Great Walks reviews Leki's MCT 12 Vario Carbon hiking poles.
The ultra-light Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon folding poles (200gm each) utilise Leki’s Core Locking Device System – a light, stable, and intuitive locking mechanism. And the design has them folding into three sections – just 42cm when collapsed. The cross trail poles are designed to help you hike faster, and for those in a rush or trying to beat a personal best, these are likely to be the ideal poles.
In order to put the poles through their paces, I hit the Rosewood Creek walking track, situated in the Dorrigo NP, 40km from the gorgeous NSW town of Bellingen, NSW. The 5.5km loop walk is a Grade 4, taking one through World Heritage-listed rainforest. Taking roughly two hours to complete, it saw us passing some of the biggest blackbutt and tallowwood trees anywhere – some close to a thousand years old.
I love the pole's Cross Shark mesh strap system which feels more like a glove than a strap, and provides impressive support and grip. The design, with a hole for your thumb, literally fits like a glove, giving you greater control and stability. The strap is made from a highly breathable, lightweight mesh, while its design features a wide support area for effective power transfer.
The innovative Trigger Shark system is a snap to use, if you’ll pardon the pun. It allows you to very quickly and easily attach to and release from the pole, single-handedly. The poles can be adjusted from 110-130cm, with easy-to-read centimetre markings. This feature proved to be particularly useful when it came to shortening or lengthening the poles for some of the steeper ascents or descents we encountered taking detours down to the creek or Coachwood Falls.
The bright orange basket at the ends of the poles made accurate placement on uneven ground very easy. The cork-look foam grip felt great in the hand, although if you like your gear looking pristine, be aware that it’s likely to show dirt easily. The grip extender also allows for additional grip variations. While not the lightest poles on the market, the Leki MCT 12 Vario Carbon feels strong and sturdy, and the engineering and design that’s gone in won’t fail to impress.
One thing the poles might have benefitted from would have been a more contoured grip for those times you choose not to use the strap. Also, while it wasn’t cold enough on the hike to need gloves, if you’re planning on hiking in colder climates, it’s worth checking if your pair is compatible with the Cross Shark. Something that would have been welcomed was some sort of strap to keep the three sections together when not in use, or to attach one pole to the other for easy storage. But other than that, the poles performed magnificently, and were a real pleasure to use.
RRP: $449 per pair.