the side mesh pockets or strapped on. They come with a little lightweight storage sack too, by the way.
Now, onto the main event: the straps. Rather than simple webbing straps, the kind that you find on most walking poles, Leki have taken inspiration from Nordic skiing and added detachable mesh gloves. These can be attached to the top of each pole handle with a simple click and can then be removed with the press of a button. This helps to encourage effective power transfer and allows the poles to move more closely and effortlessly with the swing of your arms and wrists.
The handle itself has a slight grip extender for that on-the-fly variation and, as you’d expect, it’s ergonomically shaped to provide a comfortable feel.