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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > LEKI Ultralite Makalu Titanium Poles > Owner Review by Shelley LaClair

LEKI ULTRALITE MAKALU TITANIUM TREKKING
BY SHELLEY LACLAIR
OWNER REVIEW
August 26, 2006, updated January 21, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Shelley LaClair
EMAIL: adkhiker (at) gmail (dot) com
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Rensselaer , New York
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)

I have been backpacking since 2000, hold a New York State Guide License and am also a "lean-to adopter" for the Adirondack Mountain Club. I have completed several long distance thru-hikes including the Northville-Placid Trail, New York; Long Trail, Vermont; and the Cohos Trail, New Hampshire.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: LEKI
Year: 2003
Manufacturers Website: http://www.leki.com
Actual Measurements: collapsed 62 cm (24.4 in) extended 130 cm (51 in)
Adjusts to: 130 cm (51 in), 125 cm (49 in), 120 cm (47 in), 115 cm (45 in), 110 cm (43 in)
Manufacturer's weight: not available
Actual weight: 17 oz for pair
Easy Lock System, 3 piece telescoping pole
Color: Black and Silver pole.

Materials

Pole: Aluminum


Handle: top portion COR-TEC, a material that resembles cork and is held together with a very durable resin type of material. The hand grip has softer black dense "foam".


Tip: Universal Flex Tip "The flexible tip can flex up to 30 degrees, without damaging the pole shafts. The use of carbide provides optimal grip on rock and ice surfaces." (LEKI website)
Performance Basket "Designed to keep your poles from sinking into soft ground or snow." (LEKI website)


Lifetime warranty by LEKI

LEKI Poles

FIELD USE

In 2003, it was Vermont's wettest summer in 100 years. It rained 23 of the 30 days we were hiking. Conditions ranged from wet to wetter with a few days of sunny hot weather thrown in to keep us going with average temperatures of 10 C (50 F) at night to about 27 C (81 F) during the day. Trail conditions were often slick and muddy and rocks were slippery and hazardous in many places. The first 100 miles (209 kilometer) of the Long Trail (LT) coincides with the Appalachian Trail (AT) causing the trail to be well worn to bedrock in many locations with steep gains/losses throughout the entire trail.

Since 2003 I have also used them on a long distance hike in New Hampshire, USA on the Cohos Trail. This trail varied from steep and rocky to flat grassy snowmobile trails and paved roads. The weather was mostly sunny and warm with temperatures of 13 C (55 F) at night to 29 C (85 F) during the day, with an occasional shower.

I always use the poles when hiking in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, where the valley trails are typically soft and springy with muddy patches scattered throughout the trails. There are rocky inclines/declines and many areas of corduroy and slippery planking. They were especially helpful as I started climbing and hiking in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. I continue to use the LEKI Ultralite Makalu Titanium Trekking Poles whenever I am day hiking or going on a backpacking trip. I have used the poles in all weather conditions except deep snow.

Experiences with product

My first pair of LEKI poles were given to me by my husband for my birthday in 2002 for a 130 mile (209 kilometers) hike in the Adirondacks because of ongoing knee problems. I was happy with my Malukai anti-shock poles but after we started on the Long Trail in Vermont, USA, my husband decided it was time for him to also have trekking poles. We stopped in a little Manchester, Vermont store and I bought the LEKI Ultralite Makalu Titanium Trekking Poles because they were much lighter. I was at first apprehensive about going from an anti-shock LEKI pole to one without this feature. They also looked a bit flimsy compared to my old trekkers. I have been pleasantly surprised at the ease of use and durability of these poles.

I have relatively small hands and very small wrists which are prone to tendinitis. I have found the grip and straps very comfortable although I typically hold the handles lower than my husband who has much bigger hands. The wrist straps are adjustable by using a coin or other object to turn the screw at the top of the handle. A nice feature of the nylon straps is that they are lined with a layer of thin fleece-like material. I get no abrasions or blisters from the straps. There is a right and left hand pole and for the best fit and comfort of the strap, I make sure to use the pole that was designated for each hand. Each pole is marked with either an R (right hand) or L (left hand) at the top near the strap adjustment screw.

