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Ski Pole Straps Are Controversial: We Test LEKI’s Solution

The LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D ski pole's integrated connection with LEKI's Copper S ski glove gives skiers a logical solution to the age-old ski pole strap debate.

LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D poles and LEKI Griffin S gloves(Photo/Jason Hummel)
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Ski pole straps. Just mention this seemingly benign piece of gear to any group of avid skiers and you’ll get a slew of opinions. These days, the trend seems to be that fewer resort skiers than ever regularly use ski pole straps.

But most ski poles still have straps. This means skiers either remove them, hold them in their hands, or let them dangle and flap while skiing down.

LEKI offers skiers another option with a click-in, click-out wrist strap for alpine ski poles. Dubbed Trigger 3D, LEKI revamped the technology in 2020. The new version anchors the 23/24 LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D big mountain, freeride ski poles, and the compatible Copper S glove, an athletic, insulated five-finger option.

Alongside a handful of other GearJunkie testers, we made our rounds with these ski poles and several LEKI ski gloves last season to see how they perform. The group, myself included, came away impressed.

In short: The new LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D ski pole ($160) and goatskin leather Copper S gloves ($120) are well-built, ergonomic, and comfortable, and built with the releasable ski pole strap design called the Trigger 3D system, an alternative for skiers who dislike the management of traditional straps.

LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D Ski Pole


  • Length 110-140 cm
  • Weight 277 g
  • Material Aluminum
  • Segments 2 sections


  • Trigger 3D system works great with compatible gloves
  • Robust pole
  • Comfortable grip
  • Powder and packed snow baskets included


  • Must combine with LEKI gloves for best performance
Author Sean McCoy testing the LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D ski poles and Copper S gloves at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Risks & Controversies of Ski Pole Straps

A bit of backstory for the uninitiated: Ski pole straps are controversial. While the vast majority of alpine ski poles do, in fact, have straps, many skiers (myself included) usually do not use them, especially while skiing downhill. Even fewer skiers use them in the backcountry.

This is because ski pole straps usually are a very strong attachment to the pole. If the pole gets caught on a tree or other object, that can mean injury to the skier. Another reason not to use them is to be able to throw them away in the event of an avalanche or if caught in a tree well. Finally, falls on outstretched hands are more likely to cause injury with ski poles attached between the thumb and index finger, an injury so common it carried the name “skier’s thumb.”

Because of the array of disadvantages of ski pole straps, many skiers simply do not use them. Some brands have introduced ski pole straps that break away with any significant force. This can help reduce the risk of injury. But for many skiers, the risk of straps simply outweighs the benefits, especially on downhill terrain.

But straps do have benefits. Just look at nordic skiing. There, straps are a critical piece of equipment that helps skiers use poles efficiently for propulsion. When traveling uphill, athletes likewise find key utility in using their ski pole straps for leverage, to move speedily, and to help save energy.

On backcountry tours, there are times on gradual and flat slopes when straps can help in efficient travel by allowing skiers and splitboarders to grip the pole more softly and even prevent losing a pole after pushing it in the snow. But these benefits are still often outweighed by the risks that pole straps carry, especially in avalanche terrain.

Enter an alternative. LEKI’s system allows skiers the benefits of straps when wanted, but without the additional flapping material when not needed.

Various LEKI gloves including the Copper S (pictured) are compatible with the Trigger 3D System; (photo/Jason Hummel)

Trigger 3D System

The Trigger 3D System includes two technical components that work in sync: the ski pole grip and glove. A variety of products are constructed within the camp at LEKI, and skiers can mix and match.

LEKI builds its compatible ski gloves with a fixed, small oval-shaped loop between the thumb and forefinger near the palm of the glove. Called a Trigger Loop, the fabric is tenacious, flexible, and not detectable when not in use. The LEKI Copper S glove includes this little hook.

The collection’s ski poles, including the Spitfire Vario 3D, have a grip with a release button on the top, which faces the hand. The release system has a 220-degree range, allowing a skier to release at various angles.

Skiers can click in by sliding the glove’s loop onto the attachment point (making sure they hear or feel an actual click before skiing off). Then they click out by pressing down on the release button and sliding their hand slightly up. Easy.

In combo, this setup offers a secure connection between ski poles and gloves. And it eliminates the need for the typical around-the-wrist straps.

This system isn’t limited to LEKI ski gloves or models made with the loop. Skiers can instead buy a Trigger 3D Frame Strap Mesh ($40), a cozy glove harness that’s secured by Velcro, which has the loop attachment for the pole. While the harness is a layer of fabric that slips over your glove, it’s well-fitted and doesn’t move on and off your hand or wrist throughout the day like a ski pole strap.

