The Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS is a top-end folding hiking pole. We think it’s a great pole that’s comfortable to hike with and which packs in a range of Leki’s latest comfort technology.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Very compact when folded
- Replacement parts are available
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- Limited adjustment range
- Expensive at retail, especially when compared to the largely identical Makalu FX Carbon AS
The Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS is a premium carbon and aluminum folding hiking pole that exudes quality and is packed with Leki’s latest innovations. It’s marketed as the female-specific version of the Makalu FX Carbon AS which we’ve assessed elsewhere, but, gendering aside, if you don’t need the extra extended length the Makalu provides, then the Cressida is an attractive option as it let’s you save a little weight. It’s expensive, and carries a premium over the largely identical Makalu at retail, but it is certainly a lovely piece of equipment and could surely last a lifetime.
Compare to Similar Products
- Leki Makalu FX Carbon AS
- MSR DynaLock Ascent Foldable Carbon Backcountry Trekking Poles
- Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Hiking Poles
- Or go straight to: 12 Best Trekking Poles of 2023
Analysis and Test Results
We’ve been very impressed by the Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS. It’s a top-end folding pole from a well-respected brand that did not fail to impress us. The Cressida is marketed as a women’s pole and is essentially a shorter version of the Makalu FX Carbon AS. We’ve given the Makalu our Editor’s Choice award, and it wins out over the Cressida purely because it’s often available for a lower price at retail. However, if you’re shorter in stature, the Cressida is absolutely a fantastic choice.
Without a doubt, the Cressida FX Carbon AS is one of Leki’s top end trekking poles. There’s a lot of abbreviations going on in the name, so, to unpick them, ‘FX’ implies that this is a folding rather than telescopic pole (though there’s still a single telescopic section to control final length) and ‘AS’ stands for ‘anti shock’ and relates to what Leki call a DSS Damping System which sits just above the basket and helps absorb impact whilst hiking. It’s possible to buy non-FX and non-AS versions of this pole too. This pole also comes with Leki’s latest Aergon Air anatomic hand grips which are designed to improve comfort further. Further more, the bulk of the pole is made from carbon fiber – with selective sections reinforced with aluminum. Carbon is well regarded for its shock-absorbing properties relative to aluminum (just ask any cyclist!). It’s difficult to quantify exactly what all these various technologies add to regarding the pole’s comfort, but we can categorically say that this is a very comfortable pole to hike with.
The Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS weighs in at 516g/1lb 2oz for a pair. Whilst it’s far from a heavy weight, there are lighter poles in this round up, and you can even save some weight on this pole buy choosing to buy the non-AS version without the extra shock-absorber near the base. However, unless you count every last gram or fraction of an ounce in your hiking kit, or are using the pole in a competitive event (which it’s not really intended for), then in real terms, the weight penalties are small and the extra comfort feature may well be worth their weight.
The Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS is largely made of carbon fiber with fittings and other components made from aluminum where necessary to help improve strength and durability. The carbon fiber pole sections are lighter than aluminum, and also help absorb vibration better rather than ‘transmitting’ it up the shaft of the pole to your wrists. Of course, carbon fiber is also more expensive that aluminum and it will also chip or crack if damaged rather than bend as aluminum does.
The Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS folds down to 40cm/15.7in and if you’re used to more conventional telescopic walking poles, its length is very compact indeed. There are a few other poles in this round up that fold down a little smaller, but not by much. One point we did note is that the Cressida has the exact same folded length as the Leki Makalu FX Carbon AS. Now, these two are basically the same pole, but the Makalu is 10cm/4in longer at both its minimum and maximum extension. With this in mind, it’s a shame that the Cressida couldn’t have a shorter folded length.
Pole Adjustment Mechanism
This pole has a three-piece folding design. When collapsed, the three sections are threaded together on a strong cable. The pole is assembled by loosely attaching them all and then extending a telescopic section until a click tells you everything is tensions (a spring loaded button releases this when you want to collapse the pole). Finally, there’s a telescopic section with a flip lock you can use to fine tune the final length between 100cm/39in and 120cm/47.2in. The flip lock has a captive adjustment nut – which means you can adjust the tension of the lock without tools and without risk of losing the nut. The Cressida was our first experience of a folding pole and it took us a few minutes to get out heads around how to extend it, but it’s a simple process that takes moments once you’re familiar with it.
The Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS comes fitted with Leki’s 45mm/1.8in soft plastic Trekking Basket. It’s held securely in place but can easily be removed or replaced with a wide range of optional baskets Leki supply including a wide snow basket.
Grip Ergonomics and Material
From a distance, the Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS appears to have a classic cork grip, but this is actually high density foam (though we do think it looks good next to the Cressida’s mostly white coloring. As with many of their other current poles, the Cressida features Leki’s latest ‘Aergon Air’ ergonomic grips which have a range of features intended to help the user’s comfort. It’s difficult to quantify how much the grip adds to the comfort of the pole in, but as mentioned above, we think this is a comfortable pole to hike with.
At the time of writing, the Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS costs $239.95/£196.44. That means UK buyers will be paying a premium over the otherwise largely identical Makalu FX Carbon AS and we’ve even seen the Cressida command a higher dollar price at points. Now, these are retail prices and not Leki’s RRP – which is the same and substantially higher for both poles. We’re sure the retail prices are driven by a wide range of factors, but it seems like there’s sometimes a premium to pay for the ‘Women’s’ version of the Makalu. We’d say that unless you absolutely need the shorter extended height the Cressida offers, then the Makalu might well make more sense if you can get it for less. Finally, we should mention that Leki are also well-known for offering spare parts, which are readily available from outdoors retailers. They also commit to supplying spares for older models too and this, we think, greatly improves the value proposition of their poles.
It isn’t cheap – especially when compared to the largely identical Leki Makalu FX Carbon AS which can sometimes be bought for less – but there’s no denying that the Cressida FX Carbon AS is a great piece of equipment. It’s beautifully made, looks fantastic and feels like it could last a lifetime. Leki have a reputation as a premium brand who make great products and this is everything you’d expect – and, we’d say, more – from them. However, unless you specifically need the shorter extended length the Cressida offers or are particularly taken by its cork-on-white colors (which, we think, are very cool) the Makalu may might make more financial sense.
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