Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles Review

Leki Backpack Series FX Trekking Poles Review

Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles are adjustable, carbon fiber, lightweight Z-style trekking poles that fold away into 3 sections for travel or for easy storage in your backpack when they are not needed. The cork gripped handles have a slight 8° angle which contributes to a comfortable and more neutral grip. While a bit expensive, with its overall excellent construction, adjustable length, adjustable wrist strap, and interchangeable tips, these poles are versatile across many uses, in all-season hiking, including winter use.

Specs at a Glance

  • Best Use: Hiking, trekking, backpacking
  • Shaft Construction: Carbon Fiber
  • Hand Grip Material: Cork
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Min/Max Length: 43 – 51” | 110 cm to 130 cm
  • Collapsed Length: 16 | 40 cm
  • Locking Mechanism: External lever lock
  • Basket Type Included: Hiking/trekking with carbide tip
  • Weight: (pair) 1 lb. 0.1 oz.
  • Gender: Unisex

Tri-fold Trekking Poles

The primary advantage of a Z-style, or tri-fold trekking pole, is that this allows hikers to collapse them for easy stashing into a backpack’s interior and/or side stash pockets, and they fit easily into luggage when traveling.

Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles are adjustable, carbon fiber, lightweight Z-style trekking poles that fold away into 3 sections.
Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles are adjustable, carbon fiber, lightweight Z-style trekking poles that fold away into 3 sections.

Hikers who do not always need their poles will find that tri-fold poles are much more convenient to carry when not in use. Traditional poles, in contrast, do not collapse as much, must “hang” from backpacks when not in use, and they do not always fit into luggage when traveling.

Fully Adjustable Trekking Poles

These poles weren’t in my hands for very long before I clearly saw the virtues of these Leki poles. For starters, these poles are fully adjustable. The range of 110 to 130 cm – which effectively makes this pole useful from my smaller stature of 5’2” up to a taller 6’2” hiker – is quite impressive!

The poles are folding and adjustable with level locks which are simpler and more reliable than twist lock poles
The poles are folding and adjustable with level locks which are simpler and more reliable than twist lock poles

Adjustments were quickly and easily made by an external lever. This means I could make minor adjustments to the length for both ascents and descents. External thumb levers and thumbscrews also mean that all adjustments can be made while wearing gloves or mitts, giving these poles an edge come my cold weather use.

To set up the poles:

  1. Open the thumb/speed lock lever
  2. Assemble all three segments
  3. Extend the pole to its maximum length, until you hear the “click” of the internal locking mechanism
  4. Slide the handle down to your preferred height
  5. Close the thumb lock. These poles come with small adjustment or indicator lines to help you with your adjustments.

Also fully adjustable, is a comfortable wrist strap, which is made from a breathable and lightweight material. All I had to do was lift “up” on the strap to release the locking mechanism for the strap. After giving the strap a gentle pull to shorten or lengthen, I then pulled the strap “down” to lock it in place. Easy peasy. I repeated this numerous times and made infinitely small adjustments. Looking forward to my hiking plans, I know that I will be able to adjust these straps to fit my smaller bare hands in warm weather and that I can also get a “wider opening” for use when wearing my winter mitts.

The strap length is surprisingly easy to adjust
The strap length is surprisingly easy to adjust

Trekking Pole Construction

Carbon fiber makes these poles both lightweight and incredibly strong. Hiking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, I can be quite rough on my poles. During both bushwhacks and winter hiking, I find that I need poles that are a bit on the stronger, or rugged side. Be honest…..how many of you have “bent” poles during winter hiking!

After using these poles, I can attest that they are quite solid. To help provide this “stiffness,” you’ll note on a closer look that there are aluminum sleeves at the joints to protect the carbon segments. Being a bit more rugged makes these poles a bit heavier than some other carbon fiber poles, but overall these Leki poles are still superlight considering the “stiffness” they provide.

The cork grips on these Leki poles is much more comfortable than the foam handles on my Black Diamond folding poles.

