These adjustable, light weight carbon poles with a “SpeedLock” system for fast, on-the-move length adjustment are a different beast than the trekking poles you likely use for fast hiking or mountain running. If the beat-up adjustable poles I’ve relied on for backpacking over the past decade are a tough old black bear, these Leki Trail Vario poles are a hard-charging grizzly bear that will have you flying through the mountains like an endorphin-crazed bruin.
With the exception of a few long hikes that included sections of running with trekking poles to speed things up a bit, I’ve never used poles for trail running. Testing these feather-light Leki’s out on some soggy, spring Palisades Park trails, the initial awkwardness of running with poles soon faded as I developed a pole plant rhythm that worked for me and the terrain. An unexpected bonus, I was suddenly cruising with an amped-up swiftness that put my usual plodding pace to shame. I figured part of my sudden affinity for speed was due to the added stability the poles provide in difficult terrain—I was leaping over logs and puddles and hopping around basalt boulders like a jack rabbit. But the poling action also propelled me along the trail at a faster clip. The “Shark” strap system attached to the cork grips securely connects your hands to the poles for comfortable, powerful poling, and the carbide pole tips instill confidence that each plant will land and stay where it’s supposed to. MSRP: $219.95. Leki.com/us/trail-running //