Leki Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Great cork handles, packable, comfortable, reasonably priced
Our Analysis and Test Results
This pole performed well across all of our categories except weight. If that isn't an issue for you, these might be the best poles for the price in our review.
The Micro Vario TA Cor-Tec is one of our top scorers. This comfort is due in large part to its cork grip. If there's one thing we've learned this review period, it's that Leki knows how to make comfortable handles, and they look good to boot. They also featured a great EVA foam padding just below the average grip, allowing you to "choke-down" on the pole in steep and variable terrain.
At 20 ounces, these poles are some of the heaviest in our review. This makes sense due to the cork handles and aluminum construction, and although it does add weight, it certainly adds comfort. We thought that the tradeoffs for comfort versus weight were well worth it, especially for such a packable pole. Furthermore, poles with aluminum construction tend to be more durable than those made of carbon. For extended backpacking trips or trekking, these poles will perform wonderfully.
Locking and Adjustability
Although at one point, this type of pole was an anomaly, we've seen an increase in the combination of a single lever lock length adjustment mechanism combined with a "push-pin" lock that fastens the three sections of the pole into place. Once extended the Speedlock lever lock mechanism allows 8 inches (20 cm) of adjustability throughout the pole. Although not as adjustable as a traditional telescoping pole, we found it have plenty of adjustability for our needs. However, if you want an ultra-adjustable pole, consider a 3-section telescoping pole.
Leki's SpeedLock 2 system is one of our favorite lever locking mechanisms that we've found. It doesn't require any hardware to tighten or loosen the mechanism either, thanks to a small dial installed on the lever lock that can be tightened by hand. This allows you to make quick adjustments on the trail if need be, but we doubt that you'll ever need to.
The Micro Vario TA Cor-Tec is a z-style pole, meaning it breaks apart into three sections. This allows it to pack into a tiny package just over 14 inches. This is considerably smaller than any of the traditional telescoping design poles, which collapse to an average length of 25 inches. A pole that breaks down into a short length is useful on missions where the pole might have to be stowed inside the pack, such as alpine climbing or scrambling. If there is significant climbing involved, we'd reach for a lighter pole, but if the approach will take multiple days, or if there is lots of cross-country travel involved, this pole would be our top choice.
Throughout our testing process, the Micro Vario TA Cor-Tec held up fantastically to all kinds of beatings, from day hikes to canyoneering adventures. The locking mechanisms are robust and the aluminum shafts are strong and crack-resistant. Our testing determined that traditional telescoping poles are a bit stronger. If you want the strongest poles available, check out one of the 3-section telescoping options.
Thanks to its packable design and multiple basket offerings, the Micro Vario TA Cor-Tec is a versatile pole. It's durable and comfortable, making it a great choice for hiking, trekking, or even mountaineering. This model is ideal for anyone looking to pack a set of poles away like climbers and folks who travel quite a bit, though the most technical climbers will want a lighter pole.
This pole is relatively inexpensive compared to similarly performing options. The only way to make this pole better would be to make it lighter, and the poles that do this with carbon construction are much more expensive, and less durable. For the price, you would be hard-pressed to find a better pole for a multitude of uses.
With all the included features, like Leki's cork handle design, break apart style packability, and relatively durable construction, this pole is a steal for the price. Most cork handled poles or z-style poles are considerably more expensive, and the fact that you get both in this package is a great deal. Although it's a little heavier than many of the other break apart style poles, this is one of the few downsides. The Micro Vario TA Cor-Tec is a comfortable, versatile, and compact pole that you get for a low price.
— Graham Williams & Ian Nicholson