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Pole Review: LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D 2021


Manufacturer:

LEKI
https://www.leki.com

Suggested Retail Price:

$149.95 (usd) - Model#: 65067101

Introduction:


Back in 2018, ExoticSkis.com published a somewhat unusual summary of heavily skiing the same LEKI poles for 24 years without any breakage, bending, defects, hiccups, lost parts or foul language:

(Also posted at SkiTalk.com with subsequent comments.)

After more than two decades abusing the same poles without incident, we thought skiers should know that yes, some things do last longer than you expect and it proves the old adage: "you get what you pay for".  LEKI provided us with some new 2021 poles and gloves to support out ski tests and asked for our reviews of the new gear.

Manufacturer Background:

Founded in 1948, LEKI openly describes their products as jointly developed and manufactured in Kirchheim/Teck, Germany and Tachov in the Czech Republic. LEKI states his eliminates lengthy supply chains and expensive procurement channels, while their continual investment in the latest high-tech manufacturing process flows and equipment minimizes material requirements and waste to achieve the highest standards in occupational safety, energy efficiency and environmental compatibility.  LEKI claims more than 250 patents for their outdoor products with a focus on product durability.  LEKI utlizes heat capture technology to capture heat from the manufacturing process and use it to heat the facility as much as possible.   Filter systems in the factory recycle the heat from the filtered ambient air, applying just enough heat to maintain proper temperatures in the plant instead of heating outside air to desired interior temperatures.  Where solvents are required in the manufacturing process, LEKI reclaims, filters and purifies the solvents in a special facility for subsequent usage instead of continually sourcing new solvents.  LEKI states they are the only pole manufacturer in Europe utilizing a special aluminum shaft hardening process totally in-house to control all aspects of quality during manufacturing.  Powder coating, painting, injection molding and all other operations are kept in-house to minimize transportation impacts and maintain strict quality-control over the entire workflow for each product.  Residues from component production and finishing are collected, reused and recycled to maximize efficiency and minimize raw material demands.

LEKI describes their commitment to energy conservation as "...We place a high value on renewable energies, which is why we installed the first photovoltaic system (Solar) in our Kirchheim, Germany location in 2005. As a general rule, we supply our entire energy needs from April to September with our own photovoltaic systems and even produce a surplus. Over the year, LEKI generates 7% more electricity than total energy consumption. This extreme electricity savings also noticeably reduces our CO2 emissions by over 33 tons of CO2 per year. In 2014, we installed an intelligent and highly efficient energy-saving lighting system. Since then, we have equipped our production and storage rooms with energy-saving LED lighting. With this sustainable investment, we have reduced electricity consumption from 27,040 kWh/year to 1,508 kWh/year."

Manufacturer's Description:


The SPITFIRE VARIO 3D is the go to pole for all mountain freeriders of all ages. A team favorite, there is nothing this pole can't handle. This sturdy aluminum pole adjusts from 110-140cm thanks to the lightweight, reliable Speedlock+ locking system. Featuring the NEW TRIGGER 3D ProG grip. An innovative multi-directional release mechanism that expands the release range for greater confidence and security. The Trigger 3D system features LEKI's Mesh Frame Strap, providing comfort and control allowing for a close grip with any glove or mitt. Two interchangeable baskets for all conditions. (USA)

Watch out freeriders, your wishes came true: with the Spitfire Vario 3D, there is now an adjustable version of the successful Freeride pole. With its variable length of 110 to 140 cm, you are immediately safely on the go in any terrain and can very easily adjust it, even with thick gloves, thanks to the Speed Lock + adjustment system. The new Trigger 3D System offers more control through a direct connection between the gloves and poles. In addition, the ease of use has been improved for quick, simple click in and out and a larger release range through an innovative, three-dimensional triggering in which the triggering spectrum has been expanded four times. (UK)

TRIGGER 3D PRO-G
The Trigger 3D system is the further development of the Trigger S technology. With it's 220° release angle, the ease of use is even better and the risk of injury even lower. The soft surface of the slim race grip guarantees maximum gripping power. The Pro G grip is compatible with all trigger straps and gloves. (UK)

Extra soft surface and slim design for perfect gripping power and maximum comfort. Multi-directional release mechanism for greater confidence and security.(US)

TRIGGER ALPINE STRAP
Infinitely adjustable strap with a wide support surface and a perfect fit. Easily click in and out of the pole with the Trigger Loop. (UK)
Lightweight and breathable strap with wide support area for effective power transfer. (USA)

SPEED LOCK +
Extremely fast adjustment of the pole length. 35% lighter, 27% smaller and same holding force as SL1. (UK)
Extremely fast and easy adjustment of the pole length even whilst wearing gloves. Smaller and lighter than SL 1.(USA)

BIG MOUNTAIN BASKET
Ideal for powder days. Tool-less basket replacement.

COBRA BASKET
Ideal to hit the slopes. Tool-less basket replacement.

