Our Leki Makalu FX Carbon Poles Review explores a trekking focussed option from the world’s leading pole manufacturer. We hope you find it useful.
Leki are market leaders in pole manufacture. They have actually been making poles since 1948 and offer an option for every type of user. From their starting point as a ski pole manufacturer their range now includes options for trekking, mountaineering, trail running, skiing and Nordic walking.
The focus of this review is the Makalu FX Carbon Pro which Leki have designed as a top performance trekking oriented pole. With this in mind, their focus was on light weight, durability, comfort, adjustability and simple operation. After several months of use in summer and winter conditions we have certainly learnt how this the Makalu performs. Here is our Leki Makalu FX Carbon Pro Pole review.
The Makalu FX Carbon is, as it’s name suggests, a full carbon construction pole. All the shaft sections are made from, for its full title, PRC (Performance Racing Carbon) 1000. This a premium material designed to offer the best balance of strength, durability and lightweight.
The pole is made from 5 sections. The first incorporates the hand grip and is 18 mm diameter. Inside this a 16mm section that provides the length adjustability. Finally, 3 additional 14 mm sections make up the main shaft. The overall pole length is adjustable between 110 – 130 cms and that adjustability is controlled by Leki’s Speedlock 2.0 Plus system. This is an external clamping system certified by TUV Sud. The sections lock together using the Leki ELD (External Locking Device).
It is of avalanche probe style construction by which we mean it has folding sections that slot together into a single length. This style offers the benefits of very quick deployment, easy maintenance and small pack size. The packed length is only 40 cms which allows it to be easily stored in a rucksack or attached to the outside of a pack.
The Makalu FX features Leki’s Aergon Air Grip. The Aergon incorporates cut away sections into the head to lighten the poles. The grip is wrapped in 1K foam and the same material is used for the grip extension. The wrist loop is called a Lock Security Strap 4.0.
Finally, the Flex Tip 4.0 sits at the other end of the Makalu FX and Leki’s medium basket completes the picture. The poles come with a lightweight storage bag, weigh 254 grams and retail for £185.
We have really enjoyed completing this Leki Makalu FX Carbon Poles review and we hope the following information will make it clear why.
We have tested a lot of Leki poles and their styling and quality are always spot on. The same holds true for the Makalu FX Carbons. They look great in black carbon with subtle logos and contrasting splashes of orange on the locking mechanism. They are also beautifully made. The attention to detail is evident and the construction is perfect wherever you look.
You will also notice how small they pack up. As they are collapsible avalanche probe style they can be deployed or folded down in seconds. Once folded, they are easily short enough to fit inside a rucksack. We wrote an article on trekking pole storage here which may be of interest. We discussed in this why storing poles inside a pack is almost always preferable.
To deploy the poles, you can simply hold the main grip and let the sections fall. Then, you push them together and you’ll hear them firmly click into place. It is simple, quick and efficient. The poles are locked together by Leki’s ELD (External Locking Device). If you want to fine tune the pole length, you can just unclip the Speedlock 2.0, slide the poles to the desired length, and refasten.
The ELD system is so straightforward to use. It automatically locks into place and, to release, you just press the metal switch and the poles sections are released. I had wondered if they could be accidentally released by being knocked against something. This is very unlikely because Leki have protected it well and we haven’t once had this happen. The ELD can also be easily operated with gloves on.
Similarly, the Speedlock 2.0 is extremely easy to operate. You just thumb it open, adjust the length and snap it closed. Again it is designed to not release by accident and again it can be operated easily with gloves on. Occasionally, with this type of system, the clamp tightness might need to be adjusted. Leki have included a small knurled wheel to allow this in the field. Another great addition as many poles use a hard to adjust screw.
The length of the Makalu FX Carbon can be adjusted between 110 and 130 cms. Having this amount of adjustability should suit any height of user and means the poles can be used by people of different heights. It also allows for the length to be adjusted on the go. For example, we usually make our poles longer for descending as they can then be reached further down the slope. The Speedlock 2.0 allows adjustment within a few seconds making it really easy.
When slotted together the Makalu’s feel very rigid. This is possible because the pole sections slot together with metal end pieces fitting into the adjacent carbon fibre section. These sections are also capped with a metal reinforcing ring to avoid any risk of the carbon fibre splitting. All the sections are then bound by a non stretch plastic sleeved cord. You will immediately feel how rigid the poles lengths are once clicked together. This also ensures they should be plenty strong enough for all year round use.
Aergon Air Grip
The Makalu FX Carbon’s feature Leki’s Aergon Air grip. The shaft of the grip is made from Leki’s 1K foam. This is a dense and firm foam that is comfortable to grip and will insulate the hand in cold weather. Crucially, it is also durable enough for the tough use poles get. The shape is sculpted to follow the shape of the hand which further helps with comfort.
At the top of the grip is a hollow ‘bulb’. This gives the Aergon Air its name as the grip has a hollow honeycomb like structure for weight saving. On top of this is a hand shaped grip that works really well as an alternative grip. We have found this works really well, for example, if you are stretching the pole length to reach down for balance or for things like stream crossings. Leki have also extended the grip further down the shaft. This is another pole feature we use loads and would always look for in a pair of trekking poles. It works really well when traversing or crossing steep terrain. The whole set up of the Aergon Air grip works superbly and the design is ideally suited to trekking use.
The final addition to the grip arrangement is the addition of Leki’s Lock Security Strap Skin 4.0. This is a very light and thin wrist strap adjusted with a simple clip mechanism. The locking system is also designed to safety release if loaded in the wrong angle. This is, for us, the perfect strap system for a trekking pole.
Most of the time we don’t use the strap when using poles as we prefer the freedom to move our hands to different positions. However, there are certainly times they are useful. So, in our opinion the ideal is to have a very light and low profile strap that is there if needed and yet doesn’t get in the way when you don’t. This one ticks all our boxes. The adjustment mechanism is also a doddle to adjust. The addition of a safety release is also appreciated although in any terrain where we are concerned this is needed we would make sure our hand isn’t held captive. It really couldn’t be better.
Trekking Basket 2.0
Finally, at the bottom of the pole Leki have included their Trekking Basket 2.0. This is a mid sized basket ideal for general trekking use. It will suit most users most of the time and, if an alternative is needed, it is simple to swap by hand. A lightweight mesh storage bag is also supplied with the poles.
Hopefully our Leki Makalu FX Carbon Pole review makes it clear that we really really rate these poles. For their intended use of general trekking there isn’t a single feature we would want to add or take away. They are beautifully made, lightweight and stylish. They are also reassuringly robust and extremely simple and efficient to use. These poles will serve any user well for all manner of great adventures and do exactly the job they were designed to do. These poles get a massive thumbs up from us. Full details on the Makalu FX Carbon’s can be found on the Leki website here.