Expert Review: Leki Makalu FX Carbon AS

Published on 10/24/2022 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the trekking poles, which I tested for 14 days in August of 2022.
Octavio Rivas, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Octavio Rivas

All photos courtesy of Octavio Rivas

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the trekking poles, which I tested for 14 days in August of 2022.

My Take

The Leki Makalu FX Carbon AS is a great trekking pole that ticks every box and more. Incredibly reliable, durable, and comfortable. I tested it in every type of terrain, and it always held extremely well.

About the gear

  • Model: 2022 Leki Makalu FX Carbon AS Trekking Poles
  • Size: One Size

Test conditions

  • When I was gifted these: August 2022
  • Days tested: 14
  • Where I’ve used them: Desolation Wilderness, Mt. Rose, Donner, and Great Basin National Park.
  • Average elevation change on hikes: 2,400ft
  • Hiking boots/Trail Runners: Salomon Speedcross 6
  • Terrain: Rocky, Dirt, Snow, Mud
  • Types of treks used for: Day Hikes, Backpacking, Trail Running

About me

  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 200lbs/90kg
  • Experience: 16 years of hiking/backpacking and founder of Tahoe Adventurers, a non-profit that brings people outdoors.

How they perform

Ease of Use

What I was looking for

I had been looking to test a durable pole that would hold up no matter the treatment it received. I wanted one that was easy to fold up and pack when needed and could be easily put together instantly.

Why I chose this gear

I wanted to test out the Leki’s Antishock (AS) variant and the weight of a carbon pole for a pole that would be used throughout the year for hiking or during winter when we get some snow here in Tahoe. Another option I looked at was the Leki Legacy Lite Trekking Poles for the low cost and being lightweight.

What I love about it

  • Weight: At only 267g per pole, it is a very lightweight trekking pole that isn’t even noticeable when holding them in my hands. It’s thanks to the carbon fiber used in the shaft and hollow-core technology reducing weight.
  • Adjustability: A 5-piece segment pole can easily adjust the size between 110-130cm. Use the Speed Lock 2 Plus to lock the pole, which requires no extra tools.
  • Durability: I believe the durability of the pole is the biggest highlight of the Makalu because I took it through every terrain and condition, especially during the famous Triple Crown hike located in Tahoe, where we encountered sand, rock, snow, dirt, and mud.
  • Baskets: It comes with a Leki Trekking 2.0 Basket, great for hardpack snow and mud. One can purchase a powder basket that would be better suited for fresh snow and easily replace the basket by twisting it off.
  • Size: Coming in one size, it can fit multiple people, making it easy for anyone looking for a pole not knowing what size they should pick. It comes between 110-130cm or 43-51 inches.
  • Packability Easily packed up and can fit inside a backpack thanks to the 5-segment pieces. Within a few seconds, I could have it fully extended and adjusted.
  • Grip comfort: The grip was quite comfortable, holding my hand in place thanks to its ergonomic shape. Wide supportive areas made it easy to change hand positions when going uphill or downhill. That’s due to Leki Aergon Air Grip, which is a pleasant feature.
  • Versatility: The Leki Makalu FX pole can do it all and tackle any terrain. It’s a pole that can even be used for skiing/backcountry if I change the basket.
  • Day Hiking: An incredible pole for day hiking, it easily can fit inside a backpack when not being used and is light enough not even to be noticed. Essential for day hikes that require a lot of stability when in loose terrain.
  • Backpacking: During backpacking, it helped me achieve more miles without feeling fatigued and reduced the weight on my knee joints. Indispensable when carrying a 50lb backpack and avoiding any unnecessary accidents.
  • Extra features: The AS was not noticeable during the short day hikes; however, on backpack trips that are over 10 miles, it became a very happy surprise to have it. It reduced the vibration of each pole plant, and after several miles, helping reduce fatigue on my arms.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Other: The ease of use was a little more of a learning curve. At first, I didn’t know how to straighten the poles and lock them into place. It wasn’t until I watched a video on using them that I could do it myself, making them not intuitive for a new user using a 5-segment pole from Leki. One must pull down the second segment until one hears a click. This will lock the rest of the segments in place, and then they can adjust the sizing.

My favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with the gear was testing it out with Tahoe Adventurers, my non-profit that takes people outdoors. We were doing the Triple Crown in Lake Tahoe, consisting of three of the highest peaks in one day. Freel Peak (10,881 feet), Jobs Sister (10,821), and Jobs Peak (10,633) over the expansion of 12 miles. We encountered every type of terrain and weather. I had several members test out poles; by the end, everyone was glad they had them. Most importantly, when descending on a rocky/sandy terrain, it was essential having the Leki Makalu as it gave us more stability and control.

Value for the money vs. other options

If someone is looking for hiking poles for day hikes, cheaper options like the Leki Legacy or Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles will get the job done. However, if they want to have the highest quality pole that is versatile and durable, I would highly consider the Makalu Carbon AS or normal Makalu Carbon, as well as the Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles.

Final verdict

I absolutely loved using the Makalu FX Carbon AS throughout multiple terrain and conditions in which other poles would have easily broken down. Being lightweight, durable, practical, and easy to pack into my backpack. Several members of my adventure group who also tested the Makalu loved it, giving them more stability during our advanced hikes, and felt that it would be able to handle anything thrown at it. It’s a hiking pole that will last me many years to come.

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