The Leki Cristallo is a solid and dependable pole that excels for heavy laden users, when the going gets rough, or for folks who are just plain hard on their gear. At $120 the Cristallo is a more price pointed pole narrowly missing our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy award to the Black Diamond Trail Back which is $40 less expensive, but not near as nice of a pole. The Cristallo has the nicest feeling and causes the least chafing among rubber handled poles in our review and one of the more comfortable grips overall.
Leki Cristallo Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Super durable, most comfortable rubber handles, extremely versatile
Cons: A little on the heavy side, not very packable
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Leki Cristallo uses the most comfortable rubber grip in our review. It features a softer, more ergonomic handle that felt better and chafed our testers hands less than any other rubber handled pole. During hotter hikes and backpacking trips the rubber grips didn't wick the moisture away from our hands as well as foam or cork handles, but the Cristallo performed better than most. Our testers also really appreciated it's adjustable, soft-to-the-touch wrist straps that were also among our reviewers favorites.
Leki's new SpeedLock 2 system is every bit as functional, dependable, and easy to use as Black Diamond's FlickLock. What sets the SpeedLock apart is how easy it is to adjust the tension on the external lever. Unlike most other lever-lock style closure systems, the SpeedLock requires no special tools, or even a coin. It's easy to use with your bare, or gloved hand.
At 18 ounces the Leki Cristallo is a little lighter than average among poles on the market, but it is certainly on the lighter side of more traditional telescoping poles in our review. They are lighter than the Black Diamond Trail Back (20 ounces) and around the same weight as the Leki Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC (18 ounces) but not quite as light as the Leki Carbon Ti.
The 3-section telescoping Leki Cristallo breaks down to 27" (53 cm) which is among the least packable poles in our review. As we mentioned before if you are primarily using these poles for backpacking, hiking, and trekking and your poles are in your hands 95% of the time, have a relatively long minimum size is not a huge deal. They still pack short enough to be strapped to the outside of most mid-sized daypacks and backpacking packs. If you regularly find yourself with your poles on your back then the Cristallo may not be a great choice.
This is one tough pole and is among the most durable products in our review (if not the most durable). We used them on a handful of brutal trips through Washington's North Cascades mostly while battling rugged, boulder ridden, and brushy off-trail travel and the Cristallo held up fantastically. After our field testing we think that these are more durable than any "folding-style" poles and among the most durable and dependable of the more traditional telescoping designs we tested. We do think they are tougher than the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork or the Leki Carbon Ti.
Versatility and Best Applications
The Leki Cristallo is a super durable pole that will excel for even the hardest users. Its rubber handle doesn't absorb moisture which makes it a great choice for snowshoeing and glacier mountaineering and it's durable and dependable enough for even the harshest, extended cross-country trips. It is one of the few three section poles that we would consider backcountry skiing with. While it works fine for backpacking and hiking, its rubber grip, while better than most rubber handles, are less ideal than cork or foam grips for hot weather hiking.
Value and the Bottom Line
At $120 these poles are a pretty good deal. They aren't near as good a price as the Black Diamond Trail Back ($80) but are an overall nicer pole offering a more comfortable and better articulated handle. Also compared to the Trail Back, the Cristallo weighs two ounces less, and are a little more durable.
- A shock absorbing version
- A near identical pole except for the shock
- More costly at $140
— Ian Nicholson