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INITIAL REPORT: Leki Ultralite Ti AirErgo PA AS Trekking Poles

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  • tcoug7
    Hi Mike...sorry I m a little late with this. I was attempting to send it last night from home, but couldn t get Yahoo, or my IP, to cooperate. I was called
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 29, 2003
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      Hi Mike...sorry I'm a little late with this. I was attempting to
      send it last night from home, but couldn't get Yahoo, or my IP, to
      cooperate. I was called in to work on an emergency and couldn't keep
      screwing around with it. So, here it is...

      I uploaded the HTML version if you wanted to see it. It looks a lot
      better there.

      I'm sure the yahoo gremlins will attack as soon as I hit send, so
      please forgive...


      Leki Ultralite Ti AirErgo PA AS Trekking Poles

      Initial report
      Submitted 29 April

      Synopsis of Initial Test:

      I really like these trekking poles. The construction appears first
      rate. Operation is a breeze. I love the way they look and feel. On
      the other hand, the documentation leaves something to be desired. I
      would put the poles in the professional" category, but the
      accompanying instructions are definitely "bush league".
      Tim C

      Tester Biographical Information

      Name: Tim Coughlin
      Gender: male
      Height: 5'11" (1.8 m)
      Weight: 180 lbs. (81.6 kg)
      Email address: Tcoug7<at>aol<dot>com
      City: Buffalo
      State: New York
      Country: United States

      Backpacking Background:
      I have been an active backpacker for 27 years, with experience hiking
      in many parts of the continental United States and Canada. Most of my
      time is spent in the Northeast, especially the Adirondack region of
      New York. I'm a seasoned veteran to 3-season backpacking, and I'm
      beginning to expand my resume to include winter backpacking. This has
      naturally led me towards the Lightweight and Ultralight philosophy.

      Test Plan

      My test plan is twofold. First, I plan on using the trekking poles
      on all of my hikes over the next six months. This includes day
      hikes. I have several planned outings with my Boy Scout troop, as
      well as some solo and family trips. The first major test will be
      Memorial Day weekend, where I am planning a 3-day trip to the
      I also plan on incorporating the poles in my sleep system. I want to
      see how well they can be used as tarp supports as well as setting up
      my hammock in "bivy" mode. Secondly, I am going to use the poles
      while carrying my daughter in a child carrier. This is similar to
      carrying a backpack, but different enough to mention it. The
      dynamics of a moving load are different on one's balance. Also,
      scrambling under obstacles such as blow-down is different when you're
      worried about your little girl getting whacked in the face!

      Product Information

      Name: Leki Ultralite Ti Air Ergo PA AS Trekking Poles
      Manufacturer: Leki
      Web Site: www.Leki.com
      Type: Pair of hand-held, 3-section, adjustable hiking and
      mountaineering poles
      Date of Manufacture: 2003
      Listed weight: 18.5oz/pair (524 g)
      Delivered weight: 18.9 oz/pair (536 g) *Note: this includes only the
      weight of the poles with the performance baskets installed, as
      Specific Features: These poles represent the latest and greatest that
      Leki has to offer. These come with all the bells and whistles.
      MSRP: $149.95

       Continuously adjustable lengths from a minimum of 30" (76 cm) to a=

      maximum of 53" (135 cm)
       Made from a high tensile strength alloy of Titanium and Aluminum
      that allows the shaft wall to be thinner without sacrificing strength
      while significantly reducing the weight.
       Positive Angle Grips – handgrips set at a 15-degree canter to
      ergonomically correct grip. Leki claims that shocks are absorbed
      more effectively in this position.
       Leki's new Soft Antishock System, new for 2003 - combining steel
      spring and elastomer to provide precise coordination of spring in the
      pole to absorb more energy while hiking. Leki claims this will
      reduce stress on the joints, muscles and ligaments. The user can
      easily deactivate the Soft Antishock System (SAS).
       Leki's new Easy Lock System (ELS) for 2003 – which is to provide
      the optimum locking force with less tightening torque than previous
       On-the-fly Auto Comfort Straps. Simply pull on the ends to
      tighten, or lift and pull to loosen. The new straps are lined with
      fleece to improve comfort to the user.
       The AirErgo Long Grip – which extends the padded grip 8" (20 cm)
      down the shaft for those "really" steep inclines.
       Durable carbide tips capable of withstanding a 30-degree flex from=

      vertical before damaging the pole shaft.
       Removable performance baskets.

      Available Accessories:
       Replaceable carbide tips – provides optimal grip on rock and dirt.=

       Performance baskets – great for 3-season hiking, especially in sof=
      soils and sand.
       Snowflake baskets – great for winter treks.
       Security Clip – allows temporary attachment of the poles to a pack=

      strap or belt.
       Rubber Tip – fits over carbide tip for indoor and pavement use.

      Out of the Box

      The trekking poles arrived via UPS. They were loosely packed
      in a cardboard box. They were not wrapped in anything. Rather, they
      sat on top of the shipping material. Since there was no discernable
      damage, I guess this was OK!

