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Leki Women's Micro Vario Carbon Review

This pole is the shortest to pack, is lightweight, the most comfortable, and easy to adjust.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $200 List | $189.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, easy to adjust, small packed size, light, versatile
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   Leki
By Sibylle Hechtel ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 3, 2020
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89
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

The Leki Women's Micro Vario Carbon is among our favorite poles, and our first choice to take on an alpine mountaineering trip because it collapses to such a small size. It rates the highest in comfort, with its edgeless Aergon thermo foam grips and its breathable "Skin Strap." Its simple adjustability and versatility put it among our top choices for any multi-day hike or trek. The tent-pole type of shaft rapidly breaks down to only 16 inches, which easily fits into a daypack. Carbon construction gives it great durability while keeping the weight low.


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Pros Comfortable, easy to adjust, small packed size, light, versatileLightweight, packs compactly, comfortable grip, easily disassembledComfortable, durable, great locking mechanismTough, comfortable, great locking, several tips and basketsLightweight, packs small, adjustable
Cons ExpensiveExpensive, may be less durable than some aluminum modelsRelatively heavy, doesn't pack as small as othersNot as light or packable as other polesNot as strong, durable, or comfortable as other options
Bottom Line This pole is the shortest to pack, is lightweight, the most comfortable, and easy to adjust.This pole made of lightweight carbon is our top-ranked trekking pole.These poles are among the most durable tested. They are also comfortable, versatile, and easy to adjust.The Alpine Carbon Cork features durable construction, comfortable cork grips, and different tips and baskets.A lightweight pole that also allows some length adjustment.
Rating Categories Women's Micro Vario Carbon Leki Micro Vario Carbon Alpine Carbon Cork Alpine Carbon Cork Black Diamond Carbon FLZ
Comfort (20%)
10
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10
10
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10
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6
Weight (20%)
10
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8
Locking And Adjustability (15%)
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7
Packed Size (15%)
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10
Durability (15%)
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5
Versatility (15%)
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7
Specs Women's Micro... Leki Micro Vario... Alpine Carbon Cork Alpine Carbon Cork Black Diamond...
Measured Weight Per Pair (Ounces) 16.0 oz 16.4 oz 17.0 oz 17.0 oz 13.4 oz
Shaft Material Carbon Carbon Carbon Carbon Carbon
Min Length (inches) 15.5 in 15.5 in 23 in 24 in 13/15/17 in
Max Length (inches) 51 in 47 in 51 in 51 in 49.2 in
Pole Design Foldable Foldable Collapsible Collapsible Foldable
Grip Material Foam Foam Cork Cork Foam
Locking Mechanism Speed​​Lock 2 Speed​​Lock 2 External Lever Lock FlickLock Pro FlickLock
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, carbide tips, trail baskets and snow baskets (sold separately) Yes, carbide tips, rubber tips, trail baskets and snow baskets (sold separately)

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Leki Women's Micro Vario Carbon excels in most of the metrics we tested it in. It breaks apart to one of the shortest packable lengths of the poles we tested, making it a great pole for alpine climbing trips. We found the Aergon Thermo foam grip very comfortable, with the most comfortable strap on the poles that we tested. The Speed Lock 2 Adjustment system, with its lever release, ensures quick assembly and disassembly.

Performance Comparison


Hiking in Colorado's Front Range in spring using Women's Micro Vario Carbon poles.
Hiking in Colorado's Front Range in spring using Women's Micro Vario Carbon poles.

Comfort


The Leki Micro Vario takes the prize in the comfort metric. The shape of the Aergon Thermo long foam grip, with its smooth, edgeless profile, fits well in bare hands.

The strap easily adjusts by pulling up to loosen the adjusting wedge, which allows you to lengthen or shorten the strap as needed. When done, push the lever down to lock the strap in place.


The breathable 'Skin' strap material is comfortable with bare skin, and is among the easiest straps to adjust, and the "skin" material makes it one of the lightest straps we've used. Finally, the Leki Micro Vario also features foam grip extensions below the main grip to choke down on the grip when traversing a side hill or hiking up steep trails.

