They’re expensive but pay back every penny in terms of comfort, rugged durability and – once you get used to the unique gripping system – ease of use.
Strong, durable carbon
Easy to assemble and re-fold
Unique, secure hand-to-pole attachment
Only small, non-removable mud guard/basket
Harder to unhook yourself from the pole on a sudden fall
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Leki Micro Trail Vario: first impressions
Leki Micro Trail Varios are the most expensive entry in our best running poles buyer’s guide, so what are you getting for your money? In short: extreme comfort, exquisite quality and durability, plus a unique and efficient hand-pole attachment.
They’re very easy and quick to assemble and re-fold, and the inner cord is protected with durable plastic. They also extend without you having to pull the sections apart as with most budget poles.
Then there’s the unique hand-to-pole attachment, the Trigger Shark 2.0 System: this is essentially a very comfortable velcro glove (available in sizes XS–XL) that you hook onto the handle of the pole. This means you can use them in a different way to all other poles. You don’t have to worry about always having a grip on the poles; instead, you can let them swing out in front of you with momentum then plant them on the swing back down, saving you energy.
However, being so securely attached, it is more difficult to extricate yourself from the pole quickly if, say, you take a fall. And, if you were to lose one of your unique Leki gloves during a run or race, the pole would simply turn into a top-quality walking stick.
• RRP: $250 (US) / £195 (UK)
• Weight: 390g / 13.8oz & 404g / 14.3oz
• Colors: Grey & Red / Grey & Yellow / Black & Red
• Material: Carbon
• Variable length: Yes
• Sizes: 100cm-120cm / 39in-47in & 110cm-130cm / 43in-51in
• Folded length: 39cm / 15.3in & 42cm / 16.5in
• Compatibility: Super-durable and comfortable for long distance training runs and ultras
Leki Micro Trail Vario: on the trails
Although slightly on the heavy side, the Micro Trail Varios win all the prizes for comfort, durability and ease of use.
Once I got the hang of which was the right-hand glove and which was the left, I found the glove system along with the cork handle extremely comfortable to use on the muddy Peak District trails.
The fit is great for multiple hand sizes even if you have very small wrists or are wearing another pair of running gloves underneath. The ability to let the poles dangle without gripping them all the time with your hands is really energy-efficient – you can let them pendulum swing out in front of you then re-grip and plant them when they’re in the right place. This feels magical, but I do wonder about how it would feel if you fell over – you’d still be attached rather firmly to the pole via the glove, because to extricate yourself you need to press down on the attachment mechanism.
So is it worth paying over twice the price of some other poles for a pair of Leki Micro Trail Varios? If you have cash to splash then yes – they’re magnificently comfortable and bombproof. But if you’re on a budget, we think you’ll be fine with cheaper, less robust, variable-length poles.
The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.