LEKI Khumbu AERGON
lb (89.40 kg)
in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have
backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I am currently getting into
condition to summit some of the
higher peaks in Washington, Oregon, and California. I prefer trips on
rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously
strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me.
My current pack is around 30 lbs (14 kg), not including consumables.
|$US 99.95 /pr
||Listed: 19.4 oz (550 g)
Measured 21.2 oz (600 g)
70-145 cm (27.5 - 57 in)
courtesy of LEKI inc
The Khumbu AERGON poles are
part of LEKI's "Mountain Trec" series of poles designed to be
stronger than their other poles for 'High-performance' and
'high-altitude' use. The poles are white with the handles, straps,
details, and components in black.
first thing I noticed upon receiving the poles was their white color.
The color is bright, distinctive, and would not normally be my first
choice. However after having them for a few hours, the initial shock
has diminished and they are actually growing on me. If nothing else
these should be quite visible on the trail, and except for snow, should
be quite easy to spot on the ground and/or leaning against a tree.
inspected the poles and found no obvious signs of flaws or defects. The
handles are described as “Soft Grip” but while they are smooth and fit
my hands comfortably, ‘soft’ is not how I would describe them. The
plastic seems quite firm and solid with no give that I could detect.
The straps seem comfortable, and the section that goes against my hands
seems smooth and appears to be unlikely to cause chafing or blisters.
To adjust the straps I simply pull up on one end of the strap and a
section of the pole handle pivots to allow the strap to be tightened or
loosened. Then when the strap is pulled down it becomes locked in place
again. This seems quite easy to operate and initial tests show the
strap to lock firmly, unlikely to slip. I really like the ability to
quickly adjust the straps (such as when I take off my gloves), while
still being confidant they will not come loose at an inopportune moment.
poles are adjusted by two ‘SpeedLock’ mechanisms. These operate similar
to the latches used to hold the wheels in place on some bikes. To
unlock simply flick the red leaver out away from the pole, and flick it
back firmly into place to relock. In adjusting the poles I found the
middle section to slide easily and lock firmly into place. The lower
section of each pole seems to be more difficult to slide, this may
loosen with use. The lower two sections have matching marks (in 5 cm [2
increments) for setting the length of the poles. To set the length
adjust each section to the desired length (e.g. 120 cm & 120 cm
would result in a 120 cm [47 in] pole) In my initial tests I
adjusted the poles to my normal length (120 cm / 47 in) using the
stenciled on the pole sections, and put most of my weight on the poles.
I found I had to tighten the lock for the lower section of one of the
poles to prevent it from slipping when I applied weight. This was
accomplished by simply releasing the lock and turning the adjustment
screw about ½ a turn. After that, the locks seemed to perform quite
well and I found them easy to operate.
poles came with removable ‘performance’ baskets to help prevent them
from sinking into soft ground. These are easily removed by pushing them
down towards the tips and turning. There are threads on the poles
allowing the baskets to be screwed on/off, but these threads end short,
so that when in place the baskets can rotate somewhat freely without
damaging the threads (I like this detail). Since I expect to use these
poles for at least some snow travel I purchased the optional snow
baskets, these are larger than the performance baskets for use in even
softer material such as snow, mud, or sand. I found replacing the
baskets quite simple and intuitive.
The poles are tipped with what
is described as Carbide Flextip’s. LEKI describes these as follows:
“The flexible tip can bend up to 30° without damaging the pole shafts.
The use of Carbide provides optimal grip on rock and ice surfaces.”
This is of great interest to me as I constantly worry about breaking
off the tips of my older poles. I tried to bend the tips with my hands
to see how flexible they are, but could not. According to the glossary
on the LEKI web site the tips are replaceable (this could be nice
should I manage to break one). Something I found interesting is the
shape of the carbide tips. Most poles I have seen/used have a textured
end to them so they grip hard surfaces such as rock. The LEKI tips have
a cone shape indentation in them resulting in a round sharp edge. This
looks and feels like it should provide good grip, but I can’t help
wondering how quickly these edges will wear down and become smooth.
