LEKI Khumbus AERGON Speedlock Poles Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes (2022)

Leki Khumbu Aergon Trekking Poles

Test ReportSeries by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: April 16, 2010
Field Report: June 11, 2010
Long Term Report: September 13, 2010
LEKI Khumbus AERGON Speedlock Poles Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes (1)
Leki Khumbu Trekking Poles, Image courtesy of Leki
Tester Coy Starnes
Gender Male
Age 48
Weight 240 lb (109 kg)
Height 6 ft (1.8 m)
E-Mail starnescr@yahoo.com
Location Grant,Alabama, USA

Tester Biography
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy hunting, fishing, canoeing,and most other outdoor activities but backpacking is my favoritepastime. I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo. Ihike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid monthsof summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear islight. However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort anddurability. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg)not counting food or water.
InitialReport:April16,2010

Product Information
Item Leki KhumbuAergon Trekking Poles
Manufacturer Leki
Year ofManufacture 2010
URL http://www.leki.com/
Listed Weight 19.4 oz/pair(550 g)
Measured Weight 21 oz/pair(595g)
Size Adjustable from70 to 145 cm (28 to 57 in)
Color White and barealuminum
MSRP $99.95 USD

Product Description
The packaging for these poles does not offer much in the way of adescription but most folks know what trekking poles are. However,I only became aware of the adjustable kind myself at the tender age ofabout 30 so it is possible someone might not be familiar withthem. What sets the Khumbu (and many similar trekking poles)apart from a stick picked up along the trail or even a carved walkingstick is mainly the adjustability of the pole length. In other words, Iwon't be stuck with one length with these poles. This can behandywhen the terrain changes because longer poles are helpful when goingdown steep places and shorter poles are needed for climbing. Italso means that the poles can be used for other purposes, like forexample, part of the support structure for a shelter. In fact,many ultralight tents and tarps achieve a big weight savings byincorporating trekking poles in the design.

But back to the Khumbu's. There is quite a bit of information onLeki poles in general on their FAQ page and on the "Fix it on the spot"link which opens a pdf document. But basically, the Khumbutrekking poles are basic poles. The grips are not angled and theyare not anti-shock. The length of the poles is determined bysliding the middle and bottom sections to a certain mark on thepolesand locking the SpeedLock down. These marks are in centimetersand if both are set to the same mark this gives the total length of thepoles. They come with the performance basket which is thestandard basket to help prevent them from sinking too far into softground. The basket can be replaced if it becomes worn, orreplacedwith the Snowflake basket for using them on snow. The packagingindicates they are of the Super Strong Series. The website lists thefollowing as key features.

* AERGON-Soft Grip
* SpeedLock Locking System
* Interchangeable Basket System
* Carbide Flextip
* Weight: 19.4 oz/pair, Length: 70-145 cm

WARRANTY: All Leki branded trekking poles are covered by alifetime warranty against shaft breakage. Warranty does not cover wearand tear from normal use or damage from abuse.Initial Impression
I have used trekking poles for several years now, but mine have alwaysbeen the twist type, so the SpeedLock System is new to me. Butafter examining it, it is not really any different than the lockingmechanism (called a quick release) that holds a bike tire on, the onlydifference being, thisone is made of plastic. And after trying it out on a short hike I amalready impressed with how easy it is to change the length of thesepoles, as it literally takes just a few seconds to change.

The other thing that jumped out at me is the color of the poles.The top section is white (with black lettering). The lower twosections are unpainted aluminum except for the length markings.Anyways, while I'm not all that enamored with the white color, I cansee a benefit when leaving camp because they should be easy tospot. I have left my poles on more than one occasion afterstriking camp or after a rest stop.

Care
Leki says never use any lubricant on the trekking poles. Theydon't say why, but I can easily see that this could cause them tocollapse down unexpectedly which could lead to injury. I was surprisedto see Leki recommends taking the poles apart to clean. I alwaysthought that since the 145 cm reading has "stop max" printed on it thatit would damage the poles to go past this mark. So I was a littlehesitant to take a section apart. But I did and it was no problemto put it right back together. Now this part of the FAQ section makessense; "Thebest way to clean them internally is with our cleaning system,available as an accessory. It contains special sized wire brushes toremove any loose dirt and debris and get the interior of your poleclean and clear of built up oxidation that is naturally occurring overthe years of use." Here is one pole brokendown into the three sections. This is also the recommended way to carrythem on airlines.
Setting/Adjusting the poles for use
The first order of business is to set the hand grip straps to fitaround my wrist. I like mine firm but not real tight. I considertheproper setting of the straps to be where I can almost let go of thepoles and they still stay pretty much in the correct position. Theycame just a little tight for my liking so I needed to pull on the partthat goes back into the loop which will let the strap out(loosen). To tightenjust pull on the freeend. Also, keep in mind that to use the straps correctly, myhandsneed to go in from the bottom. If placed in from the top thestraps will not hold my hands like they are supposed to. I mention thisbecause I remember when a friend let me try his trekking poles. I hadnever usedanything like them and I placed my hands in from the top.For a few minutes I was wondering what good the straps were. Thenmy friend showed me how to place my hand in the strap.Ahhhh, they felt much better this way!

