LEKI DIVA ANTISHOCK TREKKING POLES
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
September 30, 2008
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
White Lake, Michigan USA
5' 4" (1.63 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
I started hiking in 1998 after an eye-opening climb up Hahn's Peak in Colorado. Hooked, I return to Colorado often. I've hiked/snowshoed glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in domestic and exotic locations, including Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
At home, I plan for 2-3 hikes of 6-8 mi (10-13 km) weekly and one weekend hike monthly. Weekday hikes take place in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, a mixture of heavily-wooded moderate hills and flat terrain. Weekend hike locations vary.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) including food and water
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.leki.com
MSRP: USD $139.95
Listed Weight: 15.6 oz (442 g)
Measured Weight: 15 oz (425 g)
Length Closed: 23.5 in (60 cm)
Other details, including picture: (from Leki Website)
Shaft:: Three Section Aluminum
Grip: Positive Angle Thermo Compact
Strap: Auto Comfort
Finish: Ultra Sonic/Anodized
Special Features: Carbide Flex Tip / Interchangeable basket system / SLS Locking System / SAS-Lite Antishock System
Warranty: All LEKI-branded trekking poles are covered by a LIFETIME WARRANTY
against shaft breakage.* Warranty does not cover wear and tear from
normal use or damage from abuse.
*One-year limited warranty on Carbon poles.
|Leki Diva Trekking Poles|
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS-May 2008
Before the Leki Divas arrived, I had spent a bit of time on the Leki website. There is lots of good information on trekking poles there and I learned quite a lot. The Leki website certainly prepped me for the Divas' arrival and my anticipation was not for naught.
The Leki Divas arrived securely clipped together with what I assume is meant to be a retail "hanging" system. The neat hook would also make a nice storage option had it not broke in two when I dropped the poles indoors. Oh well! A second plastic clip kept the poles secured at the tips. Clear plastic protectors covered the tips of the Divas and could well be used during storage.
A folded hang-tag was attached to the poles proclaiming the Divas as part of the "Wildflower Series". Bulleted descriptions of the poles' features, brief explanations of the Super Lock System, instructions on pole height/length adjustments and proper strap use were all contained therein. A mini DVD titled "Fun & Secure TREKKING with LEKI" was also enclosed. The mostly promotional DVD mixed some basic tips on using poles with gorgeous scenery and narratives by famous climbers.
The 4.5 in/11.3 cm (front) to 5 in/12.7 cm (back) grips are comprised of cushiony Thermo foam with silver caps at the tops. There are slight protrusions at the top fronts for stabilizing my fingers and more prominent ones on the bottom backs of the grips on which I can rest my hands. The circumference at the widest portion of the grips is 3.8 in/9.7 cm.
Black fleece lined wrist straps are attached to the undersides of the silver caps on top of the Thermo foam grips. "Leki" and their website URL are embossed in silver on suede labels sewn on the outside of the straps. The straps themselves are made of a woven/webbed material. The straps are threaded into the silver grip caps and appear to be adjustable.
A subtle pattern of gold on sand defines the upper section of the Divas. Black lettering proclaims the poles as "LEKI" and advertises the Divas as "Ultralight" and sporting the "Makalu Antishock" feature. The mid and lower sections of the poles are black with silver length designations in centimeters on each section. The designations range from 90 cm to 125 cm (36 in to 49 in) at which point there is a "Stop Max" warning. Each section is divided by a black "locking" mechanism.
Two and a half inches (6.4 cm) from the tips of the Diva trekking poles are removable flexible round basket that are concave towards the ground and have saw-tooth edges.
The Leki Divas culminate in a short concave carbon tip.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
I had high hopes the enclosed DVD would be useful in learning how to use and maintain the Leki Divas, but alas, the DVD was just basically "fluff". The printed instructions gave instructions on the Super Lock System and how to adjust the height of the poles. There was a handy chart listing hikers' height with the correct corresponding settings for the poles. Mention was made of elbow placement (90 degree angle) for proper fine-tuning.
