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Leki Micro Vario Carbon Review

A high-performing, easily packable, and lightweight pole that comes with great features
Leki Micro Vario Carbon
Photo: Leki
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Price:  $200 List | Check Price at REI
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Pros:  Packs compactly, relatively lightweight, easily disassembled
Cons:  Expensive, heavy swing weight, grip is oddly contoured
Manufacturer:   Leki
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 25, 2021
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 16
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Locking and Adjustability - 15% 10
  • Packed Size - 15% 8
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon is a good trekking pole with a hefty price tag. The foldable sections lock together securely, and the silky wrist strap is very comfortable, but the heavily contoured grip doesn't fit all hand sizes easily. The pole allows some length adjustment, and the thick carbon shaft sections absorb shock very well. The result is a durable, but overbuilt trekking pole that is useful for most applications. Such premium construction makes this pole one of the most expensive options on the market, and we aren't sure it is worth the price.

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Pros Packs compactly, relatively lightweight, easily disassembledComfortable grip, locks securely, packs small, highly versatileComfortable, easy to adjust, small packed size, lightweight, versatileLightweight, short collapsed length, surprisingly durableDurable, comfortable grip, packs small
Cons Expensive, heavy swing weight, grip is oddly contouredCarbon is less durable than aluminum, on the expensive sideExpensiveNo length adjustability, average grip comfortHeavy, less versatile due to weight
Bottom Line A high-performing, easily packable, and lightweight pole that comes with great featuresA simple, elegant, and well-built trekking pole with versatility for all usesThis pole is comfortable, easy to adjust, lightweight, and highly packableDurable with a short collapsed length, this is a fantastic value for a lightweight poleA highly affordable pair of poles with all of the features of more expensive models
Rating Categories Leki Micro Vario Ca... MSR DynaLock Ascent... Women's Micro Vario... Black Diamond Dista... Trekology Trek-Z
Comfort (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
Weight (20%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
4.0
Locking And Adjustability (15%)
10.0
9.0
10.0
3.0
7.0
Packed Size (15%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
10.0
8.0
Durability (15%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Versatility (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Leki Micro Vario Ca... MSR DynaLock Ascent... Women's Micro Vario... Black Diamond Dista... Trekology Trek-Z
Measured Weight Per Pair (ounces) 17.0 oz 17.0 oz 16.0 oz 12.5 oz 26.0 oz
Shaft Material Carbon Carbon fiber Carbon Aluminum Aluminum
Collapsed Length (inches) 15.5 in 14.25 in 15.5 in 13/14/16/17 in 15 in
Max Length (inches) 47 in 47 in 51 in 39/43/47/51 in 47 in
Pole Design Foldable Collapsible Foldable Foldable Foldable
Grip Material Foam Rubber / Plastic / Foam Foam EVA foam Foam
Locking Mechanism Speed​​Lock 2 DynaLock Speed​​Lock 2 Speed Cone Deployment Lever lock
Baskets? Tip Attachments? Yes, tips and baskets Yes, winter and summer baskets Yes, tips and baskets Yes, rubber and carbide tips Yes, powder and trail baskets, boots, and narrow tips
Size Tested One size 100-120 cm One size 110 cm 100-120 cm

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon performs well in most testing metrics. As a foldable carbon pole, it packs down shorter than most options and is relatively lightweight. 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 a great pole for most uses.
The Leki Micro Vario Carbon is a great pole for most uses.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

Comfort


The Micro Vario Carbon is fairly comfortable. The foam grip is heavily contoured to fit the shape of a hand, but multiple testers reported that the shape didn't mesh well with their exact hand size and that their hands were achy by the end of the day. We enjoy the extended foam pads below each grip that allows users to choke down on the pole when traveling across hillsides or climbing steep slopes. The straps are made of thin, silky fabric, which is comfortable on the wrist, and the rounded top of the handle is very comfortable when using the pole in a "cane" configuration. The carbon fiber shafts are thick and absorb much of the shock of the carbide tips striking rocks on the trail.

The Micro Vario's foam grip is comfortable for some hand sizes, but...
The Micro Vario's foam grip is comfortable for some hand sizes, but some of our testers don't like how it feels for their hands.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

Weight


At 16.4 ounces, the Micro Vario Carbon is an average weight for trekking poles. There are lighter options out there, but few retain length adjustment capability and durability. These poles feature only one lever lock, carbon fiber shafts, and foam grips. All of these features help with saving weight, but the shafts feel heavy to swing forward, likely due to the metal reinforcements where shaft sections meet. Over time, users will notice this heavy swing 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...
Leki Micro Vario Carbon comparison of women's and men's model. Men's is 10 cm longer.
Photo: Sibylle Hechtel

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. Our only gripe is that the release lever is slightly unintuitive and required explanation to new users.

The Micro Vario Carbon's plastic lever lock (left) and extension...
The Micro Vario Carbon's plastic lever lock (left) and extension snap button (right).
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

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...
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.
Photo: jeff dobronyi

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. Foldable poles disappear onto the side of any backpack and fit inside most bags without taking up too much room. This is useful if you plan on doing any technical climbing, scrambling, or air travel.

The Leki Micro Vario Carbon folds down relatively small compared to...
The Leki Micro Vario Carbon folds down relatively small compared to telescoping poles, but doesn't pack as small as some foldable poles.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

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 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. These poles feature metal reinforcements on the ends of the carbon shaft sections, making them a durable choice compared to other foldable poles.

The Micro Vario Carbon employs aluminum shaft ends and vinyl sheaths...
The Micro Vario Carbon employs aluminum shaft ends and vinyl sheaths to protect the tension cord.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

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, 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. That said, users who prefer lightweight poles and poles with low swing weights should consider other options.

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

Value


The Micro Vario Carbon is one of the most expensive poles that we have ever tested. It excels in a wide variety of uses, from short day hikes to long and demanding approaches for expeditions, but it is hard to justify spending so much on a pair of trekking poles when capable, less-expensive options exist.

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. But for the price, we expect a slightly lighter swing weight and a more comfortable grip.

The Micro Vario Carbon in action in Idaho.
The Micro Vario Carbon in action in Idaho.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

Jeff Dobronyi