Trekking poles seem like (when viewed generally) a relatively simple piece of trekking gear. Their job brief is to offer support and comfort while you're lugging yourself and your backpack up, down and around. However, to think that all poles are equal in terms of getting the job done is a serious mistake, as these aluminium Leki Summit AS (Antishock) poles (adjustable between 69cm and 145cm) have proved over the past nine months of testing.
Leki has forged a reputation for producing very well engineered and designed poles that are robust and comfortable to use - something I have discovered for myself over the past few months of rigorous testing. The poles have been used on a two-week trek across the Peruvian Andes (see story this issue), a climb up Mt Kilimanjaro, and for numerous day hikes. On each occasion they have provided optimum support and, considering their complexity of design (more on that later), have proved surprisingly reliable.
These poles may look, er, just like trek poles but they are feature-heavy. Leki's Aergon Cor-Tec Grip is a mix of cork and rubber and has been nothing but comfortable since Day 1; there have been no rub spots or blisters appear on my hands and the texture of the cork surface has ensured plenty of grip no matter how hot and sweaty I get. The grips' angle is ideal for long hours in the hand and the strap is comfortable and easily adjusted.
I never used to be a fan of internally locking poles - in my Luddite mind, it all seems too complicated and with potential for failure - but the Summit poles' Super Lock System (which uses internal expanders to ensure the lock) has proved me very wrong. No matter how much grit or dirt the poles have been covered in, or whether wet or dry, adjusting the length has always been dead-easy: all it takes is a simple twist, an adjustment of length then another twist to lock it in. There has been zero movement or play in the poles, regardless of how rough I've been with them.
It's been a tough nine months for the Leki Summit AS poles but they have come through unscathed after being exposed to a number of testing situations. And it is this reliability and ease of operation that takes the sting out of the asking price, which although high-ish, gives a set of lightweight (282g), robust trek poles that should last many years - and kilometres - of trekking.