The handle has a COR-TEC 2.54 cm (1 in) top and then rest of the handle is covered with molded black dense "foam" that has some give to it and provides comfort. Even when my hands are wet with rain or sweat, I can keep a firm grip on the handle since there are formed grooves to help eliminate slippage. I have never received any blisters from the grips. I do use the straps and it is easy to swing the poles without much effort or grip on an easy trail. On steep inclines, I use the strap to support my hand and wrist to give myself an added boost up the hill. Downhill, I usually put my palm at the very top of the handle to give myself support.

On days that are very hot and my hands are sweaty, there have been times when the handles have smelled a bit like stinky shoes. The smell usually goes away overnight or the handles can be easily washed to eliminate the odor.

The LEKI Ultralite Makalu Titanium Trekking Poles have proven to be very sturdy. I have repeatedly put my full weight on them and trusted them when going down very steep descents. They have not bent or collapsed with rugged use. On the LT one pole did bend, but it was after I slipped on a rock and sat on the pole while it was planted in the ground and with my wrist still in the strap. The bottom third slightly curved but that did not impact my use of the pole for the rest of the trip. I returned the pole to EMS for repair from LEKI at no charge. It was returned to me within 5 weeks with the bent section replaced.

The tip of the pole works well in most conditions I have encountered. On rock there is some vibration of the pole because it does not have the anti-shock feature. This was only noticeable to me at first and although I know it still exists, I do not notice it any longer. I recently tried my older anti-shock poles and I like the fact that my new poles do not have any give. The tip grips enough on rock to give me balance when I need it with little or no slippage.

The plastic baskets are well suited for use in the northeast United States. I used my poles to test muddy sections or depth of water. The baskets kept the poles from really sinking into the ground. I also have used one pole without a basket and found it sunk into the ground too deep and the pole was sometimes more trouble than what it was worth. I replaced the missing basket.

The poles have three telescoping sections. The pole's Easy Lock System feature has worked very well and the poles never loosened with use. This is important because I don't want the poles to shorten unexpectedly. I find it easy to change the length of the poles and although they are marked with measurements on the barrel of the poles, I just loosen the twist locks, make them taller than I normally would use, then put my hands on the handles and push down to adjust the height of each pole to my liking. I then tighten the pole by twisting the barrel tight. This is the quickest and easiest way for me to make adjustments to the length.

Summit
I made it to the peak with my LEKI's

SUMMARY

I wouldn't leave home without my LEKI Ultralite Makalu Titanium Trekking Poles. My husband and a friend used to change my trail name of "Dreamer" to "Shaky Foot" to tease me when I was crossing water or other tricky situations. Now with my faithful LEKIs, I no longer have problems with balance and can leap small obstacles in a single bound. I have shaken the "Shaky Foot" trail name once and for all and the poles have brought more fun to my hikes because I'm less concerned about falling over all the time.

The convenience of the Easy Lock System allows the telescoping poles to be shortened enough to strap onto the outside of my pack or to be placed inside the pack. I find it easy to adjust the length as needed even while continuing to hike on easy stretches of trail.

The durability of the poles has been exceptional. I have used them on many occasions and surprisingly, the finish is in very good condition after two years of hard use. I can still read the measurements for length on most of the pole although the spot where I usually adjust it to is a bit worn off.

They have taken all my weight on numerous occasions in otherwise dangerous situations. They have not failed. I often recommend trekking poles to my friends because I like the reliability of my LEKI poles. These poles have let me continue to hike when my knees would have otherwise knocked me out of this sport.

My LEKI poles have continued to be reliable. I have not had any further issues with their performance since the time I fell on one and bent it in 2003. It's 2009 as I update this and I still love them!

TheThis report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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