If moving fast and light on the trails is your goal, then the Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlite ($220) is the pole you want. These fixed-length folding carbon fiber poles are crazy light yet strong enough to power through rugged, mountainous terrain with ease. With eye-catching red and bright pink colorways, these poles are standouts in more ways than one! They are the newest offering from Leki, whose development of poles has had a huge impact on trail running and ultrarunning today.
The poles are specifically designed for trail runners with pared-down materials that strike an excellent balance between strength and weight. They can stand up to rugged, mountainous terrain without weighing you down. In fact, iRunFar’s own managing editor Meghan Hicks put them through their paces at the Hardrock 100 and the Snowman Race this year — the latter a 200-kilometer, five-day stage race that went up to 18,000 feet in altitude in the Himalayas of Bhutan.
These poles are offered in 105- to 135-centimeter lengths in five-centimeter increments. The unique Leki Trail Shark grip system clicks on and off the pole, and a shortened cork grip provides just enough grip area without unnecessary materials or weight. When not in use, the poles fold into three pieces for compact storage.
Leki’s continuous innovation is definitely on display in this newest addition to their trail running pole lineup. We loved these poles so much that we named them the best carbon fixed-length pole in our Best Trail Running Poles guide.
Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlite Materials and Features
It’s hard to imagine that one trekking pole is that much different than any other. In essence, they are all just sticks, right? While they mostly share the same general structure, all trail running poles are definitely not created equally. The Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlite adds some unique details to a standard three-piece folding design that helps these poles rise above much of the competition.
First up, and probably the most unique and polarizing feature of these poles, is the grip. Instead of a traditional loose wrist strap, Leki trail running poles feature their Trail Shark grip system, a glove-like velcro mesh strap that clicks on and off the pole grip. These straps keep your hands attached to the poles, allowing for a strong pushoff and efficient energy transfer without having to have a tight grasp of the pole. This dramatically reduces hand fatigue when using the poles for long periods of time and reduces the risk of accidentally dropping them. A simple push button on the top of the grip releases the strap when you need to use your hands. Leki has used this trigger system on poles for more than 20 years, and this iteration is the lightest and easiest to operate. It uses lightweight mesh and air channels to improve breathability while shedding bulk. The strap is paired with a minimalist cork grip just long enough to provide variable grip options.
The shafts of the poles are made of three carbon fiber sections that fold up for easy storage when not in use. Each section can lay parallel without tension between them, so they stay folded when not in use. Running the length of the pole inside the hollow carbon shaft is a cord covered with a flexible rubber tubing that extends to apply tension and keep the sections in place when the pole is extended. A simple push-button locking mechanism keeps the pole extended and releases easily when it’s time to fold them.
The end of the pole has a small plastic trail running basket to keep it from sinking into soft ground. The durable concave carbide tip provides good grip in rocky terrain. Unlike other poles on the market, the trail running focus of these poles means that excess accessories, such as snow baskets or rubber tips, are not included. When not in use, the poles can be stored in the included mesh bag, and a removable plastic cap can be placed on the carbide tip to prevent it from scratching or puncturing pack material.
Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlite Performance
The Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlite poles perform very well on a variety of terrain and have excellent stiffness and durability at a fraction of the weight of many other trail running poles available today. In our testing, they tackled rough terrain like a champ and stood up to rugged mountain passes and scree fields with no problem.
The weight of the whole package is noticeably less compared to competitors on the market, and when we’re traveling for hours or days at a time over challenging terrain, carrying less weight adds up to energy savings.
Despite the poles being lighter than others on the market, we’ve found them to be just as durable. These poles have stood up to some of the most challenging terrain we traverse as trail runners and ultrarunners.
Some runners find the Trail Shark grip system more of an acquired taste than love at first sight, and you can count the iRunFar team in this camp. To be honest, while we’ve been following Leki’s progress and have tested a few poles over the years, this is the pole that has finally won us over. The updated Trail Shark grip system is much easier to operate than prior versions and becomes innate after a couple dozen clicks in and out. When you’re out there trail running and ultrarunning, time and brain power saved on logistics like your poles is time and brain power that can be used to motor down the trails faster and farther.
Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlite Overall Impressions
Overall, the Leki Ultratrail FX.One Superlite poles are extremely light, easy to use, and practically disappear when stowed away. We have been very pleased with their performance in a variety of conditions.
We really like the feel of the glove and grip in use — not having to tightly grasp the poles when hiking up steep terrain has made stiff and achy hands much happier and truly makes the poles feel like an extension of our arms. The downside is the extra step needed to release the grip when hands are needed for eating, picture taking, or rock scrambling. The glove-like fit can also be a bit of a hindrance in variable temperatures as they add an extra step if mittens or gloves need to be taken on or off. We’ve found the security and energy savings of using this grip outweigh that inconvenience, but it is something to consider if you are frequently taking your poles in and out of your hands or are running in colder temperatures where gloves might be needed.
If it’s a strong and dependable pole in an ultralight package you are after, then these poles will not disappoint. Built for trail runners and ultrarunners, they deliver just what you need in a lightweight package with no overbuilt or unnecessary features. To learn more about these poles, see our Best Trail Running Poles guide.
Call For Comments
- Do you routinely run with trekking poles?
- Have you used a glove-like grip on trail running poles? What are your thoughts about these systems?
- What are your favorite trail running poles on the market today?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]