Leki Sherpa FX Carbon
Features: This is a sleek carbon fibre pole topped with Leki’s Aergon Air extended hand grip, which has a wrist loop with safety release. The locking mechanisms combine Speed Lock 2 Plus (flick lock) and ELD, which is a push-button release for the lower half of the pole. Regular hiking baskets, as well as utility snow baskets, are included. They can be used to adjust ski bindings and de-ice skins. The carbide pole tips are replaceable.
Adjustability: At 41.5cm, the pole’s minimum collapsed length is the shortest of those we reviewed, meaning it’s easy to pack. But because they use Leki’s ELD folding mechanism for the bottom half of the pole, its minimum usable length is relatively long, at 109cm. With the ELD release, the lower half of the pole collapses into two pieces connected internally with a cord. The 20cm of length adjustment is activated with a flick lock that sits just below the hand grip.
Comfort: One of the most notable features is the generous rubber palm rests atop the hand grip, making the poles comfortable when you push down on the top. The hand grip is slightly thicker than others we’ve used, so it suits medium to large hands best. The wrist loop is spot on: lightly padded, not too thin or wide, and it conforms to your hand nicely whether or not you’re wearing gloves. I liked that the base of the hand grip is quite pronounced, supporting the hand well.
In use: The leash is easily adjusted to cater for bare hands through to my biggest gloves, and the adjustment mechanisms are easy to use with gloved hands. The poles are also very quick to deploy from their collapsed mode. Because the collapse is so short, they’re easy to pack (even vertically inside a pack) and have excellent clearance in the bush or when squirming through rocks and gullies. The long minimum deployed length means the poles won’t suit shorter trampers on steep climbs unless the wrist loop is relinquished. Overall, these quiet, vibration-free poles provide great ground feedback and comfort.
Value: They’re expensive, but carbon has a high strength-to-weight ratio as well as being nicer to handle in the cold. These are high-end, refined poles, and that quality is reflected in the price.
Verdict: As long as the minimum deployed length of these poles suits your activities, they’re beautifully made and a pleasure to use for both tramping and backcountry skiing trips in a range of conditions. Weight and bulk make it less desirable for extended mountain journeys.
Plusses: Super comfortable, strong, compact.
Minuses: Long minimum usable length.