Review: Leki Micro Trail Vario Poles for walking and running

This review first posted over at FionaOutdoors

I was looking for the lightest, most comfortable pole I could find for trekking and mountain running, and this was the pole I found.

Leki poles are known around the world for their quality, durability and innovative design. They are also known as the top of the line – and, therefore, top of the price point. 

The question I had was whether these poles would be worth their price tag and better than the other less expensive poles I had tested over the years. 

Leki was founded in 1948 out of a dissatisfaction with the ski poles on the market. Karl Lenhart wanted to make something better. His company continues to take steps in innovation in the outdoor market. 

Note the poles can be used for hiking or trekking, as well as running.

Features of Leki Micro Trail Vario Poles

  • 100% carbon
  • Packing size of 42 cm
  • Extended size 110cm to 130cm
  • Equipped with the new CLD (Core Locking Device) technology
  • Grip: Trigger Shark 2.0 System, with the new, wide Shark Frame Strap Mesh and Trail Running Tip, offers comfort and grip on all terrains
  • Speed Lock 2 allows adjustable length
  • Weight: 202g
  • RRP: £194.95 a pair
  • See Leki and Amazon

What’s good about Leki Micro Trail Vario Poles?

Weight. These poles are light. The only ones that I have tested that were lighter, are the Dynafit Ultra Pro poles, and only by four grams. 

It really is incredible when you hold up a pair of these poles. 

Typically I pack poles when I will be running on technical terrain or I will be out for a long time. Poles are great for night runs, multi-day runs, or tough elevation climbs and descents. In none of those scenarios do I want to be carrying heavy sticks in my hands. Since the Micro Trail Vario are so light, it is a no-brainer to toss them in my pack before a run or trek.

Durability. This is something you can feel by testing the product, but also something you can see by following the company as a whole. Leki is known for quality materials and durability of their products. 

Personally, I tried out these poles on multiple mountain runs and a multi-day hike on the Camino De Santiago and I couldn’t find material flaws.

Locking mechanism. The poles locks into position in a two-step process. There is an initial extension and lock, and then you adjust your desired height. It is a unique feature I haven’t tried on other poles before and I like it because it eliminates the button design I have seen on other poles.

Grip system. Here is where one of the two main questions lies when considering these poles. Will you like the grip? The typical pole has a strap which loops around your wrist. This is crucial in order to transfer the force from your grip and wrist, to your arm itself. 

If you don’t use the wrist strap, you lose your forward force and will exhaust your hands and forearms. If you use the wrist strap correctly, you will have very little hand, wrist, or arm fatigue.

What Leki has done is eliminated the question of how to use the wrist strap. They have created a partial glove which stays on your hand and then a locking mechanism to keep the glove and pole connected. 

The glove itself is very comfortable, easy to adjust, and breathable. It easily locks into the pole. To unlock the glove from the pole, there is a simple thumb release. 

It is a great product and it only took me a few tries to get used to the new system. 

If you are concerned about your grip, or your hands getting sweating and slipping, this solves the majority of your problems.

What’s not so good about the Micro Trail Vario Poles?

The glove. Personally, I like the Trigger Shark 2.0 System, but not everyone will like it. The glove might feel more restrictive to some, or make you feel like your hands sweat more. I didn’t have that issue, but I can imagine some might feel that way. 

The glove lock. There may be some concern if you fall, or need to get rid of your poles quickly. I don’t think there would be much difference falling with these poles than with others with the traditional strap, but someone might be concerned with being “locked in.” 

The price. This will be the deciding factor for most buyers. Are you willing to spend this much money on a pair of poles? (The Amazon prices are cheaper.)

Everyone has their own answer to that question. For me, I know that poles are essential for night running, extensive elevation gain, multi-day excursions, or when I am packing my son in the baby carrier.

Here is what I would recommend, if there is a chance that your experience could be ruined by faulty equipment, buy better equipment like these poles. If you think it will be a mild irritation or small discomfort, then you can take your chances. 

So if you have a big race, or multi-day run, invest in better kit than if you just want something for day hikes or occasional runs. For sporadic use you could probably get away with cheaper models. 

Second, figure out what feels good in your hands. If you are part of a running or hiking group, you probably have seen people with these poles or similar. Steal them when they aren’t looking. 

No Strap. My one minor quibble is that there is no integrated strap to keep them compact once they are disassembled. It is easy enough to add a rubber band or Velcro strip, but it is nice to have it all strapped down when they are in your pack.

Conclusion: Leki makes a great pole. I would say these are the best I have tested, as long as you are okay with the grip style. If one of my siblings was going to be doing a multi day race, or extended trekking expedition, these are the poles I would recommend. 

They are more expensive, but when it comes to long miles and multiple days, you don’t want to sacrifice your experience on the trail because of equipment.

I would highly recommend these poles to anyone who wants a light, durable, and comfortable set of poles for distance running or trekking. I  already have had friends and family threaten to steal these when I am not looking, so I will be keeping them close.

  • I received these poles free of charge in exchange for an honest review.