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Out on the trail, having a good pair of hiking poles can make a big difference. For example, poles can make the difference between nimbly navigating a choppy talus field and limping back to the car with a swollen ankle. Or the difference between popping back up onto your snowshoes and wallowing hopelessly in fluffy unpacked powder like an overturned turtle.
When picking poles, a great choice is LEKI's Micro Stick. Built from segmented aircraft aluminum, these trekking poles are LEKI's premier option for climbers, day hikers, or long-distance hikers. They pack down to only 15 inches, so you can strap them to the outside of your pack with ease. Since they're tremendously lightweight, you don't even know you're carrying them until you need them. Weighing in at a scant 250 grams—barely over half a pound—you won't be able to tell whether you packed hiking poles or a few extra energy bars.
The performance basket adds stability when hiking through mud, sleet, or any other unexpected precipitation, and definitely comes in handy when snowshoeing across your favorite frozen tundra. The carbide tip can provide extra purchase when trekking across slick ice as well.
The Micro Stick also feature LEKI's SpeedLock Locking System, which makes mid-trail height adjustments quick and easy. For example, if you tip over mid-snowshoe, you can shorten the pole down and get the right amount of leverage. The sticks also have a handy safety system, which allows you to tighten or loosen the wrist-straps on the fly.
If you hike with the poles in the fully extended position, make sure to read the instruction manual first. The poles can't collapse when they're at their maximum extension, so just remember to shorten them before trying to pack them into your bag—knowing that would've saved me a few frustrated minutes at the trailhead.
The Micro Stick comes in three different sizes: 110, 120, and 130-cm lengths. Their price tag might be a little spendy for some, but they do deliver great features, high performance, and low weight. (MSRP $150)
Dave Reuss grew up in the flat, boring plains of eastern Montana, knowing something was missing. As soon as he could, he escaped into the Rocky Mountains, found his true home, and never looked back.
After graduating from MSU-Bozeman (and narrowly escaping a career in law), he now spends his perennial (albeit impoverished) adolescence enjoying every diversion the mountains have to offer, from black diamond skiing in Utah to run-out trad climbing in New York.
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