By Veronique Evrard. Trekking Poles. Published at Thursday, February 28th, 2019 - 20:59:37 PM.
Most hikers, though, will be unable to overlook a serious shortcoming: They’re not collapsible. That means they don’t travel well, they’re unwieldy when lashed to a backpack, they can’t be adjusted for different terrain or outdoor activities, and they’re fussy to use with many trekking pole–supported shelters. But if you don’t need poles for any of that, you’ll fall in love with the FKs—nothing performs better.
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.
And remember that lighter is not always better. For example, I’ve found that the ultralight (and ultra-thin) shafts of the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z poles are too fragile for backpacking. The RaidLight Vertical Carbon 3 poles lack versatile extension grips.
My eight-year-old poles are still going strong, and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from others who have purchased them. (I did have to rebuild the grips with Aquaseal, but that’s reasonable after nearly a decade of use.) At 8.5 ounces per pole, they’re slightly heavier than the Cascade Mountain Tech poles, and I’d love to see these an ounce or two lighter. But I don’t see how Black Diamond could cut weight without sacrificing strength, durability, or a few features—in other words, the things that make these poles great. If you can justify the extra expense, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles are worth it.
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