Update: We are not currently stocking the Carbonlite and instead recommend the LEKI Albula Lite Antishock walking pole which also features the ergonomic Aergon handgrip.
LEKI is one of the premier brands when it comes to hiking & walking poles, their name is synonymous with building high quality products using the most technologically advanced materials available.
The LEKI Carbonlite Walking Pole is a particular favourite of many customers, combining material strength and lightness (approx 190g per pole) in a package which was awarded by Outdoor Magazine with their 2009 “Gear of the Year” award.
The ‘Wow!’ Factor
First impressions may not be a major factor in buying a walking pole for some, but I will admit that for me looks are important, and this a reason why I like the Carbonlite so much. Its grey/black finish with gold and silver lettering and black and silver handle looks classy and contemporary. If the Carbonlite’s exterior is one in which if it was a human it would extrude confidence and faith in others.
Can Less be More?!
Being lightweight (190g per pole) it’s natural to think that the Carbonlite may be flimsy. Even having been in this industry for what seems like a lifetime I still sometimes wonder how less is more? But you don’t have to worry with these walking poles, not only are they made from high strength Carbon Fibre they use LEKI’s “Super Lock System” and have been designed to withstand up to 140kg (22st) of pressure per pole. Having locked the pole, with all my strength and weight pushed down on to it, I could feel it saying “More!….Is that all you’ve got?…..You won’t break me!” This is an important confidence building factor, knowing that your pole will provide support when you most need it, especially when descending.
The 2011 Carbonlite walking pole has been fitted with the new AERGON grip which LEKI uses for its trekking and touring poles. The first thing that one notices is the velvet like feel of the ergonomically designed wicking handle which fits a medium sized hand comfortably, though for my larger hands, I would have preferred a little more room. But this is a minor quibble. The top of the handle has a rubberised grip to allow the pole to be held here as well giving the Carbonlite dual grip surfaces.
The Carbonlite’s security strap is easily adjustable and with its simple yet effective locking system should not slip. Meaning that you can walk with confidence in all terrains. This said, I do think that the strap could be made from or lined with a softer material, particularly around its edges to increase comfort.
Super Lock System
The Carbonlite uses LEKI’s Super Lock System which is a simple and easy system to use, once you have the hang of it. To extend/retract the poles length you simply twist the relevant pole section. I found this system easy to grip and use, although I did have concerns for people who may have hand problems.
As a result I asked my mum who suffers from osteoarthritis in her hands and fingers to try the Carbonlite, she much to my surprise found no difficulties in tightening and loosening the pole and was herself surprised at its lack of weight.
So Why a Carbonlite?
As with all walking poles the LEKI Carbonlite reduces the strain on you knees, hamstrings, and helps you to walk with a better posture which should reduce back pain. Not to mention the aerobic health benefits you can get by using walking poles. The biggest single advantage over rival walking poles is the Carbonlite’s weight. This means you have less to lift when walking, and it also allows when not in use to be easily strapped to a rucksack. I find this to be a psychological benefit as being naturally lazy I look at heavier poles and my thinking goes something like this;
“I won’t need my poles today,
I feel like a modern day Hercules!!
I don’t want to carry the extra weight on my bag as I wont use them…. I won’t take them.”
Low and behold after a few miles with my legs and back screaming at me that I’m over the hill (physically not geographically!) I wish I had packed them!
With the Carbonlite this isn’t an issue as they don’t weigh you down when not in use, and this is why the LEKI Carbonlite gets my vote as one of the best ultralight poles on the market. It’s true that an XL pole gives an additional grip and anti-shock reduce wear and tear, but these add weight!
As usual in the outdoor world, it comes down to weight and how much you want to carry. If you want ultralight poles you cant go wrong with the LEKI Carbonlite, if you want anti-shock you will have to carry the extra weight.
Dont forget our previous technology/product review on the excellent North Face Tadpole 2DL