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Leki Tour Stick Vario Carbon Review

Great features and solid performance in a collapsible and adjustable ski pole, but not the fastest when transitioning from skinning mode to riding mode for splitboarders
Leki Tour Stick Vario Carbon
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $200 List | $199.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Very comfortable to hold, packs small for splitboarding, good length adjustment
Cons:  Some play in the pole sections when extended, relatively heavy, expensive, slow in transition
Manufacturer:   Leki
By Henry Feder ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 20, 2020
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 10
  • Ease of use - 35% 7
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Packed Size - 15% 8
  • Comfort - 15% 8

Our Verdict

Leki is known for making well-designed poles, and the Tour Stick Vario Carbon is no exception. It's a collapsible z-style pole with some length adjustment and carbon shaft construction. Furthermore, it has one of our favorite grips on a backcountry ski pole. It's heavier than other poles out there, and doesn't pack as small as other splitboarding poles, but overall, it performs well. We do wish it was simpler to pack away. It fits inside a touring pack, but it takes longer than we'd like to do so. We recommend this pole to anyone who wants a collapsible z-style pole that also allows length adjustment.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $199.95 at Amazon$169.95 at Amazon$149.95 at Amazon$155 List$76.93 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
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Star Rating
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Pros Very comfortable to hold, packs small for splitboarding, good length adjustmentPacks very short and slender, lightweight, simple and fast to useComfortable grip, lightweight, good featuresNice grip features, relatively light, easy to useSimple design, good durability, comfortable grip
Cons Some play in the pole sections when extended, relatively heavy, expensive, slow in transitionFixed length, not as strong as other polesNot as durable as some, doesn't pack small enough for splitboardersNot durable, grip only works for large hands, doesn't pack smallSluggish swing weight, doesn't pack as small as we hoped
Bottom Line A high-performance pole for splitboarders or skiers with some room for improvementThe right choice for splitboarding, this pair is simple to use and packs smallThese lightweight poles are great for big days in the hillsA good carbon pole for users with large handsAn unremarkable 3-section backcountry ski pole, but can double as a trekking pole
Rating Categories Leki Tour Stick Vario Carbon Black Diamond Carbon Compactor Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro G3 Via Carbon Black Diamond Expedition 3
Ease Of Use (35%)
7
8
8
9
7
Weight (20%)
7
8
8
8
7
Durability (15%)
6
5
6
3
7
Packed Size (15%)
8
9
6
6
7
Comfort (15%)
8
7
9
7
7
Specs Leki Tour Stick... Black Diamond... Black Diamond... G3 Via Carbon Black Diamond...
Size Tested 135 cm 120 cm 140 cm Long 140 cm
Measured Weight Per Pair (oz) 19 oz 18 oz 18 oz 18 oz 19 oz
Shaft Material Carbon, aluminum Carbon fiber Carbon, aluminum Carbon Aluminum
Min Length (cm) 115 cm 120 cm 115 cm 115 cm 62 cm
Max Length (cm) 135 cm 120 cm 140 cm 145 cm 140 cm
Pole Design Adjustable Z-Pole Adjustable Adjustable Double Adjustable
Locking Mechanism Speed Lock 2 Z-Pole Flick Lock Flick Lock Dual Flick Lock

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.

Performance Comparison


The Tour Stick Vario Carbon in action during a ski tour near Lake...
The Tour Stick Vario Carbon in action during a ski tour near Lake Tahoe.
Photo: Ross Robinson

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 is relatively easy to deploy and adjust. The powder...
The Tour Stick is relatively easy to deploy and adjust. The powder baskets also provide good floatation in powder.
Photo: Henry Feder

Weight


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.

Durability


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.

While this model is more sturdy than other z-pole designs we have...
While this model is more sturdy than other z-pole designs we have tested, most of our splitboard testers preferred poles that break down and stow away in less time.
Photo: Ross Patton

Packed Size


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 Carbon easily fits inside a pack when collapsed, or...
The Tour Stick Carbon easily fits inside a pack when collapsed, or can be strapped on the outside without sticking out.
Photo: David Wise

Comfort


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's grip is comfortable to grab from all angles...
The Tour Stick Carbon's grip is comfortable to grab from all angles. Here, a closeup of the rounded top of the grip, which is comfortable to push down upon when climbing steep terrain.
Photo: Henry Feder

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

The Leki Tour Stick is a great option for splitboarders who also...
The Leki Tour Stick is a great option for splitboarders who also want some length adjustability or a trekking pole in the summer.
Photo: Ross Robinson

Henry Feder