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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > Leki Diva Antishock > Test Report by Rebecca Stacy
Height: 5' 4" (1.6 m)
Weight: 150 lb (70 kg)
Email address: becki_s_19 at hotmail dot com
Location: Royal Oak, Michigan, USA
I got bitten by the backpacking bug in 1994 when I was a volunteer at the Grand Canyon. My first backpacking trip was the same week I arrived, with gear borrowed from trail crew supplies. My husband and I enjoy car camping and backpacking, mostly in Michigan. We've pared down our pack weight a bit, switching to a tarptent and smaller/lighter backpacks as part of our effort to re-work our gear list to cut weight without giving up the luxury items we enjoy (such as food that involves more than boiling water).
Product: Diva Antishock Trekking Poles
Manufacturer Wbsite: www.leki.com
MSRP: $139.95 US
Measured Length, Collapsed: 24" (61 cm)
Minimum Marked Useable Length: 35.4" (90 cm)
Maximum Useable Length: 49" (125 cm)
Listed Weight: 15.6 oz (442 g)
Measured Weight Both Poles, With Baskets: 15.4 oz (437 g)
Measured Weight both Poles, Without Baskets: 14.85 oz (421 g)
Measured Weight Eash Pole Without Basket: 7.4 oz (210 g)
Measured Weight Eash Basket: 0.25 oz (7 g)
Shaft Material: Aluminum
Grip Material: Thermo Foam
Country of Manufacture: Czech Republic
The card also provides pictures showing proper strap use, info on length adjustment, info regarding product registration, a Customer Service phone number, and directs me to their website to learn about maintenance and accessories. The card has a sticker attached denoting that the poles are the Diva AS, with the product bar code.
The Diva poles are anti-shock trekking poles designed specifically for women, and are part of Leki's Wildflower Series. The poles have a designated right and left pole, and are marked respectively with "R" and "L" on the top of the grip. The poles came on a plastic hanger for display, and have removable plastic tip covers (so the poles do not spear anything when in storage), an information card secured around one of the poles, and a mini-DVD in a plastic sleeve attached to one of the wrist bands.
The DVD features some basic information about Leki poles in general, and is semi-instructional as it follows a group of people hiking in the Alps. The video can be played in German, Italian, French, or English. The video itself has been recorded in German for the most part, except for at least one sound byte at the beginning where the person was speaking in English, and dubbed in the other languages.
The upper section of the pole is light bronze-ish/metallic beige in color, with a diamond-net pattern consisting of the repeated word "LEKI" in a slightly darker bronze. The mid and lower sections are matte black, with white length markings. These markings are just the text itself, without a line to designate the exact location of the length noted. The positive angle thermo compact grips have a 15 degree angle to place my wrist in a neutral relaxed position, and are made from Thermo Foam. The foam feels similar to the foam grips of other trekking poles, but the grips on the Divas have a cork-composite color scheme. The coloration appears to come from a construction method similar to Styrofoam (with light and medium tan 'pieces' surrounded by a darker brown 'filling'), rather than being a design that is merely painted or stenciled on.
I can adjust the straps by pulling up on the top of the strap to pop up the strap lock, and then pull either the inner loop or the tail end of the strap to loosen or tighten it before popping the lock back down. The strap lock has several small 'teeth' to help secure the strap in place. The end of the strap is flared, so that it won't pull all the way through the strap adjustment system. According to the video provided on the mini-DVD, this pop-up strap adjuster also helps loosen the strap from around my wrist to allow my hand to pop out of the strap should the tip/basket of the pole get caught under a root or something. The straps consist of black webbing with a LEKI logo 'patch' (Leki is in silver reflective coloring) sewn on the outside, and thin, soft material sewn on the inside.
The Divas have the SAS-Lite (Soft Anti-shock System-Lite) anti-shock system. For poles with this system, the anti-shock is always on. I measured the difference in length caused by the antishock system by placing all the downward force I could on one of the poles. When I did this, the pole shortened by 0.44" (1.1 cm).
At the bottom of the top section of the poles, are the words "open" in gold with an arrow pointing left, and "close" in black with an arrow pointing right, to indicate the direction I should turn the lower sections to open or close the length lock. The gold lettering is hard to read, but since "close" is in black I have no problem figuring out which direction I should rotate the shaft.
Overall, the Divas appear to be well-made, the foam grips are comfortable, and the straps are comfortable and easy to adjust. The poles feel light and well-balanced, from taking them on a quick walk. They even feel fairly good when I pull them up just short of horizontal with the ground, as I would when I have to cross wooden bridges or single-plank boardwalks so I don't catch the tips between boards, or for pure lack of a place to plant the poles.