Once the grip straps are set, each pole length will need to beadjusted. The general rule of thumb is to set the poles to wheretheforearm is parallel with the ground when gripping the pole. Themiddle and bottom sections of each pole have marks in centimeters sothat once a setting is determined, it is easy to remember. For example, I have both sections of mine set at 115 cm (just over 45in) for hiking on level ground. If I need change the length fordifferent terrain or perhaps using the poles for setting up a shelter,it will be easy to remember that 115 cm (45 cm) is my normalsetting.Also, keep in mind that the numbers on each section are correct for thetotal length of the pole, but only if they are set at the samemark. Icould set one section at one length and the other at another but itwould mean one section was unnecessarily long which to me would beweaker. An example would be adjusting it to the 120 cm and 110 cmmarks, but to me the section set at the 120 cm mark would beweaker. The 110 cm section might be stronger than the 115 cmsection, but just like a chain, the strength of the poles will bedetermined by the weakest part. However, for just changing thelength for a climb or descent I will not bother the change bothsections as I won't be increasing or decreasing the length thatmuch. In fact I've already experimented on a short hike to thehollow and I found I liked just changing the upper section. Forthe hike down, I extended this section to the 120 cm mark, and for thehike back up, I moved it to the 110 cm mark.

Usage so far
As I just mentioned, I tried out the poles on a short 2 mile (3 km)hike downto the creek behind my house. I had not made it across my yardbefore noticing one of the poles was getting shorter. I stoppedand noticed the bottom section had collapsed down below the 110 cmmark. I pulled it back out to the 115 cm mark and before closingthe SpeedLock I tightened the adjustment screw just a little.It's a good thing it is easy to turn while the Speedlock is loose, butthe key is, the screw needs to be tight enough that the poles won'tcollapse when using them, but loose enough that it is easy to adjustthem when the SpeedLock is not engaged.

This concludes my Initial Report. Please check back inapproximately two months for my Field Report to see how the Khumbupoles are doing. I would also like to thank BackpackGearTest andLeki for letting me test these trekking poles.

FieldReport:July11,2010

LEKI Khumbus AERGON Speedlock Poles Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes (3)

Using the Leki Khumbu poles onThe Fiery Gizzard
Field Testing Locations and Conditions
I have used the poles on 3overnighters so far. The first was on April the 23rd on a hikeinTennessee on The Fiery Gizzard. The high was 81 F (27 C) with alow of63 F (17 C). This trip was 9.2 miles(15 km) and was on slightly steeper trails than I normally encounterbut the elevation and elevation changes were similar. The trip wasplanned for two nights but bad weather caused the trip to be cut to onenight. The next 2 overnighters were in the woods near myhome. Theone on May the 17th saw a high of 77 F (25 C) and a low of 59 F (15 C).The next trip was on June the 4th and saw a high of 84 F (29 C) and alow of 66 F (19 C). I hiked about 4 miles (6 km) total on eachtrip.The warmest conditions encountered was on July the 11th. This wason adayhike down to the creek and up the other side, then back down and upagain headed home. This was for some exercise, and covered about5miles 8 km) at a pretty brisk pace. It was 94 F (34 C) when I left thehouseat 1 PM and 96 F (36 C) by the time I got back home at 3:30 PM. I haveused the poles on several other similar hikes but I usually left thehouse at around 5 PM to miss the worst of the heat. Performance on the Trail
I'llstart by saying that my use of the poles has been pretty muchuneventful. I mentioned a pole section slipping before getting themadjusted properly, but I did have one section on one of the poles slipagain. I'm not sure if this was the same one that slipped thefirstday but regardless, it happened about a week later while I was out onone of my exercise hikes as I was headed back up the mountain. Iwason a steep section and pulling pretty hard on the poles when the lowersection of the pole in my right hand slipped just a little. Itdidn'tcause me to loose my balance but it did feel funny when it slipped. Iopened the SpeedLock and tightened the screw a little more beforere-setting the pole back to the proper length and continued on myway.I have not had any more occurrences of either pole slipping and thisincludes leaning really hard on them with a 31 lb (14 kg) pack while onsome real steep terrain during the hike on The Fiery Gizzardtrail.

Ihave found the poles to be extremely beneficial going down steepsections of trail. I could do without them on the climbs, butsince Ihave them I do use them and feel they help a little, but my kneesreally appreciate the extra support they offer when headeddownhill. Ialso like having them when crossing small streams, especially when therocks were wet or it was deep enough I had to walk in ankle deep water.

