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Mar 17 2014

Review: Leki’s trick Tourstick-Vario ski pole

 

Leki's Tourstick has 20cm of Speedlock adjustability, then folds down to < 40cm.

Leki’s Tourstick has 20cm of Speedlock adjustability, then folds down to < 40cm.[/caption]Leki has a new pole, the micro adjustable, foldable, TourStick Vario, that anyone with traveling on their mind should be taking a closer look at. It combines a lot of nice features into a single ski pole, including Leki's ultra comfortable Aergon® grip, their SpeedLock clamp for quick length adjustment, and a lower shaft that Z-folds so the maximum length of the stored pole is less than 16 inches (< 40 cm). Perfect for stashing in just about any piece of luggage except a carry on pack, but not because it won't fit. The TSA will have a fit if you try to board with this weapons grade ski pole.
[caption id="attachment_24009" align="alignright" width="150"]Aergon® grip is ultra comfortable, with easily adjusted wrist straps. Aergon® grip is ultra comfortable, with easily adjusted wrist straps.

The upper shaft is light weight carbon fiber with Leki’s Speedlock adjustment to give 20 cm of height adjustability with reliable clamping force. On top is the most palmable grip on the market, Leki’s patented Aergon grip, shaped like an egg with a seriously comfortable feel. Beneath the Aergon® head, a nicely sculpted grip with a trigger finger and smooth backside. Unfortunately it does not have a platform for the bottom of your hand, but instead, a thick EVA foam sheath extends down the upper part of the shaft to the Speedlock, yielding excellent grip when you want to choke up with your upper hand while traversing a steep slope.

The strap is simple, a piece of padded webbing that loosens or tightens by lifting the loop up, and opening up a tab at the back of the Aergon grip to unlock the strap position.

Stainless steel fittings on the end make assembly fast and reliable.

Stainless steel fittings on the end make assembly fast and reliable.

What you will appreciate the most when traveling is how the lower shaft can be compressed by pushing in a push-pin beneath the Speed Lock that holds the 3-section lower shaft fully extended. Push it in, and then let the top section retract inside the carbon fiber upper shaft, allowing each tethered section to separate and fold up Z-style for a very short storage length. Perfect for splitboarders who want to stash their poles in their pack for shred mode, or simply storing almost anywhere you want.

To keep it working for a long time the cord holding the 3 sections together is Kevlar reinforced with a spring inside the lower section to add internal locking tension when fully extended. Long, plastic tipped, stainless steel connectors help to center and align each section and make assembly super easy with a single pull. The spring starts to engage before the lower shaft is fully extended, so you’ll need to pull with a bit of force to get the locking push-pin to be far enough out to lock.

Basket stays on securely, yet comes off with a hard pull plus unthreading.

Basket stays on securely, yet comes off with a hard pull plus unthreading.

It comes with a decent sized basket, but you can get a bigger one for powder. My fave part of the baskets is how easily they come off when you want to use your pole as a probe. A simple tug on the end pulls the basket down from the locking ribs underneath, to a threaded section where the basket easily screws loose, or back tight when reinstalling it.

There are only a few bummers with this pole. The extra hardware to allow it to fold up so small prevents it from being an ultra-light pole. Nor is it light on your wallet. Those two things might be overlooked but for one niggling detail. The rounded shape of the Aergon® grip may be great to hold with your hand, but it’s worthless for hooking things and pulling them up, like climbing posts. All it would take to change that is a hard bit of a beak on the very tip, with a flat underside. You might overlook that, and I might too, but not for $200.

Leki
Micro Tour Stick Vario
MSRP: $200
Weight/pair: 1 lb., 2 oz.

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