Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles Review

While trekking pole selection may not be a high priority for the intrepid thru-hiker, the category is surprisingly diverse. Hikers interact with their poles perhaps more than any other piece of gear, so picking the right model can be pivotal.

The Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Pole is a four section, partial folding/partial telescoping model that brings great strength and versatility in a sub–one-pound package.

“Bootpacking” (fancy skier word for walking in snow) Highland Bowl. I appreciated the extended grip zone during the steep sections.

Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles At-a-Glance:

Price: $270


  • Poles (no baskets): 15.5 oz / pair
  • Small Baskets (included): 0.5 oz / pair
  • Winter / Touring Baskets (purchased Separately): 1.4 oz / pair


  • Shaft Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Main Handle Grip Material: Cork
  • Extended Grip Zone: Foam


  • 4 Section Pole (3 folding, 1 telescoping)
  • 110cm to 130 cm (43.3” to 51.2”) Usable Length Range
  • 16″ +/- Collapsed Size
  • 16mm diameter top section, 14mm diameter bottom three sections

Intended Use

The FX Carbons are a well rounded set of poles, good for day hiking, backpacking, or thru-hiking. Multisport athletes will find them functional for ski touring, snowshoeing, or trail running as well.

Some mild snow hiking, Lekis in tow. I usually set the poles 5-10cm higher in the snow to offset the effect of punching through the top layers.

Circumstance of Review

This set dropped on my doorstep right at the new year. Around me, that means anything I do outdoors is going to involve some snow, and likely with a ski on foot. I used them for training hikes, winter camping attempts, and ski tours through the coldest months in Colorado.

Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles Custom Features

Adjustable, Folding Design

The traditional design for hiking poles is typically “telescoping,” meaning each section of the pole slides into the one above it. When fully collapsed, you are left with one short and thick pole.

Many manufacturers now offer “folding” poles, where there is a wire connecting each section, and when collapsed each section lies next to one another in a big snake. These are increasingly popular because they are typically quick to set up and stow and are very stiff since every section can have the same diameter. However, a core shortcoming of the pure folding pole is that the sections are all fixed length, limiting adjustability.

The Black Series FX Carbon combines the best of both, using three fixed length sections and 1 telescoping. This design gives you a relatively quick assembly and a consistent pole diameter with several no-slip joints, but it also keeps the adjustability you need for changing conditions and trekking pole tents.

Quick Adjust Hand Strap

I like using the wrist straps on poles, but as a four-season adventurer, I often need to adjust the loop length for the gloves I’m wearing. Leki’s adjustment system is quick and easy, incorporating a secret level into the head of the pole. When up, the wrist strap easily moves through the system. When pulled down, it locks in tight. I like that the lock direction is in line with where you would normally be pulling it, making accidental slippage very unlikely.

The integrated “hinge lock” at the head. When the loop is pulled down, it pinches and locks the strap length into place.

Lightweight Carbon Fiber Construction

All four sections use carbon fiber for the shaft. I prefer carbon because it is lighter, stiffer, vibrates less when striking the ground, and is non-electrically conductive.

Carbon does have the notable downside of snapping instead of bending under failure loads. I’ve always considered this a non-issue for most use cases, as poles are not critical to my safety. In 4,000+ miles of backpacking and 75-100 days of skiing (resort and backcountry), I’ve never had a conventional carbon fiber shaft break.

Compatible With Leki’s Tips and Screw on Baskets

Leki is possibly the most highly regarded pole maker and is well established with many models and accessories on the market. You can find a variety of baskets, tips, and parts on their website. If you are mid-trip and need a quick fix, most Leki retailers are reported to keep spare parts on hand.

The Black Series FX Carbon’s Flex Tip (Short) with a winter/touring basket (purchased separately). Leki has multiple tip types, baskets, and rubber caps for hard surfaces.

Less Prone to Sudden Collapse

Because there is only one adjustable section, I found these much less prone to slippage than the three-section telescoping poles I have used in the past. Over time, flick locks tend to loosen and let the poles collapse under high loads. With telescoping poles using four to six flick locks per pair, it can feel like a constant rotation of tightening them back up.

While their long term holding power remains to be seen (I’ve only had them two months), so far I haven’t had any accidental slippage or needed adjustments to the locking strength of the FX Carbons.

Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles Pros

Quick Assembly

Setting up this pole is barely more complicated than a clicky pen. The folding sections are locked into place by a mechanism near the head that activates when the telescoping section is fully extended.

I found myself deploying them by holding the grip, throwing out the sections, extending until I hear the click, then sliding the top section back down to my preferred height (115-120cm, depending on terrain and activity).

The bottom sections all pulled themselves into place during the process and usually don’t require any handling to get aligned. Compared to telescoping poles that usually have two or three locks that each need to be set precisely, I found this easier and faster.


Three primary factors influence the weight of trekking poles: materials, number of sections, and max length. Carbon fiber shafts are going to be lighter than aluminum, and foam handles are going to be lighter than cork. For the same length, a pole with more sections is going to weigh more, since it needs extra locking hardware and overlap between the sections. And this will be obvious to most, but something larger and longer is going to weigh a bit more.

