I’m embarrassed to say that it’s been years since I’ve used trekking poles; I haven’t been very active. Also, after years of tripping and falling on my power walks, I found out that I have some spinal cord damage that affects my foot and knee. I haven’t felt safe on trails. Canes are cumbersome and interrupt my natural gait. Trekking poles, it turns out, are ideal. So I have been happily and safely getting in lots of power walks and hikes, using Leki’s Micro Vario Carbon Lady Folding Poles (also available for men).

At just over 14 ounces, the poles are the lightest I have ever used. The Leki Micro Vario Carbon Lady Folding Poles also fold down to 15 inches, making them entirely packable in a 25L daypack and in my overstuffed 26″ suitcase. Because the poles are so light, I quickly remembered my technique and haven’t felt any arm fatigue. I am also more likely to keep them handy since they don’t add significant weight to my pack.IMG_2010

Despite their feather weight and collapsibility, the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Lady Folding Poles are quite durable. I’m 6′ tall and weigh about 180 pounds. I also walk very fast. So, it’s been nice to breeze down the street or tromp down a trail and feel supported. The poles help me maintain my balance and offset my dragging left foot and unpredictable knee. I still stumble every now and then, but I’ve been very happily surprised by how steady I am when I use the poles. Before I started using the poles I tripped several times a day and fell a couple of times a week. Now I feel much more confident when I walk and when I go up or down inclines or steps. I rarely trip and never fall. Progress!

I’ve been using the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Lady Folding Poles on cement, on rocky dirt roads and trails, on the beach (both on sand and on rocks), and even in grassy areas. The trick is a light touch and a smooth flow of lift and plant. These are the easiest poles I’ve ever used; I think this is due to the ultra light weight. It’s easy to establish a rhythm.

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon Lady Folding Poles come in their own stuff sack, although I made a special carrying tube out of plastic plumbing pipe to make sure they stayed safe in my suitcase on my current trip: a month in Iceland. I’m glad I made the pipe case because my brand new suitcase came out of baggage claim looking like it had been kicked along a dusty trail for a few days.

IMG_2037The most challenging thing about the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Lady Folding Poles is the instructions. It took me awhile to figure out how to assemble the three pieces. The instructions referred to a button that I couldn’t find. After watching a few videos I got the idea to tug the main part of the pole away from the top part of the pole; when fully extended, the hidden button pops up, preventing the pole from sliding back into the top shaft. Ok. Easy. To fold the poles, I just press this button to move the main pole back into the top of the pole and release the pole into its three parts. There’s also a very sturdy snap-type lock that allows me to adjust the height of the pole and lock it securely. After two weeks of almost daily use, I’ve never felt the pole slip, slide, or come unlocked in any way. Love!

I like the ergonomic handles and the safety straps. With the straps on I feel like even if I fell I wouldn’t lose my poles. I found it very helpful to watch the trekking videos on the Leki site because they showed me how to use poles when going up and down sleep inclines. I’m still finding it tricky to go down steep inclines, but the poles make me feel much more secure.

At 6′ tall, I’m almost too tall for the women’s poles. (The height calculator on the Leki site says I should use a 125 cm pole, and the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Lady Folding Poles maxes out at 120 cm.) Since I’m a beginner, they are working out perfectly. As I get more experienced, I might check with Leki to see if I should “graduate” to a slightly longer pole.

Bottom Line: The light weight and packability of these poles make them essential gear for anyone who needs or likes to use trekking poles. I’m never hiking without them. When I return home after my Iceland adventures I’m probably never even going for a walk without them.

Manufacturer’s Site: www.leki.com

buy-now$199.95, at Amazon.com. Shop REI for women’s poles (currently on back order).


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