The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

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LEKI Men and Women’s Micro Vario Carbon Review: Best High-End Ultralight Pole

Best High-End Ultralight Pole

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Price: $199.95

Weight: Men’s – 481g (1lb 1oz), Women’s – 459g (16.2oz)

Length: Men’s – 110-130cm, Women’s – 100-120cm

Collapsed Length: Men’s – 40cm (16in), Women’s – 40cm (16in)

Shaft Comp.: Pure Carbon

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Men’s – Lock Security Strap (Skin), Women’s – LEKI Skin Strap

Collapse Style: Combination (ELD)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip (Short)

Locking Mechanism: Speed Lock 2

Included Baskets: Standard

What We Like: Highly adjustable and packable. Comfortable grips/straps. Very durable for carbon fiber

What We Don’t: A bit pricey

As arguably the most expensive trekking poles on the 2021 list, the LEKI Micro Vario Carbons have a lot to prove, and in fact, they do it quite swimmingly. You’ll find that not only are these some of the lightest trekking poles on our list, but also amongst the most comfortable and the highest rated by experienced hikers, and as such they have earned the title of Best High-End Ultralight Pole. The men’s and women’s versions of this pole are practically identical with just a few key differences: the “women’s specific” poles are slightly shorter (ranging from 100-120cm rather than 110-130cm) and lighter, and have contoured grips for smaller hands (plus the pink top on the grip).

The men’s trekking poles come in at just around 1lb 1oz (481g) while the women’s poles are just over a pound (16.1oz or 459g). The LEKI Micro Vario Carbons are what is considered a combination-style trekking pole; as well as folding down into short segments, the poles also have a segment of telescoping length adjustment directly below the grip, enabling the user to not only pack down the poles to a small size, but also adjust the length as needed. These poles pack down to only 40cm (16in), making them one of the smallest on our 2021 list, and excellent if you need to take them in your carry-on luggage.

This combination folding/telescopic pole truly is the best of all worlds. It packs small, is easily deployed, and it’s highly adjustable, all while being durable and comfortable. From summer hikes to winter treks you can use these poles with confidence. It’s no wonder that LEKI is a highly respected brand and popular among experienced hikers. Upgrading to this level of quality, however, does come with a steep price tag.

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!

Compare to Similar Products

See Our Best Trekking Poles of 2021 HERE!

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 90% 90%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Combination-style pole makes them adjustable and pack small durable and versatile enough to handle all four seasons

Cons

Slightly heavy for the price

Not as adjustable as purely telescopic poles

Weight: [95-110cm] 482g (17oz), [105-125cm] 510g (18oz), [120-140cm] 567g (1lb 4oz)

Length: 95-110cm, 105-125cm, 120-140cm

Collapsed Length: [95-110cm] 34cm (13.4in), [105-125cm] 37c (14.6in), [120-140cm] 40cm (15.7in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Combination (SlideLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock Pro

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Z - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 90% 90%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 100% 100%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 40% 40%

Pros

Excellent price for folding poles

Very light for aluminum poles

Collapse down small, pack/unpack easily

Cons

Only three-season support, unlike the Alpine series

Lack of adjustment for changing hiking styles

May not be sturdy enough for extra-heavy loads

Weight: [100cm] 323g (11.4oz), [110cm] 343g (12.1oz), [120cm] 362g (12.8oz), [130cm] 402g (14.2oz)

Length: 100, 110, 120, 130cm (39, 43, 47, 51in)

Collapsed Length: [100cm] 33cm (13in), [110cm] 36cm (14in), [120cm] 40cm (16in), [130cm] 43cm (17in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Distance

Collapse Style: Folding (SlideLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Fixed

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Speed-Cone

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Highly adjustable and packable

Comfortable grips/straps

Very durable for carbon fiber

Cons

A bit pricey

Weight: Men's - 481g (1lb 1oz), Women's - 459g (16.2oz)

Length: Men's - 110-130cm, Women's - 100-120cm

Collapsed Length: Men's - 40cm (16in), Women's - 40cm (16in)

Shaft Comp.: Pure Carbon

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Men's - Lock Security Strap (Skin), Women's - LEKI Skin Strap

Collapse Style: Combination (ELD)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip (Short)

Locking Mechanism: Speed Lock 2

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 50% 50%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Incredibly comfortable grip and wrist strap

Telescopic design and thicker carbon makes them both adjustable and durable

Cons

Not as light as other carbon fiber poles

Larger pack size

A bit pricey

Weight: 486g (1lb 1.1oz)

Length: 100-130cm

Collapsed Length: 61cm (24in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: 360° nubuck

Collapse Style: Telescopic (FlickLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 100% 100%
  • Durability 70% 70%
  • Locking/Adjustability 40% 40%

