Leki Thermolite Aergon Antishock

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1

It has been a month since Outdoor Retailer Summer…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Leki for testing and review)

Summary

It has been a month since Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, when I took home a pair of the new Leki Thermolite AERGON Antishock trekking poles to test. These Thermolite poles feature the Soft Antishock System Lite (SAS-L), the newest version of Leki’s antishock system, and use Leki’s traditional internal twistlock Super Lock System. A new SpeedLock external locking systewill debut on five 2010 Leki poles, but the company tells me they do not have a satisfactory antishock design and the system is not in use here.

The Leki Thermolite AERGON Antishock trekking poles.

I have given a pretty thorough wringing to the Thermolite AERGON Antishock hiking poles this summer, using them on a half dozen hikes, totaling around 40 to 50 miles. My wife, Barb, also used them on one 5-mile and one 6-mile hike. Total altitude gain during usage was somewhere around 15,000 feet, and of course, the same descent.

I will state up front that I am strongly biased against antishock poles, and have had numerous discussions with the Leki people over the past few years about why I dislike them so much. Basically, I find the “pogo stick” rebound of traditional antishock poles to give me an uneasy, off-balance feeling, resulting in using more energy to hike as I tense up in response to the off-balance feel. This is especially troublesome when crossing streams or negotiating narrow passages where you expect the poles to aid your balance. It also shows up when putting on a heavy pack and using the antishock pole for balance while it sinks away from you as you load it trying to balance getting up.

I have used some type of hiking staff or pole(s) for many years and have seen the very great benefits that can be derived from their proper usage. They do indeed help with balance and maintaining a restful, yet speedy rhythm to proceed along trails, both uphill and downhill, and cross country. I have used them for hiking with packs (including carrying climbing gear up into the 70-pound range), when hauling sleds (as can be seen in the photos in my Antarctic trip report), and of course for skiing (mostly backcountry).

I have several different brands of poles currently in my quiver, including a Leki camera monopod that also serves as a hiking or ski pole, and that was used as one of my pair of poles on Kilimanjaro. The monopod has the old-style antishock system, and like a couple other pairs of antishock poles that Barb and I own, exhibits the feature I have disliked most about antishock systems — it acts like a pogo stick. Place it firmly and it bounces back with a strong kick. I usually lock the antishock feature out, as Barb and I both do with our other antishock poles.

The Thermolite AERGON Antishocks were a real eye-opener, though. 
First of all, they are quite light (16.2 ounces per pair) and, despite my leaning and jumping on them (occasionally pole-vaulting as I came down steeper trails), they never collapsed or even lost any length. Barb did have one pole slip a bit when she used the pair during a cross-country hike in August when we were at the Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge in the Sierra Nevada, where I was giving an intro workshop on GPS receivers. But it turned out she had not really tightened the twist lock when adjusting the length.

sasl-100x213.jpg
Soft Antishock System Lite (SAS-L)

The real goal was to see if the new antishock system was all it is claimed to be.
Well, I discovered on the very first hike (on a hot day up Mission Peak, a 6-mile round trip with a 2,100 foot cumulative elevation gain, part of it effectively off trail) that the new SAS-L antishock system really works. Even if you really jab the pole into the ground, or worse into rocks when going over sections that are over long stretches of boulder (the exposed results of glaciation seen at Donner Pass, for example), the tip stays pretty well put and doesn’t skitter along like a rigid pole (either a 2- or 3-section adjustable or a fixed-length ski pole). There is still a bit of skittering, and the light pole does vibrate transversely when jabbed hard into the rocks or hard surfaces. It’s more than I would like, meaning more than the carbon fiber poles I use most of the time, but no more than other aluminum poles I have.

Do they change my mind about antishock poles?
Definitely yes, as far as the Soft Antishock System Lite specifically goes, but not at all as far as the older “pogo-stick” systems go. The Leki Thermolite AERGON Antishocks are the only antishock pole I have found that I feel are really usable and of benefit. They are good enough that I plan on buying a pair of the women’s version for Barb, which are slightly lighter, due to the smaller diameter tubing. However, Barb thinks the Thermolite AERGON Antishock poles we both tested may be just right for her as well. They do have a nice light swing and a good feel to them, and the grips and the strap system is quite comfortable (Barb made the mistake of putting them on the wrong hands for the first mile of one hike and couldn’t figure out why they didn’t feel quite right — like putting shoes on the wrong foot, though much more comfortable). They are a bit pricey, though, at $139.95.

Leki Thermolite AERGON Antishock

Features: Positive Angle AERGON Grip, Super Lock System, Soft Antishock System Lite, 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum tempered at the factory, anodized finish, interchangeable basket system, carbide flextip.

Weight: 16.2 oz per pair

Length: 65-135 cm

MSRP: $139.95 per pair

Leki also offers the Thermolite AERGON XL Antishock, the same poles with an extra-long foam grip extension.

Weight: 17 oz per pair

Length: 65-135 cm

MSRP: $149.95 per pair

Where to Buy

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Retailers' Descriptions

Here's what other sites are saying:

Ideal for hiking and saving weight when traveling, the Leki Thermolite XL Trekking Poles are lightweight and durable for extended expeditions.

- EMS

The Thermolite Aergon Antishock trekking poles from Leki are lightweight, strong and durable. With built in antishock functionality, these trekking poles can take you pretty much anywhere in comfort. Includes 2 Poles.

- CampSaver.com

Super-lightweight performance with shock absorption. Up to 20% lighter than other LEKI poles.

- SunnySports

The Leki Thermolite AERGON Antishock poles are designed for trekking up Mount Mitchell in record time, or just a leisurely hike for the day. Made with the highest-quality materials - Aircraft-grade Aluminum and 100% High Modulus Carbon. The Thermolite Aerogin has the strongest, most reliable and durable locking systems, with no tools required for adjustment. Comfortable grips designed for different sized hands, and Antishock features for reduced impact on all terrain. Carbide Flextip for security on rock and ice. An incredible Lifetime Warranty* for shaft breakage

- RockCreek

Part of Leki's Ultralite Series, the Thermolite Aergon Antishock poles feature a lightweight design with antishock, advanced locking mechanisms and extended-length ergonomic grips. LEKI Thermolite Aergon AS trekking poles offer support and durability at a weight of only 16.2 ounces per pair. Soft Antishock System (SAS) Lite reduces stress on the joints, muscles and ligaments. The combination of internal steel spring and elastomer creates a smooth and unique suspension system that is quieter and reduces shock more effectively than other designs. Leki places the SAS Lite system closer to the point of impact by embedding it inside the shaft of the lower pole section, keeping the spring cleaner and requiring less maintenance. Incorporating a 15-degree positive angle that preserves a natural position for your wrists. The dynamic, lightweight Aergon grips have an ovoid shape that can be palmed or held traditionally. A rubberized, dimpled top offers a textured grip point and easy-adjust straps reduce stress on your wrists and provide additional security and comfort. Interchangeable basket system (standard trekking baskets included). Adjustable from 65-135cm. Click here for TIPS on the Usage and Upkeep of your Trekking Poles. Click here to see the Anatomy of a Leki Trekking Pole

- Rocky Mountain Trail