By Eleanor Royer. Trekking Poles. Published at Saturday, February 09th, 2019 - 21:43:46 PM.
These Leki Micro Vario Black Carbon poles (8.5 oz) rival the performance of the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Corks, with strong shafts, seamless hand-extension grips, long-lasting carbide tips, and reliable locking and adjustment systems. In one respect, they’re even better: They collapse to just 15.5 inches, 40 percent shorter than the Alpine Carbon Corks and ideal for airplanes and mixed hikes/scrambles.
The shafts of premium poles are made from carbon fiber, which is stronger by weight than aluminum. However, aluminum is less expensive and better withstands abuse, especially dings and knocks. In cold temperatures, the conductivity of aluminum can be a liability.
Given current pole technology and availability, I would rule out any pole that weighs more than nine ounces each or 18 ounces for the pair. People with less arm strength (or scrawny runner arms like me) may want to set an even lower threshold. To keep weight to a minimum, avoid “anti-shock” models, remove the mud/trekking baskets, and consider models with shorter shaft lengths.
When evaluating poles, I start with the shafts. They need to be stiff, free of vibration on impact, and able to endure reasonable contact with rocks and vegetation without fracturing. Next, I look at the hand grips, which should be soft on the hands but still responsive, meaning not mushy. I also really like extension grips. Finally, the locks need to be secure and reliable and easy to use and repair. Only some of the poles I tested met those criteria.
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