Since it took years for me to wear down the tips of my old poles, I
suspect I am unlikely to resolve this during the 4 month timeframe of
this test. But I will be keeping an eye on this.
LEKI offers a
lifetime warranty against breakage of their aluminum shafts, this
covers only the shaft. They have a page on their website that explains
the warranty as well as a Warranty Request/Return Authorization form to
be filled out for warranty requests.
The poles do not include any
sort of shock absorption. While this seems like it could be a negative,
I have found I actually prefer to not have shock absorbers’ in my
trekking poles. I have found that when using the poles for vaulting
over obstacles (mud, water, etc) the shock absorbers provide less
stability. This also applies for times when I need to quickly plant a
pole to recover balance; I find a firm pole with no give works far
better. I have yet to find conditions when the shock absorbers have
helped and as such normally operate my old poles with the shocks
disabled. Not having a feature I don’t use should save a bit of weight
and reduce the complexity of the poles (e.g. one less thing to break).
these look to be well made. The shape and size of the handle fit
comfortably in my hands, and the straps are comfortable. The speed lock
seems to be a quick and simple way to allow me to adjust the poles as
Speed locks easy to
operate and seem strong
The color took a
bit of getting used to (this may become a ‘like’
fit my hands well and feel comfortable
The grips are hard
and have no cushioning
straps easy to adjust and comfortable (my favorite
part of the poles)
easy to take off / put on
- July 13 '10
- Snowshoe (day trip) to Deer Lake – Hard packed
snow at the bottom & deep wet snow near the lake
- 1 overnight snow camping trip White Pass Ski
area (I show shoed up the ski runs)
- 3 day Ecology camp (3 days at a camp ground
with day hikes exploring and learning about the Dry Falls area)
- 3 Day hikes Cowiche canyon with my daughters
- 2 Day Hikes Umptanum Creek with my daughters
- 1 solo day hike Umptanum Creek
- Climbing Mt Adams 2 days
These poles are solid, and the speed locks work great.
My initial usage of the poles was for snowshoeing, where the strength
of the locks was put to the test. In the uneven terrain and variable
snow conditions (from packed hard as ice to moderately deep soft snow)
I put most of my weight on the poles to prevent falls, when getting up
and especially when descending the steep ski runs.
For my day hikes I varied things up by using only 1 pole for some of
the trips. My solo trip was kind of a speed hike where I tried to
maintain a brisk pace, in doing so planted the poles with force for
each step. On one of the Umptanum hikes we used a log to cross the
stream. Normally I would leave my poles at their normal length and use
them as best I can for support, but here the speed locks came in handy.
I quickly extended the poles to their full length there by making the
stream crossing easier and safer. After crossing, I was able to quickly
adjust them back to my preferred length and continue on my way. On this
feature alone, I have demoted my old trusty poles to my “extra gear”
During two of the day hikes we experienced some heavy rain (also a bit
of hail on one). I found the handgrips function just as well
they do dry. In switching between using heavy gloves, thin glove
liners, and bare hands, I had to adjust the wrist straps. I found them
quite easy to adjust, and once set do not seem to slip at all. The
wrist straps are also comfortable and do not seem to rub or scratch. I
found the rounded tops of the grips to work very well when I wanted a
bit more length, such as when going downhill, or to give my hands a
rest by varying my grip.
Swapping out the baskets on the poles has been quite easy. During my
snow camping trip, when I was looking for a suitable location for a
snow cave I was able to quickly remove the snow basket from one pole,
extend it to its full length, and use it as a probe to determine snow
depth and look for hidden obstacles (rocks, logs, etc). Then while
digging my shelter, I shortened the pole and used it as a depth gage,
and then finally to open and maintain air holes (it snowed the entire
trip) in the top of my shelter.
