Leki Sherpa FX Carbon Strong Pole Review

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Our Leki Sherpa FX Carbon Strong Pole Review explores an extremely  robust option from the pole experts.  Please read on to find out more.  

Introduction

Leki probably need little introduction.  They are an industry leader in pole manufacture and offer a broad range of options for every activity.  We have been proud to work with them for many years and have used a wide selection of their models.  In particular, this has included poles for skiing and ski touring, hillwalking, mountaineering and running.  We have linked to a selection of our reviews of their products below.

Leki describe the Sherpa FX Carbon Strong as their ‘most stable and robust folding pole for high alpine terrain’.  This sounded ideal both for winter use and for intense use in the summer mountains.  We were keen to give some a test.  Please read on to find out more in our Leki Sherpa FX Carbon Strong Pole Review.  

Leki Sherpa FX Carbon Strong Pole Review

Features 

Pole Construction

The Leki Sherpa FX Carbon Strong features a beefy 20 mm diameter carbon upper section.  This is significantly beefier than many pole models which will typically have a 16 or maybe 18 mm top section.  Below this, the other pole sections are 18mm and 16mm diameter. 

The poles fold using the now very popular Z-fold design (they fold into sections rather like a tent pole or avalanche probe).  This is by far my preferred system for the majority of pole situations.  They also adjust through a 20cm range (120-140mm) via a continuously adjustable top section.  This is what Leki call their Vario system. The fully folded pack size is 37cm.  

The Vario section locks with Leki’s TÜV Süd certified Speed Lock 1 Plus external clamping system. TÜV Süd is a testing and certification for products.  Details on this are available here.  The Speed Lock 1 Plus system is designed to allow easy adjustments while offering maximum hold.

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External Locking Device System

The poles section lock together with the Leki ELD (External Locking Device) system.  This makes it possible to open and close the folding pole quickly with the push of a button.  This is also reinforced around the locking system for durability.  The adjustable wrist strap is reinforced with neoprene and features a fleece inlay for comfort.  It includes a safety release function.      

The poles are made from a combination of carbon and aluminium.  The upper part of the shaft is PRC 1000 carbon (Performance Racing Carbon).  Carbon is also used for the middle shaft sections.  Finally, the lower shaft section is HTS 6.5 alloy (Heat Treated Shaft).

Aergon Air Grip

The Sherpa’s are equipped with Leki’s Aergon Air Grip.  This is a clever design featuring cavities built into the grip for weight saving.  The Aergon Air is also designed with a comfortable ergonomic shape and a full rubber grip head for control.  A 1K foam grip extension allows the user to vary the hand position on steeper terrain or when traversing.

The Sherpa’s come with 2 types of basket.  They arrive fitted with the Trekking Basket 2.0 and are also supplied with Leki’s Big Mountain Binding Basket.  The trekking basket is designed to work well in snow or mud while the Big Mountain baskets are designed for touring.  Both can be easily changed by hand.  

Finally, the robust Flex Tip sits at the pole end.  The Flex Tip is designed to offer precise pole positioning and efficient grip on a wide variety of  terrain types.   

The Sherpa FX Carbon Strong’s weigh 317 gms and retail for £240.  They are supplied with a nylon and mesh storage bag. 

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In Use

Pole Types

Poles come in all forms and with different attributes.  The ideal would be to have different types of poles for different activities, but if you want one set of poles for lots of different adventures, it pays to go for something burly.  I say this because a skinny and stripped pole will serve well in various circumstances, but when you need that extra strength you really need it.  There will be a slight bulk and weight penalty, but it will be worth it.  

This would include activities where travelling over very challenging terrain or more remote trips where a breakage would cause a big problem.  It could also include winter activities or ski touring where poles are really pushed.  In any of these cases what you are really looking for is features designed for strength and reliability.  This is what the Leki FX Carbon Strongs are for.

Pole Diameters 

The first sign of this is the pole diameters.  With 20 mm carbon at the top and only tapering slightly, these are beefy poles well up to a tussle with deep snow or challenging ground.  Surprisingly, given the beefy structure,  they don’t feel either too bulky or too heavy.  When folded they are easy enough to carry in one hand (I do this quite often) and at 317 gms they aren’t going to overload you.

