The first thing I should point out is that these poles are at least a model back from what Leki provides currently. The current model is the Micro Vario Cortec TA. That said, I wanted to talk about trekking poles in general, these particular poles, as well as my thoughts on my poles versus the model of Leki poles that my wife uses. Before I dive into the review, I should note that I have only used the Z style of collapsible pole. I do not believe that is surprising given that this style tends to be what you see trail runners using.
These poles are not only Z style poles, but their height is adjustable. With a range between 110cm to 130cm, these poles can easily fit a range of body heights as well as terrain variations. Adjustments can be made quickly, and the range is numbered in 5cm increments.
Of course, one of the most important features on poles is the grip. These poles have a combination of cork and Aergon in the grip that is super comfortable. I have not had any issues with blisters. The rounded top of the grip is nice for those times you want your hand on the top of your poles. The strap is comfortable and easy to adjust, although I did have to do a google search to figure out how to adjust them (here is the link to the video I used: https://youtu.be/b250kj-LL-E). Another nice feature of the grip is that there is a continuation of the Aergon that extends below the grip. This allows you to quickly shorten the length of the pole without needing to adjust.
I want to take a step back here and talk about the importance of trekking poles in general. They give added leverage on a climb and added stability on a downhill. This is true whether you are hiking or trail running. This makes poles an important part of your trail running kit. Since not all mountain terrains are conducive to using poles, just as important is a pair that can easily collapse and be carried, either on your hydration pack or in its own carrier on your waist.
These Leki poles are a solid pair of Z poles. The material that runs inside the shaft is durable while still allowing the segments to collapse down easily. The push-button that locks the three-pole segments into place is sturdy. I will say that the button can be difficult when your hands are cold to push in when you are ready to collapse the poles. The speed lock that handles the height variability functions smoothly. I initially didn’t realize there was a nut to tighten or loosen the tension when the speed lock mechanism was closed. Out of the box, at least for me, it was too loose and the pole kept getting shorter. Once I tightened the nut, everything stayed where it was supposed to.
Leki makes both aluminum and carbon fiber poles. The poles in this review are aluminum. The main benefit to that is Leki’s lifetime warranty. Their carbon fiber poles do not have the same warranty. That said, as you might expect, the carbon fiber poles are definitely lighter. My wife has a pair of the Leki Micro Trail Race poles, and they are super light. I ultimately chose the poles I did because of the warranty, and also because of the price. I would consider these poles to be Leki’s entry-level trail running Z pole. They are more expensive than the competition, but they are definitely worth the price. The poles I had before these, a pair of Black Diamond Z poles, fell apart quickly.
Leki has introduced a line of poles they are calling their Cross Trail series. If I was buying a pair of poles now, I would seriously look at this line. The MCT Vario TA takes many of the features that are on my poles, updates the grip, and adds the one feature my wife’s poles have that I think is pure genius: the Tiger Shark strap. The type of strap that my poles, and many other poles, come with has always been a pain point for me. Sure you can adjust them, but they still move around on your wrist and hand. The Tiger Shark strap stays on your hand, adjusts to fit using a velcro strap, and clips into the pole. If you can afford the additional $40, the MCT Vario TA’s are worth a look.
That said, the Micro Vario TA Cor Tec, which replaces the poles I have, is a solid choice if throwing down $180 on the MCT Vario TA’s is too much of a stretch. They will serve you well in all of your adventures, and that is really the most important feature for any piece of gear.
- Shaft Construction: 7075 HTS 6.5 aluminum
- Grip Material: Cork / Rubber
- Adjustable: Yes
- Ultralight: Yes
- Maximum Length (in.): 52 inches
- Minimum Length (in.): 44 inches
- Collapsed Length (in.) : 15 inches
- Maximum Length (cm): 130 centimeters
- Minimum Length (cm): 110 centimeters
- Collapsed Length (cm): 38
- Locking Mechanism: External Lever Lock
- Basket Type: Trekking
- Weight (Pair): 1 lb. 4.3 oz.
- Gender: Unisex