Gear Review: Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles

Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles
Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles.

Trekking Poles
Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles
$200, 1 lb./pair (without storage sack)

From a four-day trip backpacking the Rockwall Trail in Canada’s Kootenay National Park, and a seven-mile, 2,300-foot dayhike on the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park, to a rocky and often steep, 17-mile, 6,800-vertical-foot dayhike over the four summits of the Northern Presidential Range in New Hampshire, and an approximately 27-mile dayhike on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River Trail (and other dayhikes of up to 10 miles during a six-day rafting trip on the Middle Fork), the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles repeatedly demonstrated their usefulness and versatility.

Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles collapsed
Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles collapsed.

These three-section, carbon-fiber poles lock together via an internal, Kevlar-reinforced tension cord, with a push-button release for collapsing them. But while other models of ultralight, three-section trekking poles come in a fixed length (different sizes, but non-adjustable), the SpeedLock below the handle on the Micro Vario allows for up to 20 centimeters/8 inches of length adjustment instantly—a unique and smart design detail.


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Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles handles
Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles handles.

The Aergon Thermo foam grips have an unusually large head on them, enhancing comfort—even on days of hiking as much as 12 or 15 hours—especially when I held the poles by the top of the grip (for going downhill or frequently changing my grip in steep terrain). The lightweight wrist straps dry quickly when wet from sweat or rain. The poles are light enough to use for running trails (as I did with these poles on the Monoosnoc Ridge Trail in the wooded hills of central Massachusetts), but the lightweight carbon-fiber shafts were strong also enough to use to pitch a tent that requires trekking poles.


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Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles.
Leki Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles.

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I almost never dayhike or backpack without trekking poles, and I tend to favor ultralight models; but my complaints about some poles in that category are that I fear them bending under hard use, and they come in a fixed (non-adjustable) length. With the Micro Vario, Leki answers those concerns.

See my other reviews of trekking poles and all of my reviews of backpacking gear and hiking gear.

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza


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2 thoughts on “Gear Review: Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles”

  1. Michael — I bought a pair of these recently and used them exclusively during a 2 week Tour du Mont Blanc hike. Absolutely loved them.

    Another point in their favor, if you are a photographer, is that you can easily convert one of the handles using Leki’s photo-adapter ( to provide a stable platform for your camera.

    In addition, if your photo device of choice is a smartphone (as it was for us), another hack would be to add an iStabilizer mount ( which can be screwed into the photo-adapter.

    The combination gives you an easy, stable platform for taking photos that takes little to no space or weight.