Many of us grew up never putting much thought into hiking or exploring, we just did it. Grabbing a backpack and walking through the woods was natural, we never thought of ways to make scampering over rocks and logs easier. As adults we have gained wisdom, and are well versed on how the exuberance of youth comes back to us in the form of aches and pains later in life. In this day and age, we welcome any piece of equipment that will ease the stress on our backs, knees, and muscles. For this reason, I’ve decided to review the Leki Cristallo trekking poles. The benefit to your body by using trekking poles to help stabilize the load you are carrying is well documented by several outdoor publications.

I was never a believer in trekking poles, but I reluctantly listened to several more experienced outdoorsmen, and tried a set. The difference a pair of trekking poles made was noticeable within a short period of time. The amount of stability they provided eased the strain on my knees and lower back, provided a welcomed relief, and made the whole experience more enjoyable. I decided I needed my own set, and the hunt for an affordable and well built set of poles was on. After visiting several outdoors and mountaineering shops, I selected our profiled pair the Leki Cristallo. Lets take a closer look at them.

Name: Leki Cristallo

Colors Available: Orange/Black

Weight: 18 ounces per pair

Shaft Material: 6.5 HTS Aluminum Shaft

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Grip Material: AERGON soft rubber

Maximum Length: 57.1 Inches

Minimum Length: 27.56 Inches

Locking Mechanism: Leki Speed Lock 2

Locking Mechanism Force Load Rating: 300 lbs

MSRP: $ 119.95

Applications: Hiking, Trekking, Snowshoeing

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy of adjustment
  • Fits wide range of heights
  • Soft grips
  • Replaceable tips and basket
  • Good looking color scheme

Cons:

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    • Price
    • Instructions come in four difference languages and finding the English translation in all of it can be aggravating. However, pictures are also provided, so the drawback was minimal.

Overall Performance:

I have only used these poles for a few weeks on short day trips through the Chugach National Forest and Hatchers Pass Management Area here in Alaska and I can already notice a difference. The poles collapse down to fit nicely onto almost any day pack you can find. They happen to fit perfectly onto the outside of my REI Trail 40 pack.

The shaft of the poles are clearly marked in centimeter increments to help the user adjust them to appropriate lengths depending on intended use. This also ensures that the user has both poles at the same length, trying to use two poles of different lengths will force you to carry the load on your back off balance resulting in unneeded strain on your body.

Are Trekking Poles the Answer?
Leki Speed Lock 2 and clearly marked length increments in CM

The foot of the poles comes with both replaceable baskets and carbide tips. The standard basket is the Performance Trekking Basket, which is well suited for most any surface that isn’t snow. Leki does offer a basket designed for winter allowing you to use these poles while snowshoeing or skiing. The Carbide tip can be replaced with several styles of rubber tips, allowing the user to safely use them on hard surfaces such as bike paths or sidewalks. Leki and it’s engineers really put a lot of thought and effort into making these trekking poles a tool that is able to be used year round. This helps spread the cost of the gear out over a 12 month period, if you factor the total number of days these can be used verses the cost to purchase.

Are Trekking Poles the Answer?
Performance Trekking Basket

Although Leki offers several styles of grips on their trekking poles, the AERGON soft rubber is the only grip available on the Cristallo pole. The feeling of the AERGON grip in my hand is a huge reason I chose the Cristallo over other more expensive poles. I tried other models including various Black Diamond and Leki brand poles with both hard rubber handles and cork handles. In the end, the AERGON grips felt the most natural to my hand structure. That is not to say cork handles don’t have their advantages, but for my uses, I felt it would be wasting money on features I couldn’t fully capitalize on.

Are Trekking Poles the Answer?
AERGON rubber coated grips

The idea of breaking down and buying new gear was frustrating to me, but I’m glad I listened to other trusted outdoorsmen and picked up the Leki Cristallo trekking poles. I highly recommend you pick up a set of these poles for your trekking adventures. The advantages and benefits will be obvious once you use them, and your joints will thank you.

It’s summer, get out there grab a pack, a jacket, some trekking poles, then hit the trails of America. Let us know what works for you and what we can do to make adventures better. If there is a particular activity or piece of gear you are thinking about, chances are, someone on staff can help you in your quest. Use the comments section below or the Comms Check if you have any questions. Stay safe and make your own adventures.

–Rick

“I get up in the morning looking for an adventure ” — George Foreman Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion