Leki Introduces Trekking Pole Made From Hemp

Leki, the manufacturer of skiing, trekking and trail running poles, introduced a pilot program of 250 pairs of trekking poles manufactured by hand in Europe, with hemp grown and harvested in the Swabian Alb region near its headquarters in Kirchheim, Germany, and assembled in the Leki’s factory in the Czech Republic.

Usually, it is not a good sign when a police car is parked in the driveway, but at LEKI, this event has become routine. Last year, the local police came by five times, but this was not an investigation but inspection visits.

In 2022, LEKI launched the "Hemp One Vario" project. The central word is "Hemp. Those familiar with commercial cultivation will probably know that relatively strict conditions are enforced. For example, the crop must beregistered at the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food. Then the THC content (THC = main psychoactive ingredient of the cannabis plant) is reviewed to ensure it doesn‘t exceed a certain percentage allowable by law.

The harvest is allowed only when the agency has issued the approval by official letter.

LEKI has been working closely with the German Institute for Textile and Fiber Research for years, leading to the idea of one day producing a pole from the renewable raw material hemp. At this stage, the pole is still hea- vier than those constructed of carbon or aluminum, but hemp offers excellent strength values.

For the first 250 hiking poles made from Hemp, LEKI is working with a local farmer directly at the Swabian Alb, and the hemp field is just six kilometers from the LEKI headquarters in Kirchheim. The seeds are sown in
April and harvested in September.

There is no industrial production yet; the hemp shafts are handmade by a partner in Innsbruck. The hemp fibers are shaped and aligned by hand using a bio-based resin. The final assembly of the Hemp One Vario poles occurs at LEKI‘s production facility in Tachov, Czech Republic.

CEO Matthias Hatt explained "The Hemp One Vario is, in our opinion, the most sustainable trekking pole currently available in the world. It is the first pole to consistently pursue the use of organic materials to replace aluminum,
carbon, plastic, and polyester.“

The "Hemp“ project is part of a larger and long-term sustainability vision. The main focus is developing sustainable technologies through basic research. In the area of hard goods (poles, skis, helmets), the issue of sustainability is particularly challenging due to the materials and composites used in traditional construction.

The Hemp One Vario will be sold this year as a limited series program through Globetrotter stores in Europe and will expand distribution in the U.S. in the summer of 2024. Product features include:

  • Shaft made of 100 percent hemp fibers with resin
  • Core made of 25 percent hemp fibers with a CorTec surface of natural cork content
  • The strap is made with 100 percent natural linen flax fibers (made in Germany)
  • The basket is made from 25 percent hemp fibers
  • Pole weighs 10 oz 

“The Hemp One Vario is the first pole that consistently pursues the use of organic materials as a replacement for aluminum and carbon,” said Matthias Hatt, CEO of LEKI. “With this project, we have taken a big step forward in developing sustainable technologies through fundamental research, and we see a lot of development potential for the future.”

According to Leki, “raw hemp fibers are twice as strong as steel, and hemp bends and mends approximately six times better than steel. The sustainable aspects of hemp are tremendous compared to other natural ingredients requiring little water or land area, and it nourishes the soil, enabling more secure and renewable harvests. While weighing slightly more than carbon and aluminum poles by just a few ounces, the Hemp One Vario’s sustainable properties and strength-to-weight ratio offset this and are groundbreaking in responsibly replacing materials and components used in the traditional manufacturing of hard goods.”

Leki introduced the Hemp One Vario at ISPO last month and won the ISPO Award 2023. The ISPO Award Jury said, “Leki is embarking on an exciting new path with the Hemp One Vario. The consistent, sustainable approach, incorporating regionally renewable raw materials, can be described as a flagship project. Such innovations enrich the outdoor market on its way towards a resource-efficient and more sustainable future.”

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