LEKI Khumbus AERGON Speedlock Poles Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes (4)

using the Leki Khumbu crossing a creek

An additional benefit when using the poles is being able to flick limbsand overgrowth along thetrail out of the way. I think it lessens the chance of getting atickon my legs. It also helps keep my legs and shoes drier when thelimbsor brush are real wet. Of course there have been places that weresoovergrown that it was not practical to move everything aside but eventhen, I found it great to be able to bend briers back out of the way.

Ihave been lucky so far this summer in that I have not run across anysnakes right on the trail. The few I have seen have been well offthetrail or on rocks etc at the creek, but nowhere near where I would bewalking. However, I always hate to step across a big log withoutknowing what is on the other side. I have used my poles severaltimesto tap across a log to scare any possible snakes away, or if arattlesnake, to get it to let me know it is there. However,spiderwebs have been extremely thick this year, or at least they seem worsethan I remember from previous summers, maybe because we have had a lotof rain. Anyways, I have used the poles countless times to knockdowna web. Unfortunately, my eye-site is not what it used to be and Iprobably walked into as many as I spotted in time. "Watch out!There'sone dead ahead!!!"

LEKI Khumbus AERGON Speedlock Poles Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes (5)

One of many spider webs encounter whilehiking

Iguess I should conclude with a few comments about the SpeedLock.Ihave not really needed to adjust the poles many times, but when I did,they are much easier to adjust then the twist-lock mechanism I amfamiliar with. I kept the poles at the same length for my up anddownhill travel but there were a few occasions when I had to cross astream on a log and needed the poles let out quite aways. And asstated previously, once I got the tension set properly, the poles havebeen rock solid as far as not collapsing unexpectedly.

This concludes my Field Report. Please check back inapproximatelytwo months for my Long Term Report to see how the Khumbu poles aredoing.I would also like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Leki for letting metest these trekking poles.

Long TermReport: September 12, 2010

Testing Locations and Conditions
Mytesting location have been the trails near home here in NortheastAlabama during this final phase of testing. My trips included anovernight hike of 4 miles (6 km) as well as several day-hikes ofsimilar distance. The low on the overnight hike was a pleasant 67F(19 C). It did get rather hot the last month and a half but Istill managed at least one hike a week down to the holler. Infact,the entire month of July and most of August sawtemperatures at or above 100 F (38 C). And as previously, Iusuallywaited until late in the afternoon to do any hiking. I did notexperience any rain during my hikes. Below is a photo I tookrightbefore heading out for a late afternoon hike.

LEKI Khumbus AERGON Speedlock Poles Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes (6)

typical hikingconditions for the past couple of months


Long Term Test Results
The Leki Khumbu trekking poles have continued to serve me well duringmy hikes over these past couple of months. I don't know exactlyhowmany miles I have hiked using the poles but I know I used them with acertain pair of boots for around 80 miles (129 km). And since Ihadthe poles a few weeks prier to getting the boots I'm pretty sure I usedthem for another 20 or so miles (32 km) so I estimate I have used themfor at least 100 miles (161 km) total. I will say that as hot asithas been, I did not hike in the mid-day heat. Even waiting untillatein the afternoon was not much better, but at least the sun was low andIfelt better. I did notice that the grips would get rather wet afterhiking a few miles but they really never felt slick in my hands. Thiswas surprising because the grip on my bikes handle bars does getslippery when I sweat a lot.

I did adjust the length of the poles on a few hikes. I like having theability to change the length of the poles to match the terrain. Ididneed them let out all the way a couple of times as I crossed a logacross the creek. And even when let out all the way they areprettysolid feeling. Other than down around the creek the trails have beenvery dry recently, and while not as slick as earlier this spring andsummer, they still are steep in places and the poles gave me goodsupport. I actually like using them most when descending as theseemto make it easier on my knees.

The spider webs have abated somewhat but I still used the poles toknock them aside several times. One thing I have not mentioned is thathaving hiking poles could be handy if attacked. I hike in prettysafeplaces but in the past I have stumble across whiskey stills andmarijuana patches. I've also ran across packs of wild dogsbefore.Anyways, none of these occasions have presented themselves during thetest period but having the poles ready at hand was reassuring.

Summary
I know 100 miles (161 km) is not many miles, but I fell that theLikiKhumbu trekking poles are very durable and sturdy poles. The SpeedLockhas functioned flawlessly once I got it tightened down properly andadjusting the length of the poles couldn't be easier. The gripsandretaining strap are very comfortable and worked remarkably well evenwhenmy hands got all sweaty. There are lighter trekking poles, butfor me,these are just fine. In fact, they give me a bit more confidencewhenI put most of my weight on them.

This concludes my testing of the Leki Khumbu trekking poles.I would like to thank BackpackGearTest and Leki for letting metest them.


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