One thing I find confusing is that the LEKI website does not list the length range of the poles. From the chart provided with the poles (though I could only read the chart when I took the info card off of the poles, since it was secured with staples) the tallest I could be to use these poles (at least on flat ground) is about 6'0" (1.83 m). However, since I might need to lengthen the poles if I am going downhill, the tallest I could be with some room for adjustment is around 5'8" (1.73 m). Since I am 5'4" (1.63 m), LEKI recommends for me to set the lower section to the "115 cm" setting. From using other poles, I have found that setting the poles to the "115 cm" settings on both the lower and mid sections puts my arms at the proper 90° on flat ground, in keeping with the LEKI chart.
Another thing that I found confusing is that after the word "ULTRALITE" on the upper section is the word "titanium" in relief with a gold background. Because of the light color of the background it is hard to make out what the word is. The "titanium" designation is confusing since all the information I could find, either on the card or on the LEKI website, points to aluminum construction (at least for the lower sections).
I tried out the strap-loosening system (as shown on the DVD provided with the poles) by quickly snapping my hand upwards, as if the bottom got caught. The strap adjustment tab popped up and the strap loosened. Without real-life experience I can't yet tell if this would actually be helpful, though at the very least I don't think this feature would make that sort of situation worse. The straps are easy to adjust, and when the system is locked the straps feel secure, and don't slip when I tug downward.
The poles use a form of the twist-to-lock system, and it is fairly easy for me to untwist, adjust the length, and twist to lock. The upper section of the pole has the "open" direction marked in gold (which is hard to read) and the "close" direction in black. When I tighten the poles to lock the height setting, I can't move the sections by pulling them or by trying to push the middle section into the upper (the shock absorber is between the middle and lower sections, so this does compress when I push them together).
From playing around with them a little, some of the black paint has already worn off the lower and middle sections of the poles, and the silver paint that coats the top of the grip has scratched off in one spot. So far I am not too concerned about this, given that it is purely cosmetic. I am wondering how the tops of the poles will fare being placed on the ground, since my shelter of choice is now a Rainshadow 2 Tarptent, which utilizes trekking poles for the setup. The standard height of the Rainshadow 2 is 48" (122 cm), which is within the range of these poles. I will pay close attention to any wear from this use of the poles, and if it affects the primary use at all.
The Divas appear to be a well-made and well-balanced pair of anti-shock poles. I am looking forward to using them on my upcoming trips, and so far I have not found anything with the actual design or construction that I do not like.
This concludes my Initial Report.
To date, I have used the Leki Diva poles on a 4-night rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon in early June, during 1 day of day hiking in Grand Canyon National Park prior to the rim-to-rim, and on a short trek in the Zion Canyon Narrows. On my rim-to-rim hike, I traveled 6.9 miles(11.1 km) with an elevation loss of 4200 feet (1280 m) the 1st day, and 7.6 miles (12.2 km) with an elevation loss of 1550 feet (472 m) the 2nd day. The 3rd day I day hiked part of the Clear Creek Trail in the morning, over 6 miles (9.7 km) round trip with an elevation gain and loss of 1520 feet (463 m). The evening of the 3rd day I day hiked up Phantom Creek a little, about 5 miles (8 m) round trip with an elevation gain/loss of about 300 feet (91 m). The 4th day I backpacked 4.7 miles (7.6 km) with an elevation gain of 1350 feet (411 m), and a final hike out of 4.6 miles (7.4 km) with 3040 feet (927 m) of elevation gain on day 5.
I enjoy using the Diva poles, since they are comfortable to use and I can actually tell the difference in use between these and my older, heavier, non-shock poles. Already they have seen quite a bit of use and abuse, with only cosmetic damage to show for it.