Women's Micro Vario Carbon pole grip and "skin" strap.
Women's Micro Vario Carbon pole grip and "skin" strap.

The Leki Women's Micro Vario Carbon pole showing the lower pole extension and the smooth  edgeless top of the grip.
The Leki Women's Micro Vario Carbon pole showing the lower pole extension and the smooth, edgeless top of the grip.

Weight


At 16.4 ounces, the Leki Micro Vario is lighter than many other poles that we tested. We find this weight to be the sweet spot between extreme lightweight construction and durability. Weight savings are achieved by using foam for the grip, carbon for the shafts, and including only one length adjustment mechanism.


Locking and Adjustability


The Leki Micro Vario Women's ranks in the top of the metric for locking and adjustability. Leki's Speed Lock 2 Adjustment System with the new ELD (External Locking Device), part of the break-apart, or folding pole design, similar to tent poles, allows you to quickly fold the pole down. The new ELD lever makes it easy to lock the segments into place when lengthening the pole. To break down the pole, simply push on the lever, and the pieces come apart.


We easily adjusted the pole length even while wearing thick gloves. We like the fact that it requires adjusting only one lever to one length reading, instead of two separate adjustments to two separate length readings, as in various other poles. It offers 8 inches (20cm) of adjustability, from 39 to 47 inches (100-120 cm).

Women's Micro Vario  ELD External Locking Device lever which quickly extends the poles to full length.
Women's Micro Vario ELD External Locking Device lever which quickly extends the poles to full length.

The one lever lock comes with a small thumb screw with which you can loosen or tighten the tension. When hiking, we were able to hand-tighten the thumbscrews, and one doesn't need to carry a separate screwdriver.

Packed size


The Leki Women's Micro Vario Carbon packs down to only 15.5 inches (40cm) long. This is about the same length as other z-style poles, which all pack smaller than the telescoping poles in our review.


This packed size is most useful for stowing the poles on the side or inside of a backpack when not in use, such as during technical scrambling or climbing. They also disappear into luggage during long-distance travel.

Women's Micro Vario - collapsed size is  a small fraction of the full pole size.
Women's Micro Vario - collapsed size is a small fraction of the full pole size.

Durability


Carbon fiber is inherently less durable than aluminum, but it is also much lighter. Other design features can also have a major impact on durability. For the weight, we found these poles to be extremely durable.


They feature thick shafts that withstand cracking and snapping, and burly locking mechanisms that won't wear out or get destroyed very easily. The Leki tip can also be replaced, with a new tip available here.

Women's Micro Vario with replaceable carbide tip and different baskets.
Women's Micro Vario with replaceable carbide tip and different baskets.

Versatility


The Leki Micro Vario would be among our first choices to take on a mountaineering or climbing trip. With their relatively light weight and short packed length, they're an ideal pole for approaches to technical alpine climbs. They are our first choice of poles to climb peaks in Colorado's Rocky Mountains or in the Sierra Nevada, both of which often require multi-day trips with long approaches, carrying heavy packs, and are followed by difficult rock or ice climbing. The baskets are interchangeable, with a regular trekking pole basket for trails, and a snow basket for deeper snow. They are also a decent choice for heavy duty backpacking or trekking, although other more durable aluminum poles might be our first choice.


Value


The Women's Leki Micro Vario is one of the more expensive poles out there, but it is still our first choice in a trekking pole. They are extremely comfortable and versatile, meaning that you won't think about buying another pole for a long time. Many users will make do with cheaper poles, but if you can afford it, the Micro Vario Carbon is the best pole money can buy.

Conclusion


The Leki Micro Vario Carbon is our Editors' Choice for trekking poles, and this women's specific version is basically the same as the award winner, just a bit shorter. In specific uses, you might want a lighter pole or a more durable pole, but for most average uses, this pole is the cream of the crop.


Sibylle Hechtel