Friday, April 9, 2010
Leki Faux Pas
Some more equipment I have been testing recently is a pair of Leki Makalu trekking poles. I have seen people using these for many years and have usually thought two things. One is that the user must be German because it only ever seemed to be German people using the poles – that has changed recently and the poles are much more international. The other is that the user must be a poser because I couldn’t see that they performed any function except possibly helping you to keep your balance on rough and rocky terrain.
I have recently been persuaded otherwise and I have a pair. My initial thought was that I needed one as an extra leg on hilly, scrabbly, loose, slippery, wet or skiddy ground. I went into a shop in Ambleside to get one. I made a point of going into this particular shop - . Head for the Hills There are many shops in Ambleside selling outdoor equipment but I have bought stuff from this shop before and the people in there are particularly friendly, helpful and charming so I bought my walking poles there.
I went in talking about the one pole for extra balance and the very nice lady said that it would surely be better to have two because they are actually beneficial when walking long distances as they help propel you and they give upper body exercise - which is something that, at the moment, with spending so many hours a day walking – I am not getting any of. So I plunged for a pair of the Leki Makalu poles. Another benefit of the poles is that with each step, weight is transferred from the legs to the arms, thereby relieving pressure on the knees, which can only be good when one has a suspect knee.
The tips are described in the blurb as diamond-tipped. There were plastic covers over those tips. I assumed “diamond” meant pointed and I am sure I have seen some of these poles with pointed ends. I misunderstood some advice and thought that you had to leave the plastic covers on, particularly when walking on asphalt or stone. On my first test walk, a few days ago, with the poles, I was appalled to find, when I got home after 10 kms on soft track with some stones, that the points had burst through the plastic covers and the points were no more, in fact that the ends were extremely blunt and flat.
So I contacted Head for the Hills and after a bit of toing and froing of e-mails with misunderstanding on both parts, I discovered that the ends were never flat. They are actually made of tungsten and will last for several years. That in fact the ends – far from being pointed - are concave to give a better grip on the ground. Also that the plastic covers are there just to protect the ends in transit, or rather to protect people from the tips, which, although not pointed, could do some damage to passing skin.
So, all’s well that ends well. I have used the poles several times now. I am quite happy with them and I am even more pleased than I was before with Head for the Hills in Ambleside, which I thoroughly recomment, and here is their website: