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.
Leki Micro Vario Carbon Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Lightweight, packs compactly, comfortable grip, easily disassembled
Cons: Expensive, may be less durable than some aluminum models
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a great lightweight and packable pole for rock or ice climbing, trail running, backpacking or mountaineering.
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.
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