Break-Apart 'Micro' Trekking Poles

By T.C. WORLEY

Before my trip to Chile this year, where I worked as a journalist covering the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, I searched for a set of trekking poles with three specific characteristics: Durability, lightweight, and “compactability” for stowing away when not in use.

Originally designed for the climber and mountaineer Ueli Steck, Leki’s Micro Poles looked like a fit for the task. Available starting this summer (GearJunkie got a pre-release test pair), the $150 poles have high-strength aluminum shafts and a carbide tip.

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Aluminum shafts and unique break-apart design

What makes them most unique is the poles’ three-part shaft, which breaks apart and connects with a thin cord similar to the way tent poles are hooked together. The result is a super packable pole that breaks apart to make a package that’s just 15 inches long. This small storage size makes stowing them away inside a backpack or lashed to the outside not a problem.

At about 9 ounces per pole, the Micros are light though not the airiest model on the market. But the stout aluminum shafts are in many scenarios worth the extra ounce or two. (See GearJunkie’s misadventure with a lighter, carbon-shaft pole in the post “Breaking Point: Trekking Pole Test.”)

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Leki’s Micro trekking poles

Despite a sturdy build, I did bend one Micro pole slightly after repeated abuse — and many miles trekking in mountains and in swamps — in the Patagonian wilderness. Another abuse story: On the trek, when my pole baskets sunk into the mud, I found that the locked-together pole segments would separate slightly and “thunk” back together in place once freed from the mire. This was merely an annoyance, not a performance issue.

The poles’ simple, lightweight design demands that some features be eliminated. For one, the Micros are not height-adjustable. They are offered in three fixed-length sizes — 110, 120, and 130cm. Another thing: There is no built-in shock absorption with the pole, a feature some people may miss (but I did not).

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Bonus feature: Leki adds its generous and ergonomic “Aergon” grip

In the end, the good far outweighed the ill with these poles. They lived through Patagonia, one of the toughest gear-test environments on the planet that indeed snapped other trekkers’ poles in two. With a simple design, durability and relative light weight, the Micro poles are a good pick for people in need of durability on weekend hikes on up to mission-critical, fast-and-light outdoors feats.

—T.C. Worley

Posted by LennyJ1 - 05/06/2011 03:37 AM

What is the red thing below the grip?

Posted by T.C. Worley - 05/06/2011 08:42 AM

Good question. That is the “speedlock” buckle, used to tension the cording that holds the poles together tightly.

Posted by Melanie - 10/17/2011 01:35 PM

The SpeedLock – SpeedLock is a completely new system using unique design features to achieve the high locking force and adjustment security that is up to 10 times stronger than other external locks. The red locking lever is a readily identifiable feature of LEKI’s new super-fast adjustment technology. The SpeedLock mechanism offers the highest locking force of any external adjustment system on the market, far exceeding the TÜV standard. The simple and easy to use mechanism adjusts quickly and securely even when wearing gloves or when used in rain, ice or snow. Fast, Easy and Reliable.

Integrated stainless steel pressure plate allows the red locking lever to apply a vice-like grip on the shaft section to be locked.
The fiberglass reinforced polyamide lock mechanism resists stretching unlike other external locks, so SpeedLock poles can be shipped and stored in the locked position without reducing the strength or integrity of the locking strength.
The easily accessible “Speed Dial” can be adjusted to provide more locking power (if needed) in extreme conditions.

Posted by Matthew Moore - 02/16/2014 06:08 AM

I bought a pair of these last July. Now in Feb they failed up the hill. On assembly, I found one pole jammed. Section 2 from handle, (which has the spring loaded button for holding tension) is stuck fast inside the handle section. 16mm protrude, same as the other non jammed pole. Jammed member will not rotate or move along. Poles are clean with no visible damage.

Failure of pole was a nuisance as I had to descend hill in difficult wet slippery conditions. Until the failure I was very pleased with these poles which are mainly an improvement on the Leki Makalu poles I bought in 2001. Lighter, better handle and strap, much easier to transport, but lack the spring/shock absorption.

Any advice appreciated.

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