The GearJunkie team tested the 23/24 LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D, an adjustable, alpine ski pole; (photo/Jason Hummel)

LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D Ski Pole Review

Let’s start with the ski pole. I tested the LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D at our 2023 GearJunkie Ski and Snowboard Week test at Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado. Among a handful of testers, including guys and gals, we agreed that these ski poles are a very solid alpine and touring design.

Apart from the click-in system, the pole is rock solid. The design uses sturdy aluminum HTS 6.5 construction, which is shaped into a 14mm and 16mm diameter. The length is adjustable on this model. An easy-to-use latch, called the Speed Lock + Adjustment System, clamps down to secure the height.

Note: There’s a Spitfire 3D option, too, which is a fixed length. If you want the adjustable length, be sure to look for the ski pole with “Vario” in the product name!

Ultimately, the Trigger 3D ProG grips are comfortable to hold while ripping down the slope, whether or not you’re using the click-in option. The grip is slightly curved where it rests against the palm. Facing out, on the grip’s exterior, curved depressions give each finger a place to rest. All of these details create a ski pole that feels and works great.

The package includes two sets of baskets (one for powder and the other for piste). While these poles do ship with very nice straps (the formerly mentioned Trigger 3D Frame Strap Mesh) that slide onto a choice glove and clip into the system, using these ski poles with compatible ski gloves is how to get the best experience: a seamless, quick-to-use system that truly frees the hands.

LEKI Copper S Ski Gloves


  • Shell/Material Goatskin and water-resistant neoprene plus polyester fiberloft insulation
  • Cuff type Adjustable undercuff with Velcro closure


  • Trigger S loop clips to compatible Leki ski poles
  • Warm
  • Durable leather


  • Difficult to put on and take off
  • Requires compatible poles for best performance

LEKI Copper S Ski Glove Review

LEKI nailed the design of the Copper S ski glove. I tested these water-resistant gloves for 3 days at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and found them to be generally warm, dry, comfortable, and protective even during deep pow turns and stormy hours.

Overall, the glove feels fairly pliable and light. The design uses a 100% premium goatskin leather mixed with a neoprene material (60% rubber, 40% polyester) and rawshell (95% nylon, 5% elastane). The palm has a blend of goatskin leather and silicone nash (60% nylon, 40% polyurethane). Across the knuckles are EVA pads for protection and performance.

Inside, the 100% polyester liner felt soft. The insulation is 100% polyester fiberloft, which seemed to work well for moderate to cold conditions, and kept my hands warm all day on the mountain even with a little moisture in the air, gusts, and cold temperatures.

A neoprene cuff with a narrow profile tucks under jacket sleeves. Skiers can grab a fixed wrist loop with their free hand to pull on the slim-fit glove.

I generally liked most aspects of the Copper S. And when coupled with the Spitfire Vario 3D ski poles, this glove really shined. The model clicked intuitively into the poles with a streamlined loop located between the thumb and forefinger.

GearJunkie testers checking out the new LEKI Copper S gloves and Spitfire Vario 3D ski poles; (photo/Jason Hummel)


I did note one downside to the LEKI Copper S glove: They are relatively tricky to put on and take off.

LEKI addresses this with a narrow loop, situated at the end of the cuff, to help pull them on. But it’s still kind of tricky with the slim fit. This wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me, but it is definitely something to consider. Those who like a wide glove or longer gauntlet should look elsewhere.

Our female skiers also noted that the Copper S Women’s version showed visible wear and tear and loss of spunk after only a few full days on the mountain, and did not seem to be very durable. That said, the gloves were warm, streamlined, and comfortable, so the $120 price tag might still be worthwhile.

LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D Ski Pole and Copper S Glove: Conclusion

The connection loop on the LEKI Copper S seems strong and is easy to use. I really loved this method of pole attachment, as it was there when I wanted it — for example, while poling on a long flat or uphill section of terrain — but easy to disconnect. And then I didn’t have pole straps flapping in the wind while skiing downhill.

Ultimately, the Spitfire Vario 3D ski pole and Copper S glove is a wonderful combination. Outside of the slightly tricky nature of the gloves to put on and take off, they retained body heat well and felt durable. The poles work great, too, and the combination takes the problems of pole straps out of the equation.

For those looking for a dialed, streamlined pole and glove system, it really doesn’t get much better.

The 23/24 LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D will be available in September 2023.

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