Leki Summit Antishock Trekking Poles

Leadville SignI had never used trekking poles but decided to get some for the Transrockies Run next month after seeing lots of photos from previous years with runners carrying poles.

The amount of speeds and feeds that go into a pair of sticks is rather amazing, but when you consider the history of trekking, mankind has had decades–even centuries–to perfect the walking stick.  And when it comes to poles, the #1 brand by a big margin is LekiFounded in Germany, LEKI began as the hobby of an airframe mechanic and avid skier, Karl Lenhart, who believed aluminum would make a superior ski pole to the heavy steel poles of the late 1940s.  Today, Leki is known worldwide for skiing, trekking, nordic walking poles and gloves.  They are the definitive pole experts.

Summit AntishockI selected the Summit Antishock poles and saved some money by having the poles delivered to REI for pick up.  I needed to go there anyway.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear the salesperson on the phone tell me I would get an extra 20% off.  So I paid $55 for a pair of $100 poles and felt like I really found a deal.

Reinhold Messner 2What got my attention is the little CD dangling from the handles when I picked them up at the store.  I loaded the 3″ CD in my laptop and was introduced to Reinhold Messner, the Italian mountaineer and explorer from South Tyrol, often cited as the greatest mountain climber of all time.  He is renowned for making the first solo ascents of Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen and for being the first climber to ascend all 14 “eight-thousanders” (peaks over 8,000 meters above sea level).  He has also trekked across Antarctica and the Gobi Desert, and has tracked the yeti.  Now if that doesn’t get your attention, you probably have no business buying trekking poles in the first place.  The 11-min. film is all about the poles, but the unexplained setting–probably somewhere in Germany–is absolutely breathtaking.  Three trekkers take a hike with Reinhold along snow-capped peaks, passing rustic stone cabins, crossing babbling brooks through fog and mist, finally ending at a majestic castle.

six elephantsLeki claims trekking poles used correctly will take roughly seven kilos less pressure for every step, which translates to 30 tons less pressure on the knees over a full day trek.  That’s approximately the weight of six adult elephants.  Almost doesn’t sound right, but if a pair of sticks can take anywhere near that amount of pressure off my joints, I’m all for it.  Pressure is further absorbed with the triple spring technology located in the middle sections of the Leki poles.  This is my favorite feature.  The antishock can be turned off for more efficient ascents or left on for descents.  I like it on all the time.  It makes a huge difference in the wrists on every pole plant.

The carbide flextip on the lower section can flex up to 30° without damaging the pole shaft.  I hope I never need to put that much weight on it but I do picture myself leaning helplessly over the poles gasping for air at Hope Pass (13,200-feet).  Other features include ergonomically shaped handles, internal locking mechanisms for each section that don’t come apart while in use, and 80% cork handles to maintain a solid grip.

Trail running with poles is very different from hiking or trekking with poles.  I had to experiment quite a bit with the cadence of the pole plant in relation to my foot plant.  It also takes some practice to change the length of the pole when transitioning from an ascent to a descent without fumbling around too long and wasting time.  Also consider what to do with the poles when you want to snap a photo or if you’re carrying an extra water bottle or two.  I’ve been experimenting with drinking a bottle, then stashing it in my pack so I can free up my hands.  When I’m not using the poles, sometimes I find it easier to just carry them and use them to help balance rather than mess around and stop to strap them onto my pack.  It all just takes practice.

My favorite part of the Leki film is the end, where the trekkers toast a fine hike with a bottle of wine and carve some cheese and what looks like dry aged meat, probably bunderfleisch or prosciutto.  Now that’s a great way to end every long trail run and a tradition I should adopt.

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3 Responses

  1. […] antishock poles with springs that are much more forgiving on the wrists, arms and shoulders (see my Leki review here).  We clambered through the finish in 5 hrs. 47 mins.  Kevin is a stud.  I don’t know if I […]

  2. if you are running with the poles, you might want to check out the straps used for Nordic walking compared to hiking. see the Boomyah website http://www.boomyah.com...

    re: hiking poles have wrist straps which require a constant grip in both hands, an active grip in the thrusting side and a passive grip (thumb and forefinger) in the other side.

    the nordic walking straps allow you to alternate between gripping and releasing the grip. when release the grip behind you, it doesn’t fall out of your hand and hang from your wrist because of a loop over the arch of your hand between the thumb and forefinger.

    a runner using poles would be taking longer strides with elbows more extended. the pendulum effect you can get from the nordic walking style straps would probably be more practical.

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