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Leki Black Series FX Carbon
Check Price at REI
|$170 List||$150 List|
$104.93 at REI
|$91.00 at Amazon|
Compare at 3 sellers
$42.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Versatile, comfortable, packs small, adjustable||Comfortable grip, locks securely, packs small, highly versatile||Comfortable grips, versatile, packable, relatively affordable||Lightweight, short collapsed length, durable||Durable, comfortable grip, packs small|
|Cons||Heavy, expensive||Carbon is less durable than aluminum, on the expensive side||Difficult locking mechanism, heavier than comparable poles||No length adjustability, average grip comfort||Heavy, less versatile due to weight|
|Bottom Line||A versatile and comfortable pole for all-around use, but the price is hard to justify||A simple, elegant, and well-built trekking pole with versatility for all uses||Burly folding trekking poles with comfortable grips that are great for everything from hiking and backpacking to climbing and mountaineering||Durable with a short collapsed length, this is a fantastic value for a lightweight pole||A highly affordable pair of poles with all of the features of more expensive models|
|Rating Categories||Leki Black Series F...||MSR DynaLock Ascent...||Leki Jannu FX TA||Black Diamond Dista...||Trekology Trek-Z 2.0|
|Locking and Adjustability (15%)|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Construction Quality (10%)|
|Specs||Leki Black Series F...||MSR DynaLock Ascent...||Leki Jannu FX TA||Black Diamond Dista...||Trekology Trek-Z 2.0|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||16.5 oz||17 oz||19 oz||12.5 oz||26 oz|
|Shaft Material||Carbon||Carbon fiber||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum|
|Collapsed Length||15.5 in||14.25 in||15 in||13/14/16/17 in||15 in|
|Max Length||51 in||47 in||47 in||39/43/47/51 in||47 in|
|Grip Material||Cork||Rubber, plastic, foam||Aergon Cor-Tec||EVA foam||Foam|
|Locking Mechanism||External Lever Lock||DynaLock||Speed Lock plus||Speed Cone Deployment||Lever lock|
|Baskets/Tip Attachments?||Yes, Trekking||Yes, winter and summer baskets||Yes, trekking 2.0 basket||Yes, rubber and carbide tips||Yes, powder and trail baskets, boots, and narrow tips|
|Size Tested||One size||100-120 cm||One size||110 cm||100-120 cm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
These are very nice poles. But for the price point, they're challenging to recommend over other comparable options in our lineup.
The FX Carbon features a contoured cork grip that fits nicely into the curves of the hand. The cork molds to the palm over time, making for an even more comfortable fit. The top of the handle is broad and rubberized, mostly comfortable to push down upon, and the silky wrist straps are painless even after long days on the trail. The secondary grip is made of foam and features a crossing pattern of grooves to provide better friction. Some users with small hands may find the grip a bit wide, but most of our testers didn't think it was a big deal. The top of the handle provides a wide platform for pushing down, and some testers found this component to be weirdly large.
At 16.5 ounces per pair, the FX Carbon is on the heavier side, but considering its impressive feature set, the weight is acceptable. The shaft sections are made of carbon, which saves weight, but the ends of each shaft are reinforced with aluminum collars where the most damage occurs. The highly-featured grip is heavy, but the lower shaft sections are light, which creates a pleasant swing weight, meaning the pole is easier to swing forward with each step. Still, these poles aren't light enough for mountain running or other weight-conscious activities.
The FX Carbon is versatile enough for nearly every activity you could think of. For basic hikes and walks, these poles are comfortable and adjustable, and if the hike turns into a long-distance backpacking trip, the silky wrist straps and foam grip become even more important. They also fold into a small size for sections of easy trail or dirt roads or if the hike includes some scrambling. They are on the heavy side for approaching alpine climbs, but if the terrain is rugged enough and the climb is easy enough, these poles can reasonably be carried up the climb. You can even use these poles for winter backcountry use while snowshoeing or backcountry skiing, provided you can find some powder baskets, which aren't included. The only activities we wouldn't recommend these poles for are mountain running due to their heavy weight, and rugged, remote trekking, due to their more fragile carbon construction. But, these niche activities usually require specialized poles anyways, and no pole on the market can do both successfully.
Locking and Adjustability
The FX Carbon is a foldable pole with three shaft sections. The highest shaft section, which includes the grip, also features an extendable length controlled by a single lever lock. This extendable section allows 8 inches (20 centimeters) of length adjustment. This lever lock's tension can be adjusted by spinning a small plastic wheel with your fingers. The mechanism that locks the three shaft sections into place is located at the end of the adjustable length section. The user has to open the lever lock, pull the pole's extendable section to its longest length, and keep pulling until a spring-loaded lock clicks. At this point, the three sections are locked into place, and the user can slide the adjustable length section back down to the desired length. To collapse the pole, the lever lock is opened, and the pole is extended all the way and pulled even further until a click announces that the locking mechanism has been released. This locking mechanism is not intuitive at all, and our testers were regularly annoyed with the process. Still, the locking action is effective.
Folding down to 15.5 inches (40 centimeters), the FX Carbon packs relatively small but not as small as the most compact folding poles. We couldn't find a time when those other poles could fit into a small space that the FX Carbon couldn't, and most users won't notice the difference. These poles fold down small enough to fit into any pack. The grip has a higher volume than other similar models, taking up more space, but not by much.
Carbon is a strong yet fragile material for trekking pole construction. It is strongest when loaded vertically, as when being pushed down upon during creek crossings or when carrying heavy loads. It is weaker when bent side-to-side, and if the tip gets caught in soft dirt or in between rocks, the pole may snap as the user's motion pushes the top of the pole forward. We've broken carbon trekking poles this way before. Carbon can also lose its strength when chipped, which happens easily in rocky terrain. The FX Carbon is susceptible to these issues but tries to combat them by reinforcing the ends of each shaft section with an aluminum collar. This is helpful, but it can't provide enough protection for us to trust these poles in the most rugged and remote regions.
Should You Buy the Leki Black Series FX Carbon?
These poles perform well across the board and are a great choice for someone who wants a pole that can do most things well. That said, the price tag is almost unbelievable for a pair of trekking poles, especially when you consider that other poles on the market perform just as well as, and sometimes better than, the FX Carbon. If you love Leki's cork grip and won't accept an alternative, then this pole might be worth the price. Otherwise, we would choose another option instead.
What Other Trekking Poles Should You Consider?
If you want the same all-around performance that this pole provides but want to save some money, we recommend the top-rated MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon, which is similar to the FX Carbon. If you want a similar pole with even more durability, the Black Diamond Alpine FLZ is basically the same pole but with aluminum shaft sections. If you like carbon foldable poles but want to save weight for more technical applications like alpine climbing and mountain running, the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z is for you. And if you want a foldable, featured trekking pole at a bargain price, the Trekology Trek-Z is the best value on the market.
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