      The literature for the poles came in the form of a small tri-fold
      pamphlet wrapped around one of the poles and stapled to itself. The
      poles came connected together via rubber bands. There was some
      bubble wrap over the grips along with a little key-chain type
      caribiner sporting the Leki name wrapped around it and attached to a
      lanyard. I figured this was a promotional gift. But, it could also
      be used to tie the poles together when not in use. Either way it was
      unexpected – thanks Leki! After removing and separating the poles,
      the inspection began.

      Tour de Pole

      At the top of each pole is the handgrip. The handgrip is set at a 15-
      degree canter off vertical. It is made of a cork/rubber composition.
      The very top takes on a knob-like contour. It is uncovered. Below
      this area is the grip itself. The grip measures about 3.5" (8.9 cm)
      long. It has a very ergonomic shape. The entire grip area is
      covered in a rubber/foam material that is form-fitted to the grip.
      Extending below the grip is the Air Ergo Long Grip. The Long Grip
      lists as 8" (20 cm) long, but mine measure to be 8.5" (21.6 cm)
      long. The function of the Long Grip is for really steep inclines,
      like in mountain hiking. Like the grip itself, the Long Grip is
      covered in the same rubber/foam material.

      The Auto Comfort Straps attach at the top of the handgrip. There is
      an opening machined into the handgrips where the straps attach. The
      straps themselves are composed of 1" (2.5 cm) wide nylon webbing
      with a fleece lining sewn into one side. The straps have an
      adjustment range of 5" (13 cm) from their smallest loop size to the
      largest. On the very top of the handgrip is the tensioner for the
      Auto Comfort Straps. The tensioner appears like a screw head. There
      is a slot for adjusting. A coin works nicely. By cranking the
      tensioner clockwise, the tension increases, thus making the slippage
      of the straps stiffer. The user can tighten down the screw and
      completely and override the "on-the-fly" ability of the Auto Comfort
      feature. Also labeled on the adjuster is a small "L" or "R" on each
      pole. This is to signify either the left-handed or right-handed
      pole. About the only difference between the left or right poles is
      the way the strap is fed into the handgrip. By using the correct
      pole in the associated hand, the soft fleece lining will be in
      contact with the inner palm, presumably resulting in a more pleasant

      The main pole section is capped off by the handgrip. This section is
      painted a very sharp metallic black. All lettering is on this
      section – in either gray or red letters. Each main pole section also
      contains the plastic pole connector. This is a plastic connector,
      easily adjustable anywhere along the length of the main section. The
      connector works by one sliding into the other, thus creating a lock
      between the two poles. This is part of the storage system.

      The lower two sections are the adjustable sections. They are
      painted gold in color. Each contains a scale located on the side
      for setting the pole length. The scale is labeled in metric units -
      centimeters, although I found it to be meaningless since each section
      can be set anywhere along it's length. The scale markings are nice
      to quickly set each pole to the same length though. Each pole has a
      replaceable, black, plastic cap on the end covering the cut end of
      the pole. This not only gives it a finished look; it also eliminates
      the possibility of a sharp, exposed edge.

      At the bottom is the basket and carbide tip. Both pieces are
      replaceable. The baskets are threaded on. They are removed by
      turning the basket counter-clockwise while holding the shaft
      stationary. The tip assembly and basket are black in color. Each
      basket has a circular cutout in it. These cutouts are another part
      of the pole storage system. After the poles are connected via the
      plastic lock connector up on the main section, the cutouts allow a
      friction fit between poles down at the carbide tip region. After
      both locks are secured, the poles are married securely.

      How Do They Work

      How do they work? That was the question I kept asking
      myself. I don't mean from a performance standpoint. Rather, I mean
      from an operational standpoint. Being new to Leki products and
      trekking poles in general, I was not sure how to customize the setup
      to fit me. I went to the enclosed literature for answers. The
      literature only led to more confusion. The only clear information I
      found was that the poles should be set so the user's lower arm and
      upper arm make a 90-degree angle at the elbow. So I did what I do
      best – I took the poles apart and figured them out for myself!

      Between each section is an expander. The expander looks to
      be made of nylon, although I'm only guessing here. It works like a
      split dowel. When the user turns the pole section counter-clockwise
      to loosen, the expander rides down a screw and draws itself in. When
      it's low enough, the poles are free to slide. When the user wishes
      to set the length, they turn the pole section clockwise, which causes
      the expander to ride up the screw. When the expander comes in
      contact with the screw head, it begins to mushroom out – thus causing
      a firm friction fit between the two pole sections. The screw
      contains a very fine thread, which is the key to the new ELS (Easy
      Locking System).

      I did find a couple of characteristics of the ELS system
      worth mentioning. First, because of the fine threads, if the poles
      are very loose, it may take several turns before the user begins to
      notice any tightening. Another important characteristic is that if
      the user loosens the section too much, they can cause the expander to
      jam against the bottom of the screw base. When this happens, all of
      the turning in the world will never tighten the sections up again.
      The user must separate the sections, grab the expander with one hand
      while turning the pole with the other. Only after the expander
      releases and begins to climb up the screw should the user reassemble
      the pole sections. In general, I found that it is best to loosen the
      sections only enough to get them to slide.