Before arriving, I would have guessed these poles weighed at least 17 oz per pair due to the cork handles and four-section design.

Standard-length collapsible carbon poles normally weigh 16 oz +/- 1 oz. Poles with cork handles weigh a bit more than that, and those with foam weigh a bit less. I was impressed by their lightness and they felt easier to maneuver than other, similar poles.

Adjustable to Standard Hiking Pole Lengths

The normal hiking pole length range is 110-130cm for adults roughly 5 to 6 feet tall, which the Black Series FX captures perfectly. Despite my 6-foot-1 stature, I actually trend towards the lower end of the range at 115-120cm for summer use. In winter, I appreciate the longer lengths for when my poles sink a little further into the snow.

Cork Handles and Stable Wrist Strap

The most notable upgrade these poles offered me was the cork handles and thin “ribbon like” wrist strap.

I’ve always preferred foam for the (slightly) lighter weight, but have to admit the cork feels comfortable in hand. I also felt like it squished less, making it feel more solid.  Similarly, the thin, wide hand strap had less compressibility and stretch than most, making it feel stable when being loaded.

If you are unsure what type of handle or strap you like, simply visit a retailer and try a few poles out in person. Your intuition is probably right.

Very Stiff for Their Weight

Carbon poles generally flex less than their similar aluminum counterparts, and these are no exception. Even in the carbon category, I found them to bend less when being used to climb steep hills, lower myself off small drops, and support my trekking pole tents. This is impressive, especially since these poles are on the thin side: the bottom three sections are just 14mm, and even the top is only 16mm in diameter.

Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles Cons

Not Compatible with All Trekking Pole Shelters

With trekking pole-supported tents becoming increasingly popular on long trails, it’s wise to make sure you have compatible poles.

While most trekking pole tents require 110-125cm poles, there are certain styles that will require longer or shorter poles. Single-pole pyramids, such as the Zpacks Altaplex or MLD Solomid, often require poles in excess of 140cm (or to carry a separate pole jack, which is inconvenient).

Lower-to-the-ground ultralight shelters like the Tarptent Protrail or Gossamer Gear Whisper may require a very short pole. While telescoping poles can usually be locked in place well below their advertised size range, folding poles do not have that option.

I set up several versions of the Durston X-Mid tents without issue. I know I often pitched my now deceased Tarptent Notch at 105cm for storm mode, however, and would have struggled to use these poles successfully.

Also an odd aside, I recently viewed a tent that called out a specific incompatibility with Leki’s flex tips. Tip and handle shape is an infrequent but possible conflict between poles and trekking pole tents. This is best tested at home rather than in the field.

The Black Series FX Carbon being used to structure a Durston Gear X-mid 1 Pro. The head shape is a little odd but caused no problem. Luckily the height is compatible.

Bulky When Stored

Compared to telescoping poles, folding poles tend to feel bulkier when stored because each section needs to lay next to each other. They also will revert to a pile of spaghetti when left unmanaged. The packed size is especially bad when you have a bulkier basket on the tip, since it creates an even bigger space between sections.

The collapsed length is primarily dependent on the max length and number of sections, although folding poles tend to get a little shorter. While mine did pack down pretty short (measured at 16 inches), I found this to be a minor win compared to the annoyance of trying to gather up all the sections when they were loose.

Leki Black Series FX Carbon (above): 4 sections, 130cm max height. Komperdell C3 Carbon Pro (below): 3 sections, 140cm max height. I ultimately prefer the packed format of the longer Komperdells, especially when baskets are involved.

Questionable Plastic Flick Lock

While the flick locks on the Black Series FX Carbon poles performed flawlessly during my two months of testing, I’m still skeptical of their plastic levers and shaft clamps. I hope they keep working for years to come, but only time will tell.


These poles have an interesting combination of features. A semi-folding design with a decent adjustability range and a cork handle rolling in under a pound is hard to come by. I particularly appreciated the upgraded stiffness over my long time set of telescoping carbon poles, and the comfortable handles.

At the time of writing, The Black Series FX Carbon is Leki’s most expensive hiking pole, and by a large margin. While you can certainly find a functional set of poles for much cheaper, The unique combination of features brings something to the table that may be worth paying up for.

Shop the Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles

A Few Comparison Items

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork

  • MSRP: $200
  • Weight (pair): 17.1 oz

Leki Cressida FX Carbon

  • MSRP: $229
  • Weight (pair): 17 oz

Read our review of the Cressidas here.

REI Flash Carbon Trekking Poles

  • MSRP: $169
  • Weight (pair): 13.6 oz

The Leki Black Series FX Carbon Trekking Poles were donated for the purposes of review; winter touring baskets purchased at full retail price.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • Steven : Mar 4th

    I broke 3 carbon poles in 5 years. Could be me, but I stick to alu for now, the weight penalty is marginal


What Do You Think?