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Walking Equipment and Accessories

Leki Micro Vario Carbon Walking Poles | Review

Leki have produced a lightweight, packable pole for multi-terrain use

Why We Chose The Leki Micro Vario Carbon Walking Poles: Lightweight, packable, versatile.

Once you give trekking poles a go for the first time, you’ll soon realise the difference they make. They’re ideal for helping you manage heavier loads, whilst also offering stability and balance over some of the more technical sections of a walk.

Many veteran hill-users won’t be seen without their poles. After a lifetime of knee abuse from ascending and descending countless mountain paths, they become a valuable bit of equipment, particularly on those paths that have consistently large drops between each step.

“If you’re planning on taking these poles over a long distance, you’ll certainly appreciate that lower gram count.”

One of the biggest gripes that climbers, backpackers or general walkers may have with trekking poles is the heavy weight and lack of packability sometimes. Fixed-length poles have their obvious issues in terms of portability when not being used, and many ‘telescopic’ poles also remain quite long when packed up as well.

That’s why many people will favour z-style poles, like these ones by Leki, which break down into four short sections that all bundle together alongside each other into one very compact package.

The total packed length of this 2019 version of the Leki Micro Vario Carbon is in fact just 40cm. To give you a bit of perspective, Alpkit’s telescopic Shox Comfort measure 55cm packed, and elsewhere in Leki’s range, their Khumbu poles are 72cm – also telescopic. So you won’t get much shorter than this new offering by Leki here.

As for its weight, Leki tick another box here. The Micro Vario weighs just 234g (per pole) thanks to a sleek carbon upper and lower. Compare that to the weight of aluminium poles, which usually come in at around 300g per pole and higher.

Whilst this weight may not seem like a big difference on paper, if you’re planning on taking these poles over a long distance, you’ll certainly appreciate that lower gram count.

The Micro Vario Carbon folds together on itself into a compact package. Photo: Chris Johnson
Large adjustment is handy for those looking to use their poles for multiple sports. Photo: Chris Johnson
A sack is included to neatly stow the poles away. Photo: Chris Johnson

At full length, it’s 130cm long, while the shortest usable length is 110cm, giving 20cm of height variation when you’re mixing between uphill and downhill use. And that adjustment is easy thanks to the mini lever below the handle which can just about be used while wearing medium–thick gloves.

The ergonomically-shaped handle features a basic, but still comfortable foam, and there’s a smooth webbing strap. There’s not too much to shout about in this department to be honest.

Down at the bottom, there’s a tough and very sharp carbide spike. This can be swapped with a silent spike pad which reduces the sound of the classic ‘clank’ you get when striking pole tips off rock, or you can also use a rubber tip cover. Both of these need to be purchased separately.

More points in the versatility department is in the ability to change the baskets of these poles. Leki have made it possible for you to switch out the standard trekking basket with a wider snow basket, making the pole suitable for ski touring, snowshoeing and general winter hiking.

If you’re planning to take these out in winter, then the carbon build offers a nifty advantage in that the material doesn’t lose as much heat as other types of metal. ‘Why’, we hear you ask, ‘would you need to worry about heat loss?’. Well, poles that are made out of aluminium lose heat quickly and become very cold and ’sticky’ during prolonged periods in sub-zero temperatures, and this causes the inconvenience of your kit or, god forbid, your skin, getting stuck to it. Small detail, but sometimes it’s the little things.

Don’t knock trekking poles until you’ve tried them. Photo: Chris Johnson

The previous version of this pole, which we featured in our Outdoor 100 series a few years ago, had a slightly fiddly push button lock that was pressed to collapse it down. Now for 2019 they’ve added a much simpler mechanism that makes things a tad quicker and easier. That’s actually the only real difference between the previous Micro Vario Carbon and this one. Still, we thought it was a good enough update to merit inclusion in the Outdoor 100 once again.

Tester’s Verdict

Alyn Wallace, astro photographer and vlogger

“These really are superlight, but the performance is certainly there as well. Using these over hard ground I’ve found that the shock absorption is excellent, and the handles are comfortable – though they’re pretty low on thrills. The folding system, once you get used to the technique, is really convenient and makes for quick adjustment.”

The poles collapse into a small size, allowing them to be stowed on your pack easily. Photo: Chris Johnson

Trade Secrets

Markus Milbrandt – Head of Marketing at Leki

“Folding poles have been very relevant to us for years. We are constantly developing the technology to offer the user the highest value for money. This year we have equipped the Micro Vario Carbon with ELD (External Locking Device) technology, resulting in a more technical pole, which is extremely easy to use. The demand for folding poles is incredible, so outdoor enthusiasts can really look forward to the new Micro Vario Carbon.”

Leki Micro Vario Carbon Walking Poles

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Selected for The Outdoor 100 2019/20

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