The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Leki Micro Vario Carbon Review

This pole made of lightweight carbon is our top-ranked trekking pole.
Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $200 List | $199.85 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, packs compactly, comfortable grip, easily disassembled
Cons:  Expensive, may be less durable than some aluminum models
Manufacturer:   Leki
By Graham Williams and Sibylle Hechtel  ⋅  May 8, 2019
  • Share this article:
93
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 17
  • Comfort - 20% 10
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Locking and Adjustability - 15% 10
  • Packed Size - 15% 10
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon is our top trekking pole with carbon construction throughout and a break-apart, tent pole-like design. These two features combine to make it one of the lighter, more durable, and packable poles in our lineup. We also found that the Aergon grip is one of the more comfortable options in the review. Such premium construction makes this pole one of the more expensive options we've reviewed. However, if you need a light, dependable pole, it's an exceptional one. It's a top choice for any extreme endeavors in the mountains — whether you're climbing in Patagonia, running ultras around Aconcagua, or hiking 14ers in California or Colorado.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   Top Pick Award 
Price $199.85 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$199.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$179.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$137.22 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$125.29 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
93
100
0
93
100
0
89
100
0
89
100
0
76
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Lightweight, packs compactly, comfortable grip, easily disassembledComfortable, easy to adjust, small packed size, light, versatileVery durable, versatile, comfortable, and lightweightTough, comfortable, FlickLock mechanism is stellar, and long lastingSuper lightweight, packable, and is surprisingly durable
Cons Expensive, may be less durable than some aluminum modelsExpensiveNot as small in packed size as the Leki Micro VarioNot as light or packable as other polesOnly one basket and tip type, non-adjustable
Bottom Line This pole made of lightweight carbon is our top-ranked trekking pole.This pole is the shortest to pack, is lightweight, the most comfortable, and easy to adjust.These poles are among the most durable tested. They are also comfortable, versatile, and easy to adjust.This is one of the top ranked poles in our review thanks to strong, durable construction, and its comfortable cork grips.The Distance Carbon Z is built for through hikers and trail runners who need a lightweight pole that they can pull out when needed.
Rating Categories Leki Micro Vario Carbon Women's Micro Vario Carbon Alpine Carbon Cork Alpine Carbon Cork Distance Carbon Z
Comfort (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
7
Weight (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
10
Locking And Adjustability (15%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
Packed Size (15%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
10
Durability (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
7
Versatility (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
6
Specs Leki Micro Vario... Women's Micro... Alpine Carbon Cork Alpine Carbon Cork Distance Carbon Z
Measured Weight Per Pair (Ounces) 16.4 oz 16.0 oz 17.0 oz 17.0 oz 10.4 oz
Shaft Material Carbon Carbon Carbon Carbon Fiber Carbon Fiber
Min Length (inches) 15.5 in 15.5 in 25 in 24 in 13/14/16/17 in
Max Length (inches) 47 in 51 in 51 in 51 in 39/43/47/51 in
Pole Design Foldable Foldable Collapsible Collapsible Foldable
Grip Material Foam Foam Cork EVA foam EVA foam
Locking Mechanism Speed​​Lock 2 Speed​​Lock 2 External Lever Lock Dual FlickLock Pro Speed Cone deployment
Shock absorbing? No No No No No
Baskets? Tip Attachments? Yes, tips and baskets Yes, tips and baskets Yes, rubber tips, trekking baskets, powder baskets Yes, Only Baskets No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon performs well in most testing metrics. As a carbon break-apart pole, it's light and packs down shorter than most poles. It is above average in most parameters, but it is also one of the more expensive poles we tested.

Performance Comparison


Hiking with the Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles in Colorado's Front Range.
Hiking with the Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles in Colorado's Front Range.

Comfort


The Micro Vario Carbon ranks near the top of the test class in terms of comfort.


Though some hikers prefer cork handles, such as those on the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork or the Leki Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA. We prefer the Aergon Thermo foam grips. They are comfortable when used with bare hands, and the Skin strap is one of the most comfortable we've used.

