Leki Cressida FX Carbon Trekking Poles Review

The Leki Cressida FX Carbon is a premium foldable pole that packs down to next to nothing while still boasting comfortable cork grips. The Cressida model is the female-specific counterpart to Leki’s Makalu FX Carbon pole.

After testing these poles on varied terrain, it’s safe to say I’ll be swapping my old sticks for these decked-out poles for future adventures.

Leki Cressida FX Carbon Trekking Poles At a Glance

close-up of leki trekking poles being used by a hiker

MSRP: $229.95
Weight: 17 ounces (pair)
Length Range: 100-120 cm
Type: 5-piece foldable with External Locking Device
Materials: Carbon shaft with cork grips

Leki Makalu FX Carbon poles (men’s version) found here.

Intended Use

Though they are on the pricier side, these carbon poles are ideal for thru-hikers and backpackers willing to spend the money.

Considering their extreme versatility and top-notch craftsmanship, I would recommend these poles to most hikers who prefer trekking with the aid of their poles. Likewise, if you have a tent that requires trekking poles for the set up or prefer to stash poles in your pack, it’s hard not to justify the Cressida FX Carbons.

Circumstance of Review

I tested these poles across Colorado in the wintertime, using them for steep, high-angle climbs on variable rocky and snowy terrain up 14,000-foot peaks, regular trail walks, and even for some leisurely ski tours that required going fast and light.

The Long Game: Durability

It’s important to note that, while I brought these trekking poles on every adventure with me this winter, I can’t predict how these would hold up on a longer thru-hike with thousands of miles under their tips. Only time will tell.

That said, I’m pretty harsh on my trekking poles, and am a self-proclaimed “aggressive planter” who often drives my poles into the ground (in all senses of the phrase). I found no gaps in performance when I used them backpacking, day hiking, snowshoeing, climbing steep snow, or skinning up slopes.

Leki Cressida FX Carbon Trekking Pole Features

Comfortable Cork Grips

As someone who’s only ever used poles with foam grips, the soft, malleable cork handholds were a welcome change. The pliable cork grips will eventually mold to your hands, ensuring optimal fit personalized to the way you hold your trekking poles. Cork is preferable due to its moisture-wicking tendencies, although it does add a bit of weight.

In addition, hikers can adjust the length of the nylon wrist straps, creating endless opportunities to customize your grip.

closeup of leki cressida fx carbon pole's cork handle

Lightweight Carbon Shaft

What contributes to the lower weight of these poles is the lightweight carbon shaft, which offers decent durability for most hiking conditions on trail. These poles clock in at a reasonable 17 ounces — not the lightest compared to ultralight options, but still reasonable for backpacking.

Foldable Design

These compact poles pack down to less than 16 inches when folded, making them highly portable. I especially like this feature for rocky, scrambling-intensive terrain. When getting into Class 3 territory or squeezing through slot canyons, where I prefer to be hands-free, it’s luxuriously easy to stow the Cressida FX Carbon poles in my pack.

Simple Locking and Adjustment Systems

Compared to some of the more complex locking systems out there, Leki’s setup is user-friendly for any newbies to the foldable trekking pole game. Although it took me a few minutes to learn the maneuvers, it felt seamless on trail once I had discovered the trick.

The Cressida FX Carbon poles utilize an External Locking Device (ELD); simply pull the top shaft to fully extend it, and feel as it clicks into locked position. You can release tension with the push of a button, and voila — they’re packable once more.

Adjusting the poles takes nearly no time at all. Using a flick-lever, the bottom half of the pole telescopes to adjust the total pole length between 100 and 120 cm. Then, simply fold the lever back in place to lock in your preferred height.

READ NEXT – The Best Trekking Poles for Backpacking

Leki Cressida FX Carbon Trekking Poles Pros

Takes Comfort to the Next Level

For me, the end-all be-all of these poles is the comfort they provided, especially for long, 10+ hour days on the trail. The cork handles melding to my hand shape was a game-changer. I especially loved the extended cork handholds, which allowed me to ascend steep sections of trail while gripping lower on the pole rather than adjusting the length.

Furthermore, carbon fiber is more shock-absorbing than aluminum. The difference was noticeable, especially on trail runs or high-impact activities on tough terrain.

Pack Down Nice and Neat

The other gleaming advantage of these poles is their packability. Although the grips are a bit bulkier than some other ultralight foldable options, that minor compromise is worth it for the level of comfort they offer.

