Why use trekking poles for hiking?
Trekking poles have gotten lighter weight and more packable over the years. They are compact and easy to use. They are great for hiking and backpacking so you can maintain good form when traveling over uneven terrain plus they help protect your knees and ankles from injury. They work well for going downhill and provide stability. We recommend them for anything from day hikes to backpacking to trail running.
Say Yes to the Leki Micro Trail Vario
A little background
I tested these poles over miles of hiking, both on-trail and off-trail, as close as my backyard and as far away as Yosemite. I’ve been hiking with poles for about 3 years now and I do remember it took a while to get used to hiking with them and being efficient before it became second nature. So, if you’re trying these out as your first poles, there could definitely be more of an adjustment than I talk about here. The key is to practice with them and soon you’ll love hiking with poles too. Plus, they’ll save your knees! These poles seem like they’d be great for running as well, but I haven’t tested them out for that yet.
Wow, these are sooooo light!
My poles before these were adjustable, heavy and not exactly collapsible. So, coming to these Lekis was like night and day. The funny thing is that until trying these I thought my standard poles were just fine.
Now I can’t imagine going back.
Especially since so many of my hikes are 20+ miles, just having a lighter weight will make the day a lot easier.
What I love about these Leki Trekking Poles
I didn’t have many complaints about my standard adjustable poles, but my main one was that they didn’t collapse small enough to fit into my smallest size day pack. My solution was to pawn them off on someone with a bigger day pack when we hit the 4th class hiking sections.
These Lekis completely solve that and might earn me some friends back. They quickly and easily fold into 3 segments in a z-like fashion. And it’s so easy and smooth that it’s not a big deal to keep changing your mind about whether you want them out for use or in your pack.
The Trigger Shark grips and straps
I know about this kind of strap from the alpine ski world, but if you haven’t seen them before, they are a special strap that fits your hand snugly. On the strap, there is a loop of cord in between your thumb and pointer finger that easily and quickly attaches and detaches from the pole.
I love the ease of getting in and out of the poles once I have the hand straps on. Each pole can be released with just the thumb of one hand, making it easy to ditch them for a minute to dig into your pack or go to the bathroom.
Never will I have to ask myself whether I should bring my poles. With these, the answer is always yes. They are super light and easy to stow, even in a small pack. They get me one step closer to switching over all my gear to newer lightweight versions for backpacking.
What I am not sure about yet
Are they sturdy?
My other poles were heavier, so they just felt sturdy. These have done nothing to betray me, yet, I am still a bit hesitant to put as much weight on them through the hand straps as I used to do with my others. This only comes up on steeper downhills, when I am leading with the poles and then weighting them to hop down. I think they should be able to take it, but they seem so light. They’ll have to earn my trust over time!
Trigger Shark straps
I know, I know, I said this is one of the reasons I love them. And it’s true. But I am still getting used to how to manage the poles while doing things that I don’t want to release them for, like sipping from my Camelbak or taking a photo with my phone. With the poles still attached, either in my hands or flipped to the outside, it’s slightly more challenging to grip whatever else I’m trying to use. I am guessing this is something I’ll figure out how to be more coordinated with over time.
I happened to be out on a day where the weather just couldn’t decide what it was doing. One minute it was sunny and I felt toasty and the next it was cloudy and blustery. The wind had a springtime bite to it when it kicked up. So, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted my gloves on or off and every time I changed my mind, I had to also take off the Trigger Shark straps and put them back on. If the weather could just make up its mind, it would make these much easier to use!
If you haven’t used poles like this before, it takes a bit of playing around with (or reading the instructions if you like to do that kind of thing!) to get used to adjusting them, folding them and unfolding them. Make sure you learn how to use them at the store (thanks, Dave), watch these videos or read the instructions before taking them out!
The bottom line
If you want lightweight, easily foldable poles, these are a big win in my book. The design is well thought out. There’s nothing extra.
Rachel Arst McCullough is an avid runner, hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi and skier living in Truckee, CA. She’s always up for an outdoor challenge and is willing to put in the hard work to tell you all about the process, learning experience, and adventure, even if it didn’t go quite as planned!