Whether you’re walking, running or skiing, poles can be a major advantage to your speed and balance. Tracks and Trails have teamed up with Leki who have given us four of their latest summer poles that offer something for all your summer mountain occasions.
1. Traveller Carbon - Nordic walking poles
The Traveller Carbon poles are designed for the Nordic walker. Featuring a quick release length adjuster, a glove-style strap system, and removable rubber pads covering the bottom, these poles are well designed to meet the rigors of Nordic walking.
Once deployed and fixed in place with a simple pull on each section, these poles feel extremely robust. Their carbon construction lends them a rigid feel, while remaining lightweight. Once you get used to how the glove system attaches and get the Velcro straps in the right position, you feel like the poles are an extension of your arm. The fit is very snug, like cross-country skiing poles should feel, and allows you to utilise the full range of motion while maximising your wrist/pole power and 'catch'.
With a simple thumb press of the button on top of the pole, you can release your hands from the poles, reattaching them by simply sliding the little rope attachment down the groove into the catch. On very hot days you may find the glove system makes your hands sweatier, but with a soft, breathable material with no seams inside, the risk of blistering is minimal.
Thanks to the removable rubber ‘paw’ covering the tips, you can use them with minimal noise on hard surfaces. However, this does also add to the weight which is less of an issue as it helps with increasing your workout effort!
We’re very impressed by these poles, and wouldn’t hesitate to choose them for our own Nordic walking workouts, or to recommend them for group use.
If there’s one set of poles with the broadest appeal, it’s the Micro Varios. Featuring the same strong yet lightweight carbon construction as the Traveller above, they are also height adjustable, yet feature a simpler, quick adjust hand strap system, and well-designed shaft allowing for multiple hand positions. This allows for more versatility on varying mountain terrain.
The similar quick deployment system with solid joints works well for either hiking or running, and allows for rapid collapse and stowing in your bag. They are also light enough to keep extended and carry by your side if that’s your preference.
The one potential flaw with the quick-release catches is the small metal washers that could fall out if they become loose. The mechanism will still work, but would require further adjustment to ensure the pole doesn’t slip down under pressure. Something that we will certainly be feeding back to Leki. Despite this we highly rate these for their versatility when either trekking or running, and good compromise between features and weight.
If weight is a major concern, and you are happy with a fixed length, the Micro RCM poles are the poles for you! With the same solid feeling carbon construction, these poles have been pared down to the essentials.
They have the same lightweight, simple strap system and grip range on the shaft, and the usual metal tips that provide solid, all-terrain traction. Being quick to deploy and stow without needing to worry about the height adjustment aspect, they can save you time and stress during changeovers at cols or summits in races or setting FKTs (fast known times!) or PBs.
The lightest of the range and coming in 5cm lengths from 110-135cm, they would be our choice for ultra races or multi-day trips to help with weight saving. Not the most robust of the series, so if you’re after something tougher but heavier, the last model could be a better bet.
The 4x4s of the range and as tough as they come for hiking. The Thermolite XLs are slightly heavier (242g) due to the aluminium construction and thicker grip, but still feel easy to handle. This also makes them the most robust of the bunch, ideal for your trekking ambitions and a great choice for more remote areas.
They feature the light and simple strap system, ergonomic, cushioned grip with extension for multiple positions, and quick release length adjusters. They are non-folding, but shrink down to a handy size for stashing on the side of your bag.