I’ll be honest I had never used trekking poles before as I thought that I didn’t need them. After this trip I’m total trekking pole convert! The Leki 2017 Thermolite XL poles that I took to Knoydart were the perfect pole for this trip. I didn’t want to go too light because I knew there were some potentially tricky river crossings and rocky descents where a stronger pole would be worth the extra carrying weight. The Thermolite XL’s are still by no means heavy poles at only 244g per pole.
Why oh why did I not try trekking poles sooner. They make covering ground safely and efficiently so much easier. Using the Leki Thermolite XL’s was one of the revelations and highlights of my trip. I raved about them to anyone who would listen when I got back. They helped me up some brutal climbs, got me safely across numerous rivers, down rocky pathless descents where they provided extra security and reassurance and made walking on the flat so much easier. They will be coming with me on future backpacking trips because frankly I can’t imagine doing it without them now!
The Thermolite XL is an adjustable length aluminium pole. The XL refers to the longer foam handle which extends down the shaft. This allows you to use the poles whilst climbing over obstacles and on steeper inclines without needing to keep changing the pole length. Instead you just move your hand down the grip. I found the Thermolites to be reassuringly strong. When putting extra weight through the poles on descents or river crossings they never seemed to flex but gave total confidence. The carbide Flex-tips deliver a secure grip even on wet granite. During the trip I twisted my knee and these poles made such a difference as my knee got progressively worse. I’m not sure that I would have been able to get to Inverie without help had it not been for the Thermolites. A lighter pole might not have coped as well because I was putting a lot more weight than usual through them.
Leki describe the Thermolite XL as –“Thermo and Lite: The name says it all. Ergonomic Aergon grips including thermal grip extension for more comfort. The TÜV tested Speed Lock 2 for effortless pole length adjustment and the ultralight high-strength aluminium shafts make the pole your perfect companion.” That description pretty much sums the Thermolite XL poles up for me. They will definitely be a companion on future treks.