As people all across the U.S. are getting into the outdoors, I’ve seen lots of questions about gear. I haven’t been out as much lately on hikes or doing backpacking, but when I do go I’ve definitely got favorites. So as you prepare now or for the future I thought I’d share a few gear reviews over the next few weeks.
Of all the pieces of gear that I’ve purchased in the last six years, my Leki Lhasa Lite AS Trekking Poles are by far one of the best purchases I ever made. The story of how they came into my hiking life is, like many others, tied to the day I agreed to be an adult leader for my son’s Scout trip to Philmont Scout Ranch. Our crew spent nearly nine months preparing for that trip, taking monthly hikes of growing length and difficulty.
During one of those hikes, carrying what now seems like a minimally weighted pack, my knees started bothering me. The lone dad on the crew had torn his ACL the year before and was recovering from surgery as we prepared. He’d gotten a pair of Leki’s after a great deal of research. He extolled the materials and unique shape of the grip. The way that they would lighten the pressure on his knees and that they offered an extra “push” to his stride that would allow him to cover more ground faster. That day, as my knees were screaming at me, he offered one to use to finish as we finished our hike.
I was sold. It wasn’t long before I was hunting around trying a few out here and there wherever I could. What sold me on the Leki’s was the grip. The point of a good trekking pole is it’s adjustability and how it fits your hand. I knew that there would be plenty of elevation descents during both our Superior Hiking Trail shakedown trip and on the 12 day backcountry trip. I liked the way the egg shaped top fit into the ball of my hand comfortably. I could lean on it with all my weight without a ridge digging into my palm.
The only barrier that I struggled with was the price. I’m a pretty frugal person and the $139.00 price tag at the time was a lot. But the more we hiked, the more I knew I wanted them. As I debated, my son – also a frugal one – commented that it was a lot of money for something I’d only really use once. We joked that maybe it would be a good learning for me to be ready for a cane when I’m old. Maybe I’d even be able to use them instead of a cane when the time came. It was the justification we both needed. Thankfully I was able to ultimately find them for a steal during a Sierra Trading sale. That was almost six years ago.
To say I love my Leki’s is an understatement. They’ve been with me on almost every hike I’ve taken since I bought them. On that first backcountry adventure, we used them to support our tarps for shelter when it was raining. I’ve used them to test the depth of water and mud. To determine if a patch of ice is solid or not. To keep me upright in all kinds of trail conditions and even a few times making my way on icy side walks to get the bus to work.
On trail they have kept me upright more times than I can count. During a particularly messy fall on Isle Royale they helped me get up from slipping in knee deep mud with an overloaded pack. And they kept me from an even worse tumble on a slippery boardwalk on the Superior Hiking Trail.
They keep my hands closer to the level of my heart alleviating the issues I’ve had with my hands swelling on long hikes or even a walk. Lately I’ve also been using them as part of my hammock sleep set up to hold my tarp up during the day as an awning.
They are part of my gear that has paid for itself over and over. Heck, they have even outlasted my hiking boots that finally gave up after nearly 600 miles of abuse!
WHAT I LOVE:
The combination of weight, speed locks and those lovely egg-shaped grips. Seriously, this might be my favorite gear purchase. Ever.
WHAT I’M NOT A FAN OF:
The length. In the U.S. you can’t carry these in your luggage as they are considered a potential weapon. I like to travel as light as possible, often with just a backpack as my carry-on. These don’t fit. Even in my smaller roller bag.
Sometimes, not with consistency, the lower lock doesn’t catch and tighten like it should. It’s not been so bad I feel I need to replace anything. It’s just a pain when it happens.
Maximum Length – 125 Inches
Minimum Length – 65 Inches
Weight – 9 oz.
Upper Section Combination SpeedLock
Lower Section Super Lock Soft Antishock
It’s important for me to note that this particular model of Leki’s have been discontinued by the manufacturer. But know that they have new options that are improvements over past designs at a similar price point, which when you take the $139 and divide that over six years means these have cost me about $23 per year. As time goes on, assuming they continue to hold up, that investment will become less expensive year over year.
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