Leki Guide Lite V
For this review, I'm going to break the Leki Guide Lite V ski pole into each of its components and go over each one separately, since I have some very mixed feelings about the pole.
- Good construction (mostly)
- Some poorly designed features
The main body of the Guide Lite V pole is a two-piece, all-aluminum construction adjustable from 110 to 140 centimeters. The construction of the pole itself is more or less what you'd expect from a high-end ski pole designed for backcountry skiers. Due to its all-aluminum design, the Guide Lite V is slightly heavier than other standard ski poles, weighing in at 260 grams per pole. However, it's a lighter, slimmer version of Leki's Guide Pro V (286 g) and Guide Extreme V (257 g).
The Guide Lite V has a robust construction and feels strong in use. I've only noticed minimal scratching of paint on the lower segment of the pole, and the pole has not been bent, despite using it while skiing in the trees.
The grip (Trigger S Vertical 2.0) on the Leki Guide Lite V has a great ergonomic feel and fits excellently in my hand. While it is a somewhat untraditional design for a pole grip, it feels like I have a better grip when pushing. The extended grip is useful for when climbing steeper pitches or simply carrying the poles without gloves. It extends the grip far beyond where you would hold it while skiing and provides a place to grip when ascending as well as descending. Personally, my day-to-day favorite thing about the entire pole is the way the top of the grip curves so it's really easy to point at things. It's a small detail, but a nice one.
Trigger System/Quick Release
The trigger system and quick release are a staple of Leki poles, and while the quick-release worked as anticipated and ejected in some gnarly falls, it may be best to ignore the trigger portion of the system on the Guide Lite V. Many Leki poles come with a strap that wraps around your thumb as well as your wrist, so you can detach the strap from the pole and keep the strap on your hand.
However, the Trigger S Vertical Mesh Strap that comes with the Guide Lite V is a regular wrist strap and is just a loop of material. Finding the balance between tight enough to stay on your hand when disconnected and loose enough to be used properly on the pole (i.e. thumb over strap) is impossible. The solution to this is to simply not use the trigger system because if you do, you will lose your strap (I lost one).
The locking system on the Guide Lite V is Leki's Speed Lock 2. I had some issues with the locking system. The dial to adjust the locking system's tightness is hard to turn in either direction, and is nearly impossible to use with mittens. The locking system itself was also quite finicky and was either easy to shut, in which case the pole would collapse when weight was put on it, or was too tight and had to be opened and shut with two hands.
Leki's touring/backcountry baskets are somewhat notorious for breaking easily (I heard from several other skiers who broke theirs), and the stock basket that came with mine was no exception. Within a few weeks of use, a significant piece of the softer red plastic had separated itself and broken off of the pole; the weak spot is where it connected to the harder black plastic meant for adjusting bindings on the go.
While buying a new set of pole baskets is not the hardest thing in the world, and is relatively cheap, it is enough of an inconvenience to make me dislike the pole a little and adds an additional $10 to the cost of an already expensive piece of equipment.
Overall, the Leki Guide Lite V is not a bad ski pole. However, it has several shortcomings that made me end up opting for my cheapo beater poles on a regular basis, only breaking out the Lekis on powder days and touring adventures. I would have preferred the poles if I had been able to buy a replacement Trigger S Vertical Mesh pole strap for the one I lost, but unfortunately, Leki does not sell the straps that come with the Guide Lite V on its website.
My final word to buyers is that they shouldn't avoid getting the Guide Lite V. It's a decent ski pole for touring and your experience may vary. However, I wouldn't put it at the top of my list. And my final word to Leki is that they should remove the trigger mechanism and begin manufacturing stronger powder baskets.
I used the Leki Guide Lite V ski poles primarily for powder days this past winter.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Leki)
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Historic Range: $169.95
260 g / pole
110-140 cm continuously adjustable
Trigger S Vertical 2.0
Trigger S Vertical (Mesh)
Aluminium HTS 6.5
Speed Lock 2
Touring / Backcountry (Binding Basket)
Flex Tip (Long)