CARBIDE FLEX TIP (ALPINE)
Replaceable flex tip. More precise pole use and perfect grip on snow and ice.

Series:    Unisex
Construction:    Adjustable
Grip:    Trigger 3D ProG
Adapter:    Adapter Cap
Strap:    Trigger 3D Frame Strap Mesh
Segments:    2-pieces
Shaft Diameter:    16/14mm
Shaft Material:    Aluminum HTS 6.5
Upper section:    Aluminum HTS 6.5
Lower section:    Aluminum HTS 6.5
Locking System:    Speed Lock +
Basket:    Cobra + BMB
Tip:    Carbide Flex Tip
Length/Size:    110 cm - 140 cm
Adjustment Area:    110 -140 cm
Weight/pole:    289 grams / pole (262g and 261g / pole measured... 269g w/powder baskets)

Trigger 3D Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BKJjITznOw

 

- Website February 2021

Summary:

At 261-262 grams each (269 g w/powder baskets), the well-balanced, adjustable 2021 LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D freeride poles with the upgraded Trigger 3D Pro-G grip and multiple baskets pretty much ticks all the boxes on what a modern adjustable pole should be for a whole lotta skiers on and off the mountain.  With an MSRP price point of $149 (usd) backed by LEKI's long history of quality product manufacturing and excellent customer service, we found the Spitfire Vario 3Ds pretty compelling and quickly became a favorite among our testers who fought for first-dibs on taking them out each day.  The Trigger 3D Mesh Frame glove wraps (LEKI calls them "straps") (included) allow a non-LEKI glove to interface with the Trigger 3D system and take advantage of the hook attachment feature of the grips really well.  Some testers prefer the feel of the LEKI Trigger 3D glove straps on any glove or mitt (LEKI or not) to the built-in hook of the LEKI Trigger system gloves and mitts...it's really personal preference.

First and foremost, the Spitfire Vario 3D has a pretty light feel for an adjustable pole with a high-tech grip system, and feels nicely balanced, highly accurate, quickly responsive and secure. Secondly, the Spitfire Vario 3D feels stout enough to rely on when terrain and posture requires a forceful pole plant...even a pole plant with too much body weight on it when things get a little "less elegant" during especially awkward or simply dumb moves on-snow throwing the skier out of balance way too far to the downhill side...requiring a bit of a crutch-like strut to stem the tipover fall down the fall line.  Thirdly, adjusting the length for different situations was fast and easy with all the but most clunky cold-weather mitts.  Once the SpeedLock+ adjusment cam mechanism was used a few times to strech/wear-in with slight tightenings of the thumbscrew to snug the tension down again, the mechanism worked flawlessly without further adjustments.  Lastly, Spitfire Varios 3Ds look very cool with a great color/graphic combination... several testers thought they were probably one of the most understatedly handsome looking poles in recent memory and immediately caught peoples' eye on first sight. Fit and finish of the poles and their components was top-notch, and the inclusion of both powder baskets and the tiny disc "Cobra" baskets makes for a pole system with great appeal, especially for $150 retail pricing.

Test Conditions:

Vermont USA.  Resort alpine and backcountry outings in shin-deep powder, cut-up powder, packed-powder, wind-packed buff, boilerplate, groomed corduroy, trees, groomers, uphill, sidehill.

Adjustablity:

The adjustable length is formidable with a 110mm-140mm range to cover not only aspring uphill, sidehill and downhill adventures, but covers the needs of growing kids (an often overlooked market for adjustable poles with a long lifespan...buy 'em once and forget it).  Fully extended, the Spitfire Vario 3Ds still feel solid since a good portion of the lower shaft remains inserted within the upper shaft for strength and flex control (the pole does not get wobbly in full-extention mode...but then again I don't know anyone who skis a 140mm pole other than nordic skaters who will have their own fancy nordic skate poles...[check out the LEKI HRC line of nordic poles to see some pretty exotic ski poles https://leki.mwrc.net/en/product.php?product_id=71406]).

The SpeedLock+ adjustment cam mechanism can exert an impressively secure grip on the shaft with little pressure. Don't overtighten the clamp...it just stresses the plastic housings unnecessarily, and you don't need a super-tight lock to keep the shaft from moving since LEKI's fit tolerances are high-quality, making them nice and tight.  While you can release and lock the SpeedLock + mechanism and ajust pole length while wearing most gloves and mitts, you need a bare-hand to spin the little locknut tension adjuster accurately.  In real-world usage, once you get the SpeedLock+ adjusted and the cam broken-in after a few lock-unlock cycles, we found further adjustment of the locknut unnecessary.

