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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > Leki Diva AERGON Antishock poles > Owner Review by Kristine Mar
LEKI Diva AERGON Antishock
(Sahara) Trekking Poles
Owner Review by Kristine Mar
November 7, 2009
Biographical InformationName: Kristine Mar Age: 44 Gender: Female Height: 5'3" (1.6 m) Weight: 120 Pounds (54 kg) Email address: email@example.com City, State, Country: New York, New York, U.S.A.
My love for the outdoors began about ten years ago, while I was living in Northern California. Most of my hiking experience includes day hikes, with an occasional 2-3 day backpacking trip. I'd consider myself a 3-season hiker and generally like to keep my pack as light as reasonably possible without spending a fortune. In 2007, I moved to New York City and have enjoyed East Coast hiking and experiencing the outdoors with four seasons. I enjoy trail hiking in all terrains, and have been fortunate enough to hike in a number of national and state parks, and several countries.
Manufacturer: LEKI, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.leki.com
Material: Aluminum alloy with carbide flextip
Listed weight: 15.8 oz/pair (448 g)
Actual weight: 15.0 oz/pair (425 g)
Length: 24-49 inches (61-125 cm)
I decided to purchase my first set of trekking poles because I had planned to hike up Mt. Whitney in the summer of 2008. I had purchased the LEKI Diva AERGON trekking poles with this hike in mind. Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, at 14,500 feet (4,420 m), is a long strenuous trail which my friends and I had planned to do as a day hike. We had made reservations for this hike months in advance, and unfortunately, I was unable to go on this trip due to unforeseen circumstances.
When I was looking to purchase a pair of trekking poles important factors to me were: the weight, having anti-shock absorption, comfortable handles, and a good locking mechanism to ensure that the poles do not accidentally collapse when I am least expecting it. I chose the LEKI Divas, a women's-specific model, because I felt that poles made for a woman would ensure a better grip on the handles for my smaller hands, and would be lighter and smaller than unisex poles, especially since I am on the petite end of the scale.
The LEKI poles have the AERGON grip technology which is designed specifically for trekking and touring, and provides a large area to support a firm grip without adding weight to the pole. The grip is made of a cork-like material called Biotec 2 which has shell cavity construction. The shell cavity construction can be described as having similar properties to cork with a low density and air-filled cavities, resulting in a lightweight grip that is resistant to sweaty hands. The grips are also set at a 15 degree positive angle which places the wrist in a neutral and relaxed position. The straps on the grip can be adjusted to fit each individual and the inner side of the strap is lined with a soft fleece-like material to prevent chafing.
Each pole has two adjustable length settings which must be set by twisting the poles. LEKI has a proprietary locking mechanism called the Super Lock System (SLS) which, according to LEKI's website, has been proven by an independent testing lab to have 140 kg (309 lbs) holding force and 360 degree reverse turn security.
On the lower end of the poles, the LEKI Soft Antishock System - Lite (SAS-L) has been incorporated in to the pole. The SAS-L has a combination of a steel spring and soft elastomer which provides precise synchronization between the spring strength and compression on impact.
The poles also have interchangeable baskets and carbide flextips which are suppose to be non-slip on ice and rocks. The basket which comes with the poles is the performance basket for use in soft ground conditions, sand and loose rock. An optional basket available is the snowflake shaped basket which allows for extra flotation in snowy conditions. I have not had the chance to test out the snowflake basket, but I think the interchangeability is a nice feature. The carbide flextips can bend up to 30 degrees allowing greater flexibility and less chance of damaging the shaft when the poles get stuck between rocks.
I did not get to use these trekking poles on Mt. Whitney as I had originally planned, but I have used these trekking poles approximately eight times on day hikes ranging from moderate to difficult, but will focus my observations on the more difficult hikes. The day hikes that my observations are based on were the following: Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks high peaks region of New York State and several peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. All three hikes were more than six hours long and covered distances between 7 miles (10 km) and 14 miles (25 km) and elevation gains from 3300' (1000 m) to over 4000' (1,200 m). All of these hikes were in clear, sunny weather, over Labor Day weekends (early September) 2008 and 2009.
Hike 1: Mount Marcy is the highest point in New York State with an elevation of 5,343 feet (1,629 m). Located in Essex County, in the heart of the Adirondack High Peaks Region in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. The majority of the mountain is forested, although the final few hundred feet (60-70 m) is above tree line. The peak is dominated by rocky outcrops, lichens, and alpine shrubs.
