Most trekking poles on the trail today are made from either carbon fiber or aluminum. Those materials offer some of the best weight-to-durability ratios for the job and have proven time and again, mile after mile, that they can take a beating without breaking. It’s why we don’t see a lot of trekking poles being made from natural materials like wood or bamboo.
LEKI is trying to change that, though. Recently the brand introduced the world’s first trekking poles made almost entirely from hemp: the Hemp One Vario Trekking Poles ($275). It’s a leap in trekking pole technology and design that, honestly, we should have all seen coming. Hemp is a wonder material that is incredibly strong for how light it is. Companies are using hemp to build structures (with “hempcrete“), and auto parts manufacturers are using it in car parts.
Now, with LEKI’s Hemp One Vario, this organic, sustainable material is creeping into the outdoor industry.
“The Hemp One Vario is the first pole that consistently pursues the use of organic materials as a replacement for aluminum and carbon,” Matthias Hatt, CEO of LEKI, said in a press release. “With this project, we have taken a big step forward in developing sustainable technologies, and we see a lot of development potential for the future.”
LEKI Hemp One Vario Trekking Poles
- Shaft 100% hemp fibers with resin
- Grip 25% hemp fibers, CorTec surface with natural cork content
- Strap 100% natural linen flax fibers (made in Germany)
- Basket 25% hemp fibers
- Length 110-130cm
- Shaft segments (2) 18/16 mm
- Weight 290g / 10 oz. per pole
LEKI Hemp One Vario Trekking Poles
Compared to steel, raw hemp fibers are twice as strong and six times better at bending and mending. And unlike steel, carbon fiber, or aluminum, hemp (obviously) grows out of the ground. Not only that, but it also grows extremely fast, requires little water and land, and helps regenerate soil as it grows. It is one of the most sustainable agricultural crops we know of.
LEKI admits that its Vario One Trekking Poles are several ounces heavier than carbon fiber and aluminum equivalents. But the strength-to-weight ratio of the Hemp One Varios puts that of carbon fiber and aluminum poles to shame. These poles are equally strong and sustainable, according to the brand, which is why the product recently won an ISPO 2023 award.
“LEKI is embarking on an exciting new path with the Hemp One Vario,” said the ISPO Award Jury. “The consistent sustainable approach, incorporating regionally renewable raw materials, can be described as a flagship project.”
Where to Find Them
All of the hemp fiber used in the Vario One Trekking poles was grown and harvested just miles from the LEKI headquarters in Kirchheim, Germany. The poles were then manufactured in the brand’s factory in the Czech Republic.
To start, LEKI is only manufacturing 250 pairs of these trekking poles, none of which will be available in the U.S. This initial run is only available in Europe. However, by the summer of 2024, LEKI’s plan is open up sales in the U.S. as well.
This innovation is a landmark for the outdoor industry — not just for trekking pole design. Hemp plastics are far more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based plastics, and hemp fiber components can be incorporated into outdoor equipment across the board.
Should more companies start following suit, using hemp fibers and plastics in tents, backpacks, and more, it could greatly improve the outdoor industry’s sustainability in product design and manufacturing. At the same time, it could improve the durability and longevity of its products.
LEKI’s Hemp One Varios might be the first trekking poles to use raw hemp fiber in almost every component — but they certainly won’t be the last.