Feel and Responsiveness:

Part of the accurate feel and responsive nature of the Spitfire Vario 3D is the 3D Pro-G grip with rubberized coating along its entire contact surface with the glove.  Rather than rubberize just the finger or palm contact surfaces...LEKI rubberized the entire grip surface for grippy feel, so it responds really quickly to hand movements without having to put a death-lock on it.  The glove-grip interface is non-slip, even in cold weather and with somewhat frosted or snowy gloves, which is a good thing.  Flick your hand, the pole follows your direction without lagtime or sloppy response.  For people coming off poles with somewhat slippery, hard-surface grips, the rubberized 3D Pro-G grip is a pretty eye-opening experience, letting you control the pole without having to really exert a strong grip on it. Like all LEKI grips, the position of the grip on the shaft is angled forward 8 degrees for ergonomic performance.

The balanced feel of the Spitfire Vario 3D comes from a good choice of Aluminum HTS 6.5 material for the upper and lower shaft segments of the pole and the ability of the grip to control the entire shaft easily.  When adjustable poles first appeared on the ski scene, they often felt oddly balanced.  LEKI's research into modern materials engineering has allowed them to develop adjustable poles with naturally intutive feel and balance approching the seamless feel of modern one-piece pole constructions.  The carbide tip in a semi-flexible plastic stem provided really rock-solid grip and totally sharp, secure point-of-contact in eastern boilerplate conditions.

The feel of Spitfire Vario 3D rigidity is impressive for such a light pole, delivering a confident, strong feel you can depend on, yet on boilerplate surfaces we often find in Vermont, shock absorbtion during abrubt hits into the surface is excellent, with the shaft and grip dispersing a great deal of the harshness without loosing the feel for the density of the snow under the carbide flex tip.  We suspect the flex-tip feature may have something to do with the damping of the shock of jamming the pole into rock-hard snow surfaces.  In the early days of pure carbon poles, while being very light, they could often transmit the shock of a hard pole plant into boilerplate snow abruptly to the hand and wrist.  The Spitfire Varios seem to dampen contact with harsh surfaces nicely, which is a welcome thing toward the end of a long day on hard snow.

Tips for People Considering This Pole:


Take your favorite gloves with you to try the poles at a local shop, test the feel of the poles with the included Trigger 3D Mesh Straps to let your old gloves click into the Trigger 3D mechanism.  If available at the shop, try the poles again using LEKI's gloves or mitts with the integrated Trigger hook and see what feel you prefer.

Separate your poles at the resort when you go in for bathroom break or lunch break... these poles might disappear quickly if left unattended.  Ditch the Cobra disc baskets and mount the powderbaskets right away

Pics:


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D Tip Detail (with Cobra baskets)


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D Carbide Tip Detail


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D Upper Shaft Joint
Showing Closed SpeedLock+ Cam Mechanism


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D Retail Packaging
With Trigger Alpine Straps &  Powder Basket Holder


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Cobra and Powder Baskets (included with poles)


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D Cobra Baskets


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D SpeedLock+
Adjustable Cam Locking Mechanism


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D SpeedLock+
Adjustable Cam Locking Mechanism - Open Position


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Lower Shaft Separation


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Lower Shaft Overlap Inside Upper Shaft At Full Extension


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Length Range


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Lower Shaft End Plug Detail


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip with Trigger Alpine Mesh Strap


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip with Trigger Alpine Mesh Strap


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Rubberized Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Rubberized Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Trigger 3D Closed Position


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Trigger 3D Open Position


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Trigger 3D Alpine Mesh Strap


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Trigger 3D Alpine Mesh Strap


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Trigger 3D Alpine Mesh Strap


LEKI Spitfire Vario 3D
Trigger 3D Release Button Open/Closed


LEKI Trigger 3D World Cup Grip (top)
LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip (bottom)
Finger side

LEKI Trigger 3D World Cup Grip (top)
LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip (bottom)


LEKI Trigger 3D World Cup Grip (right)
LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip (left)


LEKI Trigger 3D World Cup Grip (top)
LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip (bottom)
Palm-side


LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip
With LEKI Copper-S Glove
w/ Built-in Trigger Interface Loop

 
LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip
With LEKI Copper-S Glove
w/ Built-in Trigger Interface Loop


LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip
With LEKI Copper-S Glove
w/ Built-in Trigger Interface Loop

 
LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip
With LEKI Copper-S Glove


LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip
With LEKI Xplore S Gauntlet Glove
w/ Built-in Trigger Interface Loop


LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip
With LEKI Xplore S Gauntlet Glove
w/ Built-in Trigger Interface Loop


LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip
With LEKI Xplore S Gauntlet Glove
w/ Built-in Trigger Interface Loop


LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip
With LEKI WC Race TI S Speed System Mitt
w/ Built-in Trigger Interface Loop
(Yes.. the armored mitt is super-handy when crashing
through Eastern trees... race gloves are not just for racing!)


LEKI Trigger 3D Pro-G Grip
With LEKI WC Race TI S Speed System Mitt
w/ Built-in Trigger Interface Loop

 

By: e.edelstein  Posted: Saturday, February 20, 2021 2:13:45 PM

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