Monday, January 24, 2011

Ski Gear Review: Leki Trigger S Series poles

Photo: Leki
Face it. Poles occupy ski equipment’s bottom rung in terms of generating excitement. Sure, gear nerds may debate the value of aluminum versus composite materials, but poles do not rival skis and boots— or even bindings-- in the quest for the latest and greatest.    

Leki’s Trigger S Series poles, however, may be the lone case of technology in poles that could inspire a curious comment from a stranger in a liftline. Instead of a traditional loose strap, the Trigger grips have a sort of “release binding” for poles.

The skier clicks into each pole with a little loop of cord between the thumb and index finger on compatible Leki gloves or on tight straps included with the poles that modify any other glove brand. The loop is made of Dyneema, a tear-proof material also used for parachute lines. To release the glove from the pole, the user must press down with the thumb on the top of the pole and unlatch the mechanism.

Most importantly in terms of safety, the mechanism also releases much like a binding with enough pressure during a fall. Not needing a strap around the wrist, the feature can also reduce the risk of a wrist injury if the pole catches a tree when skiing in gladed terrain.

Photo: Leki
The lack of a traditional strap may take some adjustment for skiers accustomed to the feel and leverage of a strap running under the thumb gripping the pole. This initially odd feeling particularly comes into play using the compatible Leki gloves. Using the included straps that modify other glove brands, this sensation is less pronounced in that the hands can still sense a strap, but the safety feature of the release system remains. The downside to using the straps with other glove brands is that removing the gloves becomes a little more cumbersome.

The lack of traditional straps also causes a minor inconvenience in placing gear on a ski rack during a break. Most skiers loop the traditional straps on the ski tips, so obviously without straps, the poles must just lean on the rack next to the skis.

For skiers who prefer the latest and greatest gear with loads of innovation, the Leki Trigger poles do offer added safety and unique features. For skiers who like to keep their equipment functional and simple, however, the poles may seem too complicated for their own good.

(Disclaimer: Product was provided for the purposes of testing.)