Eric Edelstein

ExoticSkis
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 18, 2015
Posts
155
Location
Vermont and France
Sometimes you get what you pay for. We've never really seen a long-term ski pole test, and since we like the idea of finding ski products that last a REALLY long time without failure, we figured a pair of poles showing zero problems, breakage, bending, parts-loss or any failure whatsoever after 24 years of intense abuse and neglect across two continents of summer and winter usage was worth a few words.



New (2018) and 24 year-old (1994) Leki Worldcup pole carbide tip assemblies

Full-dislosure: Leki supported our ExoticSkis.com ski testing program by donating test poles for our Leki Vario Ski Pole test back in 2014, and provided ski poles for our test crew in 2018. We believe in honest, detailed reporting of ski gear, and disclosure of product donation or pro-form discounts is part of that reporting. We report our real experiences with gear we review, and if we like it, we say so. If we don't like it, we say so. We don't like ski gear that falls short of performance or durability expectations, so we wouldn't use anything that makes us unhappy. Leki poles have been making us happy with flawless performance and durability for years, so we continue to use them and wanted to let you know how they have held up under constant abuse.

The Test:

One of my best ski buddies who worked in a ski shop hooked me up with a pair of Leki Worldcup poles in the winter of 1994-1995. Since that time, I've been abusing this pair of poles with countless ski days in:

  • rock-hard, icy conditions
  • root, rock and stump-infested forest terrain
  • storms,
  • rain,
  • powder,
  • icy, crusted windpack
  • grass-skiing
  • 3-season hiking in rocky, gravely trails, muddy, mossy conditions...you name it.
These poles saw:

  • ski racing
  • race coaching (serious leaning-on-your-poles-for-hours-on-end and marking line selections in the icy surface of SL and GS courses...),
  • bushwacking,
  • jumping,
  • bumping,
  • wacking cornices
  • countless yard-sale crumple-crashes and violent impacts on unforgiving surfaces at speed.
  • crashes into saplings, trees and logs
  • javelin-toss lawn dart competitions
  • makeshift seating spanning across logs and rocks
  • palm-on-top-of-grip pole-vaulting over streams and craggy bits
  • poking buddies in the backside
  • popping countless bindings off in a rushed manner
  • popping heel pieces off from buddies in lift lines
  • wacking lift towers to make 'em "ring"
  • pushing and pulling ski boot buckles on and off on chair lifts
  • wacking snow and ice off the bottom of ski boots before stepping into bindings
  • raking gear from the deep inside the car or truck closer to you
  • Samurai slicing icicles off things
  • sword fights with buddies
  • snowball batting practice
  • bashing brush and saplings out of the way boogying through the woods
  • popping beer caps off bottles...

    ...all the things we use ski poles for.
The Leki Worldcup poles have featured high-quality aluminum alloy shafts, carbide tips and durable grips for decades, and this pair of 1994-vintage poles have demonstrated what you get when you build a product with top-shelf materials and assemble them with careful craftsmanship and vigilant quality control. A couple of things stand out when you spend the money on a high-end ski pole:

  1. The shaft withstands crashes by rebounding to its original shape instead of staying bent. Deflect a cheap pole, and it will crimp or stay bent. Deflect a top-quality pole, and it will return to its original shape nearly 100%.
  2. The tips stay sharp and sturdy. Cheap ski pole tips don't age well. The ice tips go missing, get broken or fractured after a couple seasons of normal usage. A high-quality pole tip doesn't disintegrate or lose its components.
  3. The grips (with or without straps) stay tacky, functional and tightly attached to the shafts. Cheap pole grips often get hard, slick, loose and unfriendly after a few seasons, or their straps fall apart, sack-out or begin to fray. High-quality ski pole grips stay grippy, tight and durable.
Don't Do This To Your Poles:

My old Leki Worldcup poles began to shed their paintjob after a few seasons as soon as the surface was scarred by ski edges or rocks on the slopes, or by miscellaneous junk they shared space with in the ski pod year after year. I tend to abuse my poles by tossing them into a ski box first, then piling tons of skis on top of them, cramming and jamming the gear in, hoping to "...get just one more pair of skis into the box and get it to close...". This is straight-up gear abuse. Don't do it. I should repent and renounce my evil ways...but old habits die hard... Great poles don't deserve to be tossed into the bottom of a box of heavy, sharp-edged skis bouncing around on the pothole-riddled, rut-infested dirt roads like a 12mm wrench in a junky toolbox full of hammers, clamps, screwdrivers and other hardware.

Bottom line: These Leki Worldcup poles have survived what we think is pretty typical abuse for 24 years, and they still work as flawlessly as the day they were torn from their shrink-wrap, and that's really cool. The high-end race pole costs more than a mid-range pole, but I have no doubt I would have needed at least 5 pairs of cheaper poles during that same time period, and been frustrated along they way as they either bent, broke or fell apart on a day out on the slopes, perhaps putting a harsh bummer on what would have been a really fun day in the snow. Our advice: buy a high-end pole, swap in your favorite baskets as-needed for the conditions (I like a fat basket on a race pole for all-terrain fun and games) and never worry about your poles again. Kudos to companies like Leki who build top-shelf poles with great materials and craftsmanship so skiers can enjoy decades of worry-free, reliable performance from their ski poles when they're outside having fun.