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Z-Poles 

As mentioned earlier the Strongs are of the Z-pole style of collapsible poles.  Z-poles have massively grown in popularity over recent years, and with good reason.  I think they have lots of advantages.  Perhaps the most significant one for me is that when folded the poles are a very compact length.  This makes it so much easier to carry them whether it is in your hands, attached to your pack or stored inside your pack.  We wrote some general guidance about trekking poles here.  We also wrote some guidance about storing poles here.

In the case of these poles they are extremely easy to change from securely open to folded.  All you need to do to extend them is to hold the grip and let the pole sections drop down.  Then pull on the locking section and they will click into place.  The Leki External Locking Device (ELD) system holds the poles together extremely securely.  

Then, when you want to fold the pole you simply press the ELD and the poles collapse with equal ease.  It is quick and simple, works well with even fairly thick gloves and is extremely secure.  It is also very low profile and so there seems no chance of it getting caught on anything.  ELD is my favourite pole release design.

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Adjustability

Having some adjustability is also really useful.  I often adjust the length according to terrain.  The addition of an adjustable section makes this simple.  You click open the Speedlock 1 Plus external clamping system and slide the pole height to any length through a 20cm range.  This is plenty of adjustment for any situation I can imagine.  I would just ask you to note that 120cms is the shortest height for these poles and that would be too long for some users.  Please check the length works for your height.

The grip and wrist strap combination is great.  The grip is well shaped and extremely comfortable to hold.  You may want to check comfort if you have small hands, but for my medium/large sized hands it is perfect.  The Aergon Air Grip is a clever design, although it is hard to say how much weight it saves.  It looks cool though!  Leki have cut out sections within the grip and this is visible through see through sections on the handle.  

The other notable feature of the grip is the shaped top.  This makes it extremely comfortable to use the poles with your hand cupping the top.  I do this quite often when, for example, descending slopes where I want to place the pole below me before stepping down.  

Grip Extensions

For activities these will be used for I also really like poles with the grip extension section.  I use these a lot for things like traversing across slopes.  It is also great when you need the poles at different lengths for a short section and don’t want to keep adjusting them.  With the extension you can easily hold one pole further down than the other.  

The wrist strap is very efficient.  It is a broad strap that cups around the wrist.  Then, the mix of comfortable neoprene and fleece strap offer comfort and support.  In winter it is also useful that the soft materials help avoid over restricting the blood supply going into the hand.   When this happens it can make the hand colder.

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Safety Release

Finally, Leki have incorporated a safety release feature into the strap system.  I actually prefer not to use straps most of the time as I’d rather not lock my hands into the pole in an emergency.  However, there are times they are useful, but again you don’t want your hands locked into the poles in an emergency.  The release system should help minimise the risk.  Just to also say that adjusting the length of the straps is also extremely easy.  You pull up to release the strap, adjust the length and then resecure it.  

Baskets

The Strong’s are provided with 2 types of basket.  The first is a smaller sized trekking basket.  These work well in everything from normal ground to muddy or boggy ground.  They also work fine in snow provided it isn’t too deep.  I leave these on most of the time.  

Leki also provide a pair of their Big Mountain Binding Baskets.  This is a specially designed basket for touring.  It features a short edge for adjusting bindings and a long edge for scraping icy ski skins or clearing snow from ski bases.  In my tests this design works really well and strikes a good balance between being too bulky and keeping the poles afloat in deeper snow.  I also love that you can switch between the basket types easily by hand.

A final shout out to Leki for providing a storage bag (which can also double as a basic carrying quiver).  The funnel design of this makes it very easy to get the poles in and out.  This helps prevent muddy poles messing up the inside of your pack and also helps keep everything organised.  

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Summary

Our Leki Sherpa FX Carbon Strong Pole Review details a high spec pole option that will excel any time extreme durability is essential.  They are really well designed to strike the balance between toughness and performance.  They are also beautifully constructed.

These poles are clearly a premium product and are the top end of pole pricing, but for your money you get a product that will perform superbly and last for many adventures in all conditions.  They are optimised for hillwalking, expedition use, mountaineering and ski touring, but will suit anyone seeking a strong and robust pole.  I highly recommend them.  Full details are available on the Leki website here.  

We have worked with Leki for many years.  Alongside our Leki Sherpa FX Carbon Strong Pole Review, we have reviewed a selection of their products.  Please have a look at our recent review of the Leki FX Carbon Poles here.  Our review of their MCT 12 Vario Carbon is also here.  We have a broad range of other product reviews and all are available on our reviews page here.