LEKI Ultratrail FX.One Trail Running Poles Review

Having tested them thoroughly in the mountains of Northern California, Alastair shares how these premium running poles improve trail performance

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All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. If you buy through links, we may earn a commission.

Yay, it’s an accessory review day! I love putting these together because in many cases, gear is just as important as running shoes. This is certainly the case when it comes to the benefits of running with running poles during mountain ultra running races where vertical gain is highly prominent!

So, with all that said, I’ve been splitting my time between using the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z and the Leki Ultratrail FX.One trail running poles for steep ascent training recently, and I now have enough experience with them both to share my reviews with you, starting with the LEKI poles first.

The Leki Ultratrail FX.One are some of the best trail running poles out there for anyone who loves trail run training, or ultra racing in all seasons where plenty of vertical ascent features along the way. They’re sturdy, lightweight, and packed with features designed to make your runs more efficient, and more enjoyable.

LEKI Ultratrail FX.One Trail Running Poles Review 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

THESE OR THE SUPERLITE VERSION? For anyone who is wondering how they compare to the slightly lighter but more expensive Ultratrail FX.ONE SUPERLITE version; well the Superlite version is designed for competition use by athletes experienced with running poles. For most trail runners (myself included) or for the most optimal option for training days and frequent usage, I recommend the UltraTrail FX.One which comes with a larger and more durable 16mm shaft, yet is still very lightweight.

Why use trail running poles anyway?

If you’re new to trail running poles, you might wonder why you’d need them in the first place. Here are three key reasons, explained in more detail here:

  1. Ease Uphill Climbing: Poles make tackling those steep mountain climbs so much easier.
  2. Muscle Preservation: They help save your leg muscles, especially during long runs.
  3. Improved Balance: They can significantly enhance your balance on tricky downhill sections.

The key features of the Leki Ultratrail FX.One poles

Let’s start with price, they cost $220 at Lekiusa.com (US), or £166 at sportsshoes.com (UK) for our UK readers – read to the end to learn if I think they’re worth the investment. They are made of carbon, making them incredibly strong and lightweight. They weigh just 12.9 oz (366g) per pair for the 120 cm size, which includes the wrist straps.

LEKI Ultratrail FX.One Trail Running Poles Review 2 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

This strong construction ensures that they are durable and easy to handle during long runs in mountainous environments. This is important because running poles can snap, and that’s the last thing you want during a race.

They feature LEKI’s shark grip system made of cork, which give them a nice ergonomic and comfortable grip. This is particularly beneficial for trail runners who need to use the poles aggressively to power up steep inclines – that includes runners who enjoy really going for it during a race – myself included. The cork material helps in maintaining a firm hold even under intense pressure.

LEKI Ultratrail FX.One Trail Running Poles Review 3 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

The breathable mesh strap on these poles is easy to adjust, ensuring a secure and comfortable fit – it’s a feature that is essential for maintaining comfort and stability during extended use. Connected wrist straps also enable you to be more aggressive in your use of the poles on climbs, and they stop you from accidentally dropping them off the edge of the mountain. I’ve seen it happen! haha.

Portability is another great feature of these poles, they pack down into three sections, making them easy to store in your race vest or running waist belt. This compact design is especially crucial for ultramarathons where both space and weight are at a premium.

This photo of me running is a great example of how minial they are when folded down, you can see them attached to my running belt behind my back.
This photo of me running is a great example of how minial they are when folded down, you can see them attached to my running belt behind my back.

The carbide tip on these poles offers excellent traction on rocky and muddy terrain, significantly enhancing your stability and the durability of the tip. This makes them reliable companions on various challenging surfaces which is something to consider when you think about how varied races can be around the world.

LEKI Ultratrail FX.One Trail Running Poles Review 4 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

Lastly, the reinforced tensioning system ensures that the poles stay locked in place during use, providing reliable support throughout your run. This system adds to the overall durability and functionality of the poles, making them a solid choice for trail runners who are serious about getting gear that lasts.

Assembling and collapsing the poles is ridiculously easy

One of the best features of these poles is how quickly and easily they can be assembled. Here’s a quick demonstration of how they work from our YouTube Channel (don’t forget to subscribe for more helpful running content):

Using the poles during a race or training runs

During a race, I recommend keeping the straps on your wrists – this way, you can quickly attach or detach the poles as needed via the use of the trigger on the top (I demonstrate this in the video above). The straps also allow you to put downward force on your wrists to get extra leverage during climbs, without worrying about dropping the poles. This setup is much more comfortable (and efficient) than using poles without straps.

I generally use poles during ultramarathons with significant ascents or for steep ascent training. For races without many climbs or when I prefer to scramble, I skip the poles. When not in use, I store them in my race belt or hydration pack, like in the photo above.

Leki Ultratrail FX.One performance review

These poles excel on various terrains, with the carbide tip gripping well on rocky paths and muddy trails. This provides a feeling of confidence knowing that they’ll stay where you place them.

LEKI Ultratrail FX.One Trail Running Poles Review 5 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

The cork grip and ergonomic design make these poles comfortable to use, even during long runs and the breathable mesh strap adjusts easily, adding to the overall comfort and ensuring a secure fit throughout your run.

Built from carbon, the Ultratrail FX.One poles are incredibly durable too, and although the Superlite version is also made from carbon, these ones have a thicker diameter poles, making them much stronger, which is important, as poles can snap if you place them in a crack of a rock and twist for example. These, however, can withstand the rigors of aggressive trail running without compromising performance, making them a reliable choice for long-term use.

The three-section design allows for easy storage, a crucial feature for ultramarathons where every ounce and inch of space counts – if you’ve run one before, then you know…

LEKI Ultratrail FX.One Trail Running Poles Review 6 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

This portability makes the poles easy to carry and stow away, enhancing their practicality for serious trail runners.

Are the Leki Ultratrail FX.One poles worth buying?

At $220 / £166, the Leki Ultratrail FX.One poles offer very good value for money due to their combination of lightweight construction, durability, and easy to use features makes them a worthy investment for serious trail runners and ultramarathoners – they are my top pick right now for trail and ultra running.

👋🏼 Hey there! If you’re thinking about buying these poles to take with you on your trail running adventures, using our links would be a huge help for the running of Trail & Kale Running Co. We earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps us keep creating informative, independent reviews like this. Thanks so much for your support – we really appreciate it!

Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.

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