Dave takes a close look at the compact and light Leki Micro Vario Carbon Strong trekking poles in search of some Vorsprung Durch Technik!
Your powerful companion! This folding pole offers 20 mm shaft diameter and an additional 10 cm in length for even more support, not to mention a better grip even with heavy luggage.
I’ve been a pole fan for quite a while now. It took a chronic knee injury to really convert me and ever since then they have always accompanied me on any mountain day, whether mountaineering or climbing.
Leki are an established brand that has been around for a long time and you see plenty of mountain folk trekking around with a wide variety of Leki poles. They are a German brand and have been making ski poles since 1948, their product range is vast with all manner of ski, Nordic walking and trekking poles.
I’ve been using the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Srong (a bit of a mouthful I agree) all season now and have found them to be a reliable and indeed very strong trekking pole. They are light at 285g per pole and split to a nice compact size (390mm) that fit neatly inside a pack. Inside a pack? Surely they can go outside and why spend extra on compactness? Well there is nothing that will set the red alert light flashing faster that your pole getting stuck in a chimney or under an overhang and that happened plenty of times before I’d had enough and bought a compact pair. So I would always advise buying a pair that will collapse small enough to fit inside a pack – and the Micro Vario Strong poles do. They will fit into a very small pack and even fitted neatly under my Montane Batpack 6 hip pack. The poles collapse using a small, steel button located at the top of the third section. A quick press and they then pull apart and can be easily folded up. I found that they needed a slight pull to help release the button and then you can push the third section into the top one and that released enough to fold easily.
The Leki Micro Vario Carbon Strong is made from durable Carbon Fibre for the top two sections and Aluminium for the bottom section. This makes sense as most of the force is applied through the bottom section of the pole and you want some flex in top part so the material choice has been well thought out. The intersections are made from steel with strong wire connectors. So the whole structure of the pole is totally bombproof, these poles will take a lot of weight and punishment and would be a great set to take on a long distance trek. The tip worked well on rock, which was dry, wet and even verglassed and the basket changes easily if you want to change to the included powder baskets.
All of the Micro Vario models feature an adjustable top section, which is very handy. You can adjust the poles to your exact height requirement and it locks firmly in place with the Speed Lock 2 fitting with a nice German engineered feeling. I’ve been using the 120 – 140cm versions and have had them on the lowest setting which has worked well. The top shaft is fully Carbon Fibre and covered in high density foam, as is the ergonomic handle, so it’s nice to have a 250mm range to work your hand with when traversing steep slopes. The top of the handle is hard plastic and has a nice, large Aergon Thermo grip, this is also well designed and gave great security when palming steep and rocky descents. The wrist strap was also comfortable but felt a little stiff to adjust, once adjusted though it definitely made a difference to the efficiency.
In conclusion, the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Strong poles are a great, bombproof trekking pole that due to the precision and excellent manufacturing standards should last you a long time and be a dependable companion on your trekking and mountaineering adventures. There are lighter poles in the series, namely the Micro Vario TI System and the fully carbon Micro Vario Carbon but if durability or heavy use is a priority then choose the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Strong.
Dave Sarkar has tested and reviewed climbing, mountaineering and outdoor equipment for over 10 years. He works as a qualified MIA both in the UK and Internationally: working full time as a mountaineering instructor and expedition leader for his company Wild Spaces. When he isn’t working in the mountains he’s playing in the mountains and enjoys all aspects climbing and mountain sports whether bouldering at his local crag or ice climbing; as long as he’s going upwards he’s happy!