Pictures speak 1,000 words:



Leki Worldcup pole carbide tip assemlies 2018 (left - 1 season of usage) and 1994 (right 24 years of use)





24-year old Leki Worldcup pole shafts showing paint loss





New, 2018 pole (left) and 24 year-old Leki Worldcup pole (right)
Note the straightness of the 24 year old shaft (yes, the offset top section is intentional)



New 2018 (left) and 24 year-old (right) Leki Worldcup poles
(yes, the offset top section is intentional)





1994 (24 year-old) Leki Worldcup pole grip...
slightly worn, but still super tacky with strap in great condition.


 

Drahtguy Kevin

Après aficionado
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
Nov 9, 2015
Posts
1,221
Location
Northern Colorado
While my Leki World Cups aren’t nearly as old (about 10 years of use), my findings are the same. I have two pairs, one with hard snow baskets and one with powder baskets. Excellent product.
 

Brian Finch

PT, CSCS, Cert- DN, FRCms, M|WOD Coach
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Posts
2,053
Location
Vermont
While my Leki World Cups aren’t nearly as old (about 10 years of use), my findings are the same. I have two pairs, one with hard snow baskets and one with powder baskets. Excellent product.
+1

@Eric Edelstein can attest, I fell on one of the ‘14 WCs & Just bent it right back.
 

BS Slarver

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Nov 20, 2015
Posts
897
Location
Big Sky MT
Leki customer service is amazing !
True story here ....
I was going round and round trying to get hold of someone at Leki in customer service, I needed help with some replacement parts and by the fifth call I had left msgs. In every department. On the next call I finally got a human and I wasn’t all that polite letting him know about the lack of response as they have always been so responsive especially in
the pro department.
Not only did I get the parts I needed but they sent me out a new pair of trigger gloves and carbon comp poles free of charge for the hassle.
 

mdf

entering the Big Couloir
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,699
Location
Boston Suburbs
My Scott ski poles are the only poles I've ever owned. I'm only thinking about getting new ones because the current thinking is that the old sizing rules are no longer valid.
I probably bought them in 1982 or 1983 - so about 35 years old.
They are the better 7075 aluminum alloy, not the more typical 6000 series alloys. They were expensive when I bought them, but I guess I've gotten my money's worth.
 

Jim McDonald

愛スキー
Skier
Joined
Nov 15, 2015
Posts
1,495
Location
Tokyo
I have Scotts that were bought cheap around 1990, still fine; Lekis that are 20+ years old and in excellent shape; Komperdell adjustables only six or seven seasons old but like new. Quality stuff lasts.
 

Tricia

The Velvet Hammer
Admin
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Posts
14,096
Location
Tahoe
My Scott ski poles are the only poles I've ever owned. I'm only thinking about getting new ones because the current thinking is that the old sizing rules are no longer valid.
I probably bought them in 1982 or 1983 - so about 35 years old.
They are the better 7075 aluminum alloy, not the more typical 6000 series alloys. They were expensive when I bought them, but I guess I've gotten my money's worth.
This does not surprise me.
 

Castle Dave

Getting on the lift
Skier
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Posts
152
Point of info on Scott poles - look for the Series 4 (S4) shaft. Almost indestructible.
 

surfsnowgirl

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
May 12, 2016
Posts
4,460
Location
Londonderry, VT
Can someone "school" me on trigger ski poles. I get annoyed with straps and don't use them half/most of the time. I've contemplated getting a pair of the Scott strapless ski poles but then I'm also very intrigued by the Leki setup where your glove snaps into the the pole handle. Is there more than one kind, can someone recommend a model to me. I think I want the Trigger S but I thought I'd ask the experts.
 

LiquidFeet

lurking
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,665
Location
New England
When you buy Leki Trigger S poles, you get these harnesses that you attach to your gloves/mittens. I just put the harnesses on my mittens and leave them there forever. There's a little loop on the harness that hooks onto the pole. You hook it by pushing your harnessed glove/mitten downwards, and you release it by pressing on a thingy on the pole with your thumb. So no strap. On and off is easy.

I don't find the harness a problem at all; love these poles and their attachment harnesses. The harness functions like the loop used to. I use it for support when I'm skating just like I used to do with a loop.

I used to be the last person in a group to push off when starting down after a lift ride... because I wear mittens and it took me extra time to fish them into the loops of my poles. I'm no longer last... unless I want to be.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

surfsnowgirl

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
May 12, 2016
Posts
4,460
Location
Londonderry, VT
When you buy Leki Trigger S poles, you get these harnesses that you attach to your gloves/mittens. I just put the harnesses on my mittens and leave them thereforever. There's a little loop on the harness that hooks onto the pole. You hook it by pushing your harness/glove/mitten downwards, and you release it by pressing on a thingy on the pole with your thumb. So no strap. On and off is easy.

