Leki Tour Stick Vario Carbon Review
Cons: Some play in the pole sections when extended, relatively heavy, expensive, slow in transition
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Tour Stick features an excellent grip and also breaks down into small sections for attaching to the side of a backpack when splitboarding.
Ease of Use
The Tour Stick features a z-style construction, collapsing and extending like a tent pole. A small lever controls the release of the different shaft sections. This feature is easy to use, but could be simpler and quicker to use. A simple lever lock controls the 20 centimeters (8 inches) of length adjustment. The grip is ergonomically contoured and fits all hand sizes well. It is made of foam, which extends down from the main grip to create a secondary grip for sidehilling or traversing. The grip also features an oversized and rounded top, which is very comfortable to push down from above on steep sections of climbing. The downside to the round handle is that it makes flipping heel risers and tech toes more difficult.
The Tour Stick weighs in at 19 ounces per pair, which is about average for backcountry ski poles. It has a nice swing weight that makes powder skiing and uphill skinning pleasant and effortless. This is notable considering the amount of weight in the lower shaft of the pole. Other collapsible poles in our test did not have the same feel.
The Tour Stick features carbon shaft construction, which is generally less durable than aluminum. It also has a foam grip, and in general, foam grips are less durable than rubber grips. That said, we didn't encounter any durability issues during our testing. Still, this pole isn't designed for hard abuse, and will probably break if used to whack cornices or tree branches. Furthermore, we noticed a little play in the pole sections when fully extended, even though the extension mechanism was engaged and locked.
The Tour Stick packs down to a small 42 centimeters or 16.5 inches. This is great for splitboarding, where most users collapse their poles and strap them onto their backpacks for the descent. These poles don't stick out from the side of most daypacks, although its packed size isn't the most slender in the business. Their small packed size also makes them great for summer use as trekking poles on the hiking trail.
The Tour Stick Vario Carbon has one of the most comfortable handles that we tested on a backcountry ski pole. It fits both large and small hands, and is very comfortably contoured. The foam is soft and a pleasure to hold with bare hands on warm days. Additionally, we love the rounded top of the handle, which accommodates all kinds of grips.
The Tour Stick Carbon is an expensive pole. For the price, you get a collapsible, carbon pole with a fantastic grip. For the discerning splitboarder who might also want a pole that can be used as a trekking pole, this pole might be a good value. For everyone else, it is hard to justify spending this much on a backcountry skiing or splitboarding pole.
Overall, the Leki Tour Stick Vario Carbon is a high-performance z-style pole that also allows some length adjustment. It collapses small for splitboarding, and can also be used for hiking and trekking in the summer. There are better poles out there, but not by a lot.
— Henry Feder