Corks Handles/Grips

The first thing I noticed about the grips was that the handles are made of cork, which is considered by most to be the nicest material that can be used for handles. I personally find cork to be super comfortable and that it absorbs very little water from sweaty hands (and they DO sweat!). In the summer, using poles with rubber handles can leave my hands feeling “sticky” and I have to be careful to keep DEET products away from my hands and rubber grips. But cork will feel comfortable in the summer heat and will not be at risk from degradation from DEET.

The second thing I paid attention to was the slight 8° angle that kept my wrist in a more neutral position. It’s barely perceptible, but it’s amazing how a slight angle can have such a positive effect on how the hand feels after using poles for a length of time.

The grips have an 8 degree offset which put less pressure on the wrists,
The grips have an 8 degree offset which put less pressure on the wrists,

As to be expected with high-quality poles, the foam grips are extended well below the handle which makes it easy to grip them on the top of the shaft when climbing. The foam grips also mean that they will not be cold to the touch in winter or freezing conditions.

Trekking Basket/Carbide Tip

These poles have a carbide tip, replaceable, that gave these poles a real secure feel when I used them on rock ledges. These carbide tips can be replaced with rubber walking tips (purchased separately) which might be best in certain circumstances.

Leki Pole tips and trekking baskets are interchangeable and replaceable when your current set wears out.
Leki Pole tips and trekking baskets are interchangeable and replaceable when your current set wears out.

As with other Leki poles, the completely replaceable and interchangeable basket system makes it super easy to screw off/on various Leki baskets for different seasons or uses. The threads are slightly offset, which means they will not accidentally unscrew on you while in use. I already own several sets of Leki winter baskets, so I’m all set for putting these poles in use come next winter.

Accessories

The poles come with a travel/storage bag – which I tend to not need and thus, I will likely lose it right away.

Recommendation

I have grown quite fond of using lightweight Z-style, tri-fold hiking poles and thus had some expectations for how these poles should function. I found the Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles did not disappoint! They are a bit heavier than my other lightweight poles, but they are also more rugged and the construction of the poles is outstanding. Where my other poles do not perform well (bushwhacking and winter use), these Leki poles will excel. My other poles are of a fixed length and these Leki poles are fully adjustable. They are a bit pricey, but for hikers who demand high-quality, lightweight carbon fiber poles that are fully adjustable and maintainable – you will really enjoy these poles.

Disclosure: Leki donated these poles for review.

About the author

Beth Zimmer is an expert backpacker who's backpacked all over New England and Eastern Canada, with a long list of hiking accomplishments to her name. She's section hiked the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail, climbed the New England Hundred Highest and the New Hampshire 500 highest (mostly bushwhacks), hiked all the trails in the White Mountain Guide (1440 miles), and climbed the White Mountain 4000 footers several times over. Beth also teaches GPS and off-trail navigation classes as a volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club and is co-chair of the New Hampshire Excursions Committee, which oversees all volunteer hiking and leadership training activities. When she's not hiking and backpacking, Beth resides in New Hampshire where she can usually be found sipping coffee and planning her next adventure.
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4 comments

  1. My wife and I each have a pair and are fully satisfied with these poles. They are used for trekking and to setup our pair of Tarptent Notch Li shelters. Yup, two people, two tents, more sleep! I shunned the use of poles for years until I started lugging heavy pack down hill, then found them indispensable. Now they go along regardless because a pair of poles will save your knees a lot of wear and tear, and possibly prevent an injury.

  2. Gandalf's walking cane

    Regarding the person’s height and the range of 110 to 130 cm, from my experience climbing steep uphill I shorten the poles to 110 and on the steep grade downhill I extend to 130. At level I’m good with 120 cm. My point is that the same person 5’2″ can use the full range of adjustments.

    Good review as always.
    Reading your articles has motivated me to prepack the night before, then wake-up at 5am on the day of, and hit the trail by 7am.

    Thanks for the inspiration.
    I’m old, fat, bad cartilage and exhausted. Your articles motivate me to look forward to the weekend for adventure.

  3. These poles sound great except they don’t adjust to 100 cm which is the most comfortable setting for me. I guess I’ll stick with Black Diamond carbon fiber poles when I replace the ones I’ve used and loved for years. (Yes, cork handles are far superior to rubber grips.)

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