Most puzzling to me were the graphics depicting the proper positioning of the wrist strap. It is contrary to the way I have always used my wrist straps and feel totally foreign to me. According to the Leki instructions, the wrist strap actually ends up being held in my hand against the grip. This makes the strap rather tight on the back of my wrist. I will be curious as to how that works in the field.
TRYING IT OUT
As I mentioned above, I'm not sure about the use of the Diva wrist straps, but trying out the trekking pole adjustments was a piece of cake!
The instructional chart indicated for my 5' 4" (1.6 m) height, I needed to set my poles at the 115 cm (45 in) marks. I found a smooth turn counter-clockwise loosened the lower section from the mid-section. Slowly, I pulled the lower section downward and away from the mid-section until the marker became visible. Once I reached the proper marker, I turned the lower section clockwise to tighten and lock the pole into position. I repeated the same steps to adjust the mid-section of the Diva. This produced a good fit for me. Once I'm on the trail, I will be sure to "fine tune" the heights to account for varying terrain.
Collapsing the poles was just the reverse of the extension steps. In both cases, the sections moved smoothly and easily without any "snagging" or fuss.
To adjust the wrist straps, I needed to pull upward on the straps to "pop" the black plastic tops embedded in the silver cap handles. The wrist straps were then easily loosened. A quick push on the black plastic tops then locked the newly adjusted wrist straps into position.
Upon my initial examination and testing, I can see no flaws in the craftsmanship of the Leki Diva trekking poles.
I use trekking poles all the time - 5 mile (8 km) round-trip walks to the mailbox, strolls around our very hilly, rocky property in Canon City, CO, day hikes, overnights - all the time! With all the loose dirt, slippery mud, sand and hard rock I experience in any given week, I'm confident I will be thoroughly testing the Leki Divas in varied terrain and conditions. Add to that mix, my natural clumsiness and rest assured, the Divas will be amply stressed!
For the next four months, I will be looking to see how the various design features affect the Leki Divas' performance. This concludes my Initial Report on the Leki Diva Antishock Trekking Poles. Please see below the results of my first two months of testing.
FIELD LOCATIONS/CONDITIONS-Aug 2008
I am lucky enough to live, for most of the year, on 35 gorgeous acres (14 hectares) in southern Colorado. I spend as much time as is possible outdoors in all weather conditions. Every day, I at least take a hike around the hogbacks surrounding our building site and most days, I make a 5 mile (8 km) round-trip trek down our dirt road to our mail box. I ALWAYS use trekking poles, so the Leki Diva Antishock Trekking Poles have been in service daily for 30 days.
During the month of June, in Colorado, there was very little rain, and only the rain we had occurred after dark. I watched many storms rage over the Wet and Cooper Mountain ranges to the south and north, but the Arkansas River Valley has been dry.
The temperatures over the last couple of months have ranged from a cool 58 F (14 C) to a very warm 104 F (40 C). We have had lots of wind, more than normal according to longtime Canon City residents.
Most, heck, ALL, of my trail time during my field testing thus far, has been in the BLM (Bureau of Land Management - federal lands) lands controlled by the Royal Gorge regional offices. This land is very rugged with little or no real trails. The terrain is varied from dust to sand to gravelly, and then there are the medium to large rocks and huge boulders. We pretty much just pick a ridge we would like to end up on and bushwhack our way to it. Sometimes we make it, other times we get sidetracked or we reach an impasse. Either way, we usually start at 5600+ feet (1700 km) and go up to 7000+ feet (2100+ km).
The vegetation is prairie grasses and Cholla cactus in the lower elevations and pine and juniper predominates as the mountains rise.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I could describe the Divas' performance in the field in just one word - fantastic! - but I suppose I should add a few extra words in explanation of my exclamation!
First off, adjusting the poles in the onset of a hike is very intuitive and very physically easy to do. As with my previous trekking poles, the Divas twist loose and then telescope outwardly with a fluid motion. Tightening the lock is accomplished without strain, there is no need to use force, I simply turn the pole section I am working on counter-clockwise until it stops. I have yet to have the poles collapse using this minimal amount of force. Once on the trail, I can (and do) adjust the Divas just as easily to account for the varied terrain. I often lengthen one pole when traversing with the longer pole aiding my balance on the downward side of the trail and the shorter pole countering on the upward side of the trail. While I can't do it one handed, I can change the length and walk at the same time. Before this test is through, I should be able to report on my ability to adjust the Divas' with mittens/gloves on.
