Thursday, October 15, 2015

Gear Closet: Leki Corklite Trekking Poles

As someone who has been fortunate enough to have gone hiking in some of the most remote corners of the world, I have come to appreciate the benefits of using a good pair of trekking poles. My trusty pair of Maklu trekking poles from Leki have taken me up Kilimanjaro, across the Himalaya, through the Andes, and to numerous other trails, both at home and abroad. And while those walking sticks have served me well over the years, they are ancient by the standards of modern gear. With that in mind, I was eager to test a new pair of Leki Corklite trekking poles, which are a significant upgrade in every way over my older models.

I never really noticed the weight of my old pair of Makalu's until I picked up the Corklite poles. Incredibly lightweight, and yet still very durable, the newer model is perfect for adventure travelers who need to lug their gear with them to the far side of the planet, or light-and-fast hikers who are looking to shed unnecessary ounces. A pair of these poles tips the scale at 520 grams (18.3 ounces), which is surprising considering how solid and substantial they feel.

Leki has integrated some impressive features and technology into the Corklites that hikers will definitely appreciate. For instance, the speed lock system allows you to dial in the exact length of the pole that you need, than securely lock them into place. Once fastened together in this way, the poles won't move at all, ensuring that you won't have to readjust them while out on the trail.

The ergonomically designed grips are also soft to the touch, and easy to hold over extended periods of time. They almost feel as if they were custom made just for my hands, which only helps to enhance the overall feeling of quality that Leki has brought to this product. These poles also come with lightweight and breathable wrist straps that are surprisingly comfortable as well. Having used trekking poles with cheap, abrasive straps in the past, I was happy to see that these were not going to be a problem, even when trekking for hours at a time.


Whenever I'm asked about which trekking poles I recommend for a long hike, I always tell people to spend a bit of extra cash to get a pole that includes an anti-shock system. In a sense, this gives the poles a suspension that helps to dampen the impact when moving up or down. It can make a wold of difference when descending a mountain like Kilimanjaro for instance, where going down can be the most challenging part of the entire experience.

Fortunately, the Corklite trekking poles have such a suspension built right in. While it doesn't provide as dramatic of a movement as some other poles that I've used in the past, it does its job very well. After using these poles on a tough descent, your legs, hips, and joints will feel much better than if you used a pair of walking sticks that don't include an anti-shock system – or worse yet no poles at all. The suspension adds a bit of cost to the price of a trekking pole, but it is well worth the investment in the long run. If your current poles don't have an anti-shock suspension, it is worth upgrading for this feature alone.

The Corklite poles are such a dramatic evolution from my old set that it makes me wonder why I didn't invest in a new pair sooner. As I mentioned already, the new models are an upgrade in every way possible, providing a stronger, more high quality, product that is easier and more comfortable to use as well. If you spend anytime hiking trails with plenty of vertical gain or loss, as well as rocky terrain, you'll love what these poles can do for you. You'll travel faster and more confidently using the Corklite models, and at the end of the day your legs won't be nearly as tired either.

The new version of this pole should be available in the U.S. this fall, with an MSRP of $159.95.


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