Our Leki Ultratrail FX.One Poles Review explores a super light and compact pole designed specifically for trail running races. Please read on to find out more about this high performance model from the pole specialists.
The Leki pole range is broad. From poles for general mountain adventures to more specialist options tailored to individual activities. Leki have options for every situation and we are proud to have used and tested a wide selection over many years of mountain adventures.
The Ultratrail FX.One is definitely in the specialised category. Leki describe it as ‘an indispensable companion for your next trail running race’ which should give plenty of clues. Every feature has been optimised for lightweight performance and the end result certainly is a racing snake of a pole. We have been testing some over the last few months and so please do read on to read our Leki Ultratrail FX.One Poles Review.
The Ultratrail FX.One’s are a full carbon pole made from a length of 16mm and 3 lengths of 14 mm tubing. This allows a three section pole. The carbon used is Leki’s HRC carbon. The poles are the now very familiar Z-pole style which allows for easy deployment and quick folding. Z-pole designs also avoid the need for clamps on each section and offer a very short folded length. In the case of these poles that folded length is 36 cms.
The poles lock together with a simple catch that offers secure and yet simple locking system. They are sold as a fixed length pole with lengths available in 5cm increments between 105 – 135 cms.
Trail Shark System
The grip is Leki’s Trail Shark system. This is a grip/strap system designed exclusively for trail running. This combines a shortened 1K foam grip designed to be comfortable to hold without adding extra length. This combines with a detachable leash system that locks into a catch built into the top of the grip. It is an integrated system although the detachable straps mean the poles can be used without leashes if required.
Leki have looked at every way to lighten the grip. Channels are built into handle to lighten it. Leki say this offers a 30% weight saving when compared with their popular shark system. A button on top of the grip allows the strap to be released quickly and the straps secure onto each hand with a velcro tab closure.
Finally, Leki have used their compact trail running basket and trail running tip. The Ultratrail FX.One’s come in a bright red and pink colour scheme. On our scales the poles weighed 368 grams per pair (with leashes) for a 120cm length.
On first appearance you will be struck by the striking colour scheme of these poles. In their vibrant pink and red you won’t either easily lose them or get lost using them! This high visibility might be a very useful safety consideration for runners. If you can be seen more easily, you have one extra element of trail safety.
The poles are also extremely compact when folded. This comes from the low profile shaft diameters, the compact grip, small baskets and lack of adjustment. It is very easy to hold both these poles in one hand when folded. Finally, when first picking them up you will inevitably be struck by how light they are. Their stated weight of 182 grams matches our scales check.
Strength & Durability
These are always important attributes for a trail running pole, but can come with the compromise of less strength. For the Ultratrail FX.One Leki still use 16mm and 14mm diameter pole sections for durability. However, they are clear in their information that these are ultralight poles designed for trail races. They are not considered a general purpose running pole (there are plenty of other running options in the Leki line up). However, for testing purposes these poles have so far been used for lots of regular trail runs. So far, this has come without any reliability issues.
Trail Shark Grips
The poles feature Leki’s Trail Shark grips. These have been developed specifically for trail running and are a combination of a low profile and lightweight grip combined with a mesh wrist loop. You slide the wrist loop over your hand like a glove and it secures with velcro. The leashes are so comfortable you won’t even notice you are wearing them. The mesh also allows good ventilation.
The other part of the system is the low profile grips. Leki have introduced a new design which now features air channels to lighten the overall weight. Apparently, the weight saving is 30%. The grip is covered with a minimalist cork grip. It is sized to provide various grip options, but for lightness it is not over generous on size.
To attach the leashes to the poles there is a small loop on the leash that slots into the ‘shark’ locking mechanism on top of the pole. It is simple to connect the two and allows really efficient weight transfer through the hands. It also ensures power is transferred directly through the centre of the pole. Finally, fatigue is reduced as you don’t need to grip the pole grip too hard.
To remove the leash you press on a trigger on top of the pole and slide out the leash. It takes a short time to master the technique, but soon becomes intuitive. Infact, it is so simple it becomes second nature. I have used various versions of Leki’s trigger release systems and, as good as they all are, this is the simplest and smoothest to operate. One downside of the grip and leash combo is that removing the leash requires an additional action, but I think it is well worth it for the performance and security offered. I have found that the release mechanism is also easy to operate when wearing gloves.
Many runners will want to fold up the poles if they aren’t being used for a race segment. It is easy to fold them and the pole sections are designed to lay flat against each other. This makes it easy to carry them in a hand as they are very compact. It also makes it easy to stash them in a vest or quiver. To secure the pole sections there is a cord running through them. To lock them together a simple push button mechanism is engaged. Pressing the button again allows them to release. It all works simply and efficiently and is easy to operate on the go.
Towards the end of the pole there is a small plastic basket specifically designed for trail running. This will help prevent the poles from sinking into soft ground, but baskets this size inevitably have limitations. On some wet weather runs across Peak District moorland they have sank fairly easily into the deeper sections of peat bog. The poles are tipped by a concave carbide tip. This provides good grip and has proven durable so far.
When not in use, the poles can be stored in the included mesh bag. This could also be used as a simple carrying quiver if needed.
Our Leki Ultratrail FX.One Poles Review reveals a specialised pole designed for trail running races. We’ve really enjoyed testing them and, providing they are used for their intended purpose, heartily recommend them.
Every feature is focused on ultralight performance for the most demanding race situations. The addition of the Trail Shark leash and grip further enhances the versatility and performance. Maybe this pair of poles only offers the potential for marginal gains on race day, but that improvement might be the game changer in a hard fought event. Full details are available on the Leki website here.
Besides this Leki Ultratrail FX.One Poles review, we have tested a range of Leki’s other poles. Please check out our mountaineering focussed Makalu FX Carbon review here. There is also a test of the versatile MCT 12 Vario’s here. We also have a general guide to trekking poles here. These and reviews of many other products is available in our website reviews section here. We hope you find them useful.