Leki Albula poles

Review: Leki Albula Lite V Trekking Poles

Lightweight and innovative trekking poles that provide excellent support for those hitting steep and challenging terrain.

The Leki Albula Lite V trekking poles are not just your average support system out on the trail. These bad boys have taken the best from their alpine cousins and totally upgraded wrist strap technology for trekking poles. The result is an easy to use system that provides unparalleled support on tough trails. Oh and their lightening-fast Speed Lock 2 system is pretty good too.

Leki Albula Lite V Trekking Poles: The stats

Pole type:Telescoping
Length:100-135cm
Pack size:67cm
Weight:520g
Wrist strap:Glove
Pole material:Aluminium
Handle material:Thermo Foam

Design features of the Leki Albula Lite V Trekking Poles

Trigger S Vertical system

Trigger S systemThe Albula Lite V Trekking Poles come with Trigger S Vertical system that replaces traditional wrist straps. The system joins the Trigger S Vertical strap to the connection point that is integrated into the handle of the pole. The Trigger Loop on the strap easily clips onto the pole, and is released by pressing the button on the top of the handle which is a bit more tricky (see below). The system is designed for skiing so if you fall and enough force is put through the poles, the system will release the straps and you will become detached from the poles – in theory. I’ve yet to ‘try out’ this function and hopefully won’t whilst trekking.

Trigger S Vertical strap

Trigger S Vertical strapThe straps fit around the hand a little bit like a glove. They come in one size that is big enough to fit over ski gloves, and they are adjustable at the wrists with velcro straps. The Trigger Loop is attached to a flexband that allows for easy switching between grips. As they are designed to fit over gloves, the straps are not especially breathable and are too big for little hands like mine! However, the Trigger S Shark straps are available in smaller sizes and are more breathable and comfortable worn directly on your skin. They don’t have the flexband that the Vertical straps do though, so are a touch more restrictive when switching between grips.

Handle

Leki pole handleMade from breathable Thermo Foam, the ergonomic handle is very pleasing to touch and hold. Unless I’m thinking about it I barely even notice the handle – which is a really good thing! Leki’s Aergon grip design provides an exceptionally comfortable and soft grip that fits every hand (apparently!). It feels great in my hand and they’re pretty tiny. There are no edges on the grip head either which further adds to the comfort of this part of the handle.

Height adjustment

Speed Lock systemThe poles are adjustable in two places for a large range of length adjustment up to 135cm. The Speed Lock 2 levers make adjustments really quick and easy – great for shortening on the long uphills or packing away when you need to get your hands involved on the more tricky ascents. Compared with their previous version, the Speed Lock 2 levers are 30% smaller, 25%  lighter and 20% higher holding force. Impressive improvements. To tighten up the holding power of the locks, there is a small dial. Once tightened up fully, I’ve found that this is pretty tough to loosen again!

Pole tips and basket

Pole basket and tipThe short metal flex tips are good for gripping on dirt trails but will also support rubber feet (sold separately) for hiking on harder surfaces. The baskets on the Albula Lite V poles are designed for trekking, but they are removeable and can be replaced with more specialised baskets for skiing, touring, trail running or nordic walking.

 


Leki Albula Lite V Trekking Poles review

My first look at these lightweight Leki poles left me feeling a little cynical as to the value in their drastically different approach to wrist straps. Trekkers and hikers have been happily plodding along reaping the benefits of hiking with poles and using looped straps for decades, maybe even centuries! But Leki have gone right off-piste with the introduction of the Trigger S Vertical system into their trekking pole line. And although designed for skiing and touring, the system has only been a pleasant addition to my hiking and trekking escapades.

Aside from this innovative and bold rethinking of the traditional trekking pole, the Albula Lite V poles themselves are also highly pleasing to use. The lightweight aluminium shafts are super strong and contribute to the overall low weight of the poles (only 520g per pair). And the length adjustment levers couldn’t be easier to use.

Leki poles

What I love the most about the Leki Albula Lite V Trekking Poles

On flat sections of trail, I could take or leave the strap system. It seems a little overkill and unnecessary. But it’s on the steep uphills and loose downhills when the Albula Lite V poles and Trigger S Vertical glove combo really come into their own. The security and stability of the glove system makes a big difference compared with traditional wrist straps. I really love not worrying about gripping the poles, and I find that I have a much more relaxed grip when wearing the gloves, letting the gloves take the weight through my wrists. As well as this added stability that the gloves provide, the flexband in the gloves means that the grip head on the pole handle can be used to its full potential on the downhills, again, without worrying about losing the poles to gravity. The transition between the two grip positions (normal grip on the handle and top grip on the head of the pole), is seamless. No wrist strap to get tangled and twisted as you switch position and it doesn’t matter if you let go of the poles altogether.

Aergon handle of Leki pole

What I don’t love so much about the Leki Albula Lite V Trekking Poles

The gloves are a bit of a double edged sword for me. I really love the way they perform whilst hiking, in combination with the poles, but I have to say, I don’t love wearing them! Whilst using the poles I barely notice them. But once I’ve de-poled and want to take a photo, grab a snack, have a drink etc, I find myself wanting to take the gloves off too – which kind of defeats the point. I’m hoping this is something I get used to, and the longer I wear them, the more they become like my second skin.

I also find the trigger that releases the glove loop from the poles, a little tricky to use. It’s super easy to click in and I don’t even need to look at my hands to do this. But I find the system a little awkward to do one handed – you need to push the button down with your thumb whilst lifting your whole hand up. Practice is needed to make this as fast and simple as it should be.

Verdict

The Leki Albula Lite V trekking poles are a truly refreshing approach to trekking poles. They do everything that solid and lightweight poles should do, and they do it well. But it’s the Trigger S Vertical system, when used in steep and challenging terrain, that sets these already great trekking poles apart from the rest of the crowd.

If you are used to traditional wrist straps then the glove-like straps may take some getting used to. And if you tend to steer clear of anything too steep then these may be overkill for your needs. But if you are hitting steep and tricky terrain and are willing to work through the small teething problems then the Leki Albula Lite V trekking poles will not disappoint.


Not sure if the Trigger S Vertical system is for you? Check out some other great Leki poles kicking around this year.

trekking pole gear guide

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