I don't find the harness a problem at all; love these poles and their attachment harnesses. The harness functions like the loop used to. I use it for support when I'm skating just like I used to do with a loop.

I used to be the last person in a group to push off when starting down after a lift ride... because I wear mittens and it took me extra time to fish them into the loops of my poles. I'm no longer last... unless I want to be.

I belong to PSIA; they have a deal on these poles because someone ordered 2000 instead of 200. They say "PSIA" on them. You can buy them at a PSIA event for $49.00. Not sure about the catalogue price.
I belong to PSIA as well. Hmmmmm, that's good to know. Thanks for the description as well. I've been curious about these for a while.
 

Brian Finch

PT, CSCS, Cert- DN, FRCms, M|WOD Coach
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Posts
2,053
Location
Vermont
When you buy Leki Trigger S poles, you get these harnesses that you attach to your gloves/mittens. I just put the harnesses on my mittens and leave them thereforever. There's a little loop on the harness that hooks onto the pole. You hook it by pushing your harness/glove/mitten downwards, and you release it by pressing on a thingy on the pole with your thumb. So no strap. On and off is easy.

I don't find the harness a problem at all; love these poles and their attachment harnesses. The harness functions like the loop used to. I use it for support when I'm skating just like I used to do with a loop.

I used to be the last person in a group to push off when starting down after a lift ride... because I wear mittens and it took me extra time to fish them into the loops of my poles. I'm no longer last... unless I want to be.

I belong to PSIA; they have a deal on these poles because someone ordered 2000 instead of 200. They say "PSIA" on them. You can buy them at a PSIA event for $49.00. Not sure about the catalogue price.

I have yet to learn how to remove this grip? Thoughts?
 

Tom K.

HRPufnStf
Skier
Joined
Dec 20, 2015
Posts
2,847
I came into two pair of Kerma carbon poles back in 1993 or 94 when they came free if you bought two pair of Dynastars (long story).

Last winter, I broke one of the originals, so started using the New Old Stock BRIGHT YELLOW ones.

I've retired the mate to the broken pole to a well-deserved role of "travelling spare".
 

Wilhelmson

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
May 2, 2017
Posts
1,733
I liked the short xc poles I bought at ems for $10, but unfortunately I lost one trying to get down an out of bounds ice cliff. Got some cool carbon poles on sale and while they feel great I don't thing my skiing has improved.
 

QueueCT

Getting on the lift
Skier
Joined
Oct 30, 2017
Posts
235
Location
Southwest CT
I buy $50 aluminum poles (whatever brand the store has) and they usually last about 10 years before I do something dumb on the hill and they snap. Latest casualty was last year at Stratton where I sideslipped into an already bent pole, went down fast with the top of the grip hitting my throat, then snapping the pole at an old bend. Hurt like hell and was glad there was already a crease in the pole. Went out and bought another cheap pair of poles.

Used to be I could break a pole and stop at the ski patrol shack to pick up an unclaimed dropped pole. Kept me from buying new poles for quite a while.
 

jmills115

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Posts
522
Location
Salt Lake City, Utah
When you buy Leki Trigger S poles, you get these harnesses that you attach to your gloves/mittens. I just put the harnesses on my mittens and leave them there forever. There's a little loop on the harness that hooks onto the pole. You hook it by pushing your harnessed glove/mitten downwards, and you release it by pressing on a thingy on the pole with your thumb. So no strap. On and off is easy.

I don't find the harness a problem at all; love these poles and their attachment harnesses. The harness functions like the loop used to. I use it for support when I'm skating just like I used to do with a loop.

I used to be the last person in a group to push off when starting down after a lift ride... because I wear mittens and it took me extra time to fish them into the loops of my poles. I'm no longer last... unless I want to be.

Is the harness compatible with any brand of glove or mitten?
 

LiquidFeet

lurking
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
2,665
Location
New England
It should be. If it fits my mittens easily; I can make the harness tight or loose with the little adjustment it has. I guess it should fit BIG gloves and mittens as well; others can speak to that.
 

martyg

Out on the slopes
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Posts
720
An aspect of LEKI that very few are aware of is that they own their factory, and do all of their manufacturing - total vertical integration. The only part that is contracted out are carbon shafts, and that is to one of the best composite factories in Asia (where most everyone else's carbon shafts are made).

This is significant because of heat treating. Every other brand contracts to a factory that sources heat treated 7000 series alloy stock. Then they swag the blanks that creates the tapered shape, and in that process compromises the desirable characteristics of the heat treating.

LEKI, on the other hand, purchases 7000 series stock (what Eric's original WC's are made with), swags the blanks, and has its own in-house heat treating facility where blanks are then heat treated.

The fact that LEKI still maintains its own factory and production takes place in the same complex as the offices - while virtually every other ski, boot and pole brand contracts theirs out to partner factories - speaks volumes about their commitment to quality.
 
Top