      Another feature I had to figure out was the SAS (Soft
      Antishock System). According to the literature, this feature could
      be turned off if desired. By looking at the documentation though, I
      didn't have a clue. By separating the middle section from the main
      section, the SAS system is exposed. By observing the SAS, I realized
      how to set it. The locking mechanism consists of a pin riding in a
      slotted section. The slotted section has two `areas' – a long
      vertical section and a horizontal section. When the pin is riding in
      the vertical section, the spring mechanism is allowed to expand and
      contract and the SAS is activated. When the pin is in the horizontal
      section, the section restricts the spring movement, thus locking the
      SAS. To operate the SAS, the user must first tighten the pole
      sections. Then with a twist motion between the main pole and middle
      section, the SAS can be turned on and off.

      There is no mention of the Auto Comfort Straps in the
      literature. I had to figure this one out on my own too. The tension
      of the straps is adjustable via a screw-type head on the top of the
      grip. The user can set the tension to whatever they like. By
      tightening up on the screw, the straps will be locked in place.

      There is no mention of how to remove the Performance Baskets
      in the literature. By fiddling around, I discovered that they screw
      on. By grasping the pole in one hand, and turning the basket with
      the other, the basket will thread either on or off, depending on
      direction of rotation. By looking at the basket from the tip end and
      turning the basket counter-clockwise relative to the pole, the basket
      will come off. Turning the basket in the opposite direction will
      tighten it.

      MY Gripes with the Literature and Website

      The literature never clearly explained the ELS system. Nor did it
      clearly explain the operation of the SAS system. It never mentioned
      anything about the Auto Comfort Straps. It never explained the
      removal of the Performance Baskets. It claimed the poles were color-
      coded on top of the handgrips with either a black or white dot. This
      was to differentiate between the left and right poles. The color-
      coding did not exist. Instead, the grips were labeled with either
      a "L" or "R".

      In one section, the literature warns not to adjust the poles beyond
      the "Max" line. There is a picture there of something breaking on
      the pole. I took this to mean that I should not pull the pole
      sections apart beyond the "Max" line. In the very next section
      under "Pole Maintenance", the literature says the poles should be
      disassembled and cleaned. But, it never says HOW to disassemble.
      Again, I figured this out on my own. What it should say is the poles
      should not be OPERATED beyond the "Max" line.

      The literature recommends that the expanders be replaced once a
      year. But, it makes no mention of HOW to remove the expanders
      without damaging the pole section. Also, it makes no mention of how
      to order replacement parts.

      There is no parts list included with the poles.

      I went to the Leki website (www.Leki.com) for answers. I found the
      website very easy to navigate. I found it visually appealing. There
      was some useful information in the FAQ (frequently asked question)
      section, but again there was too little. Most of my criticisms with
      the literature extend to the website also.

      Concluding Comments

      I feel Leki has made a fine product. The construction of the poles
      is superior. So far, I've used them on four different outings and
      it's only been a week! I really notice the difference they provide.
      Having been a staff user for so long though, I can see that I am
      going to have to get used to them. If Leki spends a little more time
      on the documentation, I think they'll have hit a home run!

      Things I like:
       The feel of the handgrips.
       The extended grip.
       The feel of the SAS.
       The look of the poles.

      Things I don't like:
       The documentation!
       The pole transport lock – I just don't have faith in it that I
      won't lose a pole.

      The verdict is still out on:
       The ELS system – I have had to play with it a lot to get it to act=

      right. I need more experience with it to see if it's and operational
      thing with me, or if it's the system.

      Thank you Leki and BGT for allowing me to test your product.

      Tim Coughlin
    • Andy Mytys
      ... Tim - that was a really good report - nice flow!
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 29, 2003
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        --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "tcoug7" <tcoug7@a...> wrote:
        > Tim Coughlin
        > Tcoug7@a...

        Tim - that was a really good report - nice flow!
      • tcoug7
        ... Thanks Andy, I really appreciate it. Tim
        Message 3 of 5 , Apr 29, 2003
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          > Tim - that was a really good report - nice flow!

          Thanks Andy, I really appreciate it.

        • Michael Wheiler
          Tim: Nice report! Just a couple of minor edits for your consideration. The user can tighten down the screw and completely and override the on-the-fly
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 30, 2003
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            Nice report! Just a couple of minor edits for your consideration.

            The user can tighten down the screw and
            completely and override the "on-the-fly" ability of the Auto Comfort

            ***take out the second "and?"

            right. I need more experience with it to see if it's and operational thing
            with me, or if it's the system.

            ***"it's an(?) operational thing...

            Thanks Tim.

          • tcoug7
            ... Thanks Mike. All fixed. Tim
            Message 5 of 5 , May 1 5:17 AM
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              > Nice report! Just a couple of minor edits for your consideration.

              Thanks Mike. All fixed.

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