Leki Black Series Hiking Poles – Review by Rudolf Abraham
Leki Black Series MVC (Micro Vario Carbon) folding poles – the best pair of hiking poles I’ve ever used
I’ve been using Leki hiking poles for years, having owned a pair of their old Makalu Tour poles since the early noughties. However while these are still extremely good poles, and beautifully engineered, they’re slightly on the heavy side – and even when disassembled, they’re too long to fit inside my pack when I need to fly somewhere and put this in hold luggage. This means that on long treks where I’m packing as light as possible – and that’s most of the hikes I do, in my case – or if I need to fly somewhere rather than going by train, I’ve often ended carrying a branded pair of Alpe Adria Trail poles instead, which aren’t nearly as good, but are shorter and lighter and, well, do the job.
Cue in the Leki Black Series MVC (Micro Vario Carbon) folding poles, which I got a pair of towards the end of 2021, and which have proved to be the perfect balance between folded size, weight and rigidity.
Photo: Hiking down from the Col Vert in the Massif du Vercors, France (May 2022)
There are two main features of the new poles which really sold them to me. First of all, they’re extremely lightweight – just 207g – while still feeling exceptionally rigid and hardwearing. Secondly, they fold down to an incredibly compact 40cm (and even come complete with a handy carrying bag), meaning they easily fit inside my Osprey or Montane packs when they go as hold luggage (or inside smaller day packs if required).
This has been something of a game-changer for me, after years of disassembling poles and packing the separate sections of the shafts together to allow them to fit inside a rucksack in hold luggage (which they’d still only fit inside at a squeeze), securing the locking mechanisms with rubber bands, trying to find those protective plastic tips I put somewhere or another so they don’t rip holes in my clothes or other gear….
I’m 1.92m tall, and I’ve found the length of the Black Series MVCs (135cm) to be perfect. The folding/locking system is very easy to get the hang of using, the poles are quick to extend, and in my experience once they’re locked they don’t slip, not even in the slightest. The handgrips and straps are excellent, very comfortable and ergonomic – again, way better than the older styles of poles I’d been using – and placement of the poles even when walking quite fast feels very precise.
Photo: Hiking on Učka, Croatia (April 2022)
I’ve used the new Black Series poles on hiking trips to the Vercors and Croatia, as well as on Tenerife, the Via Berna in Switzerland, and on day-hikes in the UK and the mountains of South Korea – and they have been brilliant. A stupendous (and quite unexpected) amount of mud when hiking on Klek, a peak in Croatia’s Gorski Kotar region meant they had to take a lot of weight in sudden lurches when I lost my footing (which happened way more frequently than I wanted it to), and they held up fine. In the Vercors, they were a joy to use while walking at speed along the narrow balcons near the Col Vert. More recently they went with me on a 200km, 14 day trek along the High Scardus Trail – plenty of steep slopes and long sections of trackless wilderness.
The Black Series MVC poles have now been superseded by a newer model – the Black Series FX Carbon poles (FX is simply the abbreviation used by Leki to denote folding poles). The handles have been updated to improve ergonomics even further, reducing even further the feeling that you need to ‘grip’ the poles, and are now made of a new material, Aergon Air which features a genuine natural cork surface, in combination with a rubberised grip head. Otherwise the specs are still very close to those of the Black Series MVC poles (there’s a marginal weight increase from 207g to 228g). There’s also the new series of Cross Trail poles which keep the weight down further, and come with a very comfortable and breathable mesh strap.
For Leki’s current range of hiking poles click here.
Review date: July 2023 | Updated: May 2023 | Back to reviews