With more than 60 years experience, Leki is a well-known name when it comes to trekking poles. By focusing solely on poles, gloves, and race gear, they have continuously provided some of the finest gear available. Their current line of trekking poles is as follows:
Mountain Trek – A line of high performance trekking poles with extra durability, for when you’re loaded down with a lot of gear.
Ultralite – While the Leki poles are already light, this series shaves up to 20% more weight off, even with shock absorption.
Wildflower – Engineered for women, they have the same features found in the rest of the line, but smaller grips for smaller hands.
Trail – Performance plus value, the trail line may give up a bit as far as features, but not quality.
Travel – Mostly single staffs, including one that doubles as a monopod for photography, these are more suited for walking paths than rough terrain.
Photo System – High performance single poles with a built-in monopod.
Micro Series – More compact than the rest of the series, these lightweight poles are sized to fit in your pack when not in use.
For our review, we chose the Khumbu, with an MSRP of $99.95/pair. The main features of this model are the SpeedLock and the AERGON (air+ergonomics) grip. The SpeedLock locking system is designed for ease of use with or without gloves, in any weather. It’s also the strongest external locking system available, which provides an extra bit of confidence when you’re trying to balance several day’s worth of gear on your back. The AERGON soft grip combines comfort with an easily adjusted strap. Folded length is 70cm, and they expand to 145cm, with a weight of 19.4 oz for the pair. Performance baskets and universal carbide tips are included.
While we didn’t get an opportunity to log hundreds of miles with these poles, they did get used over a couple of outings by a small group that included newer hikers, seasoned veterans, and at least one with bad knees. Everyone found the SpeedLock easy to use, with the clear markings on the upper and lower sections making quick work of getting both poles to the correct length. It’s worth noting that the locks provide an exceptional amount of clamping force while taking very little effort to open and close. The AERGON grips also earned universal praise for their excellent ergonomics, providing a comfortable grip during climbs and descents. When not needed, the poles were usually strapped to a small pack, their weight going virtually unnoticed.
Although the graphics may be mistaken for faux carbon fiber at first glance, these poles are actually high grade, heat-treated aluminum, for maximum strength and minimum weight. Speaking of graphics, the powder coating and Nanotec finish is outstanding. Not only do they look great, but even after being dropped and banged around a bit, they still look like new. The Khumbu does trade a bit of weight for durability, to good effect. They’re not heavy, but when you’re hiking down a steep and rocky trail with your 65 liter pack on your back, you’ll appreciate those few extra ounces that contribute so much strength. Overall, we’re not the least bit surprised that they earned Camping Life magazine’s 2010 Editors’ Choice Award.
If you’re in the market for your first pair of trekking poles, or looking to upgrade, these would make a great choice. For those that prefer something a bit lighter, plus an anti-shock system, the Carbonlite AERGON XL Antishock offers the same quality and features, but shaves more than a quarter pound off the total weight while offering 10mm of cushioning spring travel in the lower shaft.
To see the full line of Leki products, or to find an authorized retailer near you, visit Leki.com