I’ve always been a fan of walking sticks. Of course, when I grew up that meant hacking down a sapling that just happened to be the right size and then hauling a couple of pounds of wood around with you. Not very politically correct in our more enlightened days, and really, if every hiker decided he needed a new staff before a trek then we’d deforest the Smokies in a matter of months. Your average four or five foot staff also doesn’t travel well; I have yet to figure out how to get one into the overhead bins of a 737.
So what’s a guy to do? Enter the trekking pole. For those of you new to the concept, a trekking pole is little more than a ski pole modified slightly for hikers. My first introduction to trekking poles was in Montana during a week long winter trip. I found them a little awkward at first, but once I got into the rhythm I don’t even notice them. They really helped maintain my balance over rough terrain and prevented more than one fall. Once we donned our snowshoes they were even better. I used my new Lekis during my recent Mt Lemmon trip and I honestly don’t think I could have made it up and down the off-trail slopes without them.
Leki Trail (TO2021) Specs:
– Aluminum Shafts
– Foam Rubber Grips
– Carbide Tips
– Interchangeable baskets
– 19.4 oz/pair
– Length 65-145 cm (26-58″)
I’ll admit that this was the cheapest pair of Lekis that I could find. I opted for Leki because of their reputation for customer service. I’ve been told that they have sent replacements overnight to through hikers and even replaced lost poles. The salesman at Summit Hut said they will usually take them back even if you decide you just want a better model. The company doesn’t just want a sale, they want a lifetime relationship. Got to love that. The aluminum shafts have a lifetime warranty, but the carbons are only one year.
Starting from the top. The grip was comfortable and well contoured. With only one finger ridge, the 4″ grip should fit just about any hand size. The rubber is pretty firm and does not absorb moisture well. If you have sweaty hands you may want to consider cork grips. The wrist strap is just a piece of nylon webbing with no padding. The bottom edge of the strap is fed through a slot on the grip, so adjusting the size is a simple matter of pulling the tab. The end of the tab is flared so you don’t have to worry about pulling it through the slot while loosening it. The straps are strictly no-frills and aren’t going to win any design awards but they did the trick and I didn’t notice any chaffing.
The shafts are a three piece nested design. The bottom two sections have a coated anodized finish that held up reasonably well on the trail. They did pick up a few scratches and after extended use may need to be sanded to maintain smooth operation. The collars between the sections are made of a soft plastic and provide for a firm grip while adjusting the length, but they seem to be the weakest part of the exterior. If they get too gouged they may let dirt into the internal workings, but time will tell if that is a major issue.
The business end of the pole is a hard plastic tip with a carbide steel point. I used the pole in some rocky terrain and the tip held up well. The baskets are removable but it takes some effort, which is nice. Our Black Diamonds were forever shedding the baskets in Montana. The baskets are actually an important part of the pole and prevent the point from digging in too far into soft surfaces and between rocks. The baskets on the Leki are made of a stiff, rubbery plastic that held up well. Baskets are intended to be expendable so pick up an extra pair and throw them in a stuff sack.
Leki uses an internal, expanding locking mechanism which I prefer over the external friction lock used by Black Diamond and others. There are no parts sticking out to snag on clothes or brush. In Montana we had problems with the external locks jamming and popping open. With the internal lock you do need to give it a twist once in a while to keep it tight, and I suspect that it is more susceptible to freezing.
Overall, I’m happy with this purchase. Leki makes a good product and stands behind their work, so if you are looking for a pair of trekking poles you might give these a try.
Altrec Outdoors: $79.95 (free shipping for orders over $45)
Amazon.com: $67.95-79.95 (free shipping for orders over $25)
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About the Author: Tucson, AZ Realtor & Investor. My true passions however are hiking and whisky (although generally not at the same time). If you have a question about any of these just drop me a line!