Leki Instructor Lite Nordic walking poles combine ergonomic design with a low swing weight to provide stability when walking.
Nordic walking, as it is called in Europe, or hiking with poles, as we Americans know it, is an offshoot of dry-land training for Nordic Skiing. The Leki Instructor Lite walking pole has been designed specifically for walking or hiking. Constructing the upper shaft with aluminum and the lower shaft with carbon fiber allows Leki to produce a strong pole with a light swing weight. The poles come with easy-to-use adjustable cam-action speed locks, along with graduated markings stenciled onto the lower shafts that allow for adjusting the length from 100 to125 centimeters. The Nordic walking poles are equipped with a unique Trigger Shark grip and strap system. The Trigger Shark continually adjustable Velcro wrist strap has been ergonomically designed with a hole for the placement of your thumb and is designed to be removable. The two-component grip combines cork for finger comfort with plastic for strength and features a pushbutton pivoting catch that releases or secures the Trigger Shark strap. The poles feature carbide flex tips for dirt and gravel along with removable rubber fitness tips for pavement or other surfaces that might be damaged by the carbide tips. Each six-ounce pole has a small basket installed to keep the tips from sinking into soft terrain. Leki provides a lifetime warranty on aluminum shaft poles and a one year warranty on carbon shaft poles. The warranty covers shaft breakage only.
Founded in Kirchhiem, German by Karl Lenhart, Leki first produced wood ski poles. They have continued to pioneer innovation in poles used for Alpine and Nordic skiing as well as trekking, trail running and Nordic walking.
Initial testing was done on a ten-mile hike in a local state park over a wide variety of terrain. By far the most unique feature of the Leki Instructor Lite walking poles is the Trigger Shark grip system. After opening the Velcro strap, the hand is slipped in while the thumb is inserted into the thumb hole, much like putting on a glove. The Velcro strap can then be adjusted and closed. The author found that it was easier to unclip the straps before performing the procedure. The straps include a small loop that is then slid into the Trigger Shark opening on the grip, where it snaps securely. Adjusting the pole length is as simple as opening the cam lock and moving the lower shaft to the desired length. A knurled wheel adjusts the tension of the cam lock if needed. This whole process was accomplished in a minute or so. While the author felt the Trigger Strap a little strange at first, after a mile or so the benefits of the system became evident. Having the thumb supported independently made holding the pole much more comfortable. It also allowed more force to be transmitted down to the ground without having to tightly grip the pole. When the hand was needed for eating or taking a picture, pushing down on the release button with the opposite hand while pulling the strap up released the strap from the pole. The poles were also tested without the straps and found to work well and were still comfortable. Swing weight while hiking was very light. The poles were used for hours without the arms getting tired. They proved to be stable whether on steep terrain, while crossing creeks on logs or wading across those same creeks. The only shortcoming the author could find with these walking poles is that, because they have a two piece shaft when fully shortened, they are 36 inches long. This would make them difficult to pack for traveling. Leki does however, offer the Traveler Carbon Nordic walking pole, which has a packed length of 24 inches.
The Leki Instructor Lite Nordic Walking poles provided excellent stability on a variety of surfaces and terrain. The light weight of the poles, along with a light swing weight, made them comfortable during long periods of use.
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for the purposes of this review, but the opinions expressed are my own.