Truth be told, they stashed quite conveniently in nearly every pack I own, from my 65L all the way down to my 20L daypacks. I’m confident these will be my go-to poles when tackling scrambles or mountain summits off-trail this summer, as they won’t have to precariously hang on the outside of my pack.

Locking System

Like many other hikers, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of my trekking poles’ locking system loosening over time. After a few unexpected pole collapses sent me tumbling, I started using my poles more cautiously, avoiding full reliance on them.

Fortunately, that hasn’t been an issue with the Cressida’s locking system. Adjusting the tightness was an easy process each morning, and I had no need for additional tightens throughout the day.

Since the poles only collapse with the push of a button, I never had to worry about tightening any levers until I was ready to stow them away.


Although I had my concerns regarding durability of the shaft’s carbon material (see the Cons section), the Leki Cressida FX Carbon poles excelled on all kinds of terrain. Whether I was tackling steep and rugged climbs, icy and snowy descents, or something in between, they provided the support I needed.

While they’re not the lightest, most affordable, or most durable poles on the market, they’re featured enough to handle just about everything.

They come decked out with carbide tips and are snow basket compatible. They showed no signs of weakness under my full body weight while digging myself out of postholes for miles, which has made them my go-to this winter for almost every activity.

hiker wearing goggles and crampons plunges down snowfield with help of leki cressida fx carbon poles

Even while supporting my full body weight to get atop the snow, these poles were up to the challenge.

Leki Cressida FX Carbon Trekking Poles Cons

Carbon Fiber Makeup

You could argue this as a pro to these poles — and I would certainly agree regarding weight savings. However, carbon fiber is less durable than aluminum, which is a consideration for more remote and rugged thru-hikes.

While aluminum poles tend to bend under stress, carbon fiber shatters, rendering your pole useless. As someone who relies on a trekking pole tent, the consequences of a broken pole feel even more dire, leaving some room for concern about the durability of these poles on longer or more intensive hikes.

Furthermore, these poles are nowhere near ultralight for the carbon fiber market and are more on par with standard aluminum models.

Max Height Not Compatible With All Tents

As mentioned in my previous point, I rock a Zpacks shelter held up by two necessarily-reliable trekking poles. The maximum height of these poles is 120 centimeters (shorter than most poles but in line with other women-specific models), which is just 2 centimeters short of the required height to stake my tent at.

After spending a few nights with a lower 120 centimeter ceiling, I truthfully didn’t notice much of a difference; however, it’s worth noting the compatibility of these poles with your own tent.

If you like the features of this pole but need more height, check out the men’s/unisex equivalent of the Cressida: the Makalu FX Carbon. It has the same features but the max height of 130 cm is compatible with more tents.

grey trekking pole tent set up at flat campsite surrounded by evergreens


The Cressida FX Carbons cost more than other carbon fiber trekking poles. Especially given they don’t entirely fall in the ultralight weight class, and most ultralight options range from $150-$200.

That said, Leki does have a reputation for crafting high-quality poles. So while you may be paying a premium, high-end features like the Dyneema core, cork grips, and reliable locking system make it hard to compare to other less-featured options.

Overall Value

hiker descends trail with patchy snow and evergreens using leki cressida fx carbon poles

Despite the lavish price tag and additional ounces on these poles, you’d be hard pressed to find another trekking pole option that combines the level of comfort, versatility, and adjustability the Leki Cressida FX Carbon trekking poles offer. These poles are ideal for those seeking premium comfort in a packable and (fairly) lightweight design.

Shop the Women’s Leki Cressida FX Carbon Poles

Shop the Men’s/Unisex Leki Makalu FX Carbon Poles

Comparable Products

Leki Makalu FX Carbon (men’s version of the Cressida)

MSRP: $229.95
Weight (Pair): 17.8 ounces
Maximum Length: 130 cm

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles

MSRP: $189.95
Weight (Pair): 9.8 ounces
Maximum Length: 130 cm

MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon Backcountry Poles

MSRP: $189.95
Weight (Pair): 17-18 ounces
Maximum Length: 140 cm

Gossamer Gear LT5 Carbon Trekking Poles

MSRP: $195
Weight (Pair): 10 ounces
Maximum Length: 130 cm

The Leki Cressida FX Carbon trekking poles were donated for purpose of review.

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Comments 1

  • Liaqat Ali Nizamani : Feb 23rd

    Come Pakistan Explore


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