It was Labor Day weekend 2008, and I started the hike at approximately 1:00 PM and completed the hike at 9:30 PM via the shortest and most frequently used route up the mountain, the Van Hoevenberg Trail. The trail starts at the Adirondak Loj near Heart Lake and is 7.4 miles (11.2 km) to the summit. We were the last ones up the trail for the day and arrived at the summit, at approximately 6:30 PM. My friend and I had the entire mountain top to ourselves.
It was a clear sunny day, 60-70F (15-21C), but the summit was very breezy and windy.
Hike 2 and 3: White Mountains, New Hampshire, U.S.A. - The White Mountains are a mountain range that covers about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England.
It was Labor Day weekend 2009, and again the weather was perfect. It was clear and sunny for both days of hiking, Saturday, September 5, 2009 and Sunday September 6, 2009. Temperatures were approximately 60-70F (15-21C) for both days, dropping slightly at the peaks.
The first day of hiking we bagged three peaks - Mt. Willey, Mt. Tom and Mt. Field. We started at 8:30 AM and got back to the AMC Center at 6:00 PM. The route which we followed was: Webster Cliff Trailhead to the Appalachian Trail (AT) heading west, this portion also known as Kedron Flume Trail, 1.3 miles (2.1 km) with 1200' (365 m) ascent. Then on the Ethan Pond Trail (still AT) 1.4 miles (2.25 km) with 1800' (550 m) elevation gain to summit Mt. Willey (4185') (1275 m). Only 1.4 miles (2.25 km) and 300' (90 m) elevation gain to Mt. Field (4340') (1325 m) and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to Mt. Tom with slight ups and downs. Then 2.2 miles (3.5m) to the Center via the A-Z and Avalon trails.
The second day of hiking we bagged two peaks - Mt. Jackson (4050') (1234 m) and Mt. Webster (3910') (1192 m). We started the hike at about 9:00 AM and got back to the AMC Center at 5:00 PM. The trip was approximately 6.0 miles (10 km) round trip. The Webster-Jackson Trail is a Y-shaped trail, starting at US Route 302 at Crawford Notch with one branch leading to Mount Jackson and another to near Mount Webster. The rough walking over roots and rocks makes this trail harder than the distance would indicate. The summit of Mount Jackson is a rocky cone which requires ledge scrambling on every trail. There was an elevation gain of approximately 2200' (670 m) at a moderate pace sometimes on steep terrain.
At first, it took a while getting use to the using trekking poles on the trail, but after approximately 30 minutes, I could walk and swing the poles in a coordinated motion. My evaluation will start with the top of the poles. My initial impressions of the AERGON grips were very positive. They are comfortable to hold for hours at a time, my hands don't get sweaty or blistered, and my wrists don't get tired due to the positive angle of the grip. The straps were also easy to adjust. I only adjusted them once, and so far they have never loosened. The inner lining of the straps are comfortable and soft, and I have never felt chafing on my wrists from the straps.
I read the instruction manual which came with the poles to determine the suggested settings for ascents and descents. For ascents, I set my poles at 105 cm (41 inches) and for descents; I extended them to 115 cm (45 inches). Both these recommended settings seemed to work well for me. The locking mechanisms were easy to set, but I found that the poles had to be checked at various intervals, because they tend to loosen and collapse. I have made it a habit, for example, to check them before going down a steep descent, or before crossing a stream. When they do collapse, it is usually in a slow sliding fashion rather than abruptly, and seems to be in the lower mechanism for the most part.
Left Side: Fully Compressed, Right Pole: Fully Extended showing the two locking mechanisms
By using the trekking poles, I could feel the weight being taken off my legs and being distributed to my upper body when going uphill, and in going downhill I could definitely feel how the stress on my knees was lessened by the impact of the poles and absorbed by the anti-shock system. The Soft Antishock System - Lite (SAS-L) seems to work well and I can definitely feel a slight bounce when pressure is placed on the pole. I find that the flextips do slip on some rocks, although this is rare and it could be due to the way that I positioned the pole while ascending. I haven't had the opportunity to try the snowflake baskets, but I find that this is a nice feature, which allows for greater flexibility for usage depending on the activity.
Hiking Performance Baskets and Carbide Flextips
The positive aspects of the LEKI Divas are: the poles are extremely lightweight at 15.0 oz/pair (425 g) and are comfortable to grip for long periods of time. The anti-shock mechanism seems to work well, and the ability of the poles to collapse to 24 inches (61 cm) makes them easy to transport.
The negative aspects of the poles are that the locking mechanism isn't as secure as it should be and has to be constantly checked, and the carbide flextips do slip on occasion.
In summary, taking all things into consideration, including price, value, effectiveness of product, ease of use, I would say that I am happy with my purchase, but might consider a set of poles with a better locking mechanism when I decide to upgrade.
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