We really like the Aergon grip and smooth  super comfortable "Skin" strap.
Leki Micro Vario shows the textured extension below the pole grip and the smooth edgeless grip top.


The Aergon foam extends below the main grip point. Having an extended pad lets you choke down on the pole in steep terrain or when descending. We appreciate being able to quickly adjust our hand placements without changing our pole length or losing our grip. This foam area is textured, like on the Leki Cor-Tec, and hence offers a better grip than many other poles. The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z's foam grips are also textured and are a bit more comfortable than the Micro Vario foam.

Leki Micro Vario pole shows the locking mechanism.
Leki Micro Vario pole shows the locking mechanism.

Locking Mechanism and Adjustability


In this model, Leki's SpeedLock 2 external lever lock comes with the newly developed ELD External Locking Device. Opening or closing a simple lever is all it takes to rapidly extend the pole to its full length and then lock the segments into place. To disassemble, push down on the same lever, and the segments come apart.


We love this locking mechanism. It's simple and requires no tools to adjust tension, making on-trail alterations easy. As a break-apart style pole, the Micro Vario Carbon uses a combination of the new ELD External Locking Device and a SpeedLock 2 mechanism, which allows the pole to break down very small and still retain a full 20 centimeters of adjustment.

Shown here  the Micro Vario Carbon's pole grip open to show strap adjustment.
Shown here, the Micro Vario Carbon's pole grip open to show strap adjustment.

The straps adjust easily. First, you pull up on the strap to open the lever. Then you pull out on the strap to adjust the length. When you're done, push down on top of the pole grip to close the lever. We were able to change the straps' length even when wearing thick winter gloves.

Weight


At 16.4 ounces, the Micro Vario Carbon is lighter than most trekking poles.


Although not as light as the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z (10.4 ounces), it offers a larger range of height adjustments. The Distance Z does not. It is lighter than the Leki Cor-Tec TA though, due to its carbon construction. This makes it the lightest break-apart style of pole we tested that also offers a range of adjustability.

Leki Micro Vario Carbon comparison of women's and men's model. Men's is 10 cm longer.
Leki Micro Vario Carbon comparison of women's and men's model. Men's is 10 cm longer.

Packed Size


The break apart design of the Micro Vario Carbon makes it one of the more packable models in our lineup.


It packs down to 15.7 inches, a big difference from a traditional telescoping pole, like the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork (24 inches). Overall, the large, adjustable size-range of this pole makes it one of the best poles to carry in a day pack on rock or ice climbs.

Leki Micro Vario Carbon poles collapsed.
Leki Micro Vario Carbon poles collapsed.

Durability


The Micro Vario features a carbon construction and a break-apart design, making it quite durable — but not as durable as a telescoping design like the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork. For the type of ultimate durability that you'd want for remote treks, you may want to consider an aluminum model. If it should break, you can weld an aluminum pole back together, unlike a carbon fiber pole.


Versatility


This pole is a great choice for hikers, trekkers, or backpackers. We also recommend it for climbers and travelers, thanks to its packability. It comes with snow baskets, which makes it a good choice for mountaineers, snowshoers, or backcountry skiers or snowboarders. The foam grips are great for warm weather as well, as they wick moisture effectively.


The smooth, edgeless grip lets you rest your hand on top of the pole and push down comfortably, like when you're skinning up on your skis or descending a steep trail.

Best Applications


This is a great lightweight and packable pole for rock or ice climbing, trail running, backpacking or mountaineering.

The Micro Vario Carbon's grip has a smooth  edgeless upper section and a knurled ridge below the hand.
The Micro Vario Carbon's grip has a smooth, edgeless upper section and a knurled ridge below the hand.

Value


The Micro Vario Carbon is one of the more expensive poles, but it remains our first choice for technical rock or ice climbing trips. As such, it offers reasonable value.

Conclusion


The Micro Vario Carbon is a great pole, with the best that Leki has to offer, including carbon fiber construction and break-apart technology. Overall, it's an excellent choice for a lightweight, packable, and durable pole.


Graham Williams and Sibylle Hechtel