Pros

Lightweight, great for trail running

Easy to unpack

Cons

Only 3 oz. lighter than the distance Zs at almost double the price

Similar price to the Alpine series but with only three-season support

Lack of adjustment for changing hiking styles

May not be sturdy enough for extra-heavy loads

Weight: [100cm] 263g (9.3oz), [110cm] 275g (9.7oz), [120cm] 283g (10oz), [130cm] 295g (10.4oz)

Length: 100, 110, 120, 130cm (39, 43, 47, 51in)

Collapsed Length: [100cm] 33cm (13in), [110cm] 36cm (14in), [120cm] 40cm (16in), [130cm] 43cm (17in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Distance

Collapse Style: Folding

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Fixed

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Speed-Cone

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 30% 30%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 40% 40%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Locking/Adjustability 80% 80%

Pros

Excellent value at a low price

Very durable, great for heavy backpacking

Cons

Large pack size due to telescopic design

Heavy

Weight: 624g (1lb 6oz)

Length: 100-140cm

Collapsed Length: 64cm (25in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Rubber

Grip Extensions: Rubber

Strap Style: Vari-width nylon webbing

Collapse Style: Telescopic (FlickLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 80% 80%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 30% 30%
  • Durability 40% 40%
  • Locking/Adjustability 70% 70%

Pros

Incredible price for carbon fiber and cork

Comes With An Impressive Number Of Accessories

Cons

Doesn’t pack down small unless disassembled

Quick lock mechanism can complicate packing/unpacking

Could be more durable; entry-level hikers may want to opt for aluminum

Weight: 442g (15.6oz)

Length: 66-137cm

Collapsed Length: 66cm (26in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Telescopic (Quick Lock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Tungsten Carbide

Locking Mechanism: Quick Lock

Included Baskets: Boots, Mud, Snow and Small Tips

The Best Trekking Poles: Gossamer Gear LT5 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Gossamergear.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 50% 50%
  • Durability 30% 30%
  • Locking/Adjustability 80% 80%

Pros

Incredibly light

Highly adjustable

Comfortable grip/strap

Cons

Could be more durable

Expensive

Twist locks could be more elegant

Weight: 300g (10.6oz)

Length: 60-130cm

Collapsed Length: 60cm (23in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: N/A

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Telescopic (twist-lock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Twist lock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker
The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

As arguably the most expensive trekking poles on the 2021 list, the LEKI Micro Vario Carbons have a lot to prove, and in fact, they do so quite swimmingly. You’ll find that not only are these some of the lightest trekking poles on our list but also amongst the most comfortable and the highest rated by experienced hikers. As such, they have hands down earned the title of Best High-End Ultralight Pole. The men’s and women’s versions of this pole are practically identical with just a few key differences: the “women’s specific” poles are slightly shorter (ranging from 100-120cm rather than 110-130cm) and lighter, and they have contoured grips for smaller hands—plus the pink top on the grip if that’s important to you.

The LEKI name stems stands from the first two letters of the owners’ name and the company headquarters, i.e. Lenhart in Kirchheim, Germany. Its history dates back to 1948 at the wood processing plant of Karl Lenhart in Dettingen unter Teck, Germany, which produced the wooden letters for lettering used by bakeries or butchers. Lenhart, an avid skier, decided he could build a better pole, so he used his own machines to manufacture grips and baskets. Later, he utilized his aircraft manufacturing experience to produce aluminum and composite ski poles. Today, LEKI is a worldwide name in skiing, trekking, and trail running poles.

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

Comfort

LEKI has reinvented comfort with their AERGON grip and textured “no bulk” security strap. The thermo foam grip is contoured to fit in the hands of any hiker and is in fact slightly stiffer than a traditional foam grip, making it feel a bit more like cork. Along with being comfortable, the grip is also insulated with a hollow core construction to save weight. Below this, there is an equally comfortable grip extension when you need to choke up, while above there’s an edgeless, rounded grip for comfortable gripping at all angles. It’s designed especially for “palming” on steeper terrain.

The lightweight strap is designed for efficient wicking and fast drying. It actually feels almost like silk and is surprisingly comfortable for being so minimal, although there’s no cushion to it. You can adjust and secure the strap adjustment without a buckle.
The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

Weight

The men’s trekking poles come in at just around 1lb 1oz (481g) while the women’s poles are just over a pound (16.1oz or 459g). While there are definitely lighter poles out there, these poles are actually near the middle of our list when it comes to the overall weight. You could save some ounces with either the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Zs or even the aluminum Distance Zs. Heck, even the Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Locks are slightly lighter. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that matches the MVC’s durability or its length adjustment. In addition, the additional weight you get with the LEKIs has gone toward their overall durability (i.e. bulkier locking mechanisms and thicker carbon shafts).

