Hands-on Gear Review

Leki Cristallo Review

Leki Cristallo
Price:  $120 List | $89.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Super durable, most comfortable rubber handles, extremely versatile
Cons:  A little on the heavy side, not very packable
Bottom line:  Versatile and comfortable, these poles can take a beating.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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Weight (Pair):  18 oz
Min Length:  68cm, 27 in
Max Length:  135cm, 53 in
Manufacturer:   Leki

Our Verdict

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.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Trekking Poles for Hiking and Backpacking

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ian Nicholson

Last Updated:
Saturday
October 3, 2015

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Performance Comparison


The handle of the Leki Cristallo  featuring the most comfortable rubber grip in our review. Our testers really appreciated the detailed ergonomics and the attention to detail in its design.
The handle of the Leki Cristallo, featuring the most comfortable rubber grip in our review. Our testers really appreciated the detailed ergonomics and the attention to detail in its design.

Comfort


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.

The top of the handle of the Leki Cristallo. The Cristallo along with the other Leki poles that shared this design were by far the most comfortable grip to use with your palm on the top of the handle in a cane position.
The top of the handle of the Leki Cristallo. The Cristallo along with the other Leki poles that shared this design were by far the most comfortable grip to use with your palm on the top of the handle in a cane position.

Locking Mechanism


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.

Showing the new SpeedLock 2 external leaver-lock mechanism on the Leki Cristallo. Not only did we think this mechanism was just as reliable and durable as other options on the market like the Black Diamond FlickLock system but it was also the easiest mechanism to adjust the tension of.
Showing the new SpeedLock 2 external leaver-lock mechanism on the Leki Cristallo. Not only did we think this mechanism was just as reliable and durable as other options on the market like the Black Diamond FlickLock system but it was also the easiest mechanism to adjust the tension of.

Weight


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.

Comparing the collapsed lengths of several poles with the Leki Cristallo second from the top and the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork on the top. You can see that these two traditional telescoping poles smallest pack-able size is still 9-10" longer than most of the other folding/collapsing style poles.
Comparing the collapsed lengths of several poles with the Leki Cristallo second from the top and the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork on the top. You can see that these two traditional telescoping poles smallest pack-able size is still 9-10" longer than most of the other folding/collapsing style poles.

Packability


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.

Durability


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.

The lowest section of the Leki Cristallo which features and removable and interchangeable basket.
The lowest section of the Leki Cristallo which features and removable and interchangeable basket.

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.

Other Versions


Leki Cristallo Antishock
Leki Cristallo Antishock
  • A shock absorbing version
  • A near identical pole except for the shock
  • More costly at $140
Ian Nicholson

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 3, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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