Overall rating: 5/5
On a recent running trip to the Cairngorms I decided to make the leap to using trail running poles. After some excellent and honest advice from Leki I took the Micro Trail Pro poles which are a fixed length, folding carbon option perfect for someone like me who has never run with poles before. I always take trekking poles with me but I’ve never thought about running with them until this year where I’ve been introduced into the world of trail running. Specifically, I’ve been introduced to and excited by more challenging ultra and multiday events which Cross the UK will be participating in across 2017-18.
The Micro Trail Pro weighs in at around 190g per pole on the 120cm version that I use. The Micro Trail Pro was recommended as lightweight option for beginners. I have used poles for years and I have run off road for even longer but combining the two is a new challenge. I was warned that I would catch my legs, trip myself up, use my arms too much and generally look like a baby giraffe taking its first steps but I’m quietly pleased with how it went and certainly the weight of these poles was never noticeable even after 30km across the Cairngorms. It did take time thinking about when I actually needed the poles and when to put them away. Then it took time getting used to folding them away and getting them back out and ready to use again but this is all part of the learning curve and no judgement on the poles themselves. In reality having never used folding poles before to using them when running the equivalent of a marathon a day across the Caringorms it made for interesting viewing!
As for the poles, they are constructed of 100% carbon so are lightweight but very stiff and responsive. They are a great choice for trail running due to their construction and the simple mechanism to fold/extend the poles. The single button towards the top of the shaft allows you to quickly fold the poles away or click into place. They are held together with chord wrapped in a durable plastic tube meaning that you don’t need to worry about them catching on things when they are folded. The joins between each section of the poles are reinforced with metal which greatly increases durability and despite adding a little weight and maybe not looking quite as slick as the RCM poles but personally I value that durability more.
The Trigger Shark handle and grip is a change from the norm. The cork grip has pro’s and con’s in that they absorb sweat through the pores in the cork so if you get particularly sweaty hands or are doing high intensity activities these great compared to many synthetic handles. However, some people question the durability of cork and some simply don’t like the look but during a recent two day circular mountain run between Braemar and Glenmore Lodge in very changeable conditions I have no complaints. The Trigger Shark straps are straight off the ski slopes are an absolute highlight for me. These fit snugly around your hands providing a padded and breathable connection to the pole which in wind, rain, ‘running’ up or down mountains always felt super comfortable. They are a bit annoying when you’re trying to get them on or off quickly but the benefits outweigh this massively. When running there is no need to keep gripping the poles to drag them along with you as these straps ensure the poles move when your arms do. Granted it takes practise to get the direction right but it is certainly more comfortable and prevents soreness developing on the palms of your hands.
I used the standard tips rather than the Fin Vario spiked tips as a beginner to avoid more pain when the inevitable clumsy collisions occurred and I am glad I did. However, I you already run with poles this won’t be such an issue and the precision you get from the Fin is much greater and may well be preferential to you.
Overall I don’t have anything to compare these poles to having never used any for trail running before but I certainly don’t have any complaints that would lead me to think these are anything but great poles. You have to keep in mind that these poles are not designed for trekking with full packs and the huge weights and forces that would be going through them in these circumstances so don’t get them as a ‘do everything’ option. They are excellent for trail running and I would definitely recommend them to any runners looking for poles.