I found the carbide tips bite well into logs and hard packed earth,
as well as getting good grip on both wet and dry rock.
About the only problem I encountered was when attempting to set the
lower section of one of the poles to the 110 cm marking. This is just
below where the lower section of the pole begins to taper, and as such,
I had to tighten the speed lock a bit to get it to lock the pole firmly
While the poles (especially the trekking baskets and tips) are dirty, I
don’t see any significant signs of use or wear. Despite some
aggressive use on quite a bit of basalt rock, the carbide tips don’t
show any real indications of wear.
I found instructions on replacing the pole tips should they become
damaged. Removal of the tips seemed rather easy and so I tried it. It
worked fine. While I had the tip off of one of my poles I slipped my
SticPic camera mount (a product I reviewed in the past) onto the pole.
Normally the SticPic is attached to the camera and then slipped over
the pole tip for use in taking self-portraits. My main concern with it
was that I might lose it. By being able to slip it onto the aluminum
section of the pole there is no risk of losing it, and it is handy any
time I need to use it.
I don’t have anything to add to the previously mentioned list of
“Likes” but I do want to remove the two “Dislikes”. The color of the
poles has grown on me and I find them quite easy to spot when lying on
the ground or against a tree. Despite no cushioning, the handgrips have
been quite comfortable. In fact, I think the stiff grips along with no
shock absorbers provide a firmer feel when planting the poles.
|Long Term Report
- Sep 14 '10
Mt St Helen’s 2 days
Day hike Little Si (1576’ / 480 m peak just East of Seattle Washington)
Since the last report I used the poles for our
annual climb up Mt St Helen’s. The route starts off on dirt in the
trees, breaks out on to boulders and broken rocks, then for much of the
climb we were in snow. On the way down I collapsed one of the poles,
removed the snow basket, and used it as a brake for the glacade down.
During this trip I snagged the pole tips in rocks a few times and it
was nice to not have to worry about breaking them, and knowing that
even if I did managed to break the tips they are replaceable.
On my way back from dropping my sister-in-law off at the airport I took
the opportunity to hike up Little Si. The route is about 5 mi / 8 km
with a 1200’ / 365 m elevation gain. Since I had been driving for over
4 hrs I was a bit stiff, and the first part of the trail is rather
steep, so I took my time going up. The view from the top and a light
snack had me energized and so I descended at a very fast clip (running
the less steep sections). I gave these poles a beating on the way down,
both when pushing to keep up my speed and planting them hard to slow my
pace when I felt out of control. As I have come to expect they held up
well, and despite some warm temperatures (90 F / 32 C) and a bit of
humidity, the grips were comfortable and my hands did not slip when
they got sweaty. At the end of the hike I did notice that one pole was
a bit shorter than the other and so the lock must have slipped a bit.
Since I had the poles fully collapsed to fit in the trunk and set their
length before I started, it must have happened while on the trail but I
have no idea when.
During my use, these poles have been exposed to quite a bit of dirt,
volcanic ash, dust, and moisture. I have made no attempt to clean them,
but despite all the dirt that must be in them, there seems to be no
problem with adjusting the poles.
Aside from some dirt and a few scratches in the paint, the poles are
showing no signs of wear. The hand grips and carbide tips are holding
up as well, if not better, than expected.
In conclusion, I really like these poles. And despite the locks
slipping a few times, they seem quite study and durable. The grips are
more comfortable than I had originally expected and the wrist straps
are comfortable as well as easily adjusted. Removing the baskets is
easy and I don’t think they can come off accidentally (unlike another
set of poles I own where I have lost 3 baskets). The poles have a few
scratches in the paint, but this is from rough handling and no fault of
the product. I fully intend to continue using these as my primary poles
for the foreseeable future, and would recommend them to anyone in the
market for lightweight poles that are also strong and durable.
This concludes my review.
I would like to thank the folks at LEKI inc,
for the opportunity to test these poles.