By Elisabeth Ferrand. Trekking Poles. Published at Wednesday, May 01st, 2019 - 06:19:53 AM.
A few years back, a friend and I were assembling a gear list to send to a couple of gentlemen joining us for an ascent of Mt. Whitney. He and I had both been up many a mountain, but the other two were inexperienced climbers, so we were taking pains to make the list exhaustive. At one point during a review, I realized we had not put hiking poles on the list. When I pointed this out to my climbing buddy, he replied: ”I guess I took that for granted. Hiking without poles is like hiking without whiskey.”
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.
I have broken several trekking poles, and I’ve witnessed other hikers break theirs. The common denominator was not the shaft material but user error. Specifically, the poles were being used on steep, loose, off-angle, and/or slick terrain, and the pole either became overly levered (like between two blocks of talus) or broke the hiker’s fall after they slipped.
Still, these poles are inexpensive for a few reasons: The shafts vibrate, the grips are a bit rough, and the carbide tips don’t last as long as those from Black Diamond or Leki. The locks don’t slip or break and are easy to adjust, but they’re not as nice as the metal locks on the REI Flash Carbon poles. Cascade Mountain Tech sells a higher-end pair for $58, the main benefit of which is more solid-feeling shafts.
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