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Leki Micro Vario Carbon Review

A high-performing, easily packable, and lightweight pole that comes with great features
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $200 List | $199.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, packs compactly, comfortable grip, easily disassembled
Cons:  Expensive, less durable than some aluminum models
Manufacturer:   Leki
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 21, 2020
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86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 13
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Locking and Adjustability - 15% 10
  • Packed Size - 15% 9
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon allows a small amount of length adjustment and features a very comfortable and refined grip. The Aergon foam grip is extremely comfortable due to its perfect contours, and the carbon fiber shaft naturally absorbs shock. Such premium construction makes this pole one of the most expensive options on the market. However, if you need a light, comfortable pole, we highly recommend this option. This pole can do it all, from relatively heavy-duty trekking, to fast and light approaches to alpine climbs in remote regions, to the average day or overnight hike.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon performs well in most testing metrics. As a foldable carbon pole, it's light and packs down shorter than most options. Durability is our main concern, as with most carbon fiber poles, but we didn't find this to be a deal-breaker.

Performance Comparison


The Leki Micro Vario Carbon is our favorite trekking pole of 2020  proving worthy of our accolades in nearly every activity.
The Leki Micro Vario Carbon is our favorite trekking pole of 2020, proving worthy of our accolades in nearly every activity.

Comfort


The Micro Vario Carbon is the most comfortable trekking pole we have ever tested. The foam grip is contoured perfectly to fit into the hands of hikers large and small. While we generally prefer cork grips, the handle on the Micro Vario is made of slightly stiffer foam than most other foam grips on the market. This provides all of the benefits of a foam grip (namely moisture absorption and a light weight) while also providing the support and custom moldability of a cork grip.


We never found ourselves wanting more out of Leki's Aergon foam grips. We also enjoyed the extended foam pads below each grip that allow users to choke down on the pole when traveling across hillsides or climbing steep slopes. This is a small embellishment, but it goes a long way.

The straps are made of thin material, which initially gave us pause, but the fabric is very soft and supple, almost silky. Other poles feature padded straps for comfort, which add weight, but we think that the thin, light straps of the Micro Vario Carbon are plenty comfortable. The carbon fiber shafts are thick and absorb much of the shock of the carbide tips striking rocks on the trail. Finally, the rounded top of the handle is very comfortable to push down, in case you feel like switching up hand positions while hiking.

The Leki's Aergon foam grip is expertly contoured and very comfortable to hold in any configuration.
The Leki's Aergon foam grip is expertly contoured and very comfortable to hold in any configuration.

Weight


At 16.4 ounces, the Micro Vario Carbon is an average weight for trekking poles. There are lighter options out there, but it's hard to find a lighter pole that also retains some length adjustment and durability.


These poles feature only one lever lock, carbon fiber shafts, and foam grips. All of these features help with saving weight, but we never found these compromises in materials or adjustability to impact the overall performance. In fact, we found the weight and materials of the Micro Vario Carbon to hit the perfect sweet spot. We took these poles on mountain runs and alpine climbs and never noticed the extra weight compared to the lightest options on the market. That said, elite users who need every edge they can get might notice the extra weight.

For shorter folks, some poles in our review have less shaft material and a shorter overall length, leading to weight savings. Users who don't want to carry around extra material every time they use this pole will appreciate the slightly lighter options designed for women. These "women's specific" poles only differ from unisex poles in that they are usually shorter and lighter, with contoured grips for smaller hands. The Micro Vario Carbon is available in both a men's and women's version.

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.

Locking and Adjustability


The Micro Vario is a combination-style pole, meaning that it both folds down into short segments, and also includes one segment of telescoping length adjustment directly below the grip. This is our preferred pole design because it allows for a small packed size and a light weight, while also allowing the user to get the length just right. In this case, the folding pole components extend with a satisfying snap as they lock into place, and they collapse by pushing hard on an ergonomic, spring-loaded lever.


As for the telescoping length lock, Leki's lever lock tightening system is the best we've tested. It snaps into place securely, and is also adjustable by hand-screwing a plastic knob, meaning that you don't need to carry a separate tool or get out your screwdriver to make adjustments.

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon extends with a burly spring loaded locking mechanism  and it's length is adjustable with a great lever lock.
The Leki Micro Vario Carbon extends with a burly spring loaded locking mechanism, and it's length is adjustable with a great lever lock.

The wrist strap is also easily adjustable. Pulling upwards on the strap opens a plastic lever, which allows the length to be changed, even when the wrist is still in place inside the strap. Then, a thumb or the other hand is used to snap the plastic lever down into place. This mechanism is clean, easy to use, and intuitive. We were even able to change the strap lengths when wearing thick winter gloves. This strap adjustment is the best out of any manufacturer in our review.

The strap length can be easily adjusted by pulling up on the top strap  which releases a plastic lever. Once the strap is the correct length  just push the plastic down into place.
The strap length can be easily adjusted by pulling up on the top strap, which releases a plastic lever. Once the strap is the correct length, just push the plastic down into place.

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, which is par for the course among the foldable poles, and much smaller than any of the telescoping poles.


This metric is very important to certain types of users. If you ever plan on carrying these poles on or in your pack, you'll appreciate a foldable pole. They disappear onto the side of any backpack and fit inside of most bags without taking up too much room. This is useful if you plan on doing any technical climbing, scrambling, or air travel.

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 aluminum poles using the traditional telescoping design. We appreciate the thickness of the Micro Vario's carbon shafts, which had no durability problems during our test period. Furthermore, when we tried to bend the poles from side to side, they seemed as strong as aluminum options.


Still, carbon fiber tends to chip and crack more easily than aluminum poles, so every pole design has to choose between more durability with aluminum construction and the lighter weight afforded by carbon construction. For users expecting heavy packs and rugged terrain, or for users traveling to remote parts of the world where new poles might be hard to come by, we'd recommend an even more durable pole. For everyone else, these poles should last a long time.

Versatility


The Micro Vario Carbon is a great choice for hikers, trekkers, or backpackers due to its strength and comfort. 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 when skinning uphill on skis or descending a steep trail. Only the most weight-conscious technical climbers and mountain runners will wish they chose a lighter pole.

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 most expensive poles that we have ever tested, but it is also the most refined. It's excellent for an amazingly wide variety of uses, from short day hikes to long and demanding approaches for expeditions and alpine climbing. It has the best comfort, locking and adjustability, and performance-to-weight ratio among any of the poles in our review. In this case, you get what you pay for.

Conclusion


The Leki Micro Vario Carbon is a great all-around pole, excelling in every category. It only loses major points in the weight category, doing so to gain versatility and durability. It's expensive, but the features and balanced performance are worth the money, earning it our Editors' Choice award.

The Micro Vario in action  after a hike in southern Colorado.
The Micro Vario in action, after a hike in southern Colorado.

Jeff Dobronyi