Gear Review: LEKI Khumbu Aergon Trekking Poles
|The poles and I out for a stroll on the AT this weekend.|
I chose LEKI after hearing and reading good things about the company. Of the four poles LEKI offers for mountain trekking, three are listed above $100. I wanted something reasonably priced, durable, easy to use and without the anti-shock feature. I find the noise created by anti-shock trekking poles nearly unbearable and invasive on the trail, like nails on a chalkboard.
Just by virtue of my price limitations and anti-anti-shock preference, I'd narrowed the field to three LEKI models - the Khumbu Aergon, Corklite Aergon, and Cressida Aergon. The Corkline Aergon grips were too stiff; I preferred the softer grips on the Khumbu Aergon. The Cressida Aergon only extend up to 125 cm (48"). Even though I'm 5'9" and the 48" extension would have been enough, I wanted flexibility in case the poles needed to become tent poles, or hold up tarps.
All three feature LEKI's Speedlock locking system, hailed as one of the strongest in the world. The levers are easy to use with gloves on, operating a bit like the quick release lever on bike tires. The Khumbu Aergon, though 3-4 oz. heavier than the other two pairs, were under the $100 mark, and that was the final piece that tipped the scale.
|Locked vs unlocked, lower portion compressed.|
Frustrated, I took them to Rainier anyway hoping to rent a pair if I couldn't get mine to work. One of my guides told me it's a common issue with trekking poles in general. She helped me make them usable by extending the top portion as far as it would go, locking it, and leaving the bottom compressed. The top lock stayed put and I didn't have to worry about the lower one sliding around. It worked and they felt sturdy enough, but the poles lost 6-8" of length flexibility.
I'd never heard of, or read reviews from, anyone with that issue and of course, that makes me think it's got something to do with the user! I'm hoping I'll get them to stay locked with a little fiddling. I found the poles themselves a valuable addition to my collection of gear. I've taken them out once or twice since, and regretted leaving them at home for our Ricketts Glen adventure.They won't have a place on day hikes for me, but I expect they'll come with me on backpacking trips this summer.
The bottom line: The grips are comfortable, the poles are sturdy, and the Speedlock system is easy to use. For my height and purposes, they're still functional with the lower portion compressed, but of course ideally, the entire pole would function properly. All that being said, I'm not sure I'd buy these again. If anyone has any suggestions about how to get the lower lock to stay put, I'd love to hear them!
I bought these trekking poles with my own hard-earned cash, and as always, the opinions expressed here are my own. If you're a trekking pole aficionado, what are your favorites?