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Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles REVIEW

Product performance review of the Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles, lightweight poles for backpacking.

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by Carol Crooker | 2005-05-03 03:00:00-06

Overview

Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles - 1
Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles in action near Prescott, Arizona.

The Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC poles are lightweight yet durable, basic trekking poles. They weigh 16.2 ounces (459 g) for the pair with an MSRP just under $100. The three-section telescoping poles collapse to an easily packable length of 24 inches (61 cm). The natural rubber/natural cork grip and softly lined wrist strap combine to make a comfortable ride for your hands.

In Brief

  • Comfortable natural cork/rubber grip and padded straps
  • Reasonably lightweight at 8.1 oz (230 g) per pole
  • Somewhat flexible - not the best for pyramid shelter supports
  • Durable and resistant to slippage during use
  • Priced a little high at $99.95

Specifications

• Trekking Pole Type

Collapsible, three sections

• Shaft Material

7075 aluminum/titanium alloy

• Tips

Carbide flex tip, concave tip

• Grips

Grip materialGrip SizeStrap included?
COR-TEC, a natural cork/natural rubber mixmedium smallyes

• Weight (without baskets)

Weight per pole (oz)Weight per pole (g)
Backpacking Light measured8.1 230
Manufacturer claim8.0 227

• Pole Length

inchescentimeters
Minimum length 2461
Maximum length 51 130

• Model Year

2004

• MSRP

$99.95

Usable Features and Ease of Use

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 Ultralite Ti COR-TEC trekking poles collapse to a short enough length (24 in/61 cm) that they fit in the side pockets or compression straps of many packs without protruding more than a few inches above the pack. They extend to a length suitable to support tarps and many tents (see below). The natural material and ergonomically shaped grip is comfortable even with sweaty hands. The webbing wrist strap is adjustable and covered with a wicking material that is soft on the skin. The poles come with small baskets. Larger snow baskets and rubber tips are available separately.

Locking mechanism - ease of use

Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles - 4
The locking mechanism on Leki Ultralite COR-TEC poles is solid.

The Leki twist lock mechanism is referred to as the Easy Locking System (ELS). It has a very smooth feel but takes a twist or two more to secure than other poles I've used, including older model Leki poles. Once two sections are firmly tightened, the setting holds even on steep downhill treks where the poles are supporting the full body weight of the user. A plastic sleeve on the upper and middle pole sections provides something to grip when twisting the shafts. The sleeve is slightly ridged, enough so that the poles can be twisted/untwisted with gloves on, aided by the smooth mechanism of the ELS. The sleeves are long enough to be able to get a good grip when unlocking sections that have been collapsed to the minimum length. This is an improvement over other poles I've used with narrow sleeves that were hard to grip when the poles were fully collapsed and the sleeves were right next to each other.

Baskets and tip

Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles - 2
Carbide flex tips and supplied baskets on the Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles.

The pole tips are carbide flex tips. As Leki describes, the tip end is a concave circle with a smooth edge so the tip is resting on a point no matter what angle the pole is planted at. The tip ferrule is designed to flex 30 degrees before deliberately breaking so that the lower shaft is not damaged. The poles tips sometimes skitter on smooth rock slabs but less so than other poles I've used. Overall I was impressed with their sticking power.

The supplied baskets are 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Larger Snowflake baskets can be attached for winter use. The baskets unscrew from the pole tip with a firm downward pressure. They can be changed out in below freezing conditions, however it is difficult when wearing gloves to get a good grip on the pole to anchor it when unscrewing the basket. Better to change baskets at home before a winter trip. Rubber tips are also available that fit over the carbide tips for use on pavement or indoors.

Grip comfort and performance

Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles - 3
COR-TEC grips and wicking fabric lined straps are comfortable.

The grip is made of a mix of natural cork and natural rubber called COR-TEC. The material has a comfortable feel, even in hot, sweaty conditions. The grip size is medium to small and ergonomically shaped to fit the hand. It felt very comfortable in my long, narrow hand.

The wrist strap is webbing, lined with a soft material that feels good next to the skin. It is adjustable by pulling on the tail of the webbing strap. The adjustment is locked in place by downward pressure once your hand is in the strap. Black and white pins on the top of the grip mark the pole as left or right. The straps feel slightly more comfortable when the proper pole is in the intended hand since the narrower part of the strap fits between the thumb and forefinger. The small details make this strap feel comfortable against the hand mile after mile.

Leki recommends bringing the hand up through the bottom of the strap, which is how I used the poles most of the time. The grips are not angled so the wrist is cocked tighter than on an angled grip. I occasionally switched my grip by bringing my hand down through the straps to reduce my wrist angle. I felt less wrist pressure and more stability on steep downhills when I used this technique.

Weight/Swing Weight

The poles weigh 8.1 ounces (230 g) each without baskets. The pole balance point is a little over a third of the total length from the top of the pole when pole length is 49 inches (125 cm). More weight is concentrated in the top half of the pole so less effort is required to swing these poles compared to poles with a higher swing weight.

Lateral Stiffness/Stability

Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles - 5
Vaulting a stream in a northern Arizona canyon with the Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC poles.

The poles have a medium stiffness and flexed quite a bit near the lower and middle section juncture when I put my full body weight on them; however, they were stiff enough for me to feel stable on steep downhills and while vaulting streams. The Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC poles flex when used to support a tarp or when linked together to support a pyramid tarp (not your stiffest choice for this application).

Trail Vibration

Trail vibration in the poles is medium-high with the poles set at 49 inches (125 cm). The COR-TEC grips are not soft enough to absorb the vibration. The poles have a natural flex which absorbs some of the trail shock. They do not rattle.

Durability

Although the Ultralite Ti poles flexed under full body weight, they have shown no signs of snapping. They held up under long, steep downhill treks on rocky trails. I stepped on them in camp "accidentally" and hit them against rocks and trees, and the integrity of the poles remained unchanged. The locking mechanism is solidly built. After I left the poles lying in the fine dust around camp the locking mechanism showed no signs of fouling. A pole still locked down easily after I took it apart and poured dust and dirt into it and on the locking mechanism.

Value

The Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC poles are sturdy and compress to 24 inches (61 cm) so can be carried easily in a pack when not needed. The grip and strap system is comfortable and the locking mechanism is secure. But at just under $100, these basic lightweight poles are priced a bit high.

Recommendations for Improvement

The Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC poles are a nice set of lightweight, basic trekking poles. My only suggested improvements are to change to a positive angle grip while keeping the same weight for the pair, and knock $10 off the price.


Citation

"Leki Ultralite Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles REVIEW," by Carol Crooker. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/leki_ultralite_ti_cor_tec_trekking_poles_review.html, 2005-05-03 03:00:00-06.

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