Designed for fast adjustment and easy stowage in a pack the Micro Vario Carbon don't come cheap but are they worth the price? We put them to the test over an extended period in the Lake District and Peak District.
What Leki say:
Do you love sporty trekking and are often on the go? The Micro Vario Carbon, equipped with lots of details, supports you uphill and downhill and helps you save energy. In addition to the anatomically formed AERGON Thermo Long Grip and the super simple Speed Lock 2 Adjustment System comes the newly developed ELD External Locking Device, which ensures more stability and safety on the mountain thanks to its special construction. The pole can be folded together to a pack size of 40 cm at the push of a button and can be stored in any backpack. Weighing in at just 240 g, it is a real all-rounder
• Material: 100% carbon fibre sections
• Shaft diameter: 18/16/14/14/14 mm
• Grip: Aergon Thermo Long
• Locking system: External Locking Device (ELD)
• Length adjustment: SpeedLock 2 Lever
• Strap: Leki Skin Strap
• Tip: Carbide Flex Tip
• Collapsed length: 40 cm
• Useable length: 110 - 130 cm (suitable for users up to around 6'2"/188cm in height)
• Weight: 480 grams per pair
On test with My Outdoors:
If I am doing a lot of ascent and descent, hauling a pack, poles have become indispensable for me as my weary body creaks along. I have really enjoyed using the Micro Vario Carbon and can recommend them.
How much can I say about a pair of poles? They’re just poles right? Well, quite a bit where there’s good design and functionality.
The Micro Vario Carbon poles from Leki are superbly constructed. The company’s reputation as a market leader is down to the durability, finish and capability to replace any spare part of their pole range. Leki also lead the market on price; the Micro Vario Carbon are priced up to £180 per pair online currently, which is a considerable outlay for a walking pole set, so let me break down what’s good about them.
The gram counters may think there are lighter poles out there and they’d be right. What I like about these is the overall strength and stability and at 240g per pole, this is a weight I’m happy using on longer trails or steep terrain. I have leaned in quite heavily at times on the poles, from necessity and to test the strength and I’m impressed in the lack of flex and solid feel. The poles are described for medium height male users, up to 6’2”. There is a female version that is slightly shorter.
The poles fold up to a diminutive 40cm, so tick boxes when stowed. The great thing about this is that once you’ve set them to your usual working length, you just need to flick them back together again. Sliding poles that fit inside each section require you to reset each use, which usually means a stop. This is a big bonus if you’re in a hurry or competing.
Let’s take a look at the construction and features.
The aluminium ferrules connecting each folding section slip together to form a really good join.
The poles are tied together with a dyneema cord, sheathed in silicone type plastic.
As you extend the poles, there is a need to stretch out the top section, then the ELD (external locking device) clicks into place as you stretch the cord construction inside. Once assembled there is a further ‘flick locked’ top section near the handle, that allows really easy adjustment on the move, as you encounter different terrain. The ELD button is a great feature, allowing the pole to be immediately folded away, rather than dealing with two to three flick locks on standard construction poles.
The poles, once folded to 40cm, are excellent to fit in a day pack side pocket, or inside packs. They will particularly suit climbers on mixed terrain, where the poles don’t need to be stowed on the outside of a pack, thus removing any snagging issues in tighter spots on approaches or routes. They come equipped with a small snow basket, which is suffice on icy or wet ground, and will also take Leki’s full powder basket. The poles suit alpine style ascent and long approaches on glaciers for instance. This need to swap out gear is enhanced by the speed you can deploy the Vario poles; it is really quick and simple, then once done with them you can manage to fold on the move and push back into a pack pocket. The poles are great for supporting tarps or tents and feel sturdy when under pressure from winds. The poles will also fit in air cabin baggage which may be a clincher for some.
The handles, called Aergon Thermo Long Grip by Leki, are super comfortable to use. I find cork handles, which are ubiquitous on a lot of brands these days, quite irritating and abrasive over time. The foam construction on the Vario Carbon allows use without gloves and the long section with added grips means you can vary the pole height instinctively depending on your body position, without the need to stop and adjust the length.
The ‘Skin’ strap is very forgiving and slides on the wrist without much friction. Being wide these offer support if you like to be tied to the pole, although personally I don’t.
The rounded handle top is rubber coated, so using the palms to push or lean on the handles is comfortable and safe.
Packable – short and versatile
Fast to assemble and put away on the move with minimal fuss
Price is high
Carbon construction may snap used in anger
Folding may lead to wear over a sliding/locking pair of poles. Time will tell
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