Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact Trekking Pole Review

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Komperdell sent us a package of 3 of their top of the line trekking poles, including the Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact, C3 Carbon Power Lock and the C3 Carbon Power Lock Compact.  Needless to say we were pretty stoked to get not 1 but 3 great looking trekking poles to put to the test.
Komperdell Carbon Approach Vario 4 Compact Trekking pole

Right out of the box we knew we had to get trekking with the Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact.  It’s an expedition-ready trekking pole with a padded strap, foam grip and an ingenious new 4-section folding mechanism.  The upper section is 100% carbon, while the lower section is Komperdell’s Titanal .HF Rocksleeve.  This put’s this pole in sort of a unique category.  It’s the only pole we have tested that has a carbon upper combined with a aluminum lower section.  The lower Rocksleeve offers extra edge protection and stability in alpine terrain.

Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact Overview

  • Expedition foam grip
  • Padded strap for high comfort
  • Upper section: 100 % carbon
  • Lower section: Titanal .HF Rocksleeve
  • 4-section, new ingenious folding-mechanism
  • POWER LOCK II system
  • Trekking Ice basket
  • Trekking Ice tip
  • Weight: 198 grams (6.98 oz.) per pole*
  • Adjustable: adjustable from 105 – 125 cm
  • Size: packed size: 39 cm max. length: 125 cm
  • 3 Year warranty on repairs and service
  • Retail: $179.95

 

Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact Trekking Pole Handle 2
The Expedition Compact foam grip handles are nicely padded and come with padded straps.

Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact Trekking Pole 5
The straps are kept in place by a plastic spiked shim that fits into the handle.  Pulling it out allows you to adjust the strap to the proper length.  Pushing it  back in holds the strap firmly in place.

Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact Trekking Pole 4
The poles come with Komperdell’s Power Lock II system.  Once all the poles are locked into place, the system allows you to adjust the poles from 105cm – 125cm in length.  Our preference is to keep the poles around 120cm, which seems to be a perfect match for our height (5′ 9″ish).  The Power Lock tension can be adjusted by tightening or loosing the tension screw.  The screw was designed so that you could use a penny to tighten or loosen it.

Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact Trekking Pole 1
The 3 poles sections are joined together by inserting the plastic screw section into the adjoining section.  Once screwed in, the poles are secure and ready for trekking.  We found that the connection system works really well, but users may run into issues over time if they continually break down the poles.  I would have rather seen metal screws rather than plastic for longevity.  That said, I do like this design because once locked in place, the poles don’t rotate like the Black Diamond FLZs  or the Leki Micro Vario.  Having the poles rotate can be annoying when using Nordic walking end-caps as they can move out of correct alignment as you walk.

Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact Trekking Pole 3
To break down the poles you simply unscrew them and fold the sections next to each other.

Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact Trekking Pole 6
The basket has the ability to swivel and adjust to the terrain.  The aluminum lower shaft also helps protect the pole from getting beat up as you trek.

Overall Impression

We were really excited to give the Komperdell trekking poles a go and were overly ecstatic when 3 sets arrived to test.

The Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact is a pleasure to walk with.  The handles feel great and the handle straps just work.  We didn’t experience any loosing of the straps while walking.

The carbon sections seem to do their job, absorbing shock as carbon does, yet feel very stable.  All the sections are beefier than other carbon poles we have tested, which makes the poles appear heavier than they are.  It also seems to give you more perceived confidence that they’re not going to break.

Adjustment is a snap with Komperdell’s Power Lock II system.  Just flip the Power Lock to the open position, adjust the size (105cm – 125cm) and flip it back down.  Another benefit is the ability to tighten and loosen the screw on the go with pocket change (penny or dime) or any type of flat head screwdriver.

While the Carbon Expedition takes more time to setup and break down compared to the Leki Micro Vario or the Black Diamond FLZ, it feels more secure once everything is locked in place.  The addition of an aluminum lower pole section also feels like it would be more reliable and could take more abuse then an all carbon version.

One thing I didn’t see on Komperdell’s website was any mention of rubber walking tips.   Fortunately the Leki walking tips fit these and we were able to walk on roads without incident.

We never found that the swiveling baskets added to or took away from our trekking adventures.  I am sure had we hiked more rugged terrain, they might have been more useful.

We did notice a slight tinging noise while walking on the roads.  This appears to be something hitting against the inside of the lower metal section.  We didn’t see moving parts that we could get to, so we couldn’t eliminate the noise.

While the Komperdell’s look good, we feel the Leki and Black Diamond definitely have the edge with their more stylish graphics and color scheme.  Sort of like comparing an iPhone to an Android.  We found that after just a few test walks the strap lettering has already started to peal off.  This gives the impression that not a lot of testing went into lettering and graphics.  I would advise either not including the lettering on the straps or use another method for making it more durable.

With all the testing we have done so far, we found that it really boils down to personal preference as to which pole people are really drawn to and will use.  The Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact is an exceptional choice and most people will be extremely happy with it.

Make sure to check out Komperdell Website and the Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Compact.

 

 

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About Author

Tom Crandall

Totally into multi-sports including triathlon, swimming, cycling, running skating and movement in general. Love to trail run and hang outdoors.

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