Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo REVIEW

Product performance review of the Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo, lightweight poles for backpacking.

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by Doug and Amy Johnson | 2005-04-26 03:00:00-06

Overview

Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo - 1

Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo - 2

The Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles are versatile and lightweight.

We have used two different pairs of Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles over the last couple of years in a wide variety of settings. At 7.5 ounces (217 g) per pole, they are among the lightest three-section trekking poles on the market. They offer comfortable, mid-size grips, a reliable carbide tip, and a locking system that, if kept clean, stays right where you put it. These poles are somewhat flexible but do a good job of absorbing trail vibration. They compact to a short 24 inches (61 cm) but only extend to 51 inches (130 cm) - not long enough for hikers taller than about 6'2" (188 cm) or those that use shelters that require long extensions (such as the MSR Missing Link). Over years of abuse, our sets of Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles have been durable and dependable.

In Brief

  • Lightweight at 7.5 ounces (217 g) per pole
  • Locking system is simple and reliable
  • Somewhat flexible but better at absorbing trail vibration than other aluminum poles
  • Compacts to just 24 inches (61 cm)
  • Only extends to 51 inches (130 cm) - not the pole for tall hikers

Specifications

• Trekking Pole Type

Collapsible, three sections

• Shaft Material

7075 aluminum/titanium alloy

• Tips

Carbide flextip

• Grips

Grip materialGrip SizeStrap included?
EVA foam with cork topsmedium smallyes - padded

• Weight (without baskets)

Weight per pole (oz)Weight per pole (g)
Backpacking Light measured7.5213
Manufacturer claim7.65 217

• Pole Length

inchescentimeters
Minimum length 2461
Maximum length 51130

• Model Year

2004

• MSRP

$109.95

Usable Features and Ease of Use

Both of the Leki poles we reviewed collapse to 24 inches (61 cm) (the only poles in our review suite that compressed shorter were the EMS Women's Ridge Lite at 22 inches). This short length makes it easy to travel with the Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles. The maximum extension of these Leki poles is 51 inches (130 cm), suitable for hikers up to about 6'2" (188 cm) and usable in many trekking pole shelters, but not the MSR Missing Link (see below).

Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo - 3
The Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles come with small trekking baskets (snow baskets are available separately).

Shelter (pole length needed)Usable with this shelter?
Six Moon Designs Europa 2 (41 in/104 cm)Yes
Golite Trig 2 (48 in/123 cm)Yes
MSR Missing Link (54 in/137 cm) No - exceeds maximum extension

The Leki locking system is called the Easy Locking System (ELS). Leki claims that this system requires less torque to tighten than other systems. We found that this was true and that the system didn't require as much hand strength to tighten as other systems - plastic sleeves at section ends made getting a tight connection easy. It did take a few more turns than other systems, though.

After hundreds of miles on the trail with these poles, we have found that when properly tightened and occasionally cleaned, these poles do not collapse when you don't want them to. Like all collapsible trekking poles, you'll want to take them apart occasionally and clean out the mechanism to keep them working well. It's a good idea to buy the optional Leki cleaning brush for this chore.

The poles come with small trekking baskets that are 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Leki also offers a wide variety of accessories for their poles including snow baskets, rubber tips for pavement, and replacement parts. Leki baskets are removed by screwing them off the tip. It is a simple, secure system - you can change baskets in a minute but they do not come off accidentally.

The tip is a carbide flex tip. It flexes to a certain degree before breaking off, saving the pole shaft from breaking. After years of abuse with two sets of these poles, we have never had the tips break off and the flex is unnoticeable when hiking. They create a very secure contact with any trail surface.

Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo - 4
The combination EVA foam and cork/rubber grip is comfortable and lightweight.

The grips are extremely comfortable, offering a smooth transition from the main foam grip to the cork/rubber upper grips. The straps are adjustable and have a smooth wicking surface against your skin that is comfortable during all-day treks but doesn't pack with snow or ice in the winter. The grips are on the small size, better sized to Amy's small hands than Doug's big hands.

Weight/Swing Weight

At 7.5 ounces, the Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles were the lightest three-section collapsible poles we tested and the lightest in the Leki line. They feel light in your hand and have a balance point in the upper third of the pole, making the pole easy to swing when hiking.

Lateral Stiffness/Stability

While these poles are the lightest collapsible poles in our review, they are certainly not the stiffest. While Amy (5'2"/157 cm, 115 lbs/52 kg) never experienced any problems with flexibility in the poles, Doug (6'2"/188 cm, 185 lbs/84 kg) could consistently feel flex when hiking with the Leki poles, especially during technical or off-trail hiking. While the poles never failed to support either reviewer's body weight, heavier hikers may want to choose a stiffer pole.

Trail Vibration

These poles have a medium level of trail vibration. With aluminum-shafted poles, stiffness and trail vibration go hand in hand; a stiffer pole means more trail vibration, a more flexible pole means less. This is certainly true of the Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles - they absorb much of the trail shock in their flexibility and are more comfortable on the trail than other aluminum poles. The grips do a good job of absorbing vibration as well. The only poles that did a better job of absorbing trail vibration in our tests were those constructed of carbon fiber.

Durability

After years of use and abuse, our two pairs of Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles have never failed us. This is despite numerous falls, stepping on the poles, bashing them on rocks, etc. These are durable poles. The only place we've had issues is with locking mechanisms gummed up with fine sand or mud (this took well over a year to affect the locking mechanism). Like all collapsible poles, taking them apart and cleaning the mechanism will keep them working better.

Value

At $109.95, these poles are a good value. You get a comfortable, lightweight pole that is versatile and will be with you for a long time. While other poles in this price range come with both trekking and snow baskets, Leki only included the trekking baskets with the Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles. We think snow baskets should be included as well.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is little we would change on the Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo poles. They are a good value and work well. Angled grips or extended grips on the shaft for climbing would be nice but these are available in other models (such as the Ultralite Ti Air Ergo PA AS) for extra cost and weight. Other poles in the Leki line offer increased stiffness and length for heavier or taller hikers. For the weight and price of the Ultralite Ti Air Ergo, though, we wouldn't change a thing...except to ask that snow baskets be included.


Citation

"Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo REVIEW," by Doug and Amy Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/leki_ultralite_ti_air_ergo_trekking_poles_review.html, 2005-04-26 03:00:00-06.

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