|Rating:||8.6 / 10|
|Value for money||1.6 / 2|
|Comfort||1.8 / 2|
|Weight||1.7 / 2|
|Durability||1.7 / 2|
|Versatility||1.8 / 2|
The Cross Trail FX Superlite Compact Poles from Leki are the first set of poles I have had to try out from this well known company. While I wasn’t sure what to expect, I was looking forward to testing these poles and put them to good use in a range of conditions over a ten week period.
First up let’s discuss the elephant in the room and that’s the unique strapping system that Leki call the ‘Cross Shark System Grip’. Most trekking pole makers use a wrist loop that sits around your wrist as does Leki with most of its range. However, the Cross Trail FX Superlite Compact Pole, which sits atop its trekking pole range, along with a few other brands, carry this new patented strapping system. I must admit this strapping system was my biggest concern going into the testing process. I was worried this was potentially going to be a gimmick that wasn’t going benefit the use of these poles. Spoiler alert; I was wrong!
This strapping system acts as a stripped down glove with a left and right dedicated strap that attached via velcro around each wrist. The strap attaches to the trekking poles by means of a small robust heavy grade nylon loop and a hook on each trekking pole. To connect and disconnect each strap to the pole, you press on the top edge of the pole and the locking system opens and closes.
So what’s so special about this strapping system? With most trekking poles a material loop goes around your wrist and you hold the trekking poles in your hands – these two points of contact allow you to use your poles with minimum effort. The material wrist loop allows your wrists to act as a pivot point. The Leki Cross Shark System Grip removes pressure directly from your wrists making the poles much more ergonomic which is a bonus on those longer hikes. The other benefit of this system is that you minimise your grip on the poles if you wish and just use your hand more as a guide point.
I must admit I didn’t look at any online videos or read any instructions before use and instead just muddled through but I quickly got the hang of using them. As someone who takes a lot of photos I soon worked out how to let the poles hang when I was taking photos. Disconnecting and reconnecting to the poles becomes second nature after short periods of use. All up I came to love this strapping system – it felt both comfortable and intuitive once you became used to it. One potential negative is that when it comes time to replace the strapping, I can imagine this system isn’t going to be as cheap and the traditional material/velcro straps but for most people that’s going to be a very rare occurrence. From a sizing perspective these straps will fit someone with a M-XL hand and my wife Gill was able to use them as well. However, the length of the poles (110-130cm) suited me best but at the shortest length were too long for Gill. If she had of been buying a set of these poles, she would have gone for the shorter version (100-120cm).
Now let’s move on to the second elephant in the room and that’s price. At the time of this review this top model from Leki is the most expensive coming in at around $449 although typically you can source them at a much cheaper price if you look around. For many but the most avid hikers this price will be a stretch of the budget that many won’t be willing to make; more on that later.
Like many trekking poles on the market, the grip which is made of a synthetic cork material extends down the pole so they can be used when you need to shorten the pole length past its minimum. For me I never use this option just finding it more awkward than it’s worth. The synthetic cork grip is comfortable and feels nice in the hand. One down side I’ve found with these types of handles is that dirt becomes ingrained into the handle material but that’s really more of a cosmetic issue.
The basket and tips on the poles consist of a small fixed basket and a tungsten carbide tip which is ideal for all but rock and paved surfaces. You do have the option of purchasing a rubberised tip if you are using these poles on urban streets.
The name of these poles bears looking at being ‘Cross Trail FX Superlite Poles’. The cross trail part means that these are a multi purpose pole designed for hiking, trekking, walking and even running although if you want a dedicated running pole there are other options. These poles are also very lightweight being constructed of carbon fibre and coming in at 424 grams (quoted figure). I’ve also seen a lighter figure quoted on the European website and when I weighed my poles they came in at 416 grams for the pair. Not the lightest on the market but given the feature rich options there are very lightweight for a pair that is so adjustable.
Speaking of adjustment, the poles consist of three sections with a level-locking mechanism which Leki calls a ‘Core Lock Device’. This locking system allows fine tuning the poles anywhere from 110-130cm for taller people while the compact version of these poles allowing for a length of 100-120cm.
Colour wise these poles are usually sold in a white and black option which is the colour a lot of alpine poles come in.
Once folded down the poles pack very small (42cm) and come with a lovely little plastic clip that keeps the pair together. While this small clip probably isn’t meant as a long term thing, it’s a lovely little feature.
While I expected to like these poles I probably didn’t expect to like them as much as I do. As mentioned previously, these poles aren’t cheap but for their quality of construction and the richness of features they are well worth the price particularly if you can get them on sale.
I’m in two minds as to whether these are my favourite trekking poles. I must admit I keep gravitating to these every time I’m doing a hike where I need poles and find myself reaching for these by default. If the price is beyond what you want to spend, then there are plenty of options on the market to choose from but you’ll be sacrificing some features.
You can purchase the Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite Poles online from Snowys
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Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite Trekking Poles
Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite Poles showing sections
Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite Poles showing joint and connecting cord
Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite Poles showing Cross Shark System Grip connected
Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite Poles showing Cross Shark System Grip connected with hand
Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite Poles press the top of the poles
Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite Poles showing the adjustment marks allowing you to adjust these poles from 110cm-130cm in length
Leki Cross Trail FX Superlite Poles showing pole tips
This review was done with product provided by the Australian distributor of Leki