I’ve been using this stick for about 18 months now. Leki are a very well-regarded manufacturer of ski poles, trekking poles and other outdoor accessories.
I’d been using another, similar pole from another manufacturer but found it inadequate. The section locks weren’t strong enough and it would compress if anything more than minimal weight were applied for support on either a downhill or uphill. No worries of that with the Leki. In the store, I expanded it to the right height, placed the ball under my hands, braced it into my midsection and put as much weight on it as I could (the guy in the store joked that they might have to institute a ‘you break it, you buy it’ policy). It held. It did bow very slightly but that was all. The sections were securely locked.
I chose this particular style for a couple reasons. One, I liked the fact that it could be made compact for travel. I also liked that the wooden ball at the top can be screwed off and the stick used as a monopod (more on that later).
Overall, it’s a very well made, very durable and sturdy walking stick. The ability to adjust the length for better support both up and down hill is a plus. As mentioned, the section locks work very well. A simple quarter to half turn and the sections can be slid out and in as needed. The slight shock absorption system in the pole is a nice touch as well, making it a little easier on the arm/hand in the field.
There are a couple negatives to report; however. The plastic threads for the basket at the bottom stripped within a few weeks and would need to be replaced in order to use a basket. When it’s cold (around the freezing mark and colder), the twist locks don’t work. If you loosen the locks to adjust the length, they won’t tighten back up again. The stick has to warm up some before the locks will work properly again. So don’t leave it in the car during the winter.
One of the draws of this pole was the camera mount under the top ball. It seemed like it might be a good opportunity to combine tasks into one piece of gear. In short it works, but it’s not ideal. There’s no issue with the pole not being able to hold the weight. As mentioned earlier it holds full bodyweight so a camera and lens aren’t going to break it. The pole sections are fairly narrow diameter – much narrower than a monopod. So while it does hold the weight, the pole does flex which reduces stability. For a higher end point and shoot camera like a Canon G10 or a small (D)SLR like something in the Rebel line and shorter focal length lens it would probably work fine. For larger (D)SLRs with a grip and longer, heavier lenses, the amount of flex in the pole reduces its effectiveness for use as a monopod. In a pinch it’s most definitely better than nothing but it won’t replace a good monopod.
All in all, I’m happy with mine. The shortcomings are fairly minor. Tt would work as a decent monopod for the majority of people. To be fair, it wasn’t designed with the long lens loving bird or wildlife photographer in mind.
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