What the brand say:
“The Micro Trail Pro is a versatile and sporty option for any trail or path out there. The push-button release mechanism allows for quick, easy assembly and disassembly of folding poles. The unique Trigger Shark grip allows attaching and releasing straps in seconds. Handling is ingeniously simple and power transfer downright phenomenal. 100% pure carbon and inter-segment aluminium sleeves ensure absolute ease with maximum stability. Whether for Nordic walking or trail running, the Micro Trail Pro will take you home and back out again onto your next adventure.”
Whereas affordable aluminium poles stand alone by the tills of many outdoor retailers, the specialist poles may be harder to find. Lightweight, constructed from carbon weave, foldable and designed for moving fast, they are an investment but are they worth it?
The Leki Micro Trail Pro are from Leki’s Nordic Walking portfolio, but are just as home moving fast and light. Having previously used trekking poles as a tool which would be best described as an ice axe combined with a grappling hook, hauling myself up the mountain, forgoing technique for power, my thoughts were a bit biased as they arrived.
Straight out, the Micro Trail Pro’s aren’t designed for this use, with a slim ergonomic handle instead of bulbous end, the handle encourages a lighter, more fluid action and combined with the Trigger Shark 2, are rewarded with each step. The Trigger Shark 2 combines with the Trigger Shark Active Strap to form a complete retaining system. For the vat majority of poles, a nylon adjustable trap is built into the top of the pole and limits range of motion. The Shark 2 Active Strap is different.
Connecting onto the handle, the Active Strap attaches directly to the hand, and can be connected/disconnected by the Trigger Shark 2.The Active Strap comfortably fits onto your hand, like a minimalist fingerless glove (stay with me) and is adjustable via a Velcro strap. In-between the thumb and index finger, a small loop is located, which connects with the trigger.
Other than being comfy, this gives you the ability to let go of the poles leaving your hands free. Try this with a conventional pole and you run the risk of it moving 360 degrees around your wrist. It sounds a minor point, hypothetical, but it is convenient. You also have the option to keep the Active Strap on, when holding or storing poles on a run, saving you the hassle of adjusting straps on the move.
On a final note, Leki also makes compatible gloves for when things get cold. These weren’t on test, but this forgoes with the need to struggle with straps and gloves in the winter months or at altitude.
Strength. The Micro Trail Pro’s are strong. Constructed from carbon fiber, with metal connections, they are tough with enough flex. Though the diameter is thicker than some, this gives you a greater margin for error and increased durability. The race for the lightest components is easy to get caught up in, sometimes you need to look at the real world needs of the consumer, rather than those of elite sponsored athletes. I am happy to say that Leki did listen, and the Micro Trail Pro is a pole which all level of user and experience can use. They will also last.
All importantly, you want traction and the carbide tip breaks through mud, dirt and doesn’t skate across rocks. The shallow basket prevents you from losing the pole when things get boggy and if you find the terrain switching to tarmac, they do a descent enough job. Just remember to alter your style.
The Leki Micro Trail Pro does fold into four pieces, making storage both when travelling and on the trail simple. With three free sections, held together by a plastic coated cord, they pull together and a button release locks everything into place. They held well on several packs and the extra girth in the diameter of the pole, made working with them easy, especially when hands were cold and dexterity was compromised.
Size. You need to try before you buy or have a good understanding of your height/intended purpose as they are a fixed length. Starting at 105cm, they go all the way to 130cm in 5cm increments. I opted for the 120cm length (I’m 5ft 7”) and this provided me enough leverage without becoming compromising.
The stated weight is 197g each and mine under independent testing (my trusty scales) came in at 197g with the Active Strap attached.
I took my pair of Leki’s to Chamonix and my local trails. Chamonix was hard pack managed trails, whereas my locals are a blend of sand and mud. On all three terrain types they performed equally well. On hard pack they were great for balance and keeping the tempo when pushing up climbs. In mud, they aided descents and staying up when things got messy. On sand, they provided an extra level of grip, given the surface was continuously moving.
Poles are something I seldom think of when running. I want to push hard, summit in record time and attack descents like I am part mountain goat. But there is a reality. And the reality is if I can do 2 of these things on a run, I’m doing well.
For your local 6 mile run they may be overkill, but when attacking an ultra on steep, virgin land, I’m converted. Whereas before I treated poles like a Victorian mountaineer used a walking axe, I know use them as an extension of my body, using them wisely, rather than a last resort when I’ve blown up. At £140 SRP, they aren’t cheap, but you buy them knowing despite their carbon design, they may well outlast you.
For once it’s a true story of if it’s good enough for the pros, its good enough for me.