Although I don't typically use baskets with my hiking poles, I kept them on the Divas except for when I used the poles as support poles for my Tarptent. When I was hiking, I did notice a few locations where I encountered sand or gravel where the baskets prevented the tips from going too far down. I really relied on the baskets for 3 crossings of Bright Angel Creek, when hiking a little ways up (about 0.25 mile/0.4 km each way) Phantom Creek (from where it meets up with Bright Angel Creek), and for my hike of about 2-2.5 miles (3.2-4 km) round trip in the Narrows of the Virgin River in Zion National Park. Much of these crossings and treks involved navigating over rocks of varying sizes, and there were many areas where I am sure a pole without a basket would sink deep enough where it would be awkward to walk, at the very least. I would not have attempted any of these crossings or hikes up/down creek or river without poles due to flow, VERY uneven footing, and sometimes slippery rock. The Divas (with baskets on) did a good job of both wedging in holes between rock and remaining stable on a rock face while I was in water. On all my watery treks the water level got at least to my knees, and at a few locations in the Narrows it was up to my chest. In high flow areas, I noticed that the pole would sometimes start to vibrate back and forth in the water, when the water was at least 1/3rd of the way up the middle section of the pole. I was still able to use the poles in these cases, though I was more cautious when this was happening to make sure I wouldn't let it vibrate itself off a secure grip on the terrain below when I needed it the most.
One side effect of my wet and wild adventures with the Divas was that when I got home I found that they were somewhat waterlogged. At first they expanded and collapsed as smoothly as always, and I took them apart and squished down the shock absorber portion of the bottom sections. When I pushed down on these areas, a little water would bubble out. I put the sections back together, and put them aside for several weeks. When I got back to them it was very difficult to adjust the pole length from the fully collapsed position. At this time I weighed the poles, and found that they took on about 0.2 oz (5.7 g) of water each. I checked out the instructional video that Leki has online about replacing the tips, and used a wrench to remove the tips to let the bottoms dry out. The tips were easy to remove, and knocking them off did not damage the tips or the poles. One thing I did look at was the screws that work the length adjustment system; I checked them with a magnet and they are made from iron, but from what I can tell there is no sign of rust.
The tips have worked well, and get a nice grip on just about any surface I've encountered. The straps and grips remain comfy, and I didn't notice a buildup of sweat in these areas. They work well as poles for my Tarptent, though doing so scraped the paint and lettering from the top of the grips. Since the "L" and the "R" that designate left and right poles are at the tops of the grips, I will probably have to create my own label with permanent marker or duct tape, in case the markings wear away from this type of use.
I have had two things happen with these poles that I hadn't encountered before. First, after about a mile of hiking the second day, a section of the pole collapsed when I was using it. Luckily I was just walking along and didn't have very much force on it. The night before I had used the poles as support for my tarpent, and so I had re-adjusted them to hiking length that morning. After about a mile or so of hiking, one of the pole sections collapsed on me. I am not 100% sure what happened, but it could have been that I had not twisted the pole enough that morning to get a secure lock, and that after a little distance the expander loosened up due to the regular motion and pressure I placed on it. After that happened, I made sure that I securely locked the poles whenever I adjusted them, and have not encountered this problem since.
The second thing was that I had one time where one of the sections wouldn't lock for me. The video on the Leki website only addresses the standard expander which I don't think the Diva uses since the standard expander can sometimes get stuck inside the other section, and the expanders the Divas use are made so that they won't come off. This fix was easy for me to figure out though, and I just took the pole apart, manually rotated the expander around the screw to open it up just a bit, then put the sections back together and tightened. My husband uses another brand of anti-shock trekking poles, with a similar expansion system. This problem happened to his poles also during this trip, so it is probably just a design quirk of the system rather than anything having to do with the Divas in particular.
This concludes my Field Report.
Since the Field Report, I have used the Diva poles on two day hikes at local parks, in sunny to partly-cloudy weather with temperatures in the low to mid 70's (21-25 C). After drying out the poles from being waterlogged in the Virgin River, they have expanded and collapsed as smoothly as before. The anti-shock feature does not seem to work quite as smoothly as before, though it still works and once I get going I don't notice the stiffness. Since the local parks are fairly undemanding, there has been no noticeable wear on the poles since the Field Report.
Other than drying out the waterlogged sections and the one occasion where I had to hand-start the section expander, I have not had to perform any maintenance on the poles. The tips still grip rock surfaces well, even after many days of non-stop hard rock, gravel and sand surface they encountered during my field report. Like my previous poles, I have not had the need to clean the Divas, as I have not found any dirt or grit stuck in the expansion mechanism or any other part of the poles.
I will continue to use the Leki Diva poles on my future hikes, and if I somehow lost them I would not hesitate to get another set.
Overall, I have really enjoyed using the Diva poles. They have held up well on the most rugged terrain I've hiked to date, and have been comfortable to use while doing so.Likes:
Light weight, the anti-shock feature, comfortable straps and grips.
What could be improved:
"Right" and "Left" pole markings at a location where they're not in danger of being rubbed off when I use the poles as support poles for my Tarptent.
This concludes my test report series. I would like to thank Leki and www.backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to test these trekking poles.
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