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

Packing

The LEKI Micro Vario Carbons are what is considered a combination-style trekking pole. As well as folding down into short segments, the poles also have a segment of telescoping length with adjustment directly below the grip. This feature enables the user to not only pack down the poles to a small size but also adjust the length as needed. These poles pack down to only 40cm (16in), making them one of the smallest on our 2021 list. That makes them an excellent option if you need to take them in your carry-on luggage as you head off on some faraway adventure.

To unpack your poles, all you’ll need to do is let them fall out of their collapsed state, then grab above and below the ELD (External Locking Device), release mechanism, and pull both sections away from each other. The polyethylene-coated, Kevlar-reinforced tension cord has a small nose cone that guides the pole sections into place. You’ll hear the ELD audibly lock into place and notice a small button pop out; you’ll need to depress this button to collapse the poles again when you’re ready. Tension between the shaft sections is maximized by an internal (serviceable) spring in the lower shaft.
The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

Adjustability

In terms of height adjustment, the MVCs only have a 20cm adjustment range, running from 110-130cm for the men’s trekking pole and 100-120cm for the women’s trekking pole. While this range is 5cm shorter than the range on our other combination poles, the Black Diamond Alpine FLZs, it should be more than sufficient for adjustability while on the trail, further simplified by the foam grip extension. It’s also a more streamlined system than typical telescopic poles, as you’ll only need to change the height for one pole section rather than two.

Once you’ve found the right length for your poles, you’ll keep them in place using the Speed Lock 2 external lever lock. LEKI boasts that the Speed Lock 2 is significantly smaller and lighter and that it has a higher holding force than the first-generation Speed Lock. You can easily adjust the tightness of this lock by hand-screwing a plastic knob, which is a preferable alternative to some of Black Diamond’s poles that require a small, easily-lost Allen wrench.

The MVCs are also highly adjustable when it comes to the wrist strap, which can be tweaked—even with winter gloves, which is pretty sweet. You’ll only need to pull upward on the strap to open the lever, then adjust your length as needed, and snap the lever back down.
The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

Durability

The Micro Vario Carbons boast 100% High Modulus Carbon shaft sections, making them both lightweight and reliable compared to the 80% High Modulus Carbon Fiber (20% aluminum) composites of the Micro Vario Carbon AS. The MVCs also feature PE-coated, Kevlar-reinforced tension cords for long-term reliability, and the carbon section ends are protected by machined aluminum sleeves for extra-long wear.

LEKI’s Speed Lock 2 lever locking mechanism has been rated the world’s strongest external locking system by TÜV SÜD. More commonly known as simply TUV, this German independent service company tests, inspects, and certifies technical systems, facilities, and objects. So their rating really means something; the lever locking mechanism is one of the best out there.

In addition, the Micro Vario Carbon has what’s called a carbide flex tip, which will bend and flex when it gets caught between rocks or stuck in other obstacles. This not only protects the rest of the pole from snapping, but it’s also replaceable. That means that any damage to the tip can be easily mended, which is saying something for long-term durability for your investment.

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

Price

At a whopping $200, these are the most expensive trekking poles on the list, so make sure they’ll meet your needs before making this sizable investment. For that amount of money, you could buy a pair of Black Diamond Distance Zs and a pair of Cascade Mountain Tech poles and still have money left over. However, you can definitely feel the quality when you hold these poles in your hand, and when you’re on a long hike and need to feel confident in your gear, the comfort you get can go a long way. Speaking of a long way, these poles should more than meet your need for years to come, so you might want to consider these a “buy it for life” kind of purchase.

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

Other Features

Like most trekking poles, the MVCs have an interchangeable basket system that caters to a variety of different-sized LEKI baskets. These can be easily screwed into place using offset threads that keep the baskets securely in place. As an added bonus, you can store these baskets in the included travel storage bag.

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

The Bottom Line

This combination folding/telescopic pole truly is the best of all worlds. It packs small, is easily deployed, and is highly adjustable—all while being durable and comfortable. What more could you want? From summer hikes to winter treks, you can use these poles with confidence. It’s no wonder that LEKI is a highly respected brand that is very popular among experienced hikers. Upgrading to this level of quality, however, does come with a steep price tag.

I recently stopped by a local outdoor shop with an exceedingly knowledgeable staff and found that LEKI was the only brand of trekking poles that they carried after years of trying out various makers. The manager was especially impressed by LEKI’s customer service, saying that it was simple for him to order replacement parts should something go wrong on the trail. Keep this in mind as you balance the costs and benefits in your decision-making process.

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!