Using the wrist straps as pictured in the Leki instructional DVD was new to me, so it took a bit of getting used to. Now, however, I find the position very comfortable and second nature. The act of holding the loop against the grip relaxes my hand and results in less fatigue of my hand. Thanks to the velvety-feeling inner fabric on the loops, I don't feel any discomfort from scratchy straps.
Gripping the straps from below and against the poles also made it very easy for me to drop the Divas from my hands by simply releasing my grip on the poles without having to pull my hands out of the straps. This came in handy (no pun intended) when I was swarmed by some nasty flying insects and began to frantic swat at them. It also saved my hiking companions from getting "speared" with flailing poles!
The hand grips on the Leki Divas has been very different to use and in a very good way. My previous pair of trekking poles has a hard hand grip that gives my hand cramps after a few hours on the trail. It also causes a lot of sweating. I added a stretchy bike handlebar tape to it but that only made my hands sticky and was always peeling off. The Divas' hand grips are almost soft to the touch yet firm in their support. I have not experienced any hand fatigue at all and minimal sweating. The grip also feels to be a slight bit smaller than my other poles, so it is proportioned better for my (woman's) hand.
Of course, where the Leki Diva Trekking Poles really shine is in their antishock feature. I hike mostly on very hard ground or flat out rock. Using other poles, I frequently can feel a definite jarring sensation when pounding down the trail. This results in my hands, arms as well as my shoulders absorbing the jolts and getting stiff and sore in the process. There have been times when I would just carry my poles rather than experience the ensuing ache. With the Divas, that is a thing of the past! I can honestly report I feel so much better on the very same terrains. The Divas' antishock mechanism - oh so slightly - compresses the poles when striking a hard surface and that slight "give" makes all the difference in the world to the way I feel as the end of the day. The compression, in no way, compromises the security of the poles' support though.
The tips of the Divas have just the slight indentations in the middle so as to be concave. This too is different from other trekking poles I have used. The Divas appear to be less apt to slide on sheer rock and so have been a great help to me, making me feel more secure. I don't seem to have my trekking poles slide out from under me as I have had in the past. I feel I can trust the Divas to support my weight and keep me stable in less-than-stable conditions.
As of yet, I have not had any occasion to test out the baskets on the Divas. I'm thinking the next couple of months should have the Divas see some sand and snow action and will report on how that goes at the end of my Long Term testing.
There is very little noticeable wear and tear on the poles at this time. I have been careful to clean them off after using them and have kept them stored hanging in a closet using the handy clip that came with the Divas.
After two months of testing the Leki Diva Antishock Trekking Poles, I would have to say "I like them!" I have gotten used to holding them as Leki directed with the strap between my palm and the poles and can now appreciate the method. The poles adjust quickly and easily to the desired height under different conditions even while "on the go". They have yet to collapse in the field, thankfully, as I really rely heavily on them. I find the Divas give me a relatively secure hold in the terrain I frequent, including the solid rock of the Rocky Mountains and the antishock feature of the Divas has noticeably relieved the fatigue in my arms from the pounding and jolting I normally experience as the poles continually strike the ground.
I will continue to use the Leki Diva Trekking Poles on every walk, hike and backpacking trip I take in the next two months. They will be traveling to South Dakota with me next week and also to Arizona's Rim Country in early October. Of course, most of my testing will continue to be in Colorado in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where I make my "home".
Please see below the results and conclusions of my final two months of testing.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
As with many best laid plans, some of my long term testing plans for the Divas did not come to fruition. I planned to use them on Beaver Island in Michigan but they never made it out of the car. I planned to use them at Pontiac Lake Recreation Area in Michigan, but the weather did not cooperate. I did, however, use them always on my day hikes in the BLM lands near my property in Canon City - almost daily, in fact. And I did get to put the Divas to use on an impromptu overnight at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
A rough estimate of usage above and beyond 1-2 hour(s) long hikes during the long term testing period would be 4 day-long dayhikes and one overnight.
|Divas in Badlands National Park||It's been very warm over the past two months and very, very dry. Other than one late evening downpour, we have had no rain at all in Canon City where I've been doing my testing. In South Dakota, it was also very warm and dry. Lots of sunshine! Temperatures never dipped below 78 F ( C) and rose as high as 104 F ( C). Humidity was negligible, single digits mostly.|
The terrain in Colorado was the same as detailed above in my Field Report.
In South Dakota, the Badlands National Park was otherworldly with evidence of lots of erosion in the way of gulleys, canyons, buttes, spires and pinnacles. The Badlands National Park also contains the largest protected, mixed-grass prairie in the United States.
So, I tramped on some very rocky steeply-pitched ground, as well as flat-as-a-pancake, hard-packed dirt trails through the waist-high grasses. Elevation at the Park is listed as 3245' (989 m). Elevation for my Colorado hikes began at approximately 5600+ feet (1700 km) and went up to about 7000+ feet (2100+ km).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
In the last two months of using the Leki Diva Trekking Poles, I continued to be impressed with the antishock feature of the poles. I mostly pound on hard packed dirt or outright rock when hiking in my neck of the woods in the Canon City/Pikes Peak area of southeast Colorado. The rather barren desert-like terrain is actually a shale to granite surface. The Divas absorb a great deal of the vibrations created when metal forcefully meets the hard surfaces of stone. I can actually feel and see the slight compression of the poles. I particularly appreciate this feature at the end of a hike when fatigue is setting in. My hands and arms feel much less sore than when using my previous poles.
I am not the most graceful hiker in the world (or even my marriage!) and I have bad peripheral vision and bad visual depth perception to boot. So trekking poles are probably more important to me than a lot of other people. I really depend on my poles to keep me on my feet and on the straight and narrow. On a couple of different occasions, I really "leaned" on one of the Divas and they never failed me by overly bending or (heaven forbid!) breaking. The pole would flex but remained supportive, enabling me to keep my balance and prevented a tumble.
The slightly concave tips of the Diva Trekking Poles do a great job of stabilizing the poles on all but the slickest rock. I found that even the smallest bit of texture in the ground surface enabled the Divas "stick" to it. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the tips performed as it was the first time I had this style. As pointed as the tips of the poles are, I never had the poles sink objectionably into the sometimes loose dirt/dust/sand I encountered. The standard Leki baskets never came into contact with the earth.
During the last two months the temperatures were high and I was quite happy the Divas have such great hand grips! I had no trouble at all with my hands slipping when sweating. The grips have remained in good condition with no staining or peeling away. The wrist straps also remain in perfect condition with no noticeable wear and tear.
I haven't had to do more than wipe off the poles up to now and they still expand and compress like they are brand-new. With all the banging around the Divas has gotten over the past four months, I would have expected them to be more "roughed up". I did, however, lose the handy clip that held the poles together for storage. Dang!
The Leki Diva Antishock Trekking Poles promised to be trigonometrically designed for women and, for me, they delivered on that promise. The hand grips fit so much better in my hands than other poles I have used. The straps are advertised as "auto comfort" and while I'm not quite sure what is meant by that, I can say, the straps are definitely the most comfortable I've ever used! The Divas are touted to be antishock and they certainly performed well in that department. Everything the website detailed the Leki Divas to be, I found to be true for me
Well worth the price, I will definitely buy Leki Divas when I need to get replacements.
Am I planning to continue to use the Leki Diva Trekking Poles? Absolutely! I've already handed my former poles down to my granddaughter! In the near term, I will be depending on the Divas for support next week when vacationing in Arizona where lots of hiking is planned, including the Grand Canyon and I'm confident the poles won't let me down. In the future, I also intend to purchase the optional snow baskets for the coming winter's snowshoe hikes.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
The Leki Diva Trekking Poles have earned a permanent place on my gear shelf and I will continue to use them exclusively.
Thank you to Leki, Inc. and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test these great poles